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Thread: "The fire"

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    "The fire"

    Note: this post arose in relation to the thread I just posted, "Why do you practice?" and I thought it better to make this into its own thread, so as not to dilute the other thread.

    It is so easy to fall into "groupthink" when asked to justify or explain why we do something, but it's so much more fascinating and profound to see what drives us from within ourselves. I think the true answers to these questions of why we practice can only be found in the language of each of our individual lives; I believe when we shape answers to such fundamental questions according to dogma and tropes of a group with which we identify, we are burying the embers of our inner fires in the wet dirt of words and feelings that are not quite our own.

    Years ago, a phrase that John Daido Loori used became a koan for me: "Trust yourself." I have returned to this phrase again and again over the years, noting how the way I understand it has shifted. At first, I had a lot of questions about what it meant to trust oneself, especially as the self is so deceptive. But what I understand now is that part of the Great Faith necessary to endure on this path is to be able to respond to and be guided by one's own feelings, instincts, and way of being, which may or may not conform to what others label, enshrine, and institutionalize as "right." Because it is only in looking to and being led by these forces within the self that we can connect to the true aspiration to practice.

    I am slowly starting to reconnect with my own drive to practice and I think this drive or motivation is intensely mysterious and fascinating in itself. It brings up questions such as, "What exactly are we, that after the carrot has long fallen off the string, we keep moving forward anyway?" I was struck by something that I recently read in Shohaku Okumura's Living By Vow, commenting on a koan that hits me right where my practice is right now:

    Baizhang asked Guishan, "Who is it?" and Guishan replied, "It's me, Lingyou (Guishan's dharma name)." Baizhang said, "Would you dig in the firepot to see if there is fire or not?" It was winter and the firepot was their source of heat. Guishan stirred the firepot and said, "No fire." Then Baizhang got up and came over, dug deep into the ashes, and found a tiny ember. He showed it to Lingyou and said, "What is this? Is this not fire?" And Guishan was enlightened.

    The fire in this story refers to the fire of the buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something solid or immovable, but rather an energy that motivates us to practice--and not just zazen or Buddhist practice. Buddha-nature is the fire of our life force that enables us to aspire to be better persons, to be more helpful to others, to settle into a healthy way of life, and to practice the Way. It's difficult to find the fire of buddha-nature inside of us, but we must. It's there. We are alive, so we have this force that drives us to practice and to wake up to the reality of life. It may only be an ember, but all of us, without exception, have it. When we practice with others, we gather together small fires. If we try to build a fire in a hibachi or firepot with a single piece of charcoal, it soon dies out. But even one tiny ember, fed with charcoal, becomes a big fire. This is the meaning of sangha. Each one of us has a small fire, which alone, will die out sooner or later. Together we become bigger than ourselves.
    This is an inspiring vision of sangha, and one I find to be true, but only in part. I am drawn to the metaphor of the will, or the drive, as fire, spark, or ember. Sometimes, the cold rain of life can put out the flames in us until there are only the tiniest embers left in the ashes. And in times like those, it is only connection with another being or beings with a living inner fire that will rekindle our own fires. This is sangha at its best. And yet, sangha can also have a dampening effect, if we turn to the comfort of group identification and reassurance over the very particular drive, passion, question, or suffering that brought us to practice. In middling times, the identification with a group can be enough to keep us going. But in the most trying times, it is only that inner fire that will keep us going.


    I recently watched the movie The Road, which I had been meaning to watch for some time. I was struck by how much it evaded my expectations, based on reviews I had read that it was going to be a bleak "downer" of a movie. I sat expecting something that was going to leave me feeling the hollow grief I felt after watching The Plague Dogs, especially after having experienced how bleak and dark John Hillcoat's other movie The Proposition was. Instead, I was inspired, touched, and moved.

    The movie takes place in a very bleak world indeed--one in which some great cataclysm has killed all plant and animal life on Earth, so that nothing grows any more. This has left the remaining humans with the question of how to survive in this barren wasteland. The harsh reality of this world has driven many people to cannibalism, as other humans are the only reliable food source; in this world, if you don't eat other people, you have to rely on endless work and luck to find reserves of canned food, sodas, and other 'leftovers' from the world before, with the high likelihood of starvation or depredation from cannibals as a reward for your efforts.

    The father and son who are the central characters in the movie are guided by what the father calls "the fire." He repeatedly encourages his son through the traumatic, harrowing events of their lives by reminding him that they are "carrying the fire." The nature of this "fire" is never plainly spelled out in the movie, but is related to the vow of the father and son not to resort to cannibalism. So I think it is the same fire, the same vow, of which Okumura speaks - the fire of hope and human goodness. The movie shows how something we hope we would all do--refuse to terrorize and kill others to ensure our own comfort and survival--would actually be very difficult in such a world, even for the most morally upright. Much of the movie shows how the son acts to remind his father of the fire when the father loses his way and lets the bleak, exhausting nature of life in this world overwhelm his desire to "carry the fire" and not become one of the "bad guys."


    The movie ends on an uncertain note, as it's not clear whether, in the dying world of the movie, humanity can make and keep a foothold, especially a humanity that holds onto "the fire" to do and be good, to help others rather than exploit and hurt them. But what the movie shows so beautifully, and perhaps bleakly, is that even if it was impossible to preserve the fire of human goodness in a world we had reduced to a grave through our endless greed, hatred, and ignorance, it would still be worth refusing to let go of the fire, even in the face of the impossible nature of the effort and the sovereignty of death. I think of another quote from Okumura in Living By Vow:

    There is a contradiction inherent in these [bodhisattva] vows: we vow to do things that are impossible. This means our practice is endless and that we cannot completely fulfill the four vows. Our practice and study are like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon, one spoonful at a time. It is certainly a stupid way of life, not a clever one. A clever person cannot be a bodhisattva. We are aiming at something eternal, infinite and absolute. No matter how hard we study, practice, and help other people, there is no end to it all. When we compare our achievement to something infinite, absolute, and eternal, it's like nothing.
    I think we cannot fully appreciate this until we have held onto "the fire" - Baizhang's ember - through times of great hardship. Because it is only when we have been brought to our knees that we can see past the trivial and into our truest heart. That is one of the things I really enjoyed about The Road - by painting a picture of a world that is so bleak, it shows what really is at stake, and what it can mean - which I think can be lost in the rush of entertainment, convenience, and relative ease that is modern life, in which our actions and efforts can seem so insignificant. (I think this is the draw of many movies and television shows, actually - to be able to vicariously experience the life of a character whose actions mean more than ours seem to mean, and who is capable of what we wish we were capable. The nice thing about The Road is that it plays to this need but also turns it on its head, as there is nothing glamorous about these fragile, vulnerable characters.)

    Fire, embers - there was a while I thought I had lost mine, because of the lackluster nature of my practice and the rote, uninspired feeling of my daily life. But as those embers start to crackle and build again, I realize - the fact there was even one ember left, after the cold rain put out the fire that sustained the early days of my practice, is testament to the power of that fire. As Ian Astbury (who is interestingly Buddhist-leaning these days, as you can read about in articles like this and this) sings, "Cinder ash becomes a spark, watch your embers turn to flame..."



  2. #2
    Lovely post to read on a rainy, colder evening while working in a bookstore. Nothing to add except that, if you liked the movie, check out the book (which is much better in my opinion), and then if you liked the book, McCarthy's best (masterpiece) by far is Suttree (seriously, it's not Blood Meridian, no matter what the critics say) - about a guy who leaves his affluent life to live among derelicts on a houseboat (a thing which McCarthy essentially did). Here's the opening:

    Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.

    Also, that fire image in The Road is carried over from No Country for Old Men:

    I had two dreams about him (his father) after he died. I dont remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn they way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.

    And really that last line I think is about what we're doing here. Making a fire for all sentient beings out there in all that dark and all that cold and though it may be impossible for all to get to that fire, or impossible for us to make one large enough for all, or impossible it seems to even make anything but just a flicker, really we are all that fire and all are like coals scattered from that fire, and so we are all lighting our own little ones and in that lighting coming together.

    Many thanks for a lovely post.

    Gassho,
    a

  3. #3
    Hi Stephanie,

    Beautiful and powerful words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post
    Years ago, a phrase that John Daido Loori used became a koan for me: "Trust yourself." I have returned to this phrase again and again over the years, noting how the way I understand it has shifted. At first, I had a lot of questions about what it meant to trust oneself, especially as the self is so deceptive. But what I understand now is that part of the Great Faith necessary to endure on this path is to be able to respond to and be guided by one's own feelings, instincts, and way of being, which may or may not conform to what others label, enshrine, and institutionalize as "right." Because it is only in looking to and being led by these forces within the self that we can connect to the true aspiration to practice.
    I would also guide you to get beyond your self ... completely, thoroughly, absolutely free of your little self. That does not mean that you lose your self, and the burning embers that drive you forward in life. Not at all!

    It simply means that you also be completely, thoroughly free of 'your' self, knowing the True Home ever here whether standing still or moving forward. That's what Guishan was pointing to in the hot fires.

    That True Self is present in a world of peace and plenty and in a world of cataclysm and cannibals. All the same, the very same True Home and Hungry Ghosts. Cannibals are simply Buddha with an appetite. There is nothing lacking, nobody to eat or be eaten ... even as we do as we can to uphold the Precept not to kill, even as we try to survive and not to be eaten. Even as we try to build a world where everyone has enough to eat.

    Bleakness or Buddha is Buddha eating Buddha. Cannibalize your small self, then run like hell from (or into) sharp teeth.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Ps -

    Alan,

    Making a fire for all sentient beings out there in all that dark and all that cold and though it may be impossible for all to get to that fire, or impossible for us to make one large enough for all, or impossible it seems to even make anything but just a flicker, really we are all that fire and all are like coals scattered from that fire, and so we are all lighting our own little ones and in that lighting coming together.

    Yes.
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-30-2012 at 02:38 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    ... That True Self is present in a world of peace and plenty and in a world of cataclysm and cannibals. All the same, the very same True Home and Hungry Ghosts. There is nothing lacking, nobody to eat or be eaten ... even as we do as we can to uphold the Precept not to kill, even as we try to survive and not to be eaten. Even as we try to build a world where everyone has enough to eat.
    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

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

  5. #5
    By the way, not too many cannibals appear in our just open discussion of

    PRECEPTS III - To Refrain From Taking Life
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...om-Taking-Life

    ... but they are covered as well.

    A Koan: Who is truly the Walking Dead?
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Alan - thank you for a lovely reply! Gassho. And yes, McCarthy is definitely on my "to read" list now, having heard so many good things about his books and now having immensely enjoyed two films based on them, The Road and No Country for Old Men. I will probably end up reading The Road first, but will keep my eye peeled for Suttree too now =)

    Jundo - thank you, and yes, of course a central piece of this Great Matter is seeing and getting beyond the self, beyond the ideas of "who I am and who I am not," mental boxes, habit patterns, arguments, beliefs, preferences... This is why "Trust yourself" was such a perplexing phrase for me at first in the context of Zen training.

    But what I have learned - it's not so much a matter of "big self" vs. "small self," a pair of concepts that has never really resonated with my own experience, but a matter of what in oneself one is trusting. It's not my limited ideas, view, and karma, but something in me that can recognize the path.

    The essential point of "trust yourself" as it has revealed itself to me over the years, is learning how to slow and quiet down and receive the transmissions from this sense that I believe you refer to in your post as "True Self." Why the phrase is "trust yourself" is that no one else can find or recognize that for you. A passive student who looks to others for instruction will never connect with it.

    And I find it becomes most clear when it is not in agreement with what a teacher or someone else is saying. For example, there have been many times in our interactions that you wanted to steer me away from something, but this instinct in myself knew I had to go toward it. And by trusting my instincts, the path was revealed. I'm not singling you out, other teachers and peers on the Way have had their "hits" and "misses" too in interview and conversation. I think this often happens and is the poetry of studying the Way. Building faith in one's own fire, one's own buddha-nature, recognizing that your own True Way may not look like or follow the same landscape as someone else's.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post

    And I find it becomes most clear when it is not in agreement with what a teacher or someone else is saying. For example, there have been many times in our interactions that you wanted to steer me away from something, but this instinct in myself knew I had to go toward it. And by trusting my instincts, the path was revealed. I'm not singling you out, other teachers and peers on the Way have had their "hits" and "misses" too in interview and conversation. I think this often happens and is the poetry of studying the Way. Building faith in one's own fire, one's own buddha-nature, recognizing that your own True Way may not look like or follow the same landscape as someone else's.
    Well, if something seems to work for you, try that and stick to it. I am just a coach, offering tips on improving your pitching arm. In the end, it is your arm and your pitching.

    And if it doesn't end up working, come back here and we can try it this other way.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    All I can say is, Wow what an awesome, awesome post!

    Gassho,

    Risho

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Stephanie,

    How often do you sit?

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    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.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post

    Jundo - thank you, and yes, of course a central piece of this Great Matter is seeing and getting beyond the self, beyond the ideas of "who I am and who I am not," mental boxes, habit patterns, arguments, beliefs, preferences... This is why "Trust yourself" was such a perplexing phrase for me at first in the context of Zen training.

    But what I have learned - it's not so much a matter of "big self" vs. "small self," a pair of concepts that has never really resonated with my own experience ...
    However, Stephanie ...

    I am afraid that until one does unpierce and resonate this "big self" "small self" Truth (however Thus is expressed through any number of other imperfect images in and throughout Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism, such as True Face Before One's Parents Were Born, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Great Doubt Great Knowing, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Mind and all the rest ... ultimately wordless beyond and through words) you may be practicing something ... you may even be practicing a good thing that is helpful in your life in some way ... but I would not say you were truly walking a path of Zen Buddhism, nor can I say that one is then capable of tasting the real Fruits of Zen Practice. Sorry. Nor do I feel that one will know the true Peace and Liberation that can only be known by 'unbecoming' completely, thoroughly, and absolutely free of your "little self" and its games. No doubt, end of story.

    One might be walking a path that has good psychological, health, personal expressive, calming or stimulating, philosophical and all manner of good things ... but it is not a path of Zen Buddhism. People sometimes misunderstand that ours is a Free, Freeing and Boundless path, but is not a free, unrestricted and "do whatever you want, and that's still 'Zen'" path.

    Of course, you can listen to the advice of me and the other Buddhist teachers you spoke with ... or not, and instead toss all the lovely words and (literally) 'self'-justifying prose at the question until the 'Mu-cows come Home'. As you please, a free universe.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-01-2012 at 12:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Jundo - you are the one that is caught up in your little self here, and you can't even see it. I suppose it's human to feel insulted and want revenge when someone disagrees with you, but even in my much less idealistic perspective these days, it shouldn't come so easily to a Zen teacher. For a long time, your approach with me has been to imply I am "not really practicing Zen" and to use the fact I think and write posts that feature ideas and thinking as your evidence. But no one on these forums has produced nearly as much text - or laborious, concept-laden explication - as you. Nor do you seem to see the irony that you alone among Zen teachers has decided that the textual discourse of an online forum can be treated as a "zendo," or Buddhist practice place.

    I can be your boogieman if it suits you - you can make a straw man argument and use me as the case against which you set yourself. Whatever works to firm up your sense of pride and "rally your base." It does not make a difference at all in my practice. And twist my words and imply all you like - for all of the Zen teachers I've met and worked with, none other than you (and perhaps Taigu) have taken issue with me, or told me that I'm practicing "wrong," or tried to argue me into submission. I've never been made to feel like Frankenstein in front of a horde of torch-wielding villagers at any other sangha. And I've sat with a lot of sanghas and done a lot of daisan.

    There is no evidence that you or your favorite pupils have gotten any more beyond the self than anyone else. Any time a person posts about his or her experience or ideas, it is navel-gazing and self-involvement. We are all guilty. As for your choice to jump on the fact that I have never gotten on with the concepts of "small self" and "big self," how silly. These are just words. And words that I find to be sticky and encouraging of a certain kind of back-door concept of self. How can you say, in all seriousness, there is really such a thing you can delineate as a "small self" and another as a "True self"? No, it all boils down to experience. Only living, experiential awareness can respond beyond the rigid parameters of the self idea. And this is what "trust yourself" is all about.

    You know, I went through it with myself when I recently started posting here again. Why am I doing this? I wondered. I have a sangha, I can read Chet's posts without chiming in, I have done away with most of my Internet posting, what is my agenda? I think truthfully my experience here left a residue I haven't yet quite been able to evade. A bad taste. So perhaps some part of me still tries to make sense of it; perhaps I hoped that some sort of peace could be made. But I see now it is only a rehash that reactivates the old bad taste and discord. Maybe this time I can finally learn my lesson and move on.

  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Your rhetoric is excellent Stephanie ( take this as a compliment from an old scholar-lecturer) and I can see in you amazing qualities and a great determination, second to none, a true inpiration for us all. What Jundo is pointing out is a word of kind warning that any teacher would here utter, the persistant illusion of a small self can take many shapes and forms, it is a very deceptive stuff the world is made of, made of the belief this small self views are real. The Big self, when all things come forth in Dogen s words, has nothing to do with the dharmic DIY we find around these days. As to Daido s words, they may just point at the ability for everyone to make this, or rather undo this.
    You are very much experimenting and this takes courage and time and might be a lot more of a bumpy way you now imagine.
    Your say is Wonderful and adventurous anyway, and you may let a bunch of old cruffy teachers invite you to be a bit more cautious.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 10-01-2012 at 06:43 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  13. #13
    disastermouse
    Guest
    I thought that the 'one-mind' school was thoroughly destroyed, rhetorically - the idea being, "If it's all 'one' how can it see itself?" No, I think I have to disagree that there is a 'true self' or a real 'big-B-Buddha' at the root. I don't disagree with using the concepts to point at certain things - but there's a reason that so much of Buddhism is explicated via negation, in order specifically not to erect anything to which the student can cling. Unfortunately, that also paints realization as being a ginormous void and a rather sterile place, and I think that until you get a glimpse of realization and see how alive emptiness is, that's just sort of a necessary hazard. I think it's the less dangerous hazard and certainly the more unique path. It's something that Buddhism offers that few other practices offer.

    There's this strange caricature of the 'danger of emptiness' being that it can somehow be morality free or egoically strengthening. My own brushes with emptiness have imparted a very deep sense of responsibility and compassion - non-local, though they may be. It has never been the emptiness of blunting all edges and fixing all problems - but rather a freedom to see possibilities. That is, my own brushes with emptiness have not been the 'end-point' of a path or an answer, they have been a beginning and an inspiration to work with situations instead of trying to negate them with some pale intellectual construction of 'emptiness'.

    All right then, with that diversion aside I think that some things need addressing.

    Jundo, I think your attempts to de-legitimize Stephanie's practice are misguided and rooted in a misunderstanding of what she's actually saying. There is indeed within each of us something about Zen that resonates - that rings like a bell when struck by the truth. Sometimes it takes a long time before the bell is struck, but certainly there is within us some truth-recognizing is-ness that is unconnected to ego or sense of self. There's something there free of striving and competing and engineering an advantage. In fact, I think that acquaintance with 'emptiness', 'truth', or 'big-b-Buddha' (just because it's not ultimately valid doesn't mean I'm not going to use it to point to something, LOL!) de-magnifies striving and drama simply because the drama of competing, advantage-gaining, and conniving are all so very similarly boring. All of these struggles are one struggle, and the struggle never achieves the goal that is, of course, always to be achieved via the next struggle.

    Stephanie, I think you tend toward what can often appear as a grandiosity or a tendency to elevate your internal struggles to much larger and nobler ones. When I was first getting to know you, this was quite puzzling, and it also made me look at myself with mortified horror because I have often had the same tendency myself. It's only as I've gotten to know you that I've seen that it has a lot to do with your aesthetic sense and the way you appreciate your world sensorily and emotionally. The quasi-sensational 'rightness' of how these universal, often struggling themes resonate with you are indeed what drive you forward. These grand arching themes can be like meteors that are pulled in by the gravitational pull of big-T-Truth. We are pulled into truth by our delusions and they break up in low-orbit. I think that your prior spiritual crisis was, in fact, a witnessing of these grand arching themes breaking up in orbit of the Truth and the bafflement that concepts that had been so useful were breaking down. Every attempt to resurrect them has fallen short and you are struggling to find an impetus to practice zazen and the Zen path without these meteoric rocket-ships. The good news, in my opinion, is that the very fact that these arching themes have broken apart and are not easily resurrected is a wonderful sign that you are nearer to realizing unmediated reality than you have ever been. Your path has been a path of disillusionment and humiliation. They have been your friends and they are still your friends, if you can figure out how to embrace them.

    Both Jundo and Stephanie - I apologize for whatever misunderstandings I may have about either of you. I am aware that I am far from 'sorted out' and that I have my own vast delusions that have not yet been seen through by myself that may be as plain as day to each of you. Neither of these critiques has been offered in an attempt to hurt or to cause suffering of any kind.

    One last note for Jundo: I believe that perhaps the dynamic and history of Dogen Sangha have left a mark on you that causes more mistrust than you might otherwise have regarding a person's motivations. I think this is aggravated by the somewhat removed nature of the way our wonderful Sangha connects. Sometimes you express distrust of my motivations or the motivations of others that have had difficult dealings with you in the past. I'd like to invite you to question the utility of carrying those battles into future discourse. I'm certain, for instance, that if you and I were to meet in person, you'd probably be quite inclined to attribute my unbelievably harsh prior dealings with you as being the expressions of ineptitude and confusion that they were, and not the acts of malice that they very easily appeared to be.

    Gassho

    Chet

  14. #14
    Hi Guys,

    Sorry, I am not impressed. Stephanie, if you are convinced that you have found a good path for yourself, then please walk it. It may be right for you, but it is not our approach here. I think you should take your own good advice and go where you can practice as you wish if this does not suit you. Some other Zen Teachers may have encouraged you to engage in some kind of angsty existential struggle and thought filled intellectual and emotional inner drama as your "Zen Practice" ... rather than dropping or breaking through all the mental shit as part of Zen Practice (either through Shikantaza or Koan Practice etc.) ... but I would doubt any such teachers. This Practice ... Rinzai, Soto, all the Mahayana, really all Buddhism I am aware ... is about sitting and dropping and/or breaking through all the mental sewage and soap opera.

    But, find your own path, and walk it, Stephanie. You write ...

    Why am I doing this? I wondered. ... what is my agenda? ... Maybe this time I can finally learn my lesson and move on.

    I don't know why you keep coming back here with the same story every few months. If you don't like what we're cooking, stick to your own kitchen. Plenty of folks around this Sangha have found a good Path to clarity, insight, balance, Freedom right in/as this messy, struggling, binding life. I hope you find what you need. I wish you clarity, insight, balance, Freedom right in this messy, struggling, binding life ... or whatever else the heck it is you seek.

    Chet, I hope you find what you are looking for too.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Chet, almost every Zen Master of old, from Bodhidharma to Huineng to Dogen to Honzhi to Hakuin to everyone in between spoke of "True Self/small self, True Face, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Capital "M" Mind etc. etc." ... although each as "fingers pointing to the moon" (the "moon", by the way, yet another metaphorical finger pointing at the moon of Enlightenment"). This has to be unpierced, realized (made real in living) through sitting and all Practice.

    However, though "fingers pointing at the moon", that does not take away the central point of their teachings of Zen Practice was not ... to a man ... anything but the need to realize (grock and bring to life) and and break free of the self/other, the Relative/Absolute. Sorry, find me someone through the centuries who taught something else in the classic literature. I will eat my Zafu on toast. Even Dogen was about that through his jazzed up, vibrant vision of how the relative and absolute interpenetrate and totally exert as each other. No exceptions, and the only thing the Soto and Rinzai folks (and other Mahayana Buddhists) really disagree on is the specific methods to do so. Even Shohaku Okamura, in the wonderful book that Stephanie mentions in her opening piece (soon to be on our recommended list as soon as I get through the last few pages) says so. Please read pages 214-218, and also (for a little on Dogen's take on this) page 50 here if you think I am fooling ...

    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=R...aspect&f=false
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-01-2012 at 03:06 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    Chet, I hope you find what you are looking for too.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Chet, almost every Zen Master of old, from Bodhidharma to Huineng to Dogen to Honzhi to Hakuin to everyone in between spoke of "True Self/small self, True Face, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Capital "M" Mind etc. etc." ... although each as "fingers pointing to the moon" (the "moon", by the way, yet another metaphorical finger pointing at the moon of Enlightenment"). This has to be unpierced, realized (made real in living) through sitting and all Practice.

    However, though "fingers pointing at the moon", that does not take away the central point of their teachings of Zen Practice was not ... to a man ... anything but the need to realize (grock and bring to life) and and break free of the self/other, the Relative/Absolute. Sorry, find me someone through the centuries who taught something else in the classic literature. I will eat my Zafu on toast. Even Dogen was about that through his jazzed up, vibrant vision of how the relative and absolute interpenetrate and totally exert as each other. No exceptions, and the only thing the Soto and Rinzai folks (and other Mahayana Buddhists) really disagree on is the specific methods to do so. Even Shohaku Okamura, in the wonderful book that Stephanie mentions in her opening piece (soon to be on our recommended list as soon as I get through the last few pages) says so. Please read pages 214-218, and also (for a little on Dogen's take on this) page 50 here if you think I am fooling ...
    Jundo,

    I don't think we're really disagreeing here - unless you believe that the big/small 'mind' are pointing to actual ontological facts - and I don't think you are. Are you?

    Most of my criticism was for Stephanie - although by reducing what she's talking about to mere 'inner drama', I think once again you're going out of your way to misunderstand her. Honestly, I did not expect this sort of reaction, rather just a clarification. I'm not disregarding relative and absolute as teaching tools. But by even trying to integrate 'relative' and 'absolute' Dogen was already on a fool's errand. You can't bring together things that have never been separate to begin with, can you?

    I'm kind of weirded out because I don't disagree with a single thing you said, and yet somehow I feel like I've been swatted, so to speak.

    I think we're imagining insults on all sides that weren't originally intended. Certainly, I didn't intend to give any.

    Chet

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    But by even trying to integrate 'relative' and 'absolute' Dogen was already on a fool's errand. You can't bring together things that have never been separate to begin with, can you?
    They are separate, Chet, because the mind makes "them" separate. Most times in life, we are lost in this world of "samsara" and this and that, love and hate. Sometimes in this Practice, we are lost in the "absolute" beyond all this and that, love and hate (some types of Eastern Practice, and even some flavors of Buddhist Practice, do try to completely escape Samsara). Yet, yes too, as you say, they have never been apart from the start, so nothing to separate. All true.

    But how we realize the "Absolute" while in this sometimes beautiful sometimes ugly, love and hate world is tricky business. I see people who do so with clarity, insight, balance, Wisdom, Compassion, Freedom ... and those who seem still as too trapped by self, inbalance, ignorance in this world.

    Dogen has a most elegant, lively way of expressing this tangled-untangling dance of Buddhas and common men.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well, if something seems to work for you, try that and stick to it. I am just a coach, offering tips on improving your pitching arm. In the end, it is your arm and your pitching.

    And if it doesn't end up working, come back here and we can try it this other way.

    Gassho, J

    Jundo,

    Seemingly, it doesn't have to be either or. Tomorrow we awaken anew.
    Nothing Special

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post
    You know, I went through it with myself when I recently started posting here again. Why am I doing this? I wondered. I have a sangha, I can read Chet's posts without chiming in, I have done away with most of my Internet posting, what is my agenda? I think truthfully my experience here left a residue I haven't yet quite been able to evade. A bad taste. So perhaps some part of me still tries to make sense of it; perhaps I hoped that some sort of peace could be made. But I see now it is only a rehash that reactivates the old bad taste and discord. Maybe this time I can finally learn my lesson and move on.
    Once I was expelled from a group (nothing to do with zen or religion) and it took me 3 years to totally accept it. Feelings would arise out of nowhere like how could they treat me so harshly and unfairly, some anger, a feeling that I was supposed to do something to make a perceived wrong into something right. I knew some of the things I did weren't right but I had apologized and come on I would never make that mistake again. Being excluded, ostracized affects your being at a very primal level. I don't really have a secret on how to deal with this but it seems that time is on my side and trusting yourself is the willingness to deal with it.
    On a very deep level this is what practice is all about. At some point all the drama dissolves away and we realize what great actors we are.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Chet,

    I'm not going to engage in this discussion you have going with Jundo because, quite frankly, I can't follow it. You have a keen mind and a wealth of knowledge I once aspired to have. But since coming here to Treeleaf I don't wish for that any more and don't wish for many things in fact. I may be wrong, but I don't believe Jundo is discounting anything about your practice or Stephanie's. He is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Dogen, Sawaki, and Nishijima and has the right to run his zendo as he sees fit. Yes, I believe we welcome all perspectives here, but after awhile if you don't want to receive Jundo and Taigu's teachings then I really don't know why you are here. As Jundo has said before, it's a nice to have a chat about tennis once and awhile, but we're playing basketball.

    I am sure you will likely find fault with some part of my reasoning Chet, but I hope you meant what you said awhile back about trusting my intentions. When I look at you and Stephanie (or as much as I can glean from the forum and tea party) I see two people very much in pain and suffering who are constantly refusing assistance that is offered to them free of any charge. The visual that comes to mind is Jundo and Taigu listening to everything you have to say and pointing towards the Way. Yes, it is their particular flavor of Zen they are pointing you towards because, after all, it is their zendo! But after awhile, when you choose not to take the path they suggest for you...then really what is there left to say?

    Either dive in, really deeply and completely, or accept that this is Jundo and Taigu's ship to run as they see fit. Those of us who dive in haven't swallowed what Jundo tells us whole without chewing...he asks us to chew even when we don't want to! But we have dedicated ourselves to their teachings and perhaps in the future we will have disagreements (it's hard to imagine we won't). But there are a lot of us who like the path Jundo and Taigu have offered and I tire of the constant intellectual games that a few here, not just you and Stephanie, insist on playing. Are you sitting regularly? Are you participating in the weekly and monthly zazenkais? Did you do a service project for Global Service Days? Dokusan with one of the teachers?

    I speak only for myself here, but if you aren't going to participate in these activities that cost no money but do require certain responsibilites, then I really don't think you have much cause to be constantly criticizing the management. I'm not particularly a fan of Brad Warner, but the phrase "Sit Down and Shut Up" comes to mind, minus the negative connotations of that phrase. I mean it literally and offer it as advice that I needed to take myself...stop posting so much...go sit...and participate in the activities I mentioned above. Doing these things have come very close to literally saving my life (I only say close because I can never know what would have happened had I not done so). If you aren't going to do that, then, quite frankly, what are you doing here?

    And please know this...there is nothing I would rather see than you and Stephanie remain here at Treeleaf. It is something I find myself wishing for, so don't see this as an attempt to get rid of you. Rather the opposite: It is an attempt to persuade you to stay and fully take in what is being taught. I really hope you will.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Last edited by Dosho; 10-01-2012 at 07:41 PM.
    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.

  20. #20
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Chet,

    I'm not going to engage in this discussion you have going with Jundo because, quite frankly, I can't follow it. You have a keen mind and a wealth of knowledge I once aspired to have. But since coming here to Treeleaf I don't wish for that any more and don't wish for many things in fact. I may be wrong, but I don't believe Jundo is discounting anything about your practice or Stephanie's. He is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Dogen, Sawaki, and Nishijima and has the right to run his zendo as he sees fit. Yes, I believe we welcome all perspectives here, but after awhile if you don't want to receive Jundo and Taigu's teachings then I really don't know why you are here. As Jundo has said before, it's a nice to have a chat about tennis once and awhile, but we're playing basketball.

    I am sure you will likely find fault with some part of my reasoning Chet, but I hope you meant what you said awhile back about trusting my intentions. When I look at you and Stephanie (or as much as I can glean from the forum and tea party) I see two people very much in pain and suffering who are constantly refusing assistance that is offered to them free of any charge. The visual that comes to mind is Jundo and Taigu listening to everything you have to say and pointing towards the Way. Yes, it is their particular flavor of Zen they are pointing you towards because, after all, it is their zendo! But after awhile, when you choose not to take the path they suggest for you...then really what is there left to say?

    Either dive in, really deeply and completely, or accept that this is Jundo and Taigu's ship to run as they see fit. Those of us who dive in haven't swallowed what Jundo tells us whole without chewing...he asks us the chew even when we don't want to! But we have dedicated ourselves to their teachings and perhaps in the future we will have disagreements (it's hard to imagine we won't). But there are a lot of us who like the path Jundo and Taigu have offered and I tire of the constant intellectual games that a few here, not just you and Stephanie, insist on playing. Are you sitting regularly? Are you participating in the weekly and monthly zazenkais? Did you do a service project for Global Service Days? Dokusan with one of the teachers?

    I speak only for myself here, but if you aren't going to participate in these activities that cost no money but do require certain responsibilites, then I really don't think you have much cause to be constantly criticizing the management. I'm not particularly a fan of Brad Warner, but the phrase "Sit Down and Shut Up" comes to mind, minus the negative connotations of that phrase. I mean it literally and offer it as advice that I needed to take myself...stop posting so much...go sit...and participate in the activities I mentioned above. Doing these things have come very close to literally saving my life (I only say close because I can never know what would have happened had I not done so). If you aren't going to do that, then, quite frankly, what are you doing here?

    And please know this...there is nothing I would rather see than you and Stephanie remain here at Treeleaf. It is something I find myself wishing for, so don't see this as an attempt to get rid of you. Rather the opposite: It is an attempt to persuade you to stay and fully take in what is being taught. I really hope you will.

    Gassho,
    Dosho


    Thank you, Dosho,

    That serves for me as well. And yes it may take some more prodding, but I think I can get on board this train before it leaves the station, `time will tell.
    Nothing Special

  21. #21
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Chet,

    I'm not going to engage in this discussion you have going with Jundo because, quite frankly, I can't follow it. You have a keen mind and a wealth of knowledge I once aspired to have. But since coming here to Treeleaf I don't wish for that any more and don't wish for many things in fact. I may be wrong, but I don't believe Jundo is discounting anything about your practice or Stephanie's. He is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Dogen, Sawaki, and Nishijima and has the right to run his zendo as he sees fit. Yes, I believe we welcome all perspectives here, but after awhile if you don't want to receive Jundo and Taigu's teachings then I really don't know why you are here. As Jundo has said before, it's a nice to have a chat about tennis once and awhile, but we're playing basketball.

    I am sure you will likely find fault with some part of my reasoning Chet, but I hope you meant what you said awhile back about trusting my intentions. When I look at you and Stephanie (or as much as I can glean from the forum and tea party) I see two people very much in pain and suffering who are constantly refusing assistance that is offered to them free of any charge. The visual that comes to mind is Jundo and Taigu listening to everything you have to say and pointing towards the Way. Yes, it is their particular flavor of Zen they are pointing you towards because, after all, it is their zendo! But after awhile, when you choose not to take the path they suggest for you...then really what is there left to say?
    I'm not arguing with anything Jundo is teaching here. I'm trying to reconcile two things that I understand as true - both Jundo's and Stephanie's sincere dedications to their practices. This isn't about rejecting anything about Treeleaf - and it didn't even approach that until Jundo brought it up with the old soup metaphor again.

    Either dive in, really deeply and completely, or accept that this is Jundo and Taigu's ship to run as they see fit. Those of us who dive in haven't swallowed what Jundo tells us whole without chewing...he asks us to chew even when we don't want to! But we have dedicated ourselves to their teachings and perhaps in the future we will have disagreements (it's hard to imagine we won't). But there are a lot of us who like the path Jundo and Taigu have offered and I tire of the constant intellectual games that a few here, not just you and Stephanie, insist on playing. Are you sitting regularly? Are you participating in the weekly and monthly zazenkais? Did you do a service project for Global Service Days? Dokusan with one of the teachers?
    Dosho, once again - I don't believe I've been contradicting Jundo or Taigu's teachings here, merely asking for (and receiving) clarification. I'm re-reading what I posted and nowhere in that do I see a challenge of any sort. As for our respective practices, Dosho - I admit you're far more Zen then me. What you are doing is purely ad hominem attack - you are attacking my motivation, my personal practice, my very validity - but not anything I'm actually posting. I don't see that as a particularly good outcome of your daily practice, your zazenkais, or your service project. Your passive aggression has become more aggressive, but it's being projected on me. Once again, I'm not criticizing Jundo's teachings here, I just think that he is mischaracterizing Stephanie's point of view as being somehow 'un-Zen' when I see nothing of the sort. I know you'd prefer that I just defer to authority here, but I don't think that's very productive in fundamentally changing my point of view in the long run.

    I speak only for myself here, but if you aren't going to participate in these activities that cost no money but do require certain responsibilites, then I really don't think you have much cause to be constantly criticizing the management. I'm not particularly a fan of Brad Warner, but the phrase "Sit Down and Shut Up" comes to mind, minus the negative connotations of that phrase. I mean it literally and offer it as advice that I needed to take myself...stop posting so much...go sit...and participate in the activities I mentioned above. Doing these things have come very close to literally saving my life (I only say close because I can never know what would have happened had I not done so). If you aren't going to do that, then, quite frankly, what are you doing here?
    Wow, Dosho - you can't ignore the negative connotations of the phrase. Essentially, you are saying, "I don't like what you're saying, so please do shut up." It doesn't matter how nicely you say something like that, it's still a monumentally hostile thing to say. I wish you would at least own your own hostility, and as nice as it is to see it truly in the open, please don't project it onto me. Nothing in my posts in this thread were intended in any way to be hostile to Treeleaf, Jundo, Taigu, or the rest of the Sangha. Again, I wasn't taking pot-shots at the management in this case, I was very specifically speaking to a dismissal of a point of view by Jundo that I don't see as valid merely because I don't think he understands or hears her properly. What I posted was in the service of furthering communication, not in lodging a complaint against Jundo, Taigu, or the sangha at large. I post this because I think it will be helpful for Stephanie, Jundo, myself, and the greater sangha. I'm not doing it to attack anyone, or to annoy the sangha.

    And please know this...there is nothing I would rather see than you and Stephanie remain here at Treeleaf. It is something I find myself wishing for, so don't see this as an attempt to get rid of you. Rather the opposite: It is an attempt to persuade you to stay and fully take in what is being taught. I really hope you will.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    I don't plan on going anywhere, but that doesn't mean I'm going to participate in Jukai either. I resent the implication that my personal decision not to do those things yet bears any light on my ability to speak to a topic with a valid point of view. Again, no inherent hostility has been intended - and in fact, when Jundo clarifies himself regarding relative/absolute, I find that very helpful and a positive outcome of the conversation.

  22. #22
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Taigu - thank you, and gassho, I very much appreciate your encouragement. I know I drift, and err, and get caught up in the self, and appreciate having this pointed out to me as much as anyone. I am open to guidance and correction, and seek it. I am far from the 'DIY maverick' I have somehow come across as being. I am drawn to more traditional styles, and to centers that have retained more traditional Zen forms. And yet I am open to whatever practice I meet when I go to practice at a center or temple near where I live. I have happened to live and practice in many different places, and have always been open to trying a new style or approach when a new (or old) teacher has given me one. I don't see this as any different than with ancestors who travelled from one temple to another and practiced with different styles and teachers.

    I have met many teachers who are more experimental in their approach - some with an overall more traditional style, even, but experimental in the sense that they give me one practice to try at one time and circumstance, and another at another. I mean, we're not talking anything radical here; zazen is still always central and with basically the same method, of paying attention, and coming back when attention has drifted; but sometimes I have been given a question to sit with, sometimes in shikantaza directed to focus more on the body, sometimes on a particular stream of sensation, such as sound. You all may recall a time period I gave the practice at Treeleaf a really good go. I don't dismiss outright what teachers have to say and just willy nilly make up my own practices. I follow what the Buddha taught: not to follow or do something just because a teacher said it, but to put it to the test of my own experience. Some of the suggestions or practices I have been given by teachers have been very powerful, others just didn't work for me.

    Chet - I agree with how you describe the arc of the spiritual journey that you were there for so much of. I was certainly dropped on my ass due to my investment in ideals and have been grateful I have not been able to rebuild some of the thought structures I was tied to before. I can see what you refer to as 'grandiosity' and appreciate and agree that you see it as being connected with my sense of aesthetics. I think this is an important point that may go a ways to explaining how I have been misunderstood here. I think what Jundo has not gotten is that I am not struggling against the darker modes of feeling and being I write about, I actually enjoy them. I valorize the experience of 'struggle' and emotions often regarded as 'dark' - even when I am in a more or less cheerful mood. You can get a sense of the narratives I appreciate and to which I am drawn by reading that emusic article on Ian Astbury linked in the first post, or of course by watching a movie like The Road..

    I appreciate these kind of experiences because they bring out positive qualities I admire, such as courage, resilience, and inner strength. One of the most important qualities in the bodhisattva canon to me is fearlessness. I respect others who have had to struggle through far worse than I ever have and have as a result developed more courage and inner strength than I have. I think these 'limit experiences' can put us in touch with something that is powerful and potentially transformative. And I think that, at least in modern Buddhist writing in the West, such experiences have been far underrepresented in favor of gentler, 'homier' narratives, whch is why I emphasize these experiences so much.

    I have thought about this in context of my role as social worker, and the stressful and chaotic lives I bear witness to - much has been said of how Western Buddhism is class biased toward an Upper Middle Way and I think this can be seen in how much Western Buddhist writing emphasizes the minor complaints of the privileged, rather than the intense "drama" that can infuse the lives of those less privileged, who live in poverty, on the streets, through abuse and mental illness. Not everyone's everyday reality is washing the dishes and watering the flowers.

    Jundo - What I have a problem with is where you import this notion of "angst" that is not there. I believe you see me only through the lens of the past, as certainly, I expressed "angst" here before. In this post? I am writing about the joy and beauty I find in seeing the light and fire shining in the darkness. I love the darkness too. It is beautiful. Where you see "sewage," I see beauty.

    Rich - thank you for the down-to-earth and honest insight into the basic human factor in what I've experienced regarding Treeleaf. You are very perceptive in your empathy. I think you are dead on, that despite my attempt to rationalize that it's "just something that happened on the Internet," it hit me in a primal place when I was so thoroughly judged and rejected here. The wounded ego. I think it would be best if I could just leave it and move on, but the natural inclination to come back to "make sense of" has been further complicated by the requests I've had to come back or not to leave. And I agree that if there is anywhere I am still entertaining "drama," it is this drama of "oh the injustice" and trying to prove some sort of point here. I feel like participating here becomes a game of ego, I can see that at times, certainly.

    Dosho - I find your perspective as skewed and mired in the past as Jundo's. All this "pain and suffering" you are seeing, where is it? I am certainly not happy-go-lucky all the time, but nor would I say I spend the majority of my time in an unpleasant frame of mind. And when I am "down," I have the capacity to appreciate and even enjoy the color of that mood. Again, I think this may boil down to a clash of aesthetics. I love a challenge. I enjoy something that requires a bit of struggle. That does not mean I am always struggling, or that I am unhappy. You look at me and see someone who is struggling and needs help - I look at you and see someone who does not have the capacity to endure, appreciate, or enjoy a lot of the things that have made up the most valuable experiences in my life.

    As for my practice - I may still not be sitting daily, but I sit multiple times a week, am heavily involved with my local sangha and do zazenkai and retreats when I can, and as for service - I am involved in my community outside of work and do overtime in my job in crisis intervention in community mental health, which is a job I would not have near the capacity to do successfully if I hadn't forged some intestinal fortitude and equanimity through the experiences and states of mind you pity me for ever having.

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Chet,

    That's a very valid deconstruction of what I said, with rationales for every point you have made in this thread.

    And that's my point...which I believe you missed entirely. Yes, saying "sit down and shut up" has a negative connotation. I was just trying to get your attention and was referring to sitting instead of intellectualizing.

    Just go sit.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    P.S. My post wasn't passive agressive. Agressive? Ok, if you really think so, but not passive. I told you exactly what I thought and did not mince words. Stay, go, whatever you like...I'll always be here if you want to talk.
    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.

  24. #24
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    They are separate, Chet, because the mind makes "them" separate. Most times in life, we are lost in this world of "samsara" and this and that, love and hate. Sometimes in this Practice, we are lost in the "absolute" beyond all this and that, love and hate (some types of Eastern Practice, and even some flavors of Buddhist Practice, do try to completely escape Samsara). Yet, yes too, as you say, they have never been apart from the start, so nothing to separate. All true.

    But how we realize the "Absolute" while in this sometimes beautiful sometimes ugly, love and hate world is tricky business. I see people who do so with clarity, insight, balance, Wisdom, Compassion, Freedom ... and those who seem still as too trapped by self, inbalance, ignorance in this world.

    Dogen has a most elegant, lively way of expressing this tangled-untangling dance of Buddhas and common men.

    Gassho, J
    I agree wholeheartedly, Jundo. I think that the theme of 'escape from samsara' is just another egoic war theme. Simply recognizing that relative and absolute are not separate does not help you navigate this world that still seems very much separate, regardless of how many glimpses of wholeness that you see. I still think that realizing (making real, as opposed to simply understanding) that fundamental wholeness is invaluable, and that seeing that apparent separateness is in fact nothing but the expression of wholeness is also an invaluable insight that we must make real in our daily lives.

    For me, the longer road has been to try to actually do this instead of attempting to stifle or bury my delusion under the weight of 'good Buddhist behavior'. That is, instead of trying to suppress the symptoms of delusion by altering my behavior to act as if the delusion wasn't there, I'm taking what I believe to be the more genuine route of seeing the harmful nature of my delusions and letting them go as I see them and am able to let them go. Dear Sidd, it is messy! However, it seems more effective than my previous (way before Treeleaf) rather neurotic practice of trying so damned hard to be Buddhist.

    Chet

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Stephanie,

    My opinion of "pain and suffering" has nothing to do with your moods. It is just my opinion from what I read in your posts, which you are absolutely free to reject. If my opinion has no relevance to your life then so be it.

    Good luck on your journey, which I say with complete sincerity. I truly do hope you find what you are looking for.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie View Post
    Dosho - I find your perspective as skewed and mired in the past as Jundo's. All this "pain and suffering" you are seeing, where is it? I am certainly not happy-go-lucky all the time, but nor would I say I spend the majority of my time in an unpleasant frame of mind. And when I am "down," I have the capacity to appreciate and even enjoy the color of that mood. Again, I think this may boil down to a clash of aesthetics. I love a challenge. I enjoy something that requires a bit of struggle. That does not mean I am always struggling, or that I am unhappy. You look at me and see someone who is struggling and needs help - I look at you and see someone who does not have the capacity to endure, appreciate, or enjoy a lot of the things that have made up the most valuable experiences in my life.
    Last edited by Dosho; 10-02-2012 at 01:04 AM.
    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.

  26. #26
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Chet,

    That's a very valid deconstruction of what I said, with rationales for every point you have made in this thread.

    And that's my point...which I believe you missed entirely. Yes, saying "sit down and shut up" has a negative connotation. I was just trying to get your attention and was referring to sitting instead of intellectualizing.

    Just go sit.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    P.S. My post wasn't passive agressive. Agressive? Ok, if you really think so, but not passive. I told you exactly what I thought and did not mince words. Stay, go, whatever you like...I'll always be here if you want to talk.
    Right, Dosho - that's what I'm saying, you are much clearer and much more open. It's an improvement! Still though, my point was that I feel you are projecting an aspect of complaint and rebellion that, although I've expressed that in the past and have since owned the delusion of that, I'm not actually doing that in this thread - nor, I think, have I been doing it in general.

    I wish to remain friends, and none of what I'm saying now is meant in any way to diminish my appreciation of your continued friendship or your validity as a person. I do not want to strike out blindly at people anymore.

    As disruptive as my past behavior has been, I cannot express enough my gratitude to this Sangha and its teachers for helping me move beyond it and for helping me become genuinely less unconscious and more responsible for my own condition.

    Gassho,

    Chet

    (P.S. - I'm taking your entreaty to sit zazen more frequently to heart.)
    Last edited by disastermouse; 10-02-2012 at 01:07 AM.

  27. #27
    Just Sit, each time ... as the one act completing this moment, nothing lacking ... the only place to be in all time and space in this momentless moment ... dropping likes and dislikes, aversions and attractions ... seeing through thoughts of this and that, me vs. you ... thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow, beginnings and endings, birth and death ... putting aside all the little boxes and categories of judgment by which we mentally divide this life-world-self ... thus encountering the wholeness and intimate inter-being of Buddha ...

    ... Then, getting up from the cushion, try to find a way to bring alive that wholeness and intimate inter-being Buddha in this messy world and life and self of beauty and ugliness, smiles and tears, joy and suffering, war and peace, birth and death ...

    ... by living as we can by the Precepts, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... living gently and peacefully in a world of sometime cruelty and war ... working to aid all Sentient Beings ...

    This is the simple game of basketball we teach in this basketball school.

    Dosho asks a question I would like to ask everyone to reflect on in this Dojo, this Treeleaf Practice Place where we are expected to Practice in this place ...

    Are you sitting regularly? Are you participating in the weekly and monthly zazenkais? Did you do a service project for Global Service Days? Dokusan with one of the teachers?

    Otherwise, it is like going to the basketball school and sitting on the sidelines.

    Chet wrote ...

    I still think that realizing (making real, as opposed to simply understanding) that fundamental wholeness is invaluable...

    For me, the longer road has been to try to actually do this instead of attempting to stifle or bury my delusion under the weight of 'good Buddhist behavior'. That is, instead of trying to suppress the symptoms of delusion by altering my behavior to act as if the delusion wasn't there, I'm taking what I believe to be the more genuine route of seeing the harmful nature of my delusions and letting them go as I see them and am able to let them go.


    Whatever the means, we have to let the anger, greed/need and ignorance (division and self-ness) go in order to taste the fruits of this practice. One simply cannot taste the fruits if living as a mean, spouse-beating, pillaging and plundering bigot, for example, and no less for the small examples of greed, anger and ignorance we bring into this life. The one place I might disagree, Chet, is that sometimes we just "see them and let go" ... but sometimes we do have to actively change our behavior, make a vow to stop and follow through, go "cold turkey" in quitting the pillaging and plundering. You do have to "live like a Buddhist", asking "What Would Buddha Do" ... There is a time for each.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2012 at 07:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    I just placed a little Dharma-wager about the below statement on a split thread ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Eat-My-Zafu%21

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - Chet, almost every Zen Master of old, from Bodhidharma to Huineng to Dogen to Honzhi to Hakuin to everyone in between spoke of "True Self/small self, True Face, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Capital "M" Mind etc. etc." ... although each as "fingers pointing to the moon" (the "moon", by the way, yet another metaphorical finger pointing at the moon of Enlightenment"). This has to be unpierced, realized (made real in living) through sitting and all Practice.

    However, though "fingers pointing at the moon", that does not take away that the central point of their teachings of Zen Practice was not ... to a man ... anything but the need to realize (grock and bring to life) and and break free of the self/other, the Relative/Absolute. Sorry, find me someone through the centuries who taught something else in the classic literature. I will eat my Zafu on toast. Even Dogen was about that through his jazzed up, vibrant vision of how the relative and absolute interpenetrate and totally exert as each other. No exceptions, and the only thing the Soto and Rinzai folks (and other Mahayana Buddhists) really disagree on is the specific methods to do so.
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2012 at 03:21 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Once I was expelled from a group (nothing to do with zen or religion) and it took me 3 years to totally accept it. Feelings would arise out of nowhere like how could they treat me so harshly and unfairly, some anger, a feeling that I was supposed to do something to make a perceived wrong into something right. I knew some of the things I did weren't right but I had apologized and come on I would never make that mistake again. Being excluded, ostracized affects your being at a very primal level. I don't really have a secret on how to deal with this but it seems that time is on my side and trusting yourself is the willingness to deal with it.
    On a very deep level this is what practice is all about. At some point all the drama dissolves away and we realize what great actors we are.
    I just wanted to come back to this because, as Stephanie has said, Richard's words show empathy and possibly come closest to understanding why there is so much upset in this thread.

    Stephanie, I wasn't around when you first joined Tree Leaf but the issues at stake seem to be pretty clear and seem to point to a need for reparation.
    Somehow this post moved from 'Beautiful and powerful words' - (Jundo's affirmation) to your expressing a sense of there being 'favourite pupils' and visualizing/experiencing some sanga members as a 'horde of torch- wielding villagers'.

    The trigger for the turn around seems to revolve around a lack of resonance concerning the terms 'big self' 'little self' and there is now a discussion taking place concerning this.

    My brain is too tired to follow this separate discussion because there's a lot going on for me just now - but I did feel the need to add to this post, because at heart I feel the fundamental issue is somehow akin to family dynamics - and family dynamics matter more than philosophical discussion.

    Reading back through this thread there is a lot of personal stuff - and I'm not sure it can be contained at the level it needs to be contained within a written forum. The way I'm reading it the discord - and what needs to be healed - is wider than the exchange of conflicting ideas. I could of course be wrong.

    Anyway - just a few thoughts.

    Gassho

    Willow

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    ... and family dynamics matter more than philosophical discussion.
    Hi Willow,

    I just want to drop in that these issues may seem like a "philosophical discussion", but truly they go to the heart of Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism. All the Koans, the Zazen, the Mahayana Sutras, the writings by the great Teachers ... truly all arise from and center on this. Sometimes this fact may be lost on folks who believe that "Zen" is beyond and rejects all "ideas, views and doctrines" ... and thus has not ideas, views and doctrines. But such is not the case.

    Rather, when folks of old said that "Zen" is beyond all "ideas, views and doctrines" they meant (itself a kind of doctrine) that the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha (which we are discussing) is beyond all divisions, all "ideas, views and doctrines". So, the best way to approach and realize the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha is thus to sit in Zazen ( Shikantaza, work with Koans and the like) dropping all ideas, views and doctrines. Thereby our little self, with all its little ideas and views ... comes to embody that which is beyond (yet spawns) all divisions, ideas and views.

    Why is that important? Why did perhaps every single Zen teacher of old that I know spend so much time and effort to Teach just this? Is it just philosophy and a waste of time compared to your now dealing with your old mother, who is very sick, or other matters in life?

    I would answer by saying that this Teaching is, in fact, one of the greatest gifts to someone who is dealing with sickness, old age, life and death and all human problems. It is not merely a "philosophical debate" because, when one has truly unpierced this Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha that all the old teachers spoke about, one learns that sickness, old age, life and death, the broken heart and struggle you are dealing with ... is not just that. Further, it is not merely to be understood on an intellectual level, but rather right in our bones through this Zen Practice.

    I hope that is clear. Freedom, Wisdom, Compassion arise here ... when we can live this "No Doctrine Doctrine".

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2012 at 02:40 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I just placed a little Dharma-wager about the below statement on a split thread ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Eat-My-Zafu%21


    Thanks for reposting this, a little more cleaned up and to the pointedness. Well done.
    Nothing Special

  32. #32
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Willow,

    I just want to drop in that these issues may seem like a "philosophical discussion", but truly they go to the heart of Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism. All the Koans, the Zazen, the Mahayana Sutras, the writings by the great Teachers ... truly all arise from and center on this. Sometimes this fact may be lost on folks who believe that "Zen" is beyond and rejects all "ideas, views and doctrines" ... and thus has not ideas, views and doctrines. But such is not the case.

    Rather, when folks of old said that "Zen" is beyond all "ideas, views and doctrines" they meant (itself a kind of doctrine) that the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha (which we are discussing) is beyond all divisions, all "ideas, views and doctrines". So, the best way to approach and realize the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha is thus to sit in Zazen ( Shikantaza, work with Koans and the like) dropping all ideas, views and doctrines. Thereby our little self, with all its little ideas and views ... comes to embody that which is beyond (yet spawns) all divisions, ideas and views.

    Why is that important? Why did perhaps every single Zen teacher of old that I know spend so much time and effort to Teach just this? Is it just philosophy and a waste of time compared to your now dealing with your old mother, who is very sick, or other matters in life?

    I would answer by saying that this Teaching is, in fact, one of the greatest gifts to someone who is dealing with sickness, old age, life and death and all human problems. It is not merely a "philosophical debate" because, when one has truly unpierced this Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha that all the old teachers spoke about, one learns that sickness, old age, life and death, the broken heart and struggle you are dealing with ... is not just that. Further, it is not merely to be understood on an intellectual level, but rather right in our bones through this Zen Practice.

    I hope that is clear. Freedom, Wisdom, Compassion arise here ... when we can live this "No Doctrine Doctrine".

    Gassho, J
    This is very clear, Jundo. Zen is not to delude ourselves into thinking that transcending life and death means there is no life and death or that we can just 'emptiness' ourselves into some sort of mental state wherein we are untouchable, emotionless, and everything is joy and cupcakes all around. Everything is joy and cupcakes - but that joy and cupcakes still manifests as illness, death, and 'loss'.

    Please correct if necessary.

    Chet

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Willow,

    I just want to drop in that these issues may seem like a "philosophical discussion", but truly they go to the heart of Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism. All the Koans, the Zazen, the Mahayana Sutras, the writings by the great Teachers ... truly all arise from and center on this. Sometimes this fact may be lost on folks who believe that "Zen" is beyond and rejects all "ideas, views and doctrines" ... and thus has not ideas, views and doctrines. But such is not the case.

    Rather, when folks of old said that "Zen" is beyond all "ideas, views and doctrines" they meant (itself a kind of doctrine) that the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha (which we are discussing) is beyond all divisions, all "ideas, views and doctrines". So, the best way to approach and realize the Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha is thus to sit in Zazen ( Shikantaza, work with Koans and the like) dropping all ideas, views and doctrines. Thereby our little self, with all its little ideas and views ... comes to embody that which is beyond (yet spawns) all divisions, ideas and views.

    Why is that important? Why did perhaps every single Zen teacher of old that I know spend so much time and effort to Teach just this? Is it just philosophy and a waste of time compared to your now dealing with your old mother, who is very sick, or other matters in life?

    I would answer by saying that this Teaching is, in fact, one of the greatest gifts to someone who is dealing with sickness, old age, life and death and all human problems. It is not merely a "philosophical debate" because, when one has truly unpierced this Absolute/True Self/Big "B" Buddha that all the old teachers spoke about, one learns that sickness, old age, life and death, the broken heart and struggle you are dealing with ... is not just that. Further, it is not merely to be understood on an intellectual level, but rather right in our bones through this Zen Practice.

    I hope that is clear. Freedom, Wisdom, Compassion arise here ... when we can live this "No Doctrine Doctrine".

    Gassho, J
    Jundo I am really saddened by your reply which I experience as attacking - even if it's not meant that way. I have been a tree leaf member for nearly a year and I would have thought you would know me enough by now to realise that I'm unlikely to imply that the teachings here are 'unimportant' philosophy.

    I was simply trying to understand why a thread that seemed to start off as a reparative move had taken a negative turning. It was not in any way to devalue the teachings here.

    I am upset that you would bring up my personal situation, a sensitive issue for me just now, as a means of debate. But to answer your question I see no separation between the teachings here and life as lived and yes - of course an intellectual understanding is useless without a practice that resonates 'right in our bones'.

    Gassho

    Willow



    Gassho

    Willow

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    This is very clear, Jundo. Zen is not to delude ourselves into thinking that transcending life and death means there is no life and death or that we can just 'emptiness' ourselves into some sort of mental state wherein we are untouchable, emotionless, and everything is joy and cupcakes all around. Everything is joy and cupcakes - but that joy and cupcakes still manifests as illness, death, and 'loss'.

    Please correct if necessary.

    Chet
    Sounds delicious. ... both the sweet and bitter and hard to swallow. Lovely, thank you Chet.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    Reading back through this thread there is a lot of personal stuff - and I'm not sure it can be contained at the level it needs to be contained within a written forum. The way I'm reading it the discord - and what needs to be healed - is wider than the exchange of conflicting ideas. I could of course be wrong.
    Mahayana is a very wide path! The Soto forms may seem narrow, but there is a deeper truth.

    For what it's worth, I don't think Jundo had any intention of implying that you thought that he was talking merely about philosophy - I think he just wanted to bring the point home because it's very important. Not that I should be speaking for him.


    I would like to say that arguably, the rift between myself, Jundo, Taigu, and the sangha was even messier at the time. A lot more divisive language was used and the fight even sprawled outside the sangha with third parties trying to stir up a little shit. And yet there is very little bitterness left. In fact, I've gotten to be closer friends with some of the people with whom I was most contentious at the time.

    Chet

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Jundo I am really saddened by your reply which I experience as attacking - even if it's not meant that way. I have been a tree leaf member for nearly a year and I would have thought you would know me enough by now to realise that I'm unlikely to imply that the teachings here are 'unimportant' philosophy.

    I was simply trying to understand why a thread that seemed to start off as a reparative move had taken a negative turning. It was not in any way to devalue the teachings here.

    I am upset that you would bring up my personal situation, a sensitive issue for me just now, as a means of debate. But to answer your question I see no separation between the teachings here and life as lived and yes - of course an intellectual understanding is useless without a practice that resonates 'right in our bones'.

    Gassho

    Willow



    Gassho

    Willow
    Hi Willow,

    Nothing like that intended by me, of course. I truly meant that I wished I could take away your pain ... everyone's pain ... with these Teachings. Take care.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Mahayana is a very wide path! The Soto forms may seem narrow, but there is a deeper truth.

    For what it's worth, I don't think Jundo had any intention of implying that you thought that he was talking merely about philosophy - I think he just wanted to bring the point home because it's very important. Not that I should be speaking for him.


    I would like to say that arguably, the rift between myself, Jundo, Taigu, and the sangha was even messier at the time. A lot more divisive language was used and the fight even sprawled outside the sangha with third parties trying to stir up a little shit. And yet there is very little bitterness left. In fact, I've gotten to be closer friends with some of the people with whom I was most contentious at the time.

    Chet
    There is nothing wrong with conflict Chet if it leads to a better understanding between people.

    It does feel that you've gained a great deal from hanging on in here through any conflict.

    As hasn't gone unnoticed I can be overtly sensitive - sometimes this plays to my strength and sometimes to my weakness. I don't have a thick skin and I hurt easily and also get upset on the behalf of others.

    Anyway - it's all life and practice.

    Gassho

    Willow

  38. #38
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    There is nothing wrong with conflict Chet if it leads to a better understanding between people.

    It does feel that you've gained a great deal from hanging on in here through any conflict.

    As hasn't gone unnoticed I can be overtly sensitive - sometimes this plays to my strength and sometimes to my weakness. I don't have a thick skin and I hurt easily and also get upset on the behalf of others.

    Anyway - it's all life and practice.

    Gassho

    Willow

    And maybe Willow... the overly overtly sensibilities of which you describe here, might be the causation for being here in this type of Zen forum. I can speak to that from my small self, also. Emotional balance, in keeping more presence in all situations, goes a long way for stability and grounding, esp with the constance of `the sit. Hang in `there, all is well even when its seems its not.
    Last edited by galen; 10-02-2012 at 10:06 PM.
    Nothing Special

  39. #39
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    As hasn't gone unnoticed I can be overtly sensitive - sometimes this plays to my strength and sometimes to my weakness. I don't have a thick skin and I hurt easily and also get upset on the behalf of others.
    Me too Willow...I can be very oversensitive, but with the help of the sangha I'm getting more balanced. I'd never want to lose my sensitive side, but assertiveness is good too. Everything in moderation as well as the right time and place.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    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.

  40. #40
    Willow said:
    "I'm not all that easy round conflict and perhaps was looking to find a way to heal 'something' - or at least express an acknowledge that a need for healing was in there somewhere. It's why I noted back to Richard's post because he had picked up on this."

    Thanks for acknowledging this. Your sensitivity is true. And the healing has already happened, which includes me. In dropping the small I, expressing the truth, we become one. Its a real mystery story.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  41. #41
    Jundo, Galen, Dosho, Rich,



    Willow

  42. #42
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    I will have to agree with Dosho here.

    Lets just go sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    ditto, ditto
    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.

  44. #44
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Me too Willow...I can be very oversensitive, but with the help of the sangha I'm getting more balanced. I'd never want to lose my sensitive side, but assertiveness is good too. Everything in moderation as well as the right time and place.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    I don't know how much my opinion counts, Dosho - but I've definitely noticed a change for the better with you. You seem much more confident.

    Gassho,

    Chet

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