Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path
I'm a real novice when it comes to Buddhism. I've only been studying and practicing the Dharma (Dhamma) for the last couple years. So, of course my understanding and knowledge is limited. But I have a question I'd like to poise and I think this is an important one.
Why in Zen practice and teaching we don't approach things with an emphasis on the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold path?
I know these are fundamental parts of Buddhism, and fundamental parts of Zen, but it seems like they are not discussed much in Zen, or at least the beginning stages. I don't mean to criticize because I know that there is a reason for this. Is it because the whole point of Zazen/Zen practice goes against the intellectualization involved in presenting these basic concepts? Or, that Zazen is seen as the best way to truly understand and incorporate them into our life. I imagine that we are really talking about such things, such as when sitting Zazen . . this deals with right mindfulness, right concentration, ect.
I just finished Nishijima Roshi's book, "To Meet the Real Dragon", I don't recall him mentioning the Eightfold path at all. He does discuss the Four Noble Truths, but his interpretation is radically different to any other I've ever been exposed to. I don't think this is wrong, In fact I am sure this is an example of skillful teaching. I get a lot out of this practice and approach, it does seem to fit for me. I'm just trying to align this Zen approach to the fact that the Buddha did teach that we must focus on these very fundamental and all encompassing aspects of the dharma. Without the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path there is no Buddhism, right?
It's just a very different approach than the way Buddhism is presented in other traditions. Most Tibetan and Theravada books I've read or centers I've visited start right off the bat with discussing The Four Noble Truths & Eightfold Path. We seem to go right for the Zazen, and let the rest take care of itself.
I don't feel like I'm missing something because of the work I had done with the Eightfold Path and Four Noble Truths before becoming involved here at Treeleaf. But if I had not come without that background I don't think I would have been ready for Shikantaza. But this is most likely a personal issue dealing with the need I had to transform my world view and build a healthier ethical base for myself.
Perhaps I'm getting too caught up on this. I don't mean to, I just think this is a conversation that we should have.
What are every body's thoughts on this?
Re: Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path
Hi Greg (& everyone else),
Without the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path there can be no Buddhadharma, and of course Zen is just the practice of the Buddhadharma with complete body/mind. It's clear from his writings that Dogen Zenji (and with high probability his Sangha as well) fully incorporated these teachings into their practice and had extensive and deep knowledge of the Tripitaka, Shastras, as well as Mahayana Sutras. There are many variations on themes/Suttas which come directly from those earlier texts, so if they weren't always quoted explicitly (sometimes they are indeed directly referred to), it's probably because Dogen Zenji was simply too much of a genius to reinvent the wheel. However, that by no means implies that they weren't an integral part of their practice.
Originally Posted by Gregor