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Thread: Zen in Popular Culture (what motivated you to practice?)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Zen in Popular Culture (what motivated you to practice?)

    I have been reading Alan Watts and listening to his lectures since the early nineties. This led me to the Suzukis and to additional Buddhist literature, which I devoured over the course of the years. I found Zen philosophy very appealing, and I always called myself a Buddhist. But practice makes a Buddhist, not study. And yet, I did not practice for many years.

    What got me to practice was the portrayal of Zen in popular culture. Although it may seem odd, I started sitting after seeing the movie "Fight Club," which has nothing to do with sitting but plenty to do with Zen (in an odd sort of way). My call to the cushion, so to speak, came the first time I heard Tyler Durden utter these words: "you are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else."

    strange story, but true. Anyone else motivated by a popular culture reference?

    gassho (and thank you for indulging me),
    william

  2. #2
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    No. But that's a great movie and a very cool story of what led you to the cushion. I kind of wish it was mine! Either way, I'm going to use that Tyler Durden line for my Facebook Status today. So thanks for that William!

  3. #3
    Nothing pop culture for me either, but I like what you observe about fight club.

    Although in retrospect it could have been for me all those Kung Fu movies with the fighters becoming "transcendent" at one point or another, to overcome the villain.

    Now that I think about it more it wasn't any actual "finger pointing at the moon" via pop culture, but many road signs here and there, through out pop culture.

    I like your question, and how you picked up the sitting.

    Thank you.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    I had been gravitating toward Zen for most of my life, I just wasn't aware of it. I had a pop culture inspiration to get me started recently though as well. I was watching the show "Life" on Netflix. A cop is framed for murdering a family and sent to prison for 12 years before they re-open the case and find that none of the DNA links him to the murders so he's released. While in there, he started researching Zen and it is a big part of the character who is very witty, eccentric and often making profound observations. I was impressed by some of the things he said and also by his demeanor in general. He if often shown reading a book on the show called The Path to Zen. I researched it and found that it wasn't real but there IS a book called the Path of Zen by Robert Aiken. After reading it, I knew that it was the path for me.

    Gassho,
    John

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    My interest in Buddhism came from Star Wars and martial arts, when I was a kid.

    Of course in the movies they don't talk about Buddhism per se, but I found the Jedi ways very appealing.

    When I was about 12 I started training Karate-Do with a Korean sensei. He was a Buddhist and he used to talk to us about the Buddha after the class. He gave me some photocopies of a Bodhidharma book and martial arts and I started to read everything I could, which wasn't much because Buddhism here is not popular and Spanish books were really hard to find.

    Then in my teenage days, when my English was good enough to read books, I begun borrowing and buying all I could. From books to movies or even manga.

    Years later I began training Aikido and did a lot of reading about Ueshiba Morihei Sensei and that lead me to books about Zen. I was a free roaming Buddhist at the time, so I slowly turned my practice to Zen.

    Even more years later, I'm here posting this

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    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

  6. #6
    Philosophy, the study of people and their reliance on fictional structural creations which allow them to explain the world. David Hume was the first to say it in English. No-self, no power, all fiction. While the lineage is different, Western philosophy finally came to the conclusion of Bodhidharma. Focus on the moment, on the personal sensations and reflections. Just sit.

    Can we explain the personal and ever-changing world?

    "Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about." -Rumi

    Edit: Jedi's for sure and The Force
    Last edited by arthus; 05-07-2013 at 09:02 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I know the movie is filled with inaccuracies, but "Memoirs of a Geisha" did something to me. Later, looking into what it is actually like to be a maiko or geiko I learned about the amount of detail that goes into their work and lifestyle. It gave me this desire to practice something and become really good at it. I thought of delving seriously into art or music, which is what I was into at the time, and when my interest in Buddhism began my fascination for geishas helped me to see the beauty and use of practice and learn certain aspects of Japanese culture and etiquette.

    Plus I've always wanted to wear a beautiful kimono. When I found out my grandma has a very old one my grandpa brought her I 'bout died.
    Last edited by Amelia; 05-07-2013 at 11:57 PM.
    迎 Geika

  8. #8
    Yes, alan watts had a big influence on my zen direction also.

  9. #9
    I started my way back to Zen reading Alan Watt ...and I find that interesting because AW did not actually believe much in sitting meditation. In terms of popular colture I was highly impressed by the movie "the last samurai" which I enjoyed greatly. I get a little remindar of how much I like Eastern Philosophi every time I put my Nike shoes on...just do it!

    Gassho, A

  10. #10
    No pop culture inspirations...I'm somewhat of a cultural infidel.

    I started practicing because I didn't want to suffer.
    After a while, I discovered that I didn't want any living being to suffer, either.
    That's when I became a Buddhist.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  11. #11
    When I was a teenager I read Shiké, Last of the Zinja by Robert Shea. The Zinja were a group of fictional, although historically not unlikely, warrior monks in feudal Japan with a Zen like approach to life and war. One of the quotes I remember (as I remember it) is:

    "A Zinja finds no happiness in things under heaven for they are not eternal. A Zinja finds no happiness in eternal things, for there are no eternal things. A Zinja finds happiness in nothing at all."

    In addition to that I found the idea of Jedi inspiring (cultural trivia - Yoda was based on a real Tibetan Lama, Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche). Although both of those notions had too much violence attached, I very much like that they were dedicated to making the world a better place.

    I started practicing because I didn't want to suffer.
    After a while, I discovered that I didn't want any living being to suffer, either.
    That's when I became a Buddhist.
    Piobair, that sounds like the perfect reason and I have read several accounts that suggest that Hinayana (although I dislike the term) and Mahayana are actually different stages of the path rather than different schools. Most of us start out wanting to escape personal suffering and at some point realise that all beings are experiencing the same and don't want anyone to have to suffer.

    I imagine that even without the cultural pushes, most of us would have found our way onto the path but we found something in those books or films which resonated with how we were thinking and showed that another way of living was possible. A teacher of mine calls this 'The quiet tap on the shoulder' after which it is very difficult to go back to living in the same way. I guess we had already swallowed the red pill.

  12. #12
    Brilliant thread - thanks William.

    Kyonin - I love the phrase 'free roaming Buddhist' - think this is what I've been my 60 years on this planet and finally coming home.

    Arthus - the quote from Rumi is close to my heart - it's one of my earliest journal entries when I was struggling with a lot of emotional pain - puts things in perspective every time I read it.

    Thanks for sharing everyone,

    Gassho

    Willow

  13. #13
    1. The Big Lebowski was one influence. I really dig that movie. While not overtly Buddhist, the fall out of folks calling the Dude some kind of Zen Master caught my interest.

    This past year this came together nicely with the Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman book "The Dude and the Zen Master." Which was more a jam session of two "Dudes" than it was a solid book on Zen.


    2. The Matrix bolstered some interest in Eastern philosophies.


    Gassho,

    Richard

  14. #14
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richss View Post
    1. The Big Lebowski was one influence.
    "The Dude abides."

    wow, this thread has turned out to be fun. All kinds of great responses. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

    Gassho,
    William

  15. #15
    I must admit, as a boy of about twelve ... 'Kung Fu' was probably my first exposure to the Zen tradition. And ya know, I do not remember it as a bad lesson at all. Be like the bamboo ... bend as one needs to bend with life (but, if to protect widows and orphans ... be willing to clear the room). Not sure what meditation he was absorbed in here though ...



    As was said, the teachings presented were often pretty good ... right from old Lao Tzu, Confucius and the Buddha too) ...


    Master Po:

    Who can know himself well enough to speak for all? Who is so well founded to hear all? The sage says 'Shape clay into a vessel; cut doors and windows for a room; it is the spaces with which make it useful' So we must listen for the spaces between us.


    -- Episode No. 55

    Young Caine:

    Do evil demons exist?
    Master Kan:

    Do wars, famine, disease and death exist? Do lust, greed and hate exist? They are man's creation, brought into being by the dark side of his nature.


    -- Episode No.46

    Master Po:

    One cannot feel joy unless one can also feel despair. We have no capacity for Good without an equal capacity for Evil


    -- Episode No. 36

    Master Po:

    The undiscerning mind is like the root of a tree--it absorbs equally all that it touches--even the poison that would kill it.


    -- Episode No. 19

    Master Kan:

    See the Way of life as a stream. A man floats, and his way is smooth. The same man, turning to fight upstream, exhausts himself. To be One with the Universe, each must find his true path and follow it


    -- Episode No. 11

    Young Caine:

    Then life must be always defended?
    Master Kan:

    The thorn defends the rose. It harms only those who would steal the blossom from the plant


    -- Episode No. 4

    Caine: Is it good to seek the past, Master Po? Does it not rob the present?


    Master Po: If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.


    -- Episode No. ??

    Master Kan:

    What frightened you?
    Young Caine:

    [Awoken from his meditation] I heard the Silence, Master.
    Master Kan:

    You have experienced Oneness [To help Caine understand Master Kan asks Caine about the silkworm]
    Young Caine:

    The silkworm dies, the moth lives, yet they are not two separate beings but one and the same.
    Master Kan:

    It is the same with a man. His false beliefs must die, so that he may know the joy of the Way. What you felt in the Silence is real. Something in you is dying. It is called Ignorance.


    -- Episode No. 41



    Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.

    [Young Caine tries to do so and fails]

    Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

    Gassho, J

    PS - On a "serious" note, it is always a good thing for folks to know the biographies of the guys on the crew, so especially for newer folk (because other folks have heard it all before), here is some biographical info on Taigu, Jundo and the Gang ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Novice-Priests
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Jundo, that was awesome. Thank you. I don't know if you remember the pilot episode of Kung Fu, which was a 90 minute episode. At the beginning, it showed the young orphan Caine standing outside the monastery for several days, in the rain and in the dark, waiting to be admitted. Kind of like Tangaryo. There is also a similar scene in Fight Club, where potential members have to stand on the porch for three days "without food, shelter or encouragement." When I first found Treeleaf, and sent you my e- mail request to join, I did not hear back or get access for several days. I figured that must have been my virtual Tangaryo.

    Gassho,
    William

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by William Anderson View Post
    I figured that must have been my virtual Tangaryo.

    Gassho,
    William
    Yes, and we are thinking of soon adding this ritual for all our Treeleaf members.

    Last edited by Jundo; 05-09-2013 at 02:12 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    OK Jundo but let me master the thing Caine is doing with his fingers in the other picture first.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I'm still upset that the network stole Kung Fu from Bruce Lee. I suppose I should probably "let that go."

  20. #20
    pretty much like a lot of americans; alan watts, kerouac, and the beat zen lead me to check out the suzukis, other more serious western zen authors/practitioners. i was also reading a lot of krishnamurti, ram dass, yogananda, and guys like kornfield and levine (father and son), so the concept of eastern religion and meditation wasnt new to me when i decided i went to get deeper into zen. i had a zen friend who would drag me to a tibetan tradition thing once in a while, and this old dude who used to hang in the village with kerouac and those guys initially put me onto alan watts. these are people i knew from doing the 12 step recovery thing, so some form of spirituality was pretty much mandated and a lot of what we all talked about with each other. also, i know hes a theravade dude- but noah levine actually really inspired me at first. i think a lot of people may think of him as controversial, with the whole punk rock fight the system addiction recovery buddhism, but i dont have an opinion on it. eckhart tolle is contreversial in buddhist circles as well, but i dont hate on guys like that because theyve all been helpful to me and have led me to more deeper practices. gassho, justin

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    While my arrival to Buddhist doesn't deal with as much to popular culture and will probably be a lot less interesting, I learned about it from my therapist. He mentioned meditation to me and while I didn't think much about it at the time, I had a clarinet lesson with a new teacher the next day. I told my teacher about my anxiety problems and he said he had similar problems when he was my age, citing meditation as a great way to relieve myself of suffering. So later that day, I listened to a guided meditation and began immersing myself in the Buddhist culture, as I was quite tired of Catholicism.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  22. #22
    Good question! Thanks for all the great stories guys!

    For me I guess practicing several martial arts led me to Zen. A fascination with the samurai Way in my early years. The novel by Eiji Yoshikwa "Myamoto Musashi" and the character based on Takuan Soho sparked an interest in Budo, Zen and Japanese history and culture. It stayed with me ever since. Practicing Kendo and Iaido and reading more Takuan first and going on to others from there, led me to sitting. Eventually I abandoned my sword and all other arms and focused on sitting, bonsai, gardening, painting etc. Still love the old 'chambara' movies though! Takuans teachings still are among my favorites and one quote I would like to share with you It has been with me during my being a soldier, later when studying the way of the sword and now the way of living as a man, a husband and a dad:

    The sword, the spiritual exercise and the unfettered mind ... [with] effort and
    patience ... should become one. We are to practice, practice with whatever we
    may have at hand, until the enemies of our own anger, hesitation and greed are
    cut down with the celerity and decisiveness of the stroke of the sword.
    Takuan Soho


    Gassho

    Enkyo

  23. #23
    Nothing really stands out in my mind as "the thing that was my introduction". My dad had an interest in bonsai when I was a kid, and that probably led to things that introduced ideas into my mind more than any pop culture thing did. I know it was what led to my interest in Taoism, as well as me hearing stories about the Monkey King and eventually getting a copy of "Journey to the West".

    The thing that finally made me decide to stop "playing with" Buddhism (like a kid "playing with" their food, rather than just eating the meal) and commit myself to daily practice was definitely a pop culture thing, though. An early episode of the show "Community". In it, the character Troy is obsessing over what he should do with his high school letterman jacket... whether he should take it off because people tell him it's not cool to keep wearing it in college, or continue wearing it to show those people that he isn't going to give in and do what they think he should. The character Jeff tells him that it doesn't really matter because, either way, he'd be making the choice based on other people. He tells Troy to simply wear or not wear the jacket based on whether or not he wants to. It really made me look at how many things I've been choosing to do or not do because of other people's expectations, rather than what I think would truly be the best choices for me at this point in my life.

    Gassho,
    Kelly

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Clarinetist! View Post
    While my arrival to Buddhist doesn't deal with as much to popular culture and will probably be a lot less interesting, I learned about it from my therapist. He mentioned meditation to me and while I didn't think much about it at the time, I had a clarinet lesson with a new teacher the next day. I told my teacher about my anxiety problems and he said he had similar problems when he was my age, citing meditation as a great way to relieve myself of suffering. So later that day, I listened to a guided meditation and began immersing myself in the Buddhist culture, as I was quite tired of Catholicism.

    Gassho,
    Alex
    Hi Alex,

    Don't write off Catholicism too quickly, and keep your eyes open to all ways. Zazen and Catholicism are not an "either/or" matter always, and many people practice both. In one's youth, it is good to keep one's eyes and heart open, even to the tradition one's family comes from.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Alex,

    Don't write off Catholicism too quickly, and keep your eyes open to all ways. Zazen and Catholicism are not an "either/or" matter always, and many people practice both. In one's youth, it is good to keep one's eyes and heart open, even to the tradition one's family comes from.

    Gassho, Jundo
    I shall try to keep an open mind! Thank you for the advice. I do know a lot of very nice people who have helped me at the church and did not intend for my little snippet to sound so aggresive.

    With metta,
    Alex

  26. #26
    That's a good point. I call myself a Zen Christian.lol. Christianity is just a part of me and interstingly practice has strengthened my faith and opened my mind to others beliefs.

    I had been sort of exposed to zen when I was younger but just some of the philosophy. I had no idea it was a practice. A friend recommended Tolle to me (sort of pop i guess). Tolle referenced zen here and there so I picked up a real zen book, most of which I couldnt comprehend but felt right somehow. After I first sat zazen I havent looked back; it just fit. Fortunately I found Treeleaf which also "fit". I Dont know why but it felt so "sane". It's funny how things do work themselves out.

    Gassho

    Risho

  27. #27
    Don't write off Catholicism too quickly, and keep your eyes open to all ways. Zazen and Catholicism are not an "either/or" matter always, and many people practice both. In one's youth, it is good to keep one's eyes and heart open, even to the tradition one's family comes from.
    Wise words, Jundo.

    Alex, if you want to read some Catholic teachings that are also very alive to Zen, I can heartily recommend 'New Seeds of Compassion' by Father Thomas Merton. It is probably my favourite non-Buddhist 'dharma' book. Father Merton engaged in discussions with both DT Suzuki and Thich Nhat Hanh in his later life and recognised the similarities of Zen with his own contemplative practice (although it must be pointed out that neither Suzuki nor Thay practice the same kind of Zen as we do here).


    Gassho
    Andy

  28. #28
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.

    [Young Caine tries to do so and fails]

    Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

    Gassho, J
    Now I'm confused. Should I stop meditating and only practice pebble snatching or should I just add some pebble snatching practice before and after sitting?
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  29. #29
    Now I'm confused. Should I stop meditating and only practice pebble snatching or should I just add some pebble snatching practice before and after sitting?
    I don't know, Catfish. What is the sound of one hand snatching?

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    I don't know, Catfish. What is the sound of one hand snatching?
    lol. I know the answer. Its purple.

    Gassho,

    Daido


  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Alex,

    Don't write off Catholicism too quickly, and keep your eyes open to all ways. Zazen and Catholicism are not an "either/or" matter always, and many people practice both. In one's youth, it is good to keep one's eyes and heart open, even to the tradition one's family comes from.

    Gassho, Jundo
    thank you, jundo. this is good to hear, even though im not catholic or christian, but sort of feel like a "renegade", which is why i think zen really appeals to me, and the practice of zazen is by far my favorite practice. but sometimes i get this uneasy feeling inside, and it could be my own nuerosis, about adopting a set of beleifs that arent mine or doctrines just because i take part in a certain community. in buddhism, i see a lot of people who say things like, "find out yourself", but then also sort of apply a "well, this is how it is" sort of attitude (although, i see this a lot less in zen). or "buddhism isnt this, or isnt that", "buddha said this, and not that". or if i want to fly a kite; "buddha didnt say anything about kite". and everyone debating things like what "anatman" is and just a lot of extremes in beleif/thinking. i know this is sort of extreme in thinking on my part as well, but none-the-less, it is still present with me.

    gassho,
    justin

    **to clarify, i like this sangha because such things arent really debated here, nor the main focus. thank you.
    Last edited by jus; 05-10-2013 at 07:00 PM.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by KellyM View Post
    An early episode of the show "Community".
    haha thats awsome, kelly.

  33. #33
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    Oddly, the first thing I ever read was quite accidentally discovered on the literature shelves in the university library: Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan. Soon followed by: A Flower Does Not Talk by Zenkei Shibayama.

    As to popular culture, I guess Alan Watt's "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" was probably the first thing I read by a westerner. After that, I pretty much read everything he was writing (this was the 70s) and then buying all the cassette-tape lecture series.

    Gary Snyder, poet/environmentalist/buddhist, was a very early, big influence on my studies.

    But, after all the studying and reading, reading, reading....what got me to put most of that down and just sit, was "Selling Water By the River: A Manual of Zen Training" by Roshi Jiyu Kennett.
    Nuts n bolts kind of info. Lots of Dogen's Shobogenzo translations, and scriptures and ceremonial, like Sandokai, the Most Excellent Mirror Samadhi, short verses, et al. It was like putting down the
    huge sack of intellectual busywork and feeling like "okay....let's roll up the sleeves and really get to work."

    Gassho

    Richard

  34. #34
    for me it was an article I read in a magazine like national geographic. it was an issue about Japan. I herd and saw about Buddhism in programs on tv like the history channel. but the t never really seemed right to me. a nice idea but not quite right, many things didnt sit right with me while most spoke to me. but adter reading that article about zen it really resonated with me. so I started sitting zazen. and found peace for the first time. With time my practice evolved in to more (or less).

    Gassho, Dojin.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

  35. #35
    I enjoyed the 'Kung Fu' TV series, Zen in the Art of Archery and other sources that sanctified violence. Gradually I was drawn to the simplicity, humour and direct aspect of Zen, eventually practicing a Buddhist orientated Kempo.
    Films such as 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' and 'Ghost Dog', still provide my main source of Zen Dharma.

  36. #36
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Some of my fondest memories are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my mom, watching Kung Fu..
    Oh, yeah. If I didn't have inner peace, I'd go completely psycho on all you guys all the time.
    Carl Carlson

  37. #37
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    This is a great thread, I have read through some of it, and when I have more time, I will sit down and read all these posts, because this really is a wonderful topic.

    For me, it was pretty simple. I have suffered a lot, and I know many of us have, but I suffered, without the knowledge or skills to know what to do, or how to handle the suffering. So, in turn, the suffering causes more suffering when one has this outlook on life. I turned to various things---Universalism, Sufism, Wiccan for example, but in the end, what spoke to my heart was Buddhism. And then, what spoke to my heart even more was Zen, and then Treeleaf. So, here I am, and grateful for the practice here that we all share.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  38. #38
    Unfortunately, nothing fun to report here. My family and relatives are primarily Buddhists in the Theravada tradition. I suppose I never found Zen, as it was and is here all along

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  39. #39
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Mine didn't start with popular culture (but I love some of these posts! Love Fight Club and Big Lebowski! I came to Zen through my depression, 20 some years ago. But not after stumbling through some other religions and/or philosophies. I found a book on concentration, hoping it would help me get a handle on some very negative thinking. I was pretty terrified of my mind at the time. This lead to books on meditation....and to Zen. It was what I had been looking for (didn't help the depression, but helped with perspective).

    I owe a lot to a little book shop, "Divine Light" just outside of Harrisburg, PA. It was run by a very cool hippy-sort-of-guy. He would let folks hang out and read (without buying). I hope he's still in business....I'll have to visit the area again sometime.

    Very interesting thread! Thank you, William

    Gassho,
    Bill

    Entai (Bill)
    "Be kind - for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" - Plato

  40. #40
    Junior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Browsing the library, found Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau. All downhill from there.
    Brian

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Browsing the library, found Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau. All downhill from there.
    Not one of my favorite books on Zen Practice. These days, many in the Zen world would consider it a book that had a disproportionate influence because it was one of the first books widely read in the West on Zen, but that did some harm in causing tremendous misunderstandings about Zen Practice. Below is what I write when the topic arises.

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

    Zen and all Buddhism come in so many flavors ... All ultimately the same at heart perhaps, but very different in viewpoints and approach. So, the person new to Buddhism and Zen is left very confused by all the different books claiming to be a "Guide to Zen" or "Introduction to Buddhism" recommending often very very different things! Even "Soto" and "Shikantaza" folks can be quite varied in approach among themselves ... everyone like a cook with her own personal recipe for chicken soup!

    ...

    ["Three Pillars of Zen"] had great influence because it was so early (one of the few books on the subject 50 years ago), but it presented a view on Zen Practice and 'Kensho' that is not usual even in Japan (not even in Rinzai Zen, in my understanding) and represents a group ... named "Sanbokyodan" ... that is tiny is Japan but has had a HUGE and disproportionate influence in the West through derived groups such as the White Plum and Diamond Sangha! Read more here.

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/...odan%20zen.pdf

    ...

    The book presents a view of "Kensho" and "Enlightenment" that was very much present in corners of the Zen world at one time, especially in the west. I was recently reading a good book on the subject, a book about the culture surrounding "The Three Pillars of Zen" which presented to many such an extreme, misleading "Kensho or Bust" image of Zen practice. Here is a review of that book, called "Zen Teaching, Zen Practice: Philip Kapleau and The Three Pillars of Zen" edited by Kenneth Kraft, a long time student of Kapleau Roshi ...

    Kraft points out that Kapleau’s book is “in large measure a book about kensho” (p.14) which in itself is problematic as for many, including some of the authors of the essays, this led to “inflated expectations… [and] [t]he discrepancy between anticipatory visions of enlightenment and actual experiences of insight”. (p.15) This disjuncture between what Kapleau wrote and the actual experiences of Zen students has led to some criticisms of The Three Pillars of Zen as a book that gives an unrealistic picture of what to expect from zazen. ...

    While this emphasis on and almost inevitability of kensho is, I think, a fair criticism of The Three Pillars of Zen, there is little doubt that Kapleau’s book brought many people to the study and practice of Zen Buddhism and for that we should be grateful. It is also necessary that we understand where and how Kapleau learned his Zen practice to better understand why he wrote and taught the way he did.
    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenBookRev...enpractice.htm
    You can also read a bit more on Kapleau and Yasutani Roshis' approach here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...N-%28Part-1%29

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-05-2013 at 12:41 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  42. #42
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    I thought a bit about this. I briefly mentioned the show "Kung Fu" and while I enjoyed the show it wasn't as much "an influence" to learn more about Buddhism as "the Burning Monk". I vividly remember the day I was looking through a Life magazine with a retrospective of the 60s and I saw the photo of Thich Quang Duc. I am pretty sure that was one of the prime motives that sparked (no pun intended) my curiosity. I think there are many factors, a little bit here, a bit there, but I never forgot that image.
    Oh, yeah. If I didn't have inner peace, I'd go completely psycho on all you guys all the time.
    Carl Carlson

  43. #43

    Zen in Popular Culture (what motivated you to practice?)

    My mother had a friend from India that she was designing a patio for. After a bit of planning, each day she would tell me stories of where she came from, and I, a little tater tot at the time soaked it all up like a sponge.

    Around the same time, I had seen Little Buddha with Keanu Reeves (a little cheesy whenever I rewatch it nowadays but when I was little, it got it's message across to my young mind). So I asked my mom's Indian friend and she showed me meditation and the mantra Om.

    I researched various kinds of meditation during my early, soul-searching teens. Like dream meditation, candle-gazing, yogic, etc. During a little research in the high school library, I found a book called Waking Up to What You Do by Diane Eshin Rizzetto. She starts with a little introduction to the practice and then breaks down the precepts one by one connecting to how we can realize them in our daily life. It's a wonderful book and I just read more and more and now here I am. Glad to be here too.

    Gassho

    Javier

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Bobman4671; 12-04-2013 at 02:32 PM.

  44. #44
    Junior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Jundo - thanks for showing me that PDF on the differences between Rinzai and Soto. I especially liked the part that describes them as corresponding to yin and yang. I'd never thought of them that way, but it makes sense.

    I've also read Soto-centric books, but because the books in general aren't labeled "Rinzai" or"Soto," it was - as you said - confusing.
    Brian

  45. #45
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    .. suffering led me into the buddhist parth. But one thing that worked as a catalyst was the book 'the way of the peaceful warrior' by Dan Millman. It has some strong eastern tendencies. Also movies like fight club, the matrix and into the wild influenced. I dont know why I decided to pick up zen but I guess it felt more secular and it didnt focus alot on reincarnation and karma that I, as a guy raised in contemporary Sweden, have a hard time grasping. The hindu world view I mean. Zen just feels more about the core of waking up at the end of suffering in this lifetime.
    Last edited by Neo; 12-09-2013 at 02:14 PM.

  46. #46
    I'm not sure there's anything in popular culture that led me to zen, but my first encounter with Buddhism began as a child reading Justice League of America comics. There's an early issue (hey, I'm old) where writer Gardner Fox took a detour to mention the leaders of the world's major religions, including illustrations (by Mike Sekowsky) of Jesus, Mohammad (couldn't do that now!) and Buddha. I remember being fascinated by that figure, mostly because he looked so different to the others (ie, no beard!). A few months later, my class was discussing religion at school and the teacher said "can anyone name a leader of a religion other than Christianity?" Obviously my arm shot up and I cried "Buddha!"

    My actual journey to Buddhism began many years later. I was advised by a doctor to start meditating for stress reduction. After a week or so of the usual monkey mind I had an experience of absolute peace and clarity. And then of course I started observing it and it went away. My curiosity -- what the heck was that? -- led me to Buddhism, and eventually to zen.

    Gassho
    BradL

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