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Thread: Great Doubt, or "The Question"

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  1. #1
    Stephanie
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    Great Doubt, or "The Question"

    During my involvement here at Treeleaf, I was struck again and again by the strong feeling that for all I liked about Treeleaf, there was some essential difference in my approach to practice and the one taught here that was not a matter of something I was "doing wrong." But up until some months ago - long after my departure as a member of the sangha - I was not able to articulate what that was. My instinctive reaction was that the practice at Treeleaf was "too soft," but I have since come to the conclusion that is not what it was.

    It may very well be a softer approach was exactly what I needed at a time so much else around me was hard and unforgiving. But what I realize I was instinctively reacting against was attempts to shut down the process of questioning that brought me to a point of what I would describe as spiritual despair. To me - and to Chet, who served as my guide through the darkness - this point of despair was an opportunity, an opening for further questioning, not an "illness" to be medicated or a place to flee or avoid. And because I was able to embrace and go deeper into the darkness, I ultimately came out freer and more healed than had I tried to turn away from it or let it go.

    I know, thankfully, my journey is just that - my journey - and not a way everyone must follow. But what I think was more significant than my affinity for, and willingness to push into, this darkness, was another component of what was going on then - what I have learned to recognize as the Zen virtue of "Great Doubt." I used to feel very confused as to what set "Great Doubt," the virtue, apart from "skeptical doubt," one of the traditional Five Hindrances of Buddhism. I have since learned from my experience that skeptical doubt is more of an automatic resistance to things, a destructive tendency to pick apart and reject even what is good, that bats away and refuses to entertain anything that comes along and does not fit within parameters of what has been determined to be acceptable or true. Whereas Great Doubt is the presence of a question or questions that push us beyond the normal boundaries of our thought processes, beyond the answers that usually comfort and reassure us.

    I now like to think of "Great Doubt" as "The Question" - a turn of phrase I picked up from a John Daido Loori talk. Chet likes to use a turn of phrase he said he picked up from Steve Hagen: "the pure interrogative." These phrases point to the part of us that, restless, pushes us deeper into inquiry. The Question is what saves us from inertia, like a golf ball that only rolled half way down the Putt-Putt green and has no additional force to keep it rolling. Daido Roshi said that without this "Question," a spiritual practice is dead. This Question is like a beast that stalks you; it can chase you out of your house and eat all of your money and possessions. When stalked by a Question powerful enough, you can quite easily walk out of your home and walk away from everything you know. This is what the Buddha did.

    I have come to see koans as expressions of The Question that were personally meaningful to the ones asking and dealing with them. The traditional questions poised in the classic koans may or may not connect with the forms and phrases that we would use today to express our experiences of The Question. But while I do not formally practice with koans, I can see the value of a practice that keeps the Great Doubt alive and working in you, in which you gulp Mumon's "red hot iron ball that you cannot swallow or spit out."

    Being in the midst of "Great Doubt" is unnerving; I have come to believe that much of religion is made of the answers we come up with to reassure ourselves when faced with The Question. But I don't believe our attempts to hold it at bay ever fully resolve it, which is why so often the people we see who insist they have found "The Answer" later reveal themselves to have acted opposite to their expressed convictions, or seem so driven to convince others of their version of the truth.

    I wonder if this is where "Western Buddhism" is getting it wrong in general - churning out ream after ream of reassurance, of platitudes and comforting words, when the true way to freedom is stirring up, and making a person confront and inquire into, her own mind, her own doubt, her own Question. I think that the quality of "grit" it takes to face the hordes of Mara is a much underrated virtue in modern, Western Zen.

    We all love answers. We love it when someone else seems to offer us one, and perhaps love it even more when we can rattle off a nice sounding answer of our own. But I think this is something Buddhism gives us an opportunity to go beyond, allowing us to see the folly in our hunger for answers to the ultimate questions of life - questions that do not permit us to give an answer without leaping into conjecture, hope, and wishful thinking. Worldly answers are wonderful - they can give us keys for how to live in our world - but spiritual answers often act to kill in us the very thing that draws us to the spiritual path in the first place. The more I live and practice, the more I see that The Question must always be lived; it can never truly be resolved. It is that uneasy fire that makes us come alive in what we do, that makes us truly look at what is before us and wonder.

    A teacher once told me that simply sitting in the posture of zazen is the expression of a question. I agree that The Question can come just as much alive in shikantaza as in formal koan practice. But I do not believe this is always the way shikantaza is taught. Sometimes, it is taught in a way that abandons the fire of inquiry and instead settles into passivity. And this is the "flavor" I get here at Treeleaf, where Jundo will offer paragraph after paragraph of lovely explication, with the result of tranquilizing those stalking questions. I have seen little here of the Great Doubt being raised, though it does happen sometimes; yet, when it does happen, it seems it is quickly abandoned.

    I have wondered if my thoughts in this area are similar to those that drove some of the raging debates between students of the Rinzai and Soto schools throughout the years, with me leaning more toward the Rinzai point of view. I have found in my own life that habit or routine or gentle faith in the activity of sitting is not enough to sustain my practice - which is just as well, as it is only when I sit with the Question that something is alive on the cushion.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I feel as if this is something I might have posted myself a year ago. However, now I don't feel the same. The difference could be blind acceptance, or it could be increased confidence in the practice taught here. All in all, where I once seemed to have so many words now there don't seem to be as many, but the great doubt still lives. Maybe I am stuck in emptiness. Anyway, good post.
    迎 Geika

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post

    A teacher once told me that simply sitting in the posture of zazen is the expression of a question. I agree that The Question can come just as much alive in shikantaza as in formal koan practice. But I do not believe this is always the way shikantaza is taught. Sometimes, it is taught in a way that abandons the fire of inquiry and instead settles into passivity. And this is the "flavor" I get here at Treeleaf, where Jundo will offer paragraph after paragraph of lovely explication, with the result of tranquilizing those stalking questions. I have seen little here of the Great Doubt being raised, though it does happen sometimes; yet, when it does happen, it seems it is quickly abandoned.

    I have wondered if my thoughts in this area are similar to those that drove some of the raging debates between students of the Rinzai and Soto schools throughout the years, with me leaning more toward the Rinzai point of view. I have found in my own life that habit or routine or gentle faith in the activity of sitting is not enough to sustain my practice - which is just as well, as it is only when I sit with the Question that something is alive on the cushion.
    Hi Steph,

    Questions never end. As Taigu sang recently ...

    Don't believe you have got it, and it can be spoken about, owned and tagged, put into a treasure box. ...

    Questions never end, nor should they end. To be human is to question, seek reasons, trace stories, asks where we came from, how we got here, where we are going, why are things so screwed up, looking for answers to life's sometimes terrible problems ... questioning even why often there are no answers, no way out of the trap. That is good, and separates us from the stones and trees. In our very center there must always be questioning, and an openness to the mystery of whatever life is, why it is so, and what's next. Who are we? Never give up our questioning, curious side ... nor the existential wrestle with life's WHY?

    However, there is a difference between being open, alert, alive and questioning, and wallowing in thoughts, fighting with self made ghosts, and wheel spinning fictional questions. That's different from just openness, curiosity, healthy questioning of the simple "what's what and what's next" of life. In fact, the purpose of the "Great Doubt" spoken of by Rinzai Masters is precisely the over-feeding of the mind's games, pushing doubt to such an existential precipice, that it finally falls into itself as "Great Knowing" ... the central questions dropping away, resolved. Rinzai Master Boshan wrote long ago ...

    In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening;no doubt, no awakening.”

    The Great Doubt must shatter! The point is not to stay twisting and drowning in the mind games of made up questions, tangled thoughts and storms of emotions.

    But nor is it to become an unquestioning drone, without thought or curiosity, lobotomized, numb and tranquilized, too passive to rage at the unjust machine! We are about vibrant living! As in so many perspectives of our Zen Way, it is not an "either/or" proposition: For so many questionings and searchings for answers remain, as they should at the heart of this rich human life. Yet, simultaneously, hand-in-hand, as another side of a no sided coin ... all (and that means "ALL!") questions and searching is resolved in wholeness and stillness. Questioning-non-questioning. It is much like a hard climb up a mountain, step by step on the sharp rocks in search of a destination ... where simultaneously each step is total arrival in stillness, no place in need of going. One can have one's questions, drop some, keep others ... and Drop Them All Away at once! It is like being caught in a maze or a trap, no way out, hopeless ... yet finding even the maze AMAZING and the hopeless as Home ... seeing the maze as Wholeness when viewed above.

    Our Shikantaza approach is a bit different from the Rinzai hard drive straight into the wall of MU! and such ... for we do not blast the mountain apart with TNT, but stop perfectly still (even as we move) and merge into it's very heart. Shikantaza is thoroughgoing, intense, to the marrow dropping of all searching (even as we search), whereby there can be no thought of doubt even as we doubt. Do we doubt or free ourselves of doubt? NO DOUBT! Sitting itself is Great Doubt Awakening realized, the mystery of the Genjo Koan come to life ... the great constantly answered-unanswered Koan that is right before our eyes.

    Who will win the World Series next year? What is God's shoe size? What is the cure for cancer? Not even a Buddha knows for sure. Why do bad things happen, why is life and this world the way it is? Some possible Buddhist answers, yet more questions. But what is the Answer shining in/as/through-and-through all the questions? Buddha (Big "K") Knows.

    If it is of help, I just published a little essay that is the mirror image of your question ... about the various flavors of Knowing Not Knowing Knowing in our Way ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nowing-Knowing

    And maybe this talk on sitting with the Interrogative ... Questioning as an Affirmation!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...DO-WHAT-S-WHAT

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2012 at 02:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    .....


    However, there is a difference between being open, alert, alive and questioning, and wallowing in thoughts, fighting with self made ghosts, and wheel spinning fictional questions. That's different from just openness, curiosity, healthy questioning of the simple "what's what and what's next" of life. In fact, the purpose of the "Great Doubt" spoken of by Rinzai Masters is precisely the over-feeding of the mind's games, pushing doubt to such an existential precipice, that it finally falls into itself as "Great Knowing" ... the central questions dropping away, resolved. Rinzai Master Boshan wrote long ago ...

    In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening;no doubt, no awakening.”

    .....
    Gassho, J
    This reminds me a of clip I viewed a ways back about the Great Doubt in contrast to self-doubt. From what I can tell, Great Doubt is that "what is it?" observation about our practice (our life), or as Stephanie says, "The Question". To me, it is not the beast in my head, but splinter under my fingernail. But I'm not sure it is "THE Question", which if so, could be answered by "THE Answer".

    That all said, it seems to speak of the Great Doubt when so much of it involves "I" and talk of you self misses the point. It seems to me that Jundo and Taigu don't shy away from the questions or the answers, but that our practice is not concerned with "What is it?" but as Kuzan Peter Schireson put it aptly on his blog (which helped me think on this), "It is this."

    Last edited by Hogen; 09-10-2012 at 03:30 PM.
    Hogen (Matt); formerly "mcurtiss"

  5. #5
    Hi Stephanie - thank you for this thread.

    I joined Tree leaf nine months ago - and in trying to find my bearings read some of the earlier threads where you had posted. I thought it was a shame that you had left - you raised many interesting, pertinent questions. Please forgive me if I'm misquoting but something that stayed with me was a comment along the lines of 'Tree Leaf is a place where questions come to die'. I thought that was a very powerful statement and whenever I felt niggled - or not quite satisfied with an answer/explanation - this statement would come to the forefront of my mind.

    But somehow - perhaps as Amelia has said - this sense of disatisfaction has reduced and I feel differently now.

    Now it could be that I've been softened up - anaesthetized in some way - but I honestly don't think so.

    Firstly - I don't believe that the virtue of 'Zen Doubt' is the same as existential angst - though we can never escape the 'big' questions of life. I do agree with you that Great doubt may push us beyond the answers that usually comfort and reassure. The big questions are indeed so powerful that we can never adequately answer them with our meagre semantics. This is why I am drawn to this practice as being beyond words and letters - as Jundo often teaches. I do not feel that this teaching is some simplistic, quietism that leads to passivity.

    I'm also not sure that we sit 'with' the question. Our living, breathing lives are the question. To think otherwise feels dualistic and doesn't equate with the 'wholeness' that is taught here.

    But as you so rightly say - this is your journey.

    My journey is definately the better for being here - not necessarily easier - but I am not looking for easier.

    Anyway - these are just a few subjective thoughts.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 09-11-2012 at 07:43 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    I'm also not sure that we sit 'with' the question. Our living, breathing lives are the question. To think otherwise feels dualistic and doesn't equate with the 'wholeness' that is taught here.
    I have long felt this way too ... and though a word is just a word ... and "with" is "are" is "as" ... and "we" precisely "that" .... all simply "sitting" ...

    ... from henceforth "shall we sit with that", as heard on many a sit-a-long talk, shall be "shall we sit as that" (pardon me if I forget from time to time). We might also say "shall sitting sit with sitting" "shall that sit as us" "shall sitting us as that" "shall sitting that as us" "shall us us as us" "shall that that as that" "shall Jundo Stephanie as Willow" "shall shall as shall" etc. etc. etc. ...

    ... sitting as/in/beyond/right-thought-and-through that.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-11-2012 at 12:39 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Hogen, thanks for that video. I believe that was Zen Master Bon Soeng of the Kwan Um School.

    Stephanie, you may want to check if there are any Kwan Um groups/teachers near you. What is this? Don't know. is a big part of their practice along with koans.

    All the teaching styles have at least one thing in common - sitting.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  8. #8
    Hi Stephanie!
    Nice to see you again!

    I tried Mumon's "red hot iron ball that you cannot swallow or spit out" when I was younger and first started to practice Zen in some self-taught Rinzai style. I spent years with the damn Mu koan!
    And I didn't reach any greater understanding. All the red hot iron ball ever gave me was anxiety and frustration. The silver mountain only grew heavier, the iron walls only thicker. Perhaps with a teacher things would have been different, I don't know. But my first real understanding of Mu came after I started practicing Shikantaza. The Question still lives, the Investigation continues.

    /Pontus
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  9. #9
    disastermouse
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    I don't think she's talking about koan practice. I think she's talking about the questionless question. Hagen calls it the pure interrogative because there is no really accurate English term for it.

    Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.

    It's antithetical to the part of you that thinks you grow in the practice, that one gets 'better' at it, or seeks a comfortable proficiency in Zen as though it's any other type of endeavor. It's the doubt about whether you really understand. It's meeting that insecurity with a direct, unencumbered connection to reality without insisting it be a certain way. Most of all, it's looking until you know you're really not shitting yourself.

    I've come to the point where I don't think that sort of practice is for everyone. Some people are content with the simple comforts of a Hallmark Card Zen - and that's okay. That's how the religion penetrates the culture.

    And yet, there is something unique to Zen that can't be found in most popular religion and for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound. This is the part of Zen (I think) that resists comparison to all other religions. It resists the whitewashing required to make the 'many paths up the mountain' metaphor so common in reconciliatory overtures to inter-faith dialogue.

    IMHO, truly no offense is meant.

    Chet
    Last edited by disastermouse; 09-11-2012 at 03:21 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    I don't think she's talking about koan practice. I think she's talking about the questionless question. Hagen calls it the pure interrogative because there is no really accurate English term for it.

    Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.

    It's antithetical to the part of you that thinks you grow in the practice, that one gets 'better' at it, or seeks a comfortable proficiency in Zen as though it's any other type of endeavor. It's the doubt about whether you really understand. It's meeting that insecurity with a direct, unencumbered connection to reality without insisting it be a certain way. Most of all, it's looking until you know you're really not shitting yourself.

    I've come to the point where I don't think that sort of practice is for everyone. Some people are content with the simple comforts of a Hallmark Card Zen - and that's okay. That's how the religion penetrates the culture.

    And yet, there is something unique to Zen that can't be found in most popular religion and for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound. This is the part of Zen (I think) that resists comparison to all other religions. It resists the whitewashing required to make the 'many paths up the mountain' metaphor so common in reconciliatory overtures to inter-faith dialogue.

    IMHO, truly no offense is meant.

    Chet
    Chet - reading through the replies I can not sense an 'amazing amount of deflection'. This implies an intention to not understand/side step. I think there are honest and heartfelt answers here and in this jumble of words we all do our best to communicate.

    I agree that inter-faith dialogue can bring forth many disatisfactions - but whether we like it or not 'the many paths up the mountain' metaphor has to stand. We each choose our own path/journey - and in advancing years I have become less hot headed in thinking any one religion/belief sysytem has the ultimate answer/approach.

    We fashion what we may from all that is out there, in the areas of ethics, human relationships and our relationship to our planet - and this human race relies on such reconciliatory overtures in every area of life.

    IMHO

    Gassho

    Willow

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    I agree that inter-faith dialogue can bring forth many disatisfactions - but whether we like it or not 'the many paths up the mountain' metaphor has to stand.
    the biggest of which is when we don't like the answers.
    Hogen (Matt); formerly "mcurtiss"

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.
    Yes, but the point is Clarity. Not greeting cards, not tranquilized dullness, not a foresaking of vibrant curiosity and questioning, not numbness ... but Crystal Clarity and Wholeness.

    There is no Zen Teacher I know who would say that one should simply allow oneself to spiral into an endless whirlpool of questions, doubts, emotional dramas, self created soap operas, self-psychologizing, angsty existential searching, self-flagelating philosophizing on artificial mysteries. Even if pushed into the whirlpool by this Practice, the point is to arrive at the storm's still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness ... not to wallow drowning in the shit storm.

    Anyone who says otherwise seriously misunderstands the point of this Zen enterprise and Buddhism. Some of us have a bit of Crystal Clarity Wholeness amid the chaos of life ... even as we savor the questions and mysteries that this rich life naturally offers in each fresh moment.

    Some other folks just like their angst as an anchor to cling to. They don't get their own mental game that they are caught in like a treadmill or a comfortable addiction, or are afraid to see through it. They do not understand this Path, only what they imagine it to be. They simply appear to lack True Clarity and Wholeness.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Rich wrote ...

    there are any Kwan Um groups/teachers near you. What is this? Don't know. is a big part of their practice along with koans.

    The Kwan Um Path is wonderful, but that is a very misleading statement if it implies that the purpose of their path of "Don't Know" is "don't know" and anything but an ultimate arrival at solid, unshakeble "Big Knowing" ... Clear Holy Wholeness. The point of their "Just Don't Know" is NEVER just not knowing.
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-12-2012 at 12:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

    Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.


    Chet
    with all due respect, exactly what response are we to give when faced with a post which calls what we do "passive" and "soft". My response at least attempts to articulate how I see our approach to zen: sitting with "what it is". So what is it then: us not engaging in the debate or are we simply not responding in the way the poster wishes we did?

    As I see it, what "it is" can be the scratch that cannot be itched or the hot ball in the throat or all things in between. Perhaps what we do is not question the why we have the hot iron ball in our throat but to sit with the existence of the iron ball. I will mull over the Youtube vid I posted above again, because I think it speaks about the "Great Doubt" not being "my Great Doubt".

    I appreciate Stephanie's posts because they are direct and uncompromising, but I feel as though (especially in light of the thought that we were all deflecting), that its all mental gymnastics fashioned to somehow turn it all into an introspective exercise.
    Last edited by Hogen; 09-11-2012 at 12:41 PM.
    Hogen (Matt); formerly "mcurtiss"

  14. #14
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yes, but the point is Clarity. Not hallmark, not tranquilized dullness, not a foresaking of vibrant curiosity and questioning, not numbness ... but Crystal Clarity and Wholeness.

    There is no Zen Teacher I know who would say that one should simply allow oneself to spiral into an endless whirlpool of questions, doubts, emotional dramas, self created soap operas, self-psychologizing, angsty existential searching, self-flagelating philosophizing on artificial mysteries. Even if pushed into the whirlpool by this Practice, the point is to arrive at the storm's still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness ... not to wallow drowning in the shit storm.
    No one is advocating this view. That's a straw-dog, Jundo. Sometimes one is simply in the shitstorm. Pretending it isn't there is pointless when one is in pain. Leaning into it with curiosity may indeed be the correct medicine.

    Anyone who says otherwise seriously misunderstands the point of this Zen enterprise and Buddhism. Some of us have a bit of Crystal Clarity Wholeness amid the chaos of life ... even as we savor the questions and mysteries that this rich life naturally offers in each fresh moment.

    Some other folks just like their angst as an anchor to cling to. They don't get their own mental game that they are caught in like a treadmill or a comfortable addiction, or are afraid to see through it. They do not understand this Path, only what they imagine it to be. They simply appear to lack True Clarity and Wholeness.
    And some other folks never acknowledge the uncomfortableness realness of that angst because it hits too close to home - and acknowledging the realness of that angst in others requires facing it in oneself.

    The thing is - in the end, only you can really know whether you're just shitting yourself - and it will manifest in the form of doubt and the cladding of tradition. I, personally, am not accusing Treeleaf of this. This sangha and its teachers have awakened me from deep delusion more than once.

    Chet

  15. #15
    Hello Chet,

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    No one is advocating this view. That's a straw-dog, Jundo. Sometimes one is simply in the shitstorm. Pretending it isn't there is pointless when one is in pain. Leaning into it with curiosity may indeed be the correct medicine.
    Speaking as someone who has recently been plunged into this proverbial shitstorm, I can say that neither leaning in nor leaning away would be a useful strategy in the slightest. Just standing with eyes open and watching as it thunders and rains and shakes the earth is all there is to do. Jundo's "still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness" is neither a place nor time; it is the simple activity of standing straight with eyes open. For me, the "still center" was and is letting go of my natural inclinations to rage against the storm or try to find shelter.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  16. #16
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun View Post
    Hello Chet,



    Speaking as someone who has recently been plunged into this proverbial shitstorm, I can say that neither leaning in nor leaning away would be a useful strategy in the slightest. Just standing with eyes open and watching as it thunders and rains and shakes the earth is all there is to do. Jundo's "still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness" is neither a place nor time; it is the simple activity of standing straight with eyes open. For me, the "still center" was and is letting go of my natural inclinations to rage against the storm or try to find shelter.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun
    Same difference.

    Chet

  17. #17
    :
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - Rich wrote ...

    there are any Kwan Um groups/teachers near you. What is this? Don't know. is a big part of their practice along with koans.

    The Kwan Um Path is wonderful, but that is a very misleading statement if it implies that the purpose of their path of "Don't Know" is "don't know" and anything but an ultimate arrival at solid, unshakeble "Big Knowing" ... Clear Holy Wholeness. The point of their "Just Don't Know" is NEVER just not knowing.
    I don't speak for the Kwan Um School. If you ask What is this? the answer is Don't Know. If this Don't Know is to the marrow then I agree with Big Knowing Clear UNholy Wholeness
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Hi Stephanie,

    good to hear from you!
    I think the questions are here and do get articulated. However, an honest pursuit of any koan-type question, especially real life koans, quickly goes beyond what we can express in words, especially written words without a chance to add our face, hands, tone of voice to what is being said. Speaking strictly for me, Taigu's talks sometimes make me feel very unsettled, like a punch in the hara. Poof, the question is right there: Who am I? To describe that experience would take so many words and still not hit it. So I take it and use it, and that's practice.

    I don't feel among tranquilized zen zombies here. I've been part of a brick-and-mortar sangha where I had very little opportunity to even get to know other people because the time together was used for sitting. The energy of the shared sitting was still incredible. That's what I'm looking for in mutual support, and I find it here, too.

    I hope you give us another chance. If you don't like the talks, listen to the "ordinary folks". If you need a punch, we can do that, too.

    Respectfully,
    _/\_ Nindo
    --- In every moment of our sitting all beings are receiving the ultimate help; they are all achieving perfect peace and perfect rest. --- Norman Fischer

  19. #19
    Hellos to all posting here!
    I have been occupied with too many other things, and time constraints do not permit even a moderate/light participation. But I thought I'd drop by for a visit with long time friends in this practice. I came upon this post and it felt like I'd never left!

    One teacher of mine, Rev. Bob McNeil (Matsuoka Roshi, Soto Lineage) used to tell us that 'when the question goes away it is just as satisfying as getting an answer.'

    In my limited experience I have found this to be a wise observation. I have shoveled answers at questions, my own and others...it will only stave off the insatiable hunger of the question, the doubt, whatever we want to call it--for so long.

    On the other hand, this practice of sitting allows all that stuff percolating in the brain pan, and all that stuff bound in muscular tensions in various parts of the body to settle out somewhat, to settle down. Zazen allows me to 'put my burden down', even if, while sitting, I give it a few more Herculean hefty lifts.

    When sitting I observe my body, my mind. I relax the tense body parts as I come across them. I watch the thoughts and try to let the 'thought train' run on through, without 'getting on board the thought train.' Each time I sit there are varying degrees of success at this. Practice after all does mean 'practice.'

    Of all human activities I think zazen is a human being's closest cousin to a cat's purr.

    'At this very moment, what more need we seek? For this very land is the Land of Lotuses, and this very body is the Body of the Buddha'

    I usually just stop at the part of the quote 'At this very moment, what more need I seek?'

    Already that says it all to me.

    When my mind is unsettled, and won't settle, then it's a loud and jostling train I'm on--and even then, I still can ask 'at this very moment, what more need I seek?'

    Up in the threads somewhere Grace asked about enlightenment...I believe it was something to the effect 'does an enlightened person know they're enlightened?

    Another teacher (can't remember who just now) explained to us that the first casualty of 'enlightenment' is 'enlightenment' itself! (Now if that don't beat all...)

    Liberation, no self, emptiness, no attachment...we use a whole lotta words because we think we are on the outside looking in. My nose pressed against this glass I have handblown and installed myself--I see what look like ordinary people sweeping, taking out trash, hanging up laundry, drinking tea and washing their bowls.
    Indeed, when I am engaged in similar activities of daily life, I have joined them...has the questioner or the question disappeared? These two hands fish a wandering spider out of the sink with the dish towel and return from a green leafy world to the world of soap and water, white porcelain and Formica...these two hands rejoin the soapy water ...

    I am very grateful to have this practice in my life and to have sangha to share it with and senior practioners and teachers and newcomers. I don't know what I would have done without it, it is for life, for the rest of my life...
    Only my practice is my practice, no one else can do it for me...
    my practice suits me perfectly: it is tailor made for me--like my very own skin.

    Another teacher would say--'knowing is intimate, not knowing--more intimate still.'

    These days I am full of gratitude and my eyes find themselves full of tear, but not sad ones...

    I am ready to leave buddhism, to leave the rakusu, the mala, and all, but I cannot, others who are seeking blindly for something and finding this practice need these traces of things and other some such and so I assist weekly with a Ch'an meditation group, and that's where I've been spending my time....

    I like to keep answers short--25 words, double that maybe, but I am endulging myself and making up for lost time...as I can see here everyone is well and thriving--bueno! and gassho!

    In gratitude to all teachers past, present and future,
    keishin












    Last edited by Keishin; 09-15-2012 at 11:57 PM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin View Post


    I usually just stop at the part of the quote 'At this very moment, what more need I seek?'

    Already that says it all to me.

    When my mind is unsettled, and won't settle, then it's a loud and jostling train I'm on--and even then, I still can ask 'at this very moment, what more need I seek?'












    The essence of the way-seeking mind, that mind that cultivates great care. Whether peaceful or uncomfortable, great care for all things. In defilement and also free from defilement.

    Thanks so much for this post, Keishin.

    Gassho,
    alan

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin View Post
    Of all human activities I think zazen is a human being's closest cousin to a cat's purr.
    Hello Keishin! Good to see you!
    Thank you for this post, full of wisdom as always!

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Don't ya just gotta love it.
    I think the questions are here and do get articulated. However, an honest pursuit of any koan-type question, especially real life koans, quickly goes beyond what we can express in words, especially written words without a chance to add our face, hands, tone of voice to what is being said. Speaking strictly for me, Taigu's talks sometimes make me feel very unsettled, like a punch in the hara. Poof, the question is right there: Who am I? To describe that experience would take so many words and still not hit it. So I take it and use it, and that's practice.
    ditto, like she said, dammit! (thank you Nindo and Jundo )

    gassho, 生海 Shokai
    Last edited by Shokai; 09-11-2012 at 12:06 PM.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  23. #23
    Chet wrote

    And yet, there is something unique to Zen that can't be found in most popular religion and for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound. This is the part of Zen (I think) that resists comparison to all other religions. It resists the whitewashing required to make the 'many paths up the mountain' metaphor so common in reconciliatory overtures to inter-faith dialogue.

    I've been thinking some more about this and I can't really agree. To valorize Zen as somehow unique or special seems to miss the point. The itch, the scar, the original wound - is always there. It feels inflated to suggest that only Zennies are in touch with this - experience this. Some individuals experience the depths of life with a curiosity and intensity that simply isn't visible to others.

    If those of us here choose to connect with the 'original wound' through Zen - that's fine - but it's incredibly judgemental to assume that others don't experience that sense of aliveness, intuition - call it what you will - just because they follow another practice.

    Each to his/her own path - really - I have enough trouble working out where I am with myself in all this without judging the rest of the human race.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 09-11-2012 at 03:25 PM.

  24. #24
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    I've been thinking some more about this and I can't really agree. To valorize Zen as somehow unique or special seems to miss the point. The itch, the scar, the original wound - is always there. It feels inflated to suggest that only Zennies are in touch with this - experience this. Some individuals experience the depths of life with a curiosity and intensity that simply isn't visible to others.

    If those of us here choose to connect with the 'original wound' through Zen - that's fine - but it's incredibly judgemental to assume that others don't experience that sense of aliveness, intuition - call it what you will - just because they follow another practice.
    The difference is that all other religions offer something to pour into that sense of an original wound. Zen does not do this. In fact, there is no original wound at all, but you don't realize this without confronting the fact that it feels as though there is an original wound - that something is off-kilter. In fact, my understanding is that the literal image of the word 'samsara' is a wheel off true - that is, with the axle incorrectly placed. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all attempt to explain that in terms of a self-soul-ego. Even other schools of Buddhism attempt to do this. Zen, more than most other religions, resists the temptation to do this. That is a particular strength, in my opinion, of Zen. This is not to denigrate other religions or paths at all, but to point to something unique about Zen. If you strip from Zen the things that separates it from other paths, what is left of Zen? It's a very strange inclination to do that, I think.

    Chet

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    The difference is that all other religions offer something to pour into that sense of an original wound. Zen does not do this. In fact, there is no original wound at all, but you don't realize this without confronting the fact that it feels as though there is an original wound - that something is off-kilter. In fact, my understanding is that the literal image of the word 'samsara' is a wheel off true - that is, with the axle incorrectly placed. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all attempt to explain that in terms of a self-soul-ego. Even other schools of Buddhism attempt to do this. Zen, more than most other religions, resists the temptation to do this. That is a particular strength, in my opinion, of Zen. This is not to denigrate other religions or paths at all, but to point to something unique about Zen. If you strip from Zen the things that separates it from other paths, what is left of Zen? It's a very strange inclination to do that, I think.

    Chet
    Chet - I do understand what you say here - and I wouldn't want to strip from Zen the things that separate it from other paths either.

    I don't think I'm going to be able to articulate this very well, but part of the process of my being here is that I've become more open to accepting other paths. I don't know where this is leading to - but I feel more able to re-confiigure my religious upbringing and the strong negative prejudices that came from that, in a way that I haven't been able to before.

    There are a lot of strands in this thread - but am I right in thinking that the main point is the suggestion that 'something' is not being confronted within the teaching/practice here?

    Gassho

    Willow

  26. #26
    This has been a really interesting read. Reminds me a lot of the new Leighton book in a lot of ways, where the opening chapter says basically the same thing: that when we sit we sit as a question. Still though, and let’s really cut through the bullshit: part of the reason this post is here is to pass some judgment. Which is fine, we all need critiqued, we all need a push here and there to see some of our own shit, which we typically take for something other than shit. Still, there are a few things I’d like to, uh, question. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…okay, I’m done, no more bad jokes.

    As long as we’re cutting through the bullshit, it often feels like this post is saying, “I’ve got it, I’ve figured it out, most Western Buddhism/Zen has it wrong and here’s where, and in particular, Treeleaf is too soft and easy and passive.” And maybe so. Who knows. Furthermore, I mean, the entire rhetoric of the post seems delineated upon two lines: those who are doing the wishy-washy hallmark zen (though it may work for them, but they’re still “dead” spiritually, which is most of Treeleaf (these are the implications)) and those who sit at the white hot center of things, with this burning question. Which again is fine, if not somewhat like: so you’re saying you’re doing it right and we’re not. Which, at first I thought, interesting read, but I’ll pass, but then Chet jumped in to say that people are like avoiding the post’s real shit. So, the above then, that’s what I see as the post’s real shit. It’d be one thing to say, “Does anyone else think there needs to be more questioning here at Treeleaf” and kind of explain what the Great Doubt is; it is entirely another thing to say, Treeleaf is passive, most Western Buddhism seems to be, and check out how I’ve got it right. In any case, this is nothing new, either. Slavoj Zizek’s been saying it for years and it might be of interest to some:

    http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/2/western.php

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2122/

    Pretty interesting articles really, and I recommend everybody at Treeleaf read them. And then we lead a revolt against Slavoj. I kid, I kid.

    Anyway, I realize this post is a little antagonistic. I certainly don’t mean to be a jerk, only to be honest and share my perception of what this post really feels like (which Hogen also mentioned). I mean, I don’t know you Stephanie and it seems you’ve “found” something really great for you, or whatever (I can never phrase these things well enough, apologies), but the strategies of the post and the overall purposes of it, which seem complex to me, seem suspect and worth raising at least a tiny other perspective. Others are doing this as well, but I really think it's all in how the initial post is written, expressed that has us all going "wha?", you know?

    Lastly, here’s a suspicion of my own: while some people at Treeleaf discuss their personal lives, most of us don’t do this very openly (I don’t mean this negatively). I mean, we all kind of use abstracts, to some degree, and it’s rare when any of us really gets into the details, the real details of our lives. Here, we have “darkness” and “angst” and etc, and that’s fitting, because who wants to read a bunch of people’s problems all day long? Further, who wants to read a bunch of stuff about how we’ve all suffered, really suffered, and here are the details of it, and how now we’re in the light, whatever light that might be – frankly, most suffering, unless you’re a really talented writer, is actually pretty banal stuff, and is mainly self-imposed (again, I could very well be wrong here, but that was my experience of “darkness,” years and years of it, and even in the midst of years and years of it, that always nagging thought, feeling, perception: “am I just pretending somehow?”). So, for me anyway, because of the nature of the forum, we don’t all post our Question(s) mainly because they can be pretty personal. Not only that (though almost everyone here is kind beyond kind), I don’t want to bore people with my own little questions which I sit on the cushion with, because we all have them. And the Big Question, the Great Doubt, that’s just the little question, the little doubt in our every day lives (was I a dick today? Did I really say that thing, think that thing? Treat her like that? Act superior like that?) And it’s those little questions that remind us of the Big Questions, those little doubts that remind us of the Great Doubt, and the little are nothing but the Big all along, just another way of playing it. But maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, I also want to say thanks for a compelling read and for knocking us all about some, which I also see as one of the purposes of the post.

    -a
    Last edited by alan.r; 09-11-2012 at 03:31 PM.

  27. #27
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    This has been a really interesting read. Reminds me a lot of the new Leighton book in a lot of ways, where the opening chapter says basically the same thing: that when we sit we sit as a question. Still though, and let’s really cut through the bullshit: part of the reason this post is here is to pass some judgment. Which is fine, we all need critiqued, we all need a push here and there to see some of our own shit, which we typically take for something other than shit. Still, there are a few things I’d like to, uh, question. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…okay, I’m done, no more bad jokes.

    As long as we’re cutting through the bullshit, it often feels like this post is saying, “I’ve got it, I’ve figured it out, most Western Buddhism/Zen has it wrong and here’s where, and in particular, Treeleaf is too soft and easy and passive.” And maybe so. Who knows. Furthermore, I mean, the entire rhetoric of the post seems delineated upon two lines: those who are doing the wishy-washy hallmark zen (though it may work for them, but they’re still “dead” spiritually, which is most of Treeleaf (these are the implications)) and those who sit at the white hot center of things, with this burning question. Which again is fine, if not somewhat like: so you’re saying you’re doing it right and we’re not. Which, at first I thought, interesting read, but I’ll pass, but then Chet jumped in to say that people are like avoiding the post’s real shit. So, the above then, that’s what I see as the post’s real shit. It’d be one thing to say, “Does anyone else think there needs to be more questioning here at Treeleaf” and kind of explain what the Great Doubt is; it is entirely another thing to say, Treeleaf is passive, most Western Buddhism seems to be, and check out how I’ve got it right. In any case, this is nothing new, either. Slavoj Zizek’s been saying it for years and it might be of interest to some:

    http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/2/western.php

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2122/

    Pretty interesting articles really, and I recommend everybody at Treeleaf read them. And then we lead a revolt against Slavoj. I kid, I kid.

    Anyway, I realize this post is a little antagonistic. I certainly don’t mean to be a jerk, only to be honest and share my perception of what this post really feels like (which Hogen also mentioned). I mean, I don’t know you Stephanie and it seems you’ve “found” something really great for you, or whatever (I can never phrase these things well enough, apologies), but the strategies of the post and the overall purposes of it, which seem complex to me, seem suspect and worth raising at least a tiny other perspective. Others are doing this as well, but I really think it's all in how the initial post is written, expressed that has us all going "wha?", you know?

    Lastly, here’s a suspicion of my own: while some people at Treeleaf discuss their personal lives, most of us don’t do this very openly (I don’t mean this negatively). I mean, we all kind of use abstracts, to some degree, and it’s rare when any of us really gets into the details, the real details of our lives. Here, we have “darkness” and “angst” and etc, and that’s fitting, because who wants to read a bunch of people’s problems all day long? Further, who wants to read a bunch of stuff about how we’ve all suffered, really suffered, and here are the details of it, and how now we’re in the light, whatever light that might be – frankly, most suffering, unless you’re a really talented writer, is actually pretty banal stuff, and is mainly self-imposed (again, I could very well be wrong here, but that was my experience of “darkness,” years and years of it, and even in the midst of years and years of it, that always nagging thought, feeling, perception: “am I just pretending somehow?”). So, for me anyway, because of the nature of the forum, we don’t all post our Question(s) mainly because they can be pretty personal. Not only that (though almost everyone here is kind beyond kind), I don’t want to bore people with my own little questions which I sit on the cushion with, because we all have them. And the Big Question, the Great Doubt, that’s just the little question, the little doubt in our every day lives (was I a dick today? Did I really say that thing, think that thing? Treat her like that? Act superior like that?) And it’s those little questions that remind us of the Big Questions, those little doubts that remind us of the Great Doubt, and the little are nothing but the Big all along, just another way of playing it. But maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, I also want to say thanks for a compelling read and for knocking us all about some, which I also see as one of the purposes of the post.

    -a
    I think Stephanie was just trying to draw attention to something that she thinks we may be missing. The natural tendency is to be defensive about that, but I think it might be useful to resist that tendency and see what's really behind it.

    Treeleaf is my sangha - I find it immensely valuable to practice here.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    I think Stephanie was just trying to draw attention to something that she thinks we may be missing. The natural tendency is to be defensive about that, but I think it might be useful to resist that tendency and see what's really behind it.

    Treeleaf is my sangha - I find it immensely valuable to practice here.

    Gassho,

    Chet
    No, no, mos def. But, as I probably failed at explaining: it's in the way that the missing thing was brought up, the rhetoric surrounding it, which may be a/the cause for, as you put it, deflection, rather than an invitation to the thing missed.

    -a

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Chet,

    I agree that Stephanie is trying to draw attention to something she thinks we may be missing. When I came to Treeleaf, and you know this well, I believed I was broken, empty, and less than adequate to being a valuable person...I still think that way, plenty. But studying here at Treeleaf I am slowly learning, with your help, Stephanie's help, and everyone else here that nothing is broken, nothing is inadequate, and nothing is missing. Now, taken to an extreme that could lead to a very large ego and self centeredness...and a belief in mantras or a room full of frames we buy in a gift shop with inspirational quotes from the Buddha or Dogen. But I don't believe I'm likely to forget those feelings since they never really go away. And for folks like me, sitting with the idea that nothing is lacking offers a great freedom, but also a responsibility.

    Do not mistake our fellow sangha members saying that they do not agree with Stephanie to be dismissing what she has to say. It may be very profound and if it works for her I am most grateful! But I still see much of the cyclical thinking that Stephanie has always displayed, which she likes to call "Great Doubt", but I think is closer to the skeptical doubt she mentioned in her post. These questions will never end because they are designed to open packages, see what's inside, and move on to the next one. Again, and again, and again.

    I know you are unlikely to agree with what I have said and offer a defense of Stephanie's post, but I do believe she is well intentioned. But I think her attempt to diagnose what is wrong with Treeleaf blinds her to the fact that she is constantly trying to answer what is wrong with herself. We have gladly taken her in here and asked her several times to go through jukai and fully put herself into what is taught here and actually we have asked the same of you. I truly feel that, until you both do that (assuming there is still a part of you that wants to) you will both be drifting from experience to experience trying to uncover truths that were right in front of you for years.

    And, so you know, writing IMHO at the end of the post says to me that you think we don't trust your sincerity and need to create a shield from criticism. We trust you and know your are sincere...but sit, sew a rakusu with us, and take in what there is to be learned here. Many zen practioners go from one tradition to another as they mature...there's no reason you can't have a different way of looking at things. But until you immerse yourselves in that dissatisfaction you feel, I fear you will always be consumed by it.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    I think Stephanie was just trying to draw attention to something that she thinks we may be missing. The natural tendency is to be defensive about that, but I think it might be useful to resist that tendency and see what's really behind it.

    Treeleaf is my sangha - I find it immensely valuable to practice here.

    Gassho,

    Chet
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  30. #30
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Chet,

    I agree that Stephanie is trying to draw attention to something she thinks we may be missing. When I came to Treeleaf, and you know this well, I believed I was broken, empty, and less than adequate to being a valuable person...I still think that way, plenty. But studying here at Treeleaf I am slowly learning, with your help, Stephanie's help, and everyone else here that nothing is broken, nothing is inadequate, and nothing is missing. Now, taken to an extreme that could lead to a very large ego and self centeredness...and a belief in mantras or a room full of frames we buy in a gift shop with inspirational quotes from the Buddha or Dogen. But I don't believe I'm likely to forget those feelings since they never really go away. And for folks like me, sitting with the idea that nothing is lacking offers a great freedom, but also a responsibility.

    Do not mistake our fellow sangha members saying that they do not agree with Stephanie to be dismissing what she has to say. It may be very profound and if it works for her I am most grateful! But I still see much of the cyclical thinking that Stephanie has always displayed, which she likes to call "Great Doubt", but I think is closer to the skeptical doubt she mentioned in her post. These questions will never end because they are designed to open packages, see what's inside, and move on to the next one. Again, and again, and again.

    I know you are unlikely to agree with what I have said and offer a defense of Stephanie's post, but I do believe she is well intentioned. But I think her attempt to diagnose what is wrong with Treeleaf blinds her to the fact that she is constantly trying to answer what is wrong with herself. We have gladly taken her in here and asked her several times to go through jukai and fully put herself into what is taught here and actually we have asked the same of you. I truly feel that, until you both do that (assuming there is still a part of you that wants to) you will both be drifting from experience to experience trying to uncover truths that were right in front of you for years.

    And, so you know, writing IMHO at the end of the post says to me that you think we don't trust your sincerity and need to create a shield from criticism. We trust you and know your are sincere...but sit, sew a rakusu with us, and take in what there is to be learned here. Many zen practioners go from one tradition to another as they mature...there's no reason you can't have a different way of looking at things. But until you immerse yourselves in that dissatisfaction you feel, I fear you will always be consumed by it.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Dosho,

    You're flirting with the idea that because Stephanie and I haven't taken Jukai, we are somehow less Buddhist or that our arguments have less weight. I think that's a very misleading idea. I haven't gone from one tradition to another - I'm just not much of a joiner and I don't know how much institutional Buddhism I want to absorb. I'm not sure I want to be a rebellious outsider either. I'm pretty comfortable with where I am in between these two places. That may change. It may not. I hope you can respect my decision either way, though - and weigh my input without taking my status in the sangha into consideration.

    Chet

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Chet,

    I am in no way suggesting that you are any less of a buddhist if you haven't taken jukai. Jukai is merely a public statement of that which already exists in your heart. So, I would never say or even go near such an assertion. And I was merely suggesting that if you were to take jukai here that it wouldn't mean you couldn't choose in the future to go to another tradition (just in case for some reason that was holding you back from participating with us). I can most certainly respect your decision...I just want to leave you with the possibility that not taking jukai is a sign that you aren't willing to completely trust in what Treeleaf represents or the sangha itself. And I wanted to dispell the idea, which I had no idea if it were true of you, that if you did "jump right in" you also had to swallow the water whole and without any criticism.

    Gassho,
    Dosho


    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Dosho,

    You're flirting with the idea that because Stephanie and I haven't taken Jukai, we are somehow less Buddhist or that our arguments have less weight. I think that's a very misleading idea. I haven't gone from one tradition to another - I'm just not much of a joiner and I don't know how much institutional Buddhism I want to absorb. I'm not sure I want to be a rebellious outsider either. I'm pretty comfortable with where I am in between these two places. That may change. It may not. I hope you can respect my decision either way, though - and weigh my input without taking my status in the sangha into consideration.

    Chet
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  32. #32
    Back to Great Doubt for a moment. I have been thinking. I think there is Great Doubt in many religions and philosophies. And again, thinking in resonse to Stephanie's post, I think this Great Doubt may come from the fact that there doesn't ever appear to be a final and once-and-for-all-eternity Answer. For example, in Christianity, even Christ, even at death, questioned: "Why has Thou forsaken me?"

    I once asked Dosho if he thought that, if you ever actually became enlightened, you could lose that enlightenment? His answer quoted another teacher who said, "Try it and see."

    I think maybe in Zen, we re-create the Answer every time we sit, so, thus, there is also always the Great Doubt--as a two sided coin, to borrow one of Jundo's similes. Gassho, Grace.

  33. #33
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Chet,

    I agree that Stephanie is trying to draw attention to something she thinks we may be missing. When I came to Treeleaf, and you know this well, I believed I was broken, empty, and less than adequate to being a valuable person...I still think that way, plenty. But studying here at Treeleaf I am slowly learning, with your help, Stephanie's help, and everyone else here that nothing is broken, nothing is inadequate, and nothing is missing. Now, taken to an extreme that could lead to a very large ego and self centeredness...and a belief in mantras or a room full of frames we buy in a gift shop with inspirational quotes from the Buddha or Dogen. But I don't believe I'm likely to forget those feelings since they never really go away. And for folks like me, sitting with the idea that nothing is lacking offers a great freedom, but also a responsibility.

    Do not mistake our fellow sangha members saying that they do not agree with Stephanie to be dismissing what she has to say. It may be very profound and if it works for her I am most grateful! But I still see much of the cyclical thinking that Stephanie has always displayed, which she likes to call "Great Doubt", but I think is closer to the skeptical doubt she mentioned in her post. These questions will never end because they are designed to open packages, see what's inside, and move on to the next one. Again, and again, and again.

    I know you are unlikely to agree with what I have said and offer a defense of Stephanie's post, but I do believe she is well intentioned. But I think her attempt to diagnose what is wrong with Treeleaf blinds her to the fact that she is constantly trying to answer what is wrong with herself. We have gladly taken her in here and asked her several times to go through jukai and fully put herself into what is taught here and actually we have asked the same of you. I truly feel that, until you both do that (assuming there is still a part of you that wants to) you will both be drifting from experience to experience trying to uncover truths that were right in front of you for years.

    And, so you know, writing IMHO at the end of the post says to me that you think we don't trust your sincerity and need to create a shield from criticism. We trust you and know your are sincere...but sit, sew a rakusu with us, and take in what there is to be learned here. Many zen practioners go from one tradition to another as they mature...there's no reason you can't have a different way of looking at things. But until you immerse yourselves in that dissatisfaction you feel, I fear you will always be consumed by it.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    When I first read here the suggestion of taking jukia, my sarcastic mind said hmmm, so this is what the practice in attaining jukia looks like, hmmm.
    Nothing Special

  34. #34
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Pretty interesting articles really, and I recommend everybody at Treeleaf read them.
    They are interesting. I enjoyed them.

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    I mean, I don’t know you Stephanie and it seems you’ve “found” something really great for you, or whatever (I can never phrase these things well enough, apologies), but the strategies of the post and the overall purposes of it, which seem complex to me, seem suspect and worth raising at least a tiny other perspective.
    It doesn't seem to me, from reading the post, that Stephanie has found anything, religious or otherwise. I don't mean this to say that she is lacking in anything. I mean this to say that I didn't get that vibe from the post. The vibe I got was that she is caught in some sort of loop of thinking. Apologies if I have missed the mark.

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Further, who wants to read a bunch of stuff about how we’ve all suffered, really suffered, and here are the details of it, and how now we’re in the light, whatever light that might be – frankly, most suffering, unless you’re a really talented writer, is actually pretty banal stuff, and is mainly self-imposed (again, I could very well be wrong here, but that was my experience of “darkness,” years and years of it, and even in the midst of years and years of it, that always nagging thought, feeling, perception: “am I just pretending somehow?”).
    I agree. All the years that I felt so different and tortured were really self-inflicted and wrought with narcissism. Yes, I am different from most people, but I don't have to force the point or even really think about it too much. Stephanie, I am in no way trying to imply that you are doing the same. I am merely sharing my experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    The difference is that all other religions offer something to pour into that sense of an original wound. Zen does not do this. In fact, there is no original wound at all, but you don't realize this without confronting the fact that it feels as though there is an original wound - that something is off-kilter. In fact, my understanding is that the literal image of the word 'samsara' is a wheel off true - that is, with the axle incorrectly placed.
    I like that. It makes sense to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    You're flirting with the idea that because Stephanie and I haven't taken Jukai, we are somehow less Buddhist or that our arguments have less weight.
    I know this minor bump was smoothed between you and Dosho, but I would like to mention that I resisted the hell out of Jukai at first-- not to imply that you need to do it-- but then came out better for it. I can't speak for you, but for me, the things I resist the most are usually very good for me. This could be about anything from Jukai to quitting smoking.

    Something I find interesting is that Stephanie left us with that post and has not joined in the discussion she started. It is like throwing a word grenade in a room where we all happen to be standing and then running away, leaving us to sort out the details we can't know because we are not her.
    迎 Geika

  35. #35
    If someone is shoveling shit into a big fan, there's no need to stick your head into the resulting shit storm!

    Sometimes I think you're shoveling shit Chet, no offense meant! But I know by now that you mean well and I often find your perspective refreshing.

    I think Stephanie is raising an interesting question. But I also agree it could easily be read as "I'm a very spiritual person and most of you spiritually suck!" If you first punch someone in the face, the other person is not likely to listen to what you really have to say! I don't think Stephanie intended it to come off that way though.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound.
    I like this description very much. The
    original wound is sensed sometimes, but it's as if you can't put your finger on it. The best way of investigating the nature of the wound in my experience, is to investigate your self before the wound, your original nature. When you know what it feels like when the wound is instantly healed, the body made whole again, you also recognize the wound.

    You could call that which reminds you the itching of a scar, but you could also call it the song of the cuckoo calling you home, or the voice of your heart's innermost desire. It all depends on your view. But the way forward is always the way home, so take it easy and thanks for practicing.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 09-11-2012 at 06:39 PM.
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    I think Stephanie is raising an interesting question. But I also agree it could easily be read as "I'm a very spiritual person and most of you spiritually suck!" If you first punch someone in the face, the other person is not likely to listen to what you really have to say! I don't think Stephanie intended it to come off that way though.


    I agree with the above, but don't necessarily agree with Chet flinging poo nor do I think Stephanie is really judging anyone but herself.

    I do think that it comes down to the question of universal versus personal doubt/conflict/etc. Much of the OP's post reads not that "your spirituality sucks", but that "I have needs that are not being met" which kinda confounds a lot of us (as evidenced by the responses). I don't blame anyone for feeling that way, but as I have read in other treads, we have to meet at least halfway in terms of out efforts.
    Last edited by Hogen; 09-11-2012 at 06:46 PM.
    Hogen (Matt); formerly "mcurtiss"

  37. #37
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    If someone is shoveling shit into a big fan, there's no need to stick your head into the resulting shit storm!

    Sometimes I think you're shoveling shit Chet, no offense meant! But I know by now that you mean well and I often find your perspective refreshing.

    I think Stephanie is raising an interesting question. But I also agree it could easily be read as "I'm a very spiritual person and most of you spiritually suck!" If you first punch someone in the face, the other person is not likely to listen to what you really have to say! I don't think Stephanie intended it to come off that way though.



    I like this description very much. The
    original wound is sensed sometimes, but it's as if you can't put your finger on it. The best way of investigating the nature of the wound in my experience, is to investigate your self before the wound, your original nature. When you know what it feels like when the wound is instantly healed, the body made whole again, you also recognize the wound.

    You could call that which reminds you the itching of a scar, but you could also call it the song of the cuckoo calling you home, or the voice of your heart's innermost desire. It all depends on your view. But the way forward is always the way home, so take it easy and thanks for practicing.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    I appreciate this post greatly, although it's disconcerting that it still appears I'm flinging shit when I'm trying so hard to be mindful enough to not come across that way.

    Chet

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    I appreciate this post greatly, although it's disconcerting that it still appears I'm flinging shit when I'm trying so hard to be mindful enough to not come across that way.

    Chet
    Hey man, I didn't think you were flinging shit at all. We're all bringing some veiwpoints and we're all trying to cut through the poo, which is collectively ours - and it's on both "sides". So, I'd say it's less shit slinging, then neatly putting it in boxes and saying, "Okay, that's not necessary so let's throw it away now," which is a pretty gross metaphor but whatevs. I guess ultimately we want to stop playing with shit, but you know, better just sit the fuck up then.

    Gassho,
    a

    PS. I'm cursing a lot. Sorry about that.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    it's disconcerting that it still appears I'm flinging shit when I'm trying so hard to be mindful enough to not come across that way.

    Chet
    Only rarely Chet!
    9/10 times you succeed, but that isn't as visible as when you slip. I appreciate the hard work I know you put in. So don't worry. There's no shit storm.

    /Pontus
    Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 09-11-2012 at 07:29 PM.
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  40. #40
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    I have a burning question.
    It’s a question that’s burning,
    Burning right through everything I do, say and think.
    Right to the bit when it seems to burn out….but doesn’t quite.
    It’s always burning.
    My life is on fire and all I have is this burning question?
    Heisoku
    平 息

  41. #41
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    This whole notion of passivity to me seems to be a reflection of looking for things or looking for someone else to push or confront us when no one but ourselves can do the work. Teachers and sangha colleagues are no more, and can be no more than "good friends" who share the path with us and occasionally help us on the way.

    Perceived passivity is often boredom looking for an external provocation or sparring partner to relieve the "great doubt" or existential angst that is before one - the external provocation in my mind is sought when there is an absence of "great faith." that certainly has been my case... I often repeat the same old soundtrack or narrative in my life.

    So I go looking for my zafu,
    and wonder how many minutes of sitting have been occupied by this thread.

    I learn a lot from Stephanie and Chet's posts, I'm really glad they are here, and am so grateful for the thoughtful discourse. I do not feel that I can speak as eloquently as my brothers or sisters but felt compelled to pitch in. Thanks for your patience.

    Deep bows,
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 09-12-2012 at 12:20 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  42. #42
    Hi All,

    It is wonderful to have discussions such as this thread from time to time ... honest questionings, in this case, questioning each other, teachers, our selves, "Zen", about whether we are people who question.

    Among so many Wise-Compassionate comments here, I highlight a few ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun View Post
    ... For me, the "still center" was and is letting go of my natural inclinations to rage against the storm or try to find shelter.
    Yes, Shikantaza. The Bodhisattva Virtue of "Equanimity", even as there are simultaneously things to question, scars which ache, and problems to solve. Clarity, both when things are clear or confused. Being in the storm which often knocks us over, resisting and trying to fight the storm, questioning the whys of the storm ... yet simultaneously not any of that in the least, and no storm.

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Lastly, here’s a suspicion of my own: while some people at Treeleaf discuss their personal lives, most of us don’t do this very openly (I don’t mean this negatively). I mean, we all kind of use abstracts, to some degree, and it’s rare when any of us really gets into the details, the real details of our lives ...
    Without breaking confidences, people write me privately almost each day about (and many post directly in this Forum and discuss openly too) cancer diagnosis, unbearable depression, scars of violent child abuse in their past, having killed someone years ago, hidden doubts about self worth, struggles with sexuality, shames they have never even told their spouse. The "Zen answer" in all cases has to be ... let it go, let it be. Let the past go, let the future come. Just Sit Now ... even as you sit with/as/through the questions, pain, scars. Moan and cry and question too if you need (we are not cold stones or machines in our neck of the Buddhist woods) ... for to do so is a moaning, crying, questioning Buddha.

    Sometimes "let it go, let it be" actually makes the problems vanish POOF! Other times, not ... any more than Zazen will fix a bad tooth (you need a dentist for that, or to pull it out yourself, or just live with it), Nonetheless, in all cases the Buddha will still be there to say "let it go, let it be" even as you seek a solution or when there is not solution. For those toothaches or cancers or emotional scars that cannot be healed and remain ... the Buddha will still say "let it go, let it be", even as we moan and cry and question.

    It is good and natural ... human ... to constantly question why these things are, why life is the way it is. I do every day. However, we are not "Oprah", and while we face head-on the cancer, depression, child abuse and all the rest ... we Zen folks refuse to wallow in pity parties, self made soap operas, "she said he said" rights and wrong mental debates, whirlpools of thoughts. There is a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE between honest/straight on/facing-questioning ... and mental games and wallowing.

    The Rinzai folks who push through the questions, the Soto folks who "just sit as" the questions, the Vipassana or Tibetan folks who have various approaches to deconstructing the questions, the Pure Land folks who chant their questions to Amida ... all aim for that Clear, Whole "Just Go, Just Be" amid the shitstorm of Samsara.

    When I sit, I sit right in the heart of my questions, and as the questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    The best way of investigating the nature of the wound in my experience, is to investigate your self before the wound, your original nature. When you know what it feels like when the wound is instantly healed, the body made whole again, you also recognize the wound.
    Thank you, Doctor. Sometimes the best way to treat wounds is to open them and clean them out. Sometimes we accept the wounds that cannot be healed. In all cases we see that Original Nature which can never be wounded from the start! But we do -not- pick and scratch with dirty little (mental) fingers, because that keeps the wound alive and red. Zen Practice has tools for all such treatments-non-treatments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    ... I still see much of the cyclical thinking ... These questions will never end because they are designed to open packages, see what's inside, and move on to the next one. Again, and again, and again.
    This is true for all of us. The toughest thing about this Practice is that people truly don't know how to radically, to the marrow sit still ... yield, put down the search and the questions and the constant need to chase after the next thing and the next, to drop all lack, to stop running after the shiniest new "book of answers" or gadget on Amazon, to stop picking their wounds again and again ...

    ... thereby to find that Real Treasure here all along.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    This whole notion of passivity to me seems to be a reflection of looking for things or looking for someone else to push or confront us when no one but ourselves can do the work. Teachers and sangha colleagues are no more, and can be no more than "good friends" who share the path with us and occasionally help us on the way.

    Perceived passivity is often boredom looking for an external provocation or sparring partner to relieve the "great doubt" or existential angst that is before one - the external provocation in my mind is sought when there is an absence of "great faith." that certainly has been my case... I often repeat the same old soundtrack or narrative in my life.


    And one more thing ...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Treeleaf is very dear to my heart and as uncommitted as I may seem, it's the only Sangha of which I'd ever say I'm a part.
    Thank you, Chet. Back at ya.

    Jukai is not necessary to "be a Buddhist" or "be part of a Sangha", whatever that is. Only embracing and seeking to live by the Buddhist Teachings is what is really required, and joining in the Sangha family in one's heart.

    Of course, like someone who just wants to live together for 20 years and not head to the wedding altar ... Is it truly not wanting to be "part of an institution", or just "lack of a willingness to dive in and commit"? Only the person can question that.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-12-2012 at 03:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  43. #43
    Here, by the way, is typical advice I have offered to victims of child abuse and rape. Even as we "let it be, let it go" and avoid many of the mental traps and snares, it is not some simple numbness or sweeping under the rug ...

    -----------------------------------------


    I hope that victims of child abuse or rape (the abused child or raped person) can learn to let the past go ... learn to see their abuser as himself a victim (of greed, anger and ignorance) ... move forward so that the violence does not repeat into the next generation. I hope that they come to see the real culprit as "greed, anger and ignorance." HOWEVER, I often also counsel that it is not so easy ... that there are real scars from these events, not all seen on the skin or easily healed. While letting the past go, trying to not fall into new anger ... one must sometimes also see the scar as the scar sometimes, recognize that it is natural to feel anger and resentment at the attacker ... even as one tries to forgive on some level, see the "real evil" on some level, not be trapped by the anger and resentment and let it go.

    I have counseled some victims of child abuse, for example, that ... yes ... from one perspective, we need to forgive and let the past go and understand that the person who did this was filled with greed, anger, violence. From another perspective, we also need to recognize that the scars are there, that the person may need to pay a debt for what they have done. Even recognizing our own natural anger at the past is fine ... for it is natural to feel resentment (so long as we do not become its slave). But in any event, the most important thing is not to carry the anger, resentment, abuse etc. into future generations where it will effect our children and coming generations.

    Counseling and support groups can greatly aid those who are victims of trauma, hand in hand with Zen practice.
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-12-2012 at 06:02 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  44. #44
    Jundo - and all who have participated in this thread -

    Willow

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Jundo - and all who have participated in this thread -

    Willow
    I agree! I have not said much in this thread, but I have been reading every word that has been said. Thank you ALL for putting it out there.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  46. #46
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Hitting home. Thank you, Jundo.
    Nothing Special

  47. #47
    disastermouse
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    Deleted by Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-13-2012 at 05:04 PM.

  48. #48
    Dear Chet,

    I had to delete your post as an invasion of someone's privacy. If the person would like to discuss the topic on their own, that is fine. But you should not.

    From time to time (very rarely), it is my responsibility to ask for a medical check if someone wants to participate here because I feel there may be possible risks due to the person's physical or psychological state, fragility, danger to themselves or the like, no different from a gym or swimming school requiring a doctor's note. That was such a case, the person refused to comply and was briefly suspended. At the time, I did not know the person, so did not know how to judge the situation and (in hindsight) was likely overly concerned. However, I don't know for sure what was really going on, could not tell at the time, and that happened 4 years ago. Similar situations have only happened twice (if I recall) all the years this place has been here.

    In addition, I have also had to suspend a handful of people for fighting with other Sangha members, or confused or abusive posting and the like. That has happened so rarely these last 5 years that I can count the cases on one hand. We also have an ethics committee in place to oversee these very rare cases now.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...plaint-Box-%29

    Chet, are you trying to stir up something again? We've had this before.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-13-2012 at 05:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  49. #49
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dear Chet,

    I had to delete your post as an invasion of someone's privacy. If the person would like to discuss the topic on their own, that is fine. But you should not.

    From time to time (very rarely), it is my responsibility to ask for a medical check if someone wants to participate here because I feel there may be possible risks due to the person's physical or psychological state, fragility, danger to themselves or the like, no different from a gym or swimming school requiring a doctor's note. That was such a case, the person refused to comply and was briefly suspended. At the time, I did not know the person, so did not know how to judge the situation and (in hindsight) was likely overly concerned. However, I don't know for sure what was really going on, could not tell at the time, and that happened 4 years ago. Similar situations have only happened twice (if I recall) all the years this place has been here.

    In addition, I have also had to suspend a handful of people for fighting with other Sangha members, or confused or abusive posting and the like. That has happened so rarely these last 5 years that I can count the cases on one hand. We also have an ethics committee in place to oversee these very rare cases now.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...plaint-Box-%29

    Chet, are you trying to stir up something again? We've had this before.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Jundo,

    I'm not trying to stir anything up; in fact, I was trying to veer as far away from value judgements as I could and was just trying to stick to the facts. It's all water under the bridge - I just wanted to catch some people up with some context. People might benefit from some insight as to why Stephanie may appear to have a chip on her shoulder. I also wanted to let people know that I'm very close friends with Stephanie, so that any unconscious biases might be known.

    The last thing I want to do is rehash old, ill-considered battles. Talking about that history wasn't an attempt to re-join the battle.

    No offense was intended and no blame was placed.

    Chet

  50. #50
    No one has ever claimed that the way things are done here is for everybody. The ones who find a home in this practice are the ones whose temperament suits this way. Big surprise--a self-selected group. I am often left with the feeling that Stephanie wants everyone else to feel as unsettled as she is here. Some connect, some don't. IT'S NO BIG DEAL. Move on. No great harm has come to anyone here. I simply do not understand the desire to continually chase question after question after question, then wonder why we all don't spend hours discussing the same questions. Seeking begets seeking. Just because "she means well," which I imagine she does, does not mean that her posts are constructive. I find they rarely are. I also will echo and amplify Amelia's words by saying it is rather juvenile to post then bolt.

    I'm not for sugar-coated, sycophantic interactions, but neither am I for "let's compare our dukkha" drama. We're ALL fighting a hard battle that we've already won but don't know it. I'm not sure about any extenuating circumstances in Stephanie's or anyone else's life, but again, WE ALL HAVE ISSUES! Maybe hers are big enough that she can't keep a lid on the pressure cooker and the stuff leaks out all the time. If that's the case, then I'm truly sorry for the tone of my post. But her posts scream "me, me, me!"
    Again, if there's more to this (and there always is, isn't there?) than I am privy to, I apologize, but collectively we are not therapists nor philosophers.

    Eika




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