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Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Going?

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.
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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.

Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Going?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:07 pm

Hello, All,

There must be several reasons why we practice without (benefit of) a Teacher.

Maybe some don't believe it will be of benefit. Maybe some have not met a teacher. Maybe some are not drawn to practice with others (who almost always accompany a teacher, at public gatherings). Mabe we're "shy" (I was). Maybe some have been with a teacher and sangha, and for some reason(s), no longer practice that way (my two teachers have passed away, for example).

One thing is pretty certain -- to me, in my experience -- and that is that many or most practitioners who DO practice with a teacher (say, NOW) began some sort of practice without a teacher.

In this area of the board, I can't / won't speak about why one -- or myself -- might leave the solo position and either seek or naturally gravitate toward group practice with sangha and teacher. That's for almost any other area of the board. ;)

But, are there some -- any? -- practitioners who have practiced with teacher and sangha who have subsequently gone solo? And who never see a teacher anymore and don't sit communally with a sangha? I've explained that my teachers have passed away, so I have in fact actually been a solo practitioner for the past few years. I began as a solo practitioner, then trained formally over a 30-year period, and have lately been practicing in formal style (certainly, with what I learned in formal fashion), but now solitary.

If there are some here who have practiced with teachers, I wonder what brings you now to practice without a teacher (and, say, without a sangha, too).

And, by the way, is there anyone else in your household who you practice with? And did they also learn formally with a teacher? And, how's it going?

Thanks, and with best wishes to all for strong practice,

--Joe
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby Jesse on Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:17 am

For me, it's definitely a shyness thing, and maybe a little uncertainty about whether or not Zen Buddhism is really something I want to commit to.

Meditation, for me, was originally a tool I used to find my own answers about myself that were based on observation and not based on something I was told or the first answer to pop into my head. I just gravitated towards Zen Buddhism because it seemed reasonably down to earth, but I always trust my own observations over what other people tell me, even if the words came from a famous Zen master. I get things wrong sometimes and have to change my opinions about things, but that's part of growing wiser, in my opinion. It doesn't mean I don't trust the advice of others, just that if my experience tells me they're wrong, I'm more likely to trust my experience.

My experiences of Christianity based religions weren't particularly great, especially in hindsight, and it's made me rather noncommittal and flighty, both with the friends I choose and with belief systems. I could practice under the guidance of a teacher, but I know that right now, my emotional health would suffer, and I'd eventually quit.

Edit: I'm not hating on Christians, I have friends that are Christian. It just wasn't the right religion for me. And as far as Zen Buddhism is concerned, I approach it more as a tool than a religion. It's not the be-all-and-end-all of my worldview. Not that I have a solid one of those anyway.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby Kojip on Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:23 pm

It has not been so much about being with or without a teacher, but how relationships with teachers have changed over time. Where before there was much projection, idealizing, and placing on a pedestal, now there is more friendship, and things that don't need to be said. The Magic of traditional forms do not inspire awe the same way, but these forms are loved and appreciated more, for their beauty and even their touch of absurdity. Just saying. Richard
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:39 am

Kojip wrote:It has not been so much about being with or without a teacher, but how relationships with teachers have changed over time. Where before there was much projection, idealizing, and placing on a pedestal, now there is more friendship, and things that don't need to be said. The Magic of traditional forms do not inspire awe the same way, but these forms are loved and appreciated more, for their beauty and even their touch of absurdity. Just saying. Richard


Same applies to friends, family, lovers etc....

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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby TigerDuck on Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:13 am

I think eventually, everyone will go solo.

Dogen only went to China for 4 years.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:42 am

TD,

TigerDuck wrote:Dogen only went to China for 4 years.

Although that may be so, about the 4 years, I don't think (t)his is a good example.

You see, then he left China and came back to Japan to practice with his brother monks, and others in the sangha (having the effect of reforming Zen Buddhism in his country). Is that "solo"? In what way is that "solo"?

tnx,

-Joe

TigerDuck wrote:I think eventually, everyone will go solo.

Dogen only went to China for 4 years.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby TigerDuck on Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:54 pm

“You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth - inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important.”

― Ajahn Chah


Although Ajahn Chah has a great teacher Ajahn Mun, eventually it is on student hands.

Even the teacher must learn from him/herself eventually.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:37 pm

TD,

Yes, of course that's right.

And after a physician heals your illness, you may enjoy good health again. For a while.

:Namaste:,

--Joe

ps What would you say made Ajahn Chah's teacher, Ajahn Mun, "great"?

TigerDuck wrote:Although Ajahn Chah has a great teacher Ajahn Mun, eventually it is on student hands.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby TigerDuck on Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:04 pm

You can read his life story here:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/acariya-mun.pdf

Basically, everyone needs a good teacher.

But a privilege to have a special access to him/her does not guarantee something special.

Sometimes the best realizer can be the one who is cleaning the toilet Sitting far behind during the talk. Nobody knows.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:17 pm

TD,

TigerDuck wrote:You can read his life story here:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/acariya-mun.pdf

Well, no thank you. I wanted to know what, to you, makes his teacher "great". You said "great". What did you have in mind?

I'll let it go if you don't want to talk about it. Tnx,

--Joe
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby TigerDuck on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:41 am

The great thing cannot be greater than worse thing.
Ordinary has no role to play.

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:47 am

TD,

Roger, understood.

As I said. I'll let it go if you don't want to talk about it. Consider it done.

Bye, for now.

--J.

TigerDuck wrote:The great thing cannot be greater than worse thing.
Ordinary has no role to play.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby Linda Anderson on Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:16 am

TigerDuck wrote:I think eventually, everyone will go solo.

Dogen only went to China for 4 years.


I don't care how many years Dogen went to China... he had it right about going solo when he said... when I practice, I practice for all beings.

That sounds like solo to me... what about you.

TD... let's hope "eventually going solo" is not too far off. That has nothing to do with having a so-called teacher, or not. and, oh my goodness, let go of hope, for hope is for the wrong thing...
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Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:23 pm

Thanks Linda!

What you express reminds me of Hafiz.

Only

That Illumined
One

Who keeps
Seducing the formless into form

Had the charm to win my
Heart.

Only a Perfect One

Who is always
Laughing at the word
Two

Can make you know

Of

Love.
~Hafiz
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby LAO_Z on Sat Jun 13, 2015 7:13 pm

TigerDuck wrote:I think eventually, everyone will go solo.

Dogen only went to China for 4 years.


Dogen had some preparation done before leaving for China where he got enlightened.

An enlightened has obtained what called (无师智) The Wisdom Arising Naturally Without Teachers. Metaphorically, he would be able to breathe through the same nostril with the Buddha/Bodhisattva (一个鼻孔出气). As a result, Sutras become, in a sense, his own treasure. Put it in Hui Neng's words (translated by Thomas Cleary): "When people are at a loss, the guide ferries them over; when one is enlightened, one ferries oneself over."
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:37 pm

Linda,

Why, no. He was never solo.

He learned correctly with others. He practiced correctly with others. In two countries.

He taught others.

Where is the "solo"?

There is no "solo" Try though some may... .

(I mean something very positive by this!) ;)

--Joe

ps but of course, without correct practice, people will miss it, "solo" people or not.

Linda Anderson wrote:
TigerDuck wrote:I think eventually, everyone will go solo.

Dogen only went to China for 4 years.

I don't care how many years Dogen went to China... he had it right about going solo when he said... when I practice, I practice for all beings.

That sounds like solo to me... what about you.

TD... let's hope "eventually going solo" is not too far off. That has nothing to do with having a so-called teacher, or not. and, oh my goodness, let go of hope, for hope is for the wrong thing...
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby partofit22 on Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:12 am

Alone is an idea- But it seems very real, sometimes-
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:31 am

P, Teresa,

Oh, indeed.

We are the flowering tip of life, going back 3 or 4 billion years. If we were not connected to all that life, there would be no "us".

But we're not only connected to all the signs of that life, and all the fossils, and living fossils (blue-green algae; horseshoe crabs; coelocanths; three-toed sloths; etc.), but we're animated by the same energy that animated them. What is that energy? We're not alone in participating in and having a response to that energy.

But even independently of this, I think there's no sense in which Dogen was "solo". :lol2:

--Joe

partofit22 wrote:Alone is an idea- But it seems very real, sometimes-
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:45 am

Joe,
By solo, I did not mean to suggest separate.
linda
Not last night,
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Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Why We Do It (w/o a Teacher / Sangha), and How's It Goin

Postby fukasetsu on Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:57 pm

partofit22 wrote:Alone is an idea- But it seems very real, sometimes-


Reminds me of mom, she struggles often with the sense of being alone, seeking company or 'togetherness' all that seeking is but the avoidance of 'what is' and 'what is' is beyond notions of seperate or together. It saddens me that folks cannot see those illusions and by granting reality to thoughts, feelings, consciousness etc, only multiply illusions, just some ghostly traffic (mind)

:cry:
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