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Thread: Split Thread: Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment and Everything!!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Split Thread: Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment and Everything!!

    I just downloaded a copy of the Shobogenzo. Maybe I will get a chance to read it before school starts and personal reading time disappears.

    I do have a quick question about tradition. I was looking over some of this stuff and I was wondering about the meaning of the terms kensho vs satori vs enlightenment vs dharma transmission. I've looked them all up on wikipedea at one time or another, but I'm really just looking for a definition within the context of soto zen and what we do here at treeleaf (versus the Wikipedia 600 year and every sect ever run down)

    Gassho
    Nengyo

    <if this is all answered in the FAQ or somewhat incoherent, please disregard. I am quite sleepy and heading to bed at this very moment
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-05-2013 at 07:21 AM.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post

    I do have a quick question about tradition. I was looking over some of this stuff and I was wondering about the meaning of the terms kensho vs satori vs enlightenment vs dharma transmission. I've looked them all up on wikipedea at one time or another, but I'm really just looking for a definition within the context of soto zen and what we do here at treeleaf (versus the Wikipedia 600 year and every sect ever run down)
    Oye vey! A question that one could either write 10,000 words on ... or, better, NONE!

    However, I will do my best to respond slightly between silence and Wikipedia a little later today. I will move this to its own thread.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Hi Catfish,

    Well, the only real answers to these questions are to be found in Practice, not words.

    However, "ya gotta say something" ... so let me put my foot in my mouth. In a nutshell:

    "Kensho" literally means "Seeing (One's Original) Nature" ... grocking-piercing the subject-object divide, finding (though here and everywhere all along) the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness that washes away and washes up the separate appearances of you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then/etc..

    "Satori" literally means "Knowing/Understanding" ... i.e., the same grocking-piercing.

    "Enlightenment" ... i.e., the same.

    All the Zen Schools are in accord on that.

    Furthermore, both of the major Zen Schools (Soto and Rinzai) are in accord that a timeless moment of deep and earthshaking "Kensho" (in which the you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then instantly radically drops away, while the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness manifests) is pretty nifty, a treasure. However (both schools agree) such a momentary seeing is not itself enough, not compared to the work that follows in which "Kensho" gets into the bones, gets legs and starts walking, breathing and living your life in this divided, mixed up, complex world of you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then. In other words, the "grocking" is not enough without putting it into action and bringing it into daily life.

    Where the Soto and some Rinzai folks may disagree a bit is whether the "momentary timeless Kensho experience" (though nifty) is really that important and necessary, because (say the Soto folk) it is quite possible to have "Kensho" (grocking-piercing the subject-object divide) that powerfully, deeply, profoundly and thoroughly goes right to the marrow subtly and with less momentary notice. That is also "Kensho". It is sometimes compared to walking through a mist of dew which, in the end, will saturate one's sleeves as much as dipping them directly in a river. What is more, either way, the really vital part remains whether it is brought into the rest of your life or not. One can easily have some "timeless moment of deep and earthshaking Kensho" (or 100's of em) and still be a fool at how one brings Wisdom and Compassion into life.

    Dogen tended to speak of "Enlightenment" ... not as some momentary experience to attain ... but as "Practice-Enlightenment", emphasizing that how we make Buddha Wisdom and Compassion manifest in our actual words, thoughts and deeds in this life is the real "Kensho".

    Now "Dharma Transmission" from generation to generation may occur when Teacher Grocks, and Student Grocks .... and Teacher Grocks that Student Grocks that Teacher Grocks ... piercing the subject-object divide that even separates "Teacher" from "Student". That's a fancy answer anyway.

    But more important for me is that the Teacher believes the Student has now sufficiently gotten his sleeves wet ... and mastered these Traditions, Practices and Teachings enough ... to carry things on for another generation, introducing folks to the Peace of the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness.

    Something like that.

    Should have stayed quiet.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-08-2013 at 12:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    By the way ... for those who do not know the word ...

    To grok/grock (pronounced GRAHK) something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself. In Robert Heinlein's science-fiction novel of 1961, Stranger in a Strange Land, the word is Martian and literally means "to drink" but metaphorically means "to take it all in," to understand fully, or to "be at one with."

    As one character from Heinlein's novel says:

    'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed - to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means as little to us (because we are from Earth) as color means to a blind man.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks a lot for this!


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dogen tended to speak of "Enlightenment" ... not as some momentary experience to attain ... but as "Practice-Enlightenment", emphasizing that how we make Buddha Wisdom and Compassion manifest in our actual words, thoughts and deeds in this life is the real "Kensho".
    IMHO Sawaki Kodo Roshi's books are excellent to illustrate this. A few weeks ago I finished reading "To You" and there are several remarks about this.
    If I may quote:

    We donít practice in order to get satori. Itís satori that pulls our practice. We practice, being dragged all over by satori.
    You donít seek the way. The way seeks you.
    You study, you do sports, and youíre fixated on satori and illusion. So that even zazen becomes a marathon for you, with satori as the finish line. Yet because youíre trying to grab it, youíre missing it completely.
    Only when you stop meddling like this does your original, cosmic nature realize itself.
    You say youíre seeking the way, but what does it mean if youíre seeking the way just to satisfy yourself?
    You want to become a buddha? Thereís no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
    Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
    We donít achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.
    And another neat quote:
    No illusion is as hard to cure as satori.

    Donít take pride in your practice. Itís clear that any satori you take pride in is a lie.

    Youíve got it backwards if you talk about stages of practice. Practice is satori.

    Satori is like a thief breaking into an empty house. He breaks in but thereís nothing to steal. No reason to flee. No one who chases him. So thereís nothing which could satisfy him either.
    You can find some parts (not all though!) in English on the Antaiji website:
    http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/kodo...i-to-you.shtml

    In another thread on Treeleaf someone mentioned that there will be a new translation of his texts in English soon.
    I think Sawaki Roshi's teachings are incredibly valuable to understand the Soto side of our practice.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    .... the word is Martian [/I]
    LOL I thought it was yiddish because Tetsugen Glassman also uses it!!
    --- In every moment of our sitting all beings are receiving the ultimate help; they are all achieving perfect peace and perfect rest. --- Norman Fischer

  7. #7
    Junior Member Komatsu's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo! It certainly answers my question without adding too many more!

    Well, the only real answers to these questions are to be found in Practice, not words.
    Ahhh, the reason I stick around this place I think I shall go sit for a while to both ponder and not ponder all of this

    Gassho,
    Nengyo
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  9. #9
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    1961, huh? I wasn't even born for another 5 years and it's one of my favourite Heinlein books. He was a genius.

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  10. #10
    A very interesting and profound thread…

    I guess most of us have experienced a fleeting moment of oneness with everything around us. Some sort of “natural high”.

    For example I might be sitting on the beach being absorbed in a very dramatic sunset, feeling the ocean breeze against my skin totally absorbed with nature, when all of a sudden I feel a sensation of oneness with everything around me. The sensation lasts for only a brief moment and then it’s gone.

    Another experience might be when we are engaged in helping others and unexpectedly experience a very deep, but momentary feeling that we are all one. It might be an extremely profound sense of universal love.

    Can these experiences be considered as Kensho?

    I once read that Kensho can be described as great or small (great kensho and little Kensho) and that Satori is a much more profound experience then Kensho.

    Can Kensho be described as momentary glimpses of enlightenment, whereas Satori might be considered as actual enlightenment?

    Not sure if I am making much sense at all …but once again a very interesting thread.



    Gassho
    Mike
    Last edited by Takoda; 02-06-2013 at 12:49 AM.

  11. #11
    From "Opening the Hand of Thought": ...if you call those times we can't help but chase thoughts delusion, and clear-minded zazen satori, then delusion and satori are essentially like conditions caused by changes in temperature and humidity.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Takoda View Post
    A very interesting and profound thread…

    I guess most of us have experienced a fleeting moment of oneness with everything around us. Some sort of “natural high”.

    For example I might be sitting on the beach being absorbed in a very dramatic sunset, feeling the ocean breeze against my skin totally absorbed with nature, when all of a sudden I feel a sensation of oneness with everything around me. The sensation lasts for only a brief moment and then it’s gone.

    Another experience might be when we are engaged in helping others and unexpectedly experience a very deep, but momentary feeling that we are all one. It might be an extremely profound sense of universal love.

    Can these experiences be considered as Kensho?
    These momentary Kensho experiences can be light and deep and beyond light or deep. This can be much more profound and enveloping than a sensation of "I" feeling oneness or awe. HOWEVER, that does not matter because, generally in Soto, we consider all such experiences as passing scenery ... just a visit to the wonders of the Grand Canyon. One cannot stay there, as lovely as it is. Nice and educational place to visit ... would not, should not, could not truly live there. One can even live perfectly well never having visited the vast Canyon at all. The most important thing is to get on the bus, get on with the trip, get on with life from there. In our Soto Way, the WHOLE TRIP is Enlightenment when realized as such (that is the True "Kensho"!) ... not some momentary stop or passing scene or some final destination .


    I once read that Kensho can be described as great or small (great kensho and little Kensho) and that Satori is a much more profound experience then Kensho.

    Can Kensho be described as momentary glimpses of enlightenment, whereas Satori might be considered as actual enlightenment?

    Not sure if I am making much sense at all …but once again a very interesting thread.
    The following is important, so BOLDFACE and UNDERLINE ...

    Different folks approach and define all this in their own way. In our Soto View, some folks way way way overvalue an experience of timelessly momentary "Kensho" ... as the be all and end all (beyond being or ending) of "Enlightenment" ... and chase after it like some gold ring on the merry go round. For Soto folks, that is like missing the point of the trip. For Soto Folks, when we realize such ... every moment of the Buddha-Bus trip, the scenery out the windows (both what we encounter as beautiful and what appears ugly), the moments of good health and moments of passing illness, the highway, the seats and windows, all the other passengers on the Bus who appear to be riding with us, when we board and someday when we are let off ... the whole Trip ... is all the Buddha-Bus, all Enlightenment and Kensho, all the "destination" beyond "coming" or "going" or "getting there", when realized as such (Kensho). This ride is what we make it.

    Most folks just don't pierce that fact and are lost in delusion about the Nature of the trip. Most sentient being "passengers" on this ride just don't realize that, feeling homesick, car sick, separated from all the other passengers, revolted or attracted to what they see ... filling the whole trip with thoughts of greed and anger, spoiling the journey, making a mess of the bus and harming themselves and the other riders, unhappy until they get to the "promised destination" somewhere down the road. They may even get to the Grand Canyon, snap a picture and buy a sovenier, then wonder "is that all it is"?

    That is why many Soto folks, like Sawaki Roshi above, think "Kensho Schmensho" ... running after some timelessly momentary fireworky experience of "Kensho" is not True "Grocking the Nature" Buddha-Bus Kensho. He says ...

    You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
    Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
    We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.


    Something like that.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-22-2013 at 02:09 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Thank you Jundo, I love your analogy of the canyon. You know how I love the mountains and spend any waken time in them. There has been many a time sitting on top of a summit, in ahhhh of the great beauty and saying to myself, " OK, as beautiful as it is, it's time to get back to reality".

    But walking this path has helped me see that the beauty of the summit is always there ... Even when I am not on top of the mountain.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  14. #14
    YES! Shingen!

    THAT'S Kensho!
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    As does the sun shine on a cloudy day.
    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.

  16. #16
    There is just as much beauty in the cloudy sky as when the sun is shining. April showers bring May flowers.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Hi Chris; Long time! I didn't know you as an Al Jolson fan

    gassho,
    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.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    YES! Shingen!

    THAT'S Kensho!
    Damn it, Shingen gets Kensho and all I get is smashing a bunch of bugs with a stick. This zen thing is completely unfair! hahaha

    For some reason this "style" really resonates with me right now. I think when I first started meditation I was chasing calmness and relaxation, then I was chasing some profound life changing experience, and now I'm not chasing anything. In fact I'm pretty sure there is nothing to catch. So, while I don't claim to have anything figured out or to be particularly good at anything Zen or Buddhist, I am quite content with this situation.

    Now it is time to visit Shingen's summit... as soon as I get my zafu cover back on.

    Gassho,
    Nengyo
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    Hi Chris; Long time! I didn't know you as an Al Jolson fan

    gassho,
    Ah, Al Jolson Roshi ...

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    But I am more Toot Toot Tootsie ...



    That is the PC version, by the way ... because back in the day blackface was acceptable.
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-06-2013 at 12:54 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Jundo wrote;
    But I am more Toot Toot Tootsie ...
    But we all knew that

    btw, did you notice how Al Roshi was the first to introduce Gangham Style (1:38)

    he also does a little elvis at 1:19
    Last edited by Shokai; 02-06-2013 at 01:39 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.

  22. #22
    Thank you Jundo for explaining Kensho.
    The analogy of the Grand Canyon was great. A definite "thumbs up" .


    Deepest bows.


    Gassho
    Mike
    Last edited by Takoda; 02-06-2013 at 08:51 PM.

  23. #23
    Kensho from my reading is usually presented as a 'glimpse'...like a door opening, which can also close again.

    In that sense, the memory of the glimpse can function as a great motivation.

    Enlightenment means the door has fully opened, vanished from its hinges, taking the frame and even the wall along with it.

  24. #24
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    Richard

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Kensho from my reading is usually presented as a 'glimpse'...like a door opening, which can also close again.

    In that sense, the memory of the glimpse can function as a great motivation.

    Enlightenment means the door has fully opened, vanished from its hinges, taking the frame and even the wall along with it.
    What door? What wall? What what? I can tell you conclusively that enlightenment is.....don't know.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  26. #26
    Thanks Jundo!!

    Gassho

  27. #27
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    In that sense, the memory of the glimpse can function as a great motivation.
    If you forgot yourself, if body and mind dropped away, who is there to have a memory?
    --- In every moment of our sitting all beings are receiving the ultimate help; they are all achieving perfect peace and perfect rest. --- Norman Fischer

  28. #28
    Hi all,
    Nice discussion about the taste of Cherries, Strawberries and that wonderful Mangos,
    in my limited, deluded view, all that theory is not of much of help. Sorry for the
    post and thank you for your practice. Gassho
    Myoku

  29. #29
    Hi Myoku,

    Sometimes it is good to talk about cooking and temperature and ingredients ... sometimes it is best just to cook.

    Both together get the cake baked.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Thank you for this reminder Jundo.
    Gassho, Jakudo Hinton.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, ďIĒ. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    Damn it, Shingen gets Kensho and all I get is smashing a bunch of bugs with a stick. This zen thing is completely unfair! hahaha

    For some reason this "style" really resonates with me right now. I think when I first started meditation I was chasing calmness and relaxation, then I was chasing some profound life changing experience, and now I'm not chasing anything. In fact I'm pretty sure there is nothing to catch. So, while I don't claim to have anything figured out or to be particularly good at anything Zen or Buddhist, I am quite content with this situation.

    Now it is time to visit Shingen's summit... as soon as I get my zafu cover back on.

    Gassho,
    Nengyo
    I used to be like this when I approached meditation. It sometimes felt like I had to struggle to achieve some perfect mindset that I thought I was supposed to be at. Since doing zazen I can see what I was doing wrong. Ironically, I've found it much easier to get to a place of calmness without trying to get anywhere at all.

    Gassho,

    Simon

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