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Thread: non-dual philosophy

  1. #1
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    non-dual philosophy

    I recently read "Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are" by J Jennifer Matthews. I thought it excellent, very thought-provoking and completely consistent with the perspective I discern in Zen teachings. actually, when I read it, I didn't think of it being other than a Zen Buddhist point of view. through her I was led to the work of Greg Goode and read his "Standing as Awareness", in which I became aware of the (existence of) Adavaita Vedanta teachings. they seem very similar and compatible with Zen philosophy for the most part, but they seem to soft-pedal the importance of meditation, which is, of course, essential to Zen practice. this seems a difference that makes all the difference.

    can a Zen Buddhist learn from the study of writings of Adavaita Vedanta proponents? any thoughts or familiarity with this philosophy or Greg Goode?

    thanks, -O

  2. #2
    In the words od Robert Aitken roshi:

    "Clouds move across the pure blue sky of my mind, and the Chinese thrush sings in my heart; all things are my teacher."

    Simply be careful, shikantaza zazen is the body and soul of our way, one reason amongst many is that by sitting the Buddha came to realization of the Truth. All things teach us, but sometime that teaching is which path NOT to take too far. Still all ways up that crazy mountain.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  3. #3

    Zen and Non-dual Vedanta, etc.

    I read "Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are" a couple of years ago and found it an excellent book.

    I have been reading books about Non-Dual Vedanta and related thinkers like Krishnamurti and Adyashanti (influenced by both a Zen background and Non-Dual Vedanta) for about the last 5 years.

    I'm familiar with Greg Goode's books, but find them a little dry for my taste.

    Personally, I would say Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi were the towering spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. And Krishnamurti is particularly valuable as a free spirit who stands outside all traditions.

    Can we learn from these folks? Absolutely! I very recently had a powerful realization that meditation is an expression of enlightenment rather than a means to enlightenment by studying and meditating upon these teachings, and almost immediately after stumbled upon Treeleaf Zen and Dogen's teachings.

    At the same time, the question arises, how do we implement these spiritual insights in practice?

    That's where I think Zen particulary excels. I think Krishnamurti's "meditation is simple awareness" translates directly into Dogen's "Shikantaza is undivided activity." But where Krishnamurti, ever fearful of having his thoughts being turned into a mechanical method, only gives hints, Zen teachers have discussed shakantaza in detail without turning it into a straightjacket.

    Gassho,
    Dave
    Last edited by Dave Schauweker; 02-09-2013 at 04:49 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    The Dharma can be seen in everything if we have opened eyes. Not only in so called "spiritual" things but more importantly IMHO, the everyday mundane occurrences that are all around us everyday. Everything and everyone can teach us something so meet all with an open mind. I myself try to do this, but not usually with immediate success. I mostly realize lessens well after the teaching, but I am working on it.
    Gassho, Jakudo Hinton
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. 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

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakudo View Post
    Everything and everyone can teach us something so meet all with an open mind.
    Nicely said and so true Jakudo.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

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

  6. #6
    Hi,

    I have not read Jennifer Mathews or Greg Goode, so need to respond very generally.

    I often say that one can Practice Shikantaza and Zen Buddhism while also a Republican, Democrat or apolitical, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, Atheist or Agnostic. I would say that, so long as it is a belief system that avoids hate, violence, excess greed and such (e.g., a "Zen Buddhist Nazi" will go a dark way ), all can mix. I sometimes write ...

    If there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

    If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

    Whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ...


    A special aspect of Shikantaza is that, for one of the rare (if not the only) times in life, we radically free our self of its hungry need to "get somewhere" or feel some state. However, strange as it seems, that really gets us somewhere and free. I often write like this ...

    --------------
    To the marrow sitting free of seeking ... is a dandy way thus to find that which can only be found by sitting radically free of seeking. Realizing that there is no where to "get to", and no place you can get or need get ... is finally getting somewhere that will revolutionize life, and put your "you" out of a job. One gets very far, one finally arrives ... by sitting still.

    Being the "Buddha" all along, and having not a thing about you that is in need of change ... that does not mean you don't have some work to do to realize truly that you are the Buddha without need of change. To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a VERY BIG CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two) to add or take away, and tasting that there is "nothing to add" is an irreplaceably important addition!

    By being "goalless" we hit the goal ... a goal which is hit by being thoroughly goalless.

    In seeing the ordinary as sacred ... we find (as Hakuin Zenji wrote) "this earth where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land, and this very body the body of Buddha". This very life is it!

    Yes, the key is "not me" ... because that "me" is a trouble maker of frictions with the "not me" world. But depriving the "me" of its fuel, dropping body-mind, the friction vanishes. The way to "drop body-mind" is to drop all thought of achievement of "dropping body-mind" and all other need for achievement ... which results in a very major achievement, namely, the "dropping of body-mind."

    And, yes, finally ... this practice makes me happy, joyful, deep down and pervading. It is an abiding happiness and joy at a life in which I do not need to, and will not, feel happy and joyful all or much of the time. And that makes me happy! It is a Peace which sweeps in all peace and war, is at home with all ... at peace in, as and with a life that is oftimes anything but peaceful, thus True Peace.

    See how that all works?

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

    So, to the extent that one does not practice Shikantaza as radical seeking by non-seeking, and instead is seeking to "find God" "attain some peaceful or extraordinary mental state" "Bliss" "feel Oneness" ... then it is not the same.

    To the marrow, radical non-seeking ... not running after all that ... is Shikantaza. And, strange as it may sound, one may thereby Find and Attain Truly One ... and one, two, three, four too. One may merge into a Peace which holds and -is- all the broken pieces of life with no jagged edge. One may attain a Bliss which holds fully the happy days and the sad, the broken heart and celebrations ... a Bliss so Blissful that one does not even need to feel Blissed Out as the goal.

    My feeling is that many Vedantic Teachings are emphasizing too much that "Oneness-Peace-Bliss-Brahma" feeling in meditation ... and how to feel that. The True Peace comes when one radically drops all attempt to change, escape or feel some joy-joy-everlasting-blissful-blissed out way. That dropping of need is True Peace and Freedom, the Buddha's Smile that holds all of life ... both smiles and times of tears.

    We don't label it ... but sense some great Wholly Holy Whole Flowing Everythingness Emptyness Dance ... and one might call that God, Vishnu, Stanley or, best, no label or box to stick it in at all. However, we have little need to "merge with that" because we already are (even though not realizing the fact), and such holds and -is- all this world ... the beautiful and ugly, the high peaks and low valleys, the desserts and inner cities and seas. Something like that. Sometimes we can see this fact, sometimes not ... no matter. It is like the moon, always present seem or unseen. No need to see and stare at the moon all the time.

    BOTTOM LINE:

    Zen is so "Non-Dual" that it does not need or seek even a feeling of Oneness ... but is TOTALLY AT ONE with the world ever manifesting as Oneness, Twoness or Everythingness! That's REAL ONENESS!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-10-2013 at 02:55 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Another thing Aitken roshi said was something along the lines of:

    If it should be proved that Buddha never existed, I will still sit and still live as though nothing has changed.

    Even if Buddha ended up to be a fabrication, this Way, to me, is so complete, so... correct, that I will continue to live according to his teachings.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  8. #8
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    obviously I was mistaken about the similarities between the philosophies. thank you for directing me to dig deeper. -O
    only saps buy vowels

  9. #9
    Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

    For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

    All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

    There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

    Gassho. Daizan
    大山

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

    For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

    All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

    There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

    Gassho. Daizan
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Just today my girlfriend told me how much I have changed since I begun sitting with much more discipline.

    She says I am more patient and that I don't get annoyed by a lot of things anymore.

    I don't know about that. All I can say is that when I sit, if only for a moment, I disappear and blend with the external noise, the weather and the gravity that holds everything tied to the Earth.

    Jundo, thank you for this teaching.

    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

  12. #12
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

    For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

    All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

    There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

    Gassho. Daizan
    You are so eloquent!
    The only realisation I have had along these lines was a moment when I was explaining to a colleague about the routes of professional development she could try and what it meant in terms of her practice. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense that I am just living my practice. It only lasted a moment and that feeling of being a practice, being 'my' field just created a huge silence. She had to ask if I was OK ....
    .....It was nothing special but a moment of realisation that has changed things for me.
    Yours in just sitting.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  13. #13
    Hello everyone,

    thank you for your wonderful posts in this thread.

    Ever since having been introduced to Lex Hixon's work, my outlook on different approaches and practise forms has become extremely inclusive, however having said that I personally (and that's just my two cheap Unsui cents) would actually strongly discourage substantial cross-tradition-reading as long as one doesn't have a firm grip on a particular tradition that is one's main practise tradition.

    Obviously if you're still trying to figure out what your own main practise tradition might be ,that is another story.

    My comment is not aimed at anyone in particular, but just a reaction to my seeing ever more and more people (both on the internet and in general life) who have have been superficially introduced to a number of approaches, but who have failed to grow roots in any particular one. What follows is often enough a sub-conscious search for the most pleasing common denominators, resulting from the lack of in depth knowledge and a wish for peace and inclusiveness. I also feel that a lot of differences are artificially turned into big and major obstacles just because we humans often want to feel like we're right and the other folks are wrong. However it is precisely the small details that can shape one's own practise-depth in the long-term.

    I can fully relate to Jundo's and Daizan's postings in particular and do agree with their contents, but I just felt like writing a little party-pooper posting here to add some spice to this topic

    Advaita Vedanta and Zen are both beautiful and deep practise traditions, and they both lack nothing from their own point of view, but to really enter them deeply, we have to commit to their practise and study for years. And there are differences, and some of them may be (or may be not) vital to our own individual journey.

    I am the first to admit that ancient writings and teaching lineages do not have to be important to us just because they are there, but the iceberg that is a practise tradition can only survive long-term because of the massive "base" below the surface. A collection of iceberg tips will melt rather quickly in the sun that is a modern day consumerist age.

    To fully appreciate, integrate and/or criticise a certain tradition, we have to dive deep again and again, against the current and also in icy waters which we might not find appealing at all.

    To fully enter life and experience you need nothing however. In our case a cushion might help


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen


    P.S. Before getting too much into modern Neo_Advaita teachers (no matter how great they might be) it might make sense to familiarise oneself with some good classical Shankara translations and Vedanta+Advaita Vedanta commentaries, then maybe look at Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna and Sri Nisargadatta. After that it's a lot easier to see where some of the modern teachers get their stuff from.
    Last edited by Hans; 02-10-2013 at 12:56 PM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  14. #14
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    gassho, Hans, thank you for directly addressing my question. thanks all, for your input.

    I was raised in a Christian family and for most of my life never felt compelled to look beyond the Anglo-Catholic tradition for spiritual nourishment. Later, approaching maturity, my attachment to (and belief in) a Paternal Creator Deity began to dissolve and after a somewhat cursory perusal of "the alternatives", I had the incredible good fortune to come into contact with (be contacted by?) the bountiful Buddhadharma. In Zen Buddhism, and specifically in Dogen's Soto Zen, I was once again able to establish a spiritual still-point, from which I felt no need to look elsewhere for supplimentation.

    In Catholicism I was taught that God draws nearest to His people in the sacraments. Shikantaza is this intimacy with the Absolute. Somewhere along the line I heard that all "legitimate" religions have an ejection seat as their goal, which catapults the devotee away from all religious/ sentimental attachments- like Meister Eckhart's "God beyond God", I suppose. this concept seems to be both the beginning and end in Zen.

    truly, humbly, gassho,

    -O
    Last edited by Oheso; 02-10-2013 at 05:10 PM.
    only saps buy vowels

  15. #15

    Vedanta/Advaita(non-dual) Vedanta

    Just want to point out that there are big differences between Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta and other schools of Vedanta, with Advaita-Vedanta being closer to Zen.

    For anyone interested in Advaita Vedanta, see Dennis Waite's "Back to the Truth: 5000 years of Advaita" plus his encyclopedic website, advaita.org.uk.

    Gassho,
    Dave

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schauweker View Post
    Just want to point out that there are big differences between Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta and other schools of Vedanta, with Advaita-Vedanta being closer to Zen.

    For anyone interested in Advaita Vedanta, see Dennis Waite's "Back to the Truth: 5000 years of Advaita" plus his encyclopedic website, advaita.org.uk.

    Gassho,
    Dave
    I would be interested in your telling us some of the difference, Dave.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Hello Dave,

    thank you for your input. Since quite a few modern teachers seem to mix certain influences (at least in my very limited experience) I felt the need to generalise a bit
    The website looks very interesting. I'd also be interested in hearing more about your own experiences in this regard.

    All the best and gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Oheso View Post
    obviously I was mistaken about the similarities between the philosophies. thank you for directing me to dig deeper. -O
    It's not that you were mistaken. If you look into the majority of the worlds religions and philosophies, you will find that, at their heart, they are all basically the same. The core teachings of Plato are the same as those of the Stoics, which are the same as the teachings of Jesus, and Mohammad, the Ancient Mysteries held many of the same truths as Buddhism, which are similar to the roots in Sikhism. Many philosophers have come to understand that there is an underlying "sameness " to all religions, some call it the anima mundi or world soul, we call it the dharma. The point is that all these core teachings, when one can see past the additions of delusion and discrimination, all come from the Buddha. All these teachers are the Buddha when they speak the dharma, just as much as you are the Buddha when you hear and sit with it.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  19. #19
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Maybe the next T-shirt should read 'The whole universe is one bright pearl'.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  20. #20

    jundo's question - difference between Advaita Vedanta and other schools of Vedanta

    What is the difference between Advaita Vedanta and other Vedanta schools? Well, Advaita Vedanta is non-dual and the other schools are more or less dual (drum-roll: Ta-da-dum ).
    But seriously, for a very rough-and-ready charting of their difference, I think one could do worse than put Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta at one end of a spectrum, with knowledge of the Self (jnana) as the way to liberation, and put Dvaita (dual) Vedanta at the other end of the spectrum, along with eternal souls, eternal matter, an eternal God, and with Bhakti (devotion) as the way to salvation.
    Traditional Advaita Vedanta emphasizes intellectual understanding. The guru gradually reveals a more encompassing and valid truth about the Self through a process called sublation.
    What is gradually revealed is that only Brahman, ultimate reality beyond all categories, exists. Everything perceived is just a projection.
    Unfortunately the incredible richness and complexity of Indian spirituality sully my neat little model. For instance, one of the two founders of Advaita Vedanta, Shankara, wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, sometimes known as the Hindu Bible. The Gita was already quite a syncretist work, incorporating theistic and dualistic views. Meditation, social duty or dharma, devotion to a god - all kinds of practices are covered. In general I believe the Gita gives the idea that liberation is a matter of actively taming the mind, as if the tamer and the mind were separate, like a horse and rider.
    Let’s move on to the modern era. Here it becomes even more complicated. We still have traditional Advaita Vedanta. In the West, I would put Greg Goode in this category. His approach is quite intellectual, although his terminology is more modern, substituting “awareness” for “Brahman” as the ultimate reality. His books contain numerous thought experiments to help one realize this.
    Well, I don’t intend to write a thesis here, nor could I, and am only going to mention one more modern Advaita Vedanta teacher, Ramana Maharshi, who to me symbolizes the diversity of approach that emerged from traditional Advaita Vedanta in the twentieth century. He is truly a legendary figure, and was the inspiration for W. Somerset Maugham’s novel (and later the film) "The Razor’s Edge". He recommended the practice of self inquiry (in effect, a koan), constantly asking one’s self "Who am I?” ”Who is perceiving this?”
    For more, see Dennis Waite's "Back to the Truth: 5000 years of Advaita" plus his encyclopedic website, advaita.org.uk.
    Last edited by Dave Schauweker; 02-11-2013 at 03:20 PM.

  21. #21
    Jean Klein was a respected western Advaita teacher... http://www.nonduality.com/klein.htm His teachings were recommended by a Theravadin Abbot I know (how is that for mixing things up?). It is different from the Vedanta I learned early on, in that Self is not reified. There is much talk of capitol "A" "Awareness though, which can seem like just stringing along the reification, frankly. But the key point is that there is nowhere to hang your hat. It has some things in common with Zen, and some differences . IMHO

    Gassho , Daizan
    大山

  22. #22
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Advaita is great, I am a keen admirer of Maharshi and reader of satsang and I don t practice Advaita. The guru thing, the idea of a eternal Self, all of this is not compatible with Zen, and Zen should not be mixed up with Advaita. Both are great paths and should be practised as is. Undiluted. One cannot simply pick up ingredients from the shelf, chewing water, playing an invisible lute, comunicating with the bare essence of things, this is our way.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 02-11-2013 at 09:29 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.

  23. #23
    An interesting thread - I began reading the teachings of Sriramana Maharshi a while back but did not get very far into it. I think as Hans and Taigu point out it's better to feel for the gravitational pull of a teaching within oneself and then study and practice deeply.
    It's not a case of one practice being better than another - just a feeling of one's 'home'.

    Gassho

    Willow

  24. #24

    Zazen, Vedanta, and a sensory deprivation tank experience

    Jundo, Taigu:
    You guys provide a great service to the Zen community. And what is your reward? Having to deal with argumentative nit-pickers like me.
    O.K. this is my last post on this thread (and I’m not kidding).
    Trust me (as Mitt Romney used to say), there is a point to this.
    This morning I took advantage of a half-off coupon and tried a sensory deprivation tank session for the first time. I became acclimated to the tank almost immediately and started to relax. As in my daily zazen, I just tried to relax and be passively aware. In a relatively short time, I became aware that I was more relaxed than I am during zazen, and in this more relaxed and empty state I realized that during zazen I had been subtly shaping my mental states.
    I relaxed still further and realized that there was a definite resistance to carrying the process of relaxation any deeper. From this point on, I just watched my resistance, which occasionally resulted in involuntary muscular contractions.
    Although I skipped my zazen today, because I didn’t have time to do both, I believe I learned something quite valuable that I can now apply to my zazen.
    Let’s return to Oheso’s question that began this post:
    “Can a Zen Buddhist learn from the study of writings of Adavaita Vedanta proponents? any thoughts or familiarity with this philosophy or Greg Goode?”
    I also believe I learned a lot that I can apply to zazen from Krishnamurti, who, because ya gotta put him somewhere, is often lumped in with Vedanta.
    It’s not always a case of either/or ideas or practices, mixing practices, consumer-like attitudes towards religion, etc. And I believe the uniqueness of Zen can be overemphasized. I personally would rather leave that to the fundamentalists (I specifically had in mind "No one comes to the Father except by me").
    ‘Nuff said.
    Gassho,
    Dave
    Last edited by Dave Schauweker; 02-12-2013 at 12:55 AM.

  25. #25
    As in my daily zazen, I just tried to relax and be passively aware.
    This sounds like a confused struggle. I've been there, and I hope it can be put down. It is a drag.


    The Four Noble Truths, the Buddha's "nobel silence" on tail chasing ontological questions, recognizing the gyres of Eternalism and Nihilism that people routinely slip down in pursuit of ..... , all this and much more distinguishes the skillful way Buddhism. Respecting these distinctions and not blurring them in New Age generalizations does mean being a fundamentalist. There is nothing supremacist about it, nothing chauvinistic, nothing closed minded. It just means practicing thoroughly and with fidelity.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 02-12-2013 at 01:21 AM.
    大山

  26. #26
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Call me a fundamentalist if you wish, i am just in charge of transmitting a teaching that does not belong to me. No need for anything else.
    Gassho


    Taigu
    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.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schauweker View Post
    This morning I took advantage of a half-off coupon and tried a sensory deprivation tank session for the first time. I became acclimated to the tank almost immediately and started to relax. As in my daily zazen, I just tried to relax and be passively aware. In a relatively short time, I became aware that I was more relaxed than I am during zazen, and in this more relaxed and empty state I realized that during zazen I had been subtly shaping my mental states.
    This is what may sound strange about Shikantaza Zazen, but ultimately it is not about going into a sensory deprivation tank or attaining a peaceful relaxed state. It is about sitting with all that is, silence or noise, quiet or chaos ... with a clear Silence and Stillness within that gently holds all that is going on, including the distracting, beautiful or ugly, quiet or rock concert noisy. That is the ultimate Silence and Stillness, because it is Silent and Still without need for silence or stillness. That is ultimate Peace, perfectly At Peace both with peaceful situations and those not feeling nice and peaceful at all.

    We sit in a quiet room, but with our eyes half open ... pushing away nothing, nor chasing after anything. We sit that way just to quiet down the mind enough to release the tangles of thought and emotion that plaque and bind our minds during a busy day. However, we do not shut our eye or seek some escape either. We simply sit, undisturbed by whatever disturbs. Then, rising from the cushion and returning to our busy day of noise, disturbance, places to go and things to do ... we may yet taste a bit of silence, nondisturbance, no place to go or thing in need of doing in/amid/as all that disturbing running around ... all at once, not two.

    Anyway, I have dabbled in the past with sensory deprivation tanks too. But one cannot carry a sensory deprivation tank or Zafu around all day!

    This talk goes into that a bit more ...

    At our Zendo in Tsukuba, for our Saturday morning Zazenkai, birds can usually be heard chirping prettily in the surrounding trees ...

    ... but also, a truck or cars will frequently be heard rushing down the nearby road, carpenters banging fixing a neighbors roof, or a military helicopter passing overhead (I do not know why, but our house must be on some route they use to one of the nearby bases).

    It has become one of the most powerful teaching tools I have for new students. I tell them that it is not to think "Oh, the birds are very lovely and peaceful ... but the trucks and helicopters disturb my nice Zazen". Rather, "the birds are singing as birds ... the trucks are trucks ... the copters just copters. Do not think one pleasant but the other ugly or detracting from the atmosphere. Then, there is a certain quiet and stillness that one can come hear behind and sounding right through all the sounds and noise."

    I learned this sitting many a morning at Nishijima Roshi's old Zendo ... located right next to a NOISY child's playground and a highway.

    Suzuki Roshi has a lovely little talk (one of his few video talks) on the mind's making "sound vs. noise". If I recall, his birds in the talk were not as pretty sounding as ours!



    Gassho, Jundo
    You also said ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schauweker View Post

    It’s not always a case of either/or ideas or practices, mixing practices, consumer-like attitudes towards religion, etc. And I believe the uniqueness of Zen can be overemphasized. I personally would rather leave that to the fundamentalists (I specifically had in mind "No one comes to the Father except by me").
    Well, there is something unique about Shikantaza among all fine forms of meditation ... just like there is something unique about chocolate ice cream among all fine flavors of ice cream.

    Most meditation I know is aimed at getting some sensation that takes us out of life ... such a bliss, a feeling of peace, oneness, realization of god by shutting off or turning away from this world and the senses ... like in the sensory deprivation tank and the deep sense of relaxation there. That is fine ... until the lights come on. If one wants that kind of peace, valium or morphine might do better. The Peace I describe is more profound perhaps, because it is a Peace so Peaceful that All is At Peace even with not feeling peaceful all through life. In Shikantaza, we find a Bliss that includes the sad times, a Beauty that is both the beautiful and ugly to our eyes, a Oneness that is One with division, and finding the Pure Land even in the busy inner city ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...8Part-XXIII%29

    So, it is a unique ice cream flavor.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-12-2013 at 03:51 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    orthodoxy is it's own reward?

    -O
    only saps buy vowels

  29. #29
    I sometimes say that bananas are wonderful and tasty, and so is ketchup ... but I am not sure about banana ketchup!

    However, when I said that last time, our Kyonin sent me this ...



    Nevertheless, in this Sangha we are just BANANAS!

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Not exactly...and people with a few hours sitting and a few books behind them regularly voice their own opinion about the path, and we live in a world where tennage dudes trashing this and that are praised for their originality and theor opinions are more valued that people that offered time and space, actually give their lives to what they study.
    If you are s student of Advaita, you should know better or rather not know better. As to your knowledge of a Zen Buddhist point of view as you phrase it let me be clear: zen buddhist is an absurd phrasing, there is no point of view but the relinqishing of all views
    And there is no reward here.
    And no non- dual path. Time to seriously study Nagarjuna and get some of his stuff down your brain, your heart, your bones and beyond. Twenty years of practice and then twenty more before uttering a single word. Or at least have the will to listen and learn.

    Anyway, you are welcome!

    Thank you


    Gassho


    Taigu

    Orthodox- fudamentalist dude Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 02-12-2013 at 04:32 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.

  31. #31
    Somebody wrote to ask if I have something against sensory deprivation tanks.

    I love to try all those things like sensory deprivation tanks (remember the movie where the guy goes into one and comes out a caveman)?



    I did not mean that there was anything wrong with them, and I have done so several times. A few years ago I also tried one of those places a few times where they put glasses and headphones on you and play beats and a light pattern that harmonize the brainwaves ... very deep Samadhi resulted.



    Many many things can inform our Zazen. Even my driving my car down the highway (also a kind of meditation on the edge of life and death! ) does that.

    They are all just a bit different from Shikantaza too (though each is also Shikantaza if we say that Shikantaza is just what is ... and the tank etc. is "just what is" while one is in floating it! The changing room before and after is also "just what is" as one is drying off! ).

    I was just trying to draw some clear picture about what makes Shikantaza a bit its own flavor of ice cream from many other types of meditation or experience. Please don't misunderstand. Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-12-2013 at 05:47 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Hi Oheso,

    The practice of one thing through and through, only one thing . Of course one might go around and look and listen. One might even borrow some practices from different traditions, keeping it simple and faithful to what has been handed to you. The point is that it doesn t belong to you, in this perspective you receive the teachings from teachers of the future and preach the living ancestors.

    If you would have put the suggestion to sit to Ponjaji et would have laughed and laughed. Did anybody call him a fundamentalist , a man of orthodoxy?

    Take care and thank you for throwing your stone in this pond.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    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.

  33. #33
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi all.
    The way I see it is that you have to dig in one place. After a long time, after going very deep ... if there is no burried treasure, you start to dig in another place.

    Of course, that is just the view through these wrinkled eyes.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

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

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi all.
    The way I see it is that you have to dig in one place. After a long time, after going very deep ... if there is no burried treasure, you start to dig in another place.

    Of course, that is just the view through these wrinkled eyes.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    I hope the treasure isn't really buried - digging. with eyes down, we might miss the point?


    Gassho

    Willow

  35. #35
    Hello,

    A day has but 24 hours, a week but 7 days.
    Every shovel full of dirt is the complete treasure,
    yet intimacy deepens over time.


    We will all die soon, take heed.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 02-12-2013 at 09:58 AM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  36. #36
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Mongen,

    Three pai

    Taigu
    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.

  37. #37
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    I don't know if you noticed guys, our two unsui have perfectly presented two yanas of our tradition, Myozan's search for the treasure is pure style of the Theravada, Mongen comes with the Mahayana statement like thunder and lightening and yet, and yet...
    At the tail end of shobogenzo, the monk Dogen , listening to our two unsui, picks up a brush and comes with another twist and answers both Myozan and Mongen, he traces in a very fine and delicate brush work: tada, yoku masani onozukar no hozo o horaite, juyo nyo i natashimen, your jewel treasury will fully and naturally open and you will be free to receive and use it as you like.

    No digger, no digging, nothing to do, just in this sitting- being time, the treasure has your eyes and hands and lap. You are it!

    Gassho

    Taigu
    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.

  38. #38
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Gassho
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

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

  39. #39
    Wonderful.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  40. #40
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    These kind of threads remind me of the continual debates on fitness forums about which program to use. Should I use Stronglifts, starting strength, the texas method, convict conditioning, gymnastics, swim, run, or do crossfit? Should I mix and match? Is there an ultimate program?

    Sadly, there are so many options you can easily suffer paralysis through analysis or even worse F**karounditis. Either you have so many choices that it is overwhelming and you never start. Or you get the desire to keep tinkering with stuff instead of really getting down to business. If you feel like there is always something to add or change with a system even though thousands of people have used the system with success in the past, you have f**karounditis.

    I would give someone the same advice here that I give on fitness forums. Find something you like to do, find someone who does it well to teach you, and do that until you are really good at it. By the time you are really good at it, you will know what steps to take next. Then you can add and subtract whatever you want. I'm sure I could find a thousand different practices to mix in with my shicantazer (Yes, I southernfied it), but what would I get out of it if I weren't already aware of what is possible with Shikantaza.

    Of course there is a good chance that this analogy is crazy, unrelated, and I just have lifting on the brain after taking a week off.

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

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    I'm sure I could find a thousand different practices to mix in with my shicantazer (Yes, I southernfied it)

    Zazen ... Get-r-done!
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  42. #42
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    A great thread. Thanks all. Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    This sounds like a confused struggle. I've been there, and I hope it can be put down. It is a drag.


    The Four Noble Truths, the Buddha's "nobel silence" on tail chasing ontological questions, recognizing the gyres of Eternalism and Nihilism that people routinely slip down in pursuit of ..... , all this and much more distinguishes the skillful way Buddhism. Respecting these distinctions and not blurring them in New Age generalizations does mean being a fundamentalist. There is nothing supremacist about it, nothing chauvinistic, nothing closed minded. It just means practicing thoroughly and with fidelity.

    Gassho Daizan
    Ha. just checking in on this busy week... and noticed that i wrote here that distinguishing the skillful way of Buddhism does mean being a Fundamentalist , when i meant to say doesn't. But then that's O.K. too. The fundamentals.. the ABC's, of Buddhism are always at play as far as I can tell.

    Gassho, Daizan
    大山

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi all.
    The way I see it is that you have to dig in one place. After a long time, after going very deep ... if there is no burried treasure, you start to dig in another place.

    Of course, that is just the view through these wrinkled eyes.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Where you dig is up to you, but wherever you start, as with any circle, if you dig deep enough, clear away enough dirt, no seperation between you, shovel, dirt, or act of digging, eventually you will reach the center.enso.jpg
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  45. #45
    "When you dig a well, there's no sign of water until you reach it, only rocks and dirt to move out of the way. You have removed enough; soon the pure water will flow," said Buddha"


    Can you 'dig' it? Hehehehe..........
    Last edited by JohnsonCM; 02-14-2013 at 12:50 PM.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  46. #46
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Still digging. Digging is enough. Digging is it. Every now and then I pause to wipe my forehead and look up to the sky ... A holiday!
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

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

  47. #47
    At Daizan:
    So happy to see you in this practice settling roots Kojito!
    All I can add to your statement on sitting is, me too.

    Jundo, that post is why we come here.
    Thank you.
    In gassho.

    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  48. #48
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    If one intends to dine at a spiritual smorgasbord be aware that an unsettling indigestion may be the result.
    Thus, to paraphrase a segment of the mealtime verse, "We eat to sustain health/life, and we accept this food to realize the Way."


    Gassho

    Richard
    Last edited by YuimaSLC; 02-17-2013 at 03:38 AM. Reason: grammatical correction

  49. #49
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YuimaSLC View Post
    If one intends to dine at a spiritual smorgasbord be aware that an settling indigestion may be the result.
    Thus, to paraphrase a segment of the mealtime verse, "We eat to sustain health/life, and we accept this food to realize the Way."


    Gassho

    Richard

    Well said Richard, I believe to get the full "flavour" of this practise one needs to jump into the void, not just getting our feet wet, but immersing ourselves and getting soaked to the skin. Picking bits and pieces that we find palatable gets us no where, eat the whole thing, gristle and all! Then one can make an informed decision if this practice "works" for you.
    Gassho, Jakudo Hinton
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. 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

  50. #50
    Thank you Daizan.

    Gassho.

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