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Thread: Where I am/Where am I

  1. #1
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Where I am/Where am I

    So, I have been sitting with this entire Zen and Catholicism thread and my misunderstanding of Zen practice for the past three days now, and I am currently struggling with the following question: "am I ignorant, or merely stupid?"

    Those two words are used synonymously nowadays, although I would suggest for the sake of argument they do not actually mean the same thing. Stupid people either cannot learn at all, or if they can learn, they learn things more slowly, or less fully than others. The root word of ignorance, on the other hand, is "ignore." Ignorant people can learn just fine. But they choose to ignore some of the things they are taught because those teachings conflict with their beliefs. So, stupidity is a medical condition, while ignorance is a willful choice. (At this point, I extend an invitation to all to point out that this distinction is probably the result of my mind being clouded by the delusions of dualistic thinking.)

    I would like to remind everyone at this juncture that my offending post did not "bash" Catholics (the religion in which I was raised), or members of any other faith. It merely pointed out that it appeared to my undiscerning mind that at least two elements of the Dharma (interdependence and impermanence) seem to conflict with the notion of a creator god. My intention in the post was to ask how this conflict, if indeed it was a conflict, should be reconciled. I now take it that the answer is that it does not matter, and that we just sit with things the way that they are. Or, perhaps the answer is that there is no answer and we sit with that too, because that is the way things are.

    But, I am still confused, and I will return to my sitting now. Any insights would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    I am still confused
    Sitting with confusion is something I have done a lot of. Doesn't always resolve the confusion but something usually shifts in the end if only my desire to understand things intellectually.

    As regards your question "am I ignorant, or merely stupid?", my diagnosis (for what it's worth) is that you are suffering from that unfortunate condition known as 'being human' and sometimes that can feel a whole lot like banging your head against a wall!


    Good sitting
    Andy

  3. #3
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I think what's going on is you're suffering. The suffering is due to an attachment to some ideas and aversion to others. At least that seems to be my problem.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Anderson View Post
    So, I have been sitting with this entire Zen and Catholicism thread and my misunderstanding of Zen practice for the past three days now, and I am currently struggling with the following question: "am I ignorant, or merely stupid?"
    Why must it be one or the other?
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    I think what's going on is you're suffering. The suffering is due to an attachment to some ideas and aversion to others. At least that seems to be my problem.
    Gassho,

    Risho

  6. #6
    currently struggling with the following question: "am I ignorant, or merely stupid?"
    Glad you are still here dear friend. As I understand it confusion or at least not-knowing is precisely the state we want to be in. It is a fragile and volatile state that vanishes quickly because of stubborn old "I". Please treasure the fact you got out of the 'comfort zone' and into "I don’t know!!!". It is a sign of growth not of weakness or stupidity. Well done!!!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    William, it's really good to see you. I don't have any helpful insights to offer, except that when I am confused I find Shikantaza to be helpful. For me, confusion is directly related to the volume or stream of thoughts I experience.

    Deep bows and much respect to you for your diligence,
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    William,

    I must concur with my brothers and sisters (that includes you too) that you are caught in the very suffering that practice can help to alleviate by waking us up to our patterns. I have to admit that after reading that thread I saw no one say you misunderstood zen or that you were stupid or ignorant. I can't really imagine anyone here saying such a thing because THAT would be stupid and ignorant. I'm not completely sure that Zen can ever be completely understood, so in that respect we are all lacking...while lacking nothing!

    I don't mean to be too zennie, but I think you need to sit with that, as that, without that...just sit and see what happens. I have often felt offended or hurt by something someone wrote, more often in my early days here, not so much these days. There are always a few "bad" apples I suppose...where aren't they? Ignore them! But the vast majority are here to be helpful and kind. We all have our soft spots that are injured more easily and it takes time for us to realize we are poking the soft spot, not others.

    Don't concern yourself with "where I am" or "where am I". You are here, we are here, and we sit. That's really it, I promise. I really do hope you stay (even though there is nowhere to go!).

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

  9. #9
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    William,

    Good to see that you are still here. Being here is living with our thoughts of ignorance and stupidity. Being here is living with the thoughts and ideas of others. Being here is living each moment in the present. Being here is letting go of the past. Being here is not worrying if a Catholic can be a Buddhist or if a Buddhist can be a Catholic. Being here is being one with everyone. Thank you William for being here with all of us.

    Gassho
    Heishu

  10. #10
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    Why must it be one or the other?
    Thank you for accepting my invitation to point up the delusional nature of my dualist if thinking.

    Gassho, WilliamWilliam

  11. #11
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    William,

    I must concur with my brothers and sisters (that includes you too) that you are caught in the very suffering that practice can help to alleviate by waking us up to our patterns. I have to admit that after reading that thread I saw no one say you misunderstood zen or that you were stupid or ignorant.
    yes, you are quite correct. I did not mean to suggest that anyone in the Sangha said anything like that. Didn't happen. Can't imagine it ever would. Those are labels I hung on myself "for the sake of argument. Argument, the recitation of facts and the reconciliation of opposing positions - this is my job, the thing I was trained to do so many years ago. It is a hard habit to break, impossible, for that matter, when you stay in the job.

    Gassho, WilliamWilliam

  12. #12
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    And, apologies for the many spelling and grammatical errors in the last two posts. The iPad and I are not compatible.

  13. #13
    Hi,

    It is in my job description to point out the "Zen-sophical" way these questions have been approached traditionally, not only in Zen, but in most of Mahayana Buddhism. Maybe this is the cause of the problem.

    I only have 4 minutes to write, so I am going to make a mess of this I think ...

    William wrote ...

    at least two elements of the Dharma (interdependence and impermanence) seem to conflict with the notion of a creator god.
    In a nutshell, the Mahayana big wigs (Nagarjuna and such) pointed to the notion that even such concepts as "interdependence" and "impermanence", while true, are also simultaneously empty. It is a bit like saying that one should drop all tiny little concepts from your own brain of "permanent vs. impermanent" or "one thing vs, two things". What then? Many Koans are about such.

    Thus, the Mahayana pointed to something free of all that ... sometimes called "Buddha" (Big "B") ... that was sometimes called "Eternal" or "Timeless" or "the One that holds the whole world" ... but really what they meant to say is that it is "Timeless and Eternal" etc. merely because it is beyond all human judgments of "eternal" or "temporary" "birth and death" "one or many" "here or not here" "big or small" "tom or dick or harry" etc.

    Yes, all things are "interdependent and impermanent" (that is Basic Buddhism 101) ... but also there is Buddha beyond and through-and-through all that, free of all such divisions and contrasts (also Basic Mahayana Buddhism 101).

    That is why, for most Zen Buddhists, there is no trouble with Zen Practice whether god or no god, Amida or no Amida, chair in the room or no chair in the room.

    I may try to clear this up more when I have more time. For now, just sit Shikantaza ... free of starts and finishes, birth and death, temporary or permanent, big or small, one or many ... toss all that away, toss all that into Buddha!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-14-2013 at 07:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    I'm not completely sure that Zen can ever be completely understood, so in that respect we are all lacking...while lacking nothing!
    Hey there William ... Nice to see you here. I don't have much to add that the wonderful people of this sangha have not already given.

    I do know for myself that sometimes understanding comes from not understanding. Just accepting that they are what they are and that is OK.

    Be well ... And as our beloved teacher and sangha members would say, "just sit".

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  15. #15
    william, i appreciated that thread. its good to shake things up once in a while. it seemed to resonate with others too. every new thread on here seems to be about the original thread haha.
    gassho,
    justin

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    Thus, the Mahayana pointed to something free of all that ... sometimes called "Buddha" (Big "B") ... that was sometimes called "Eternal" or "Timeless" or "the One that holds the whole world" ... but really what they meant to say is that it is "Timeless and Eternal" etc. merely because it is beyond all human judgments of "eternal" or "temporary" "birth and death" "one or many" "here or not here" "big or small" "tom or dick or harry" etc.
    Just by a WOWWY coincidence (are there such things?), the Koan I was thinking to post here on this theme is the very Koan that I was going to post on from the Book of Serenity. Everyone, please have a peak ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...NIMITY-Case-30
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hey Will!

    It's great to see you here, my friend.

    Yes, you are ignorant. So am I and pretty much everyone. And when it comes to stupid, I'm the king.

    But it all comes down to sitting so you can admire and dip yourself in the vastness of empty.

    Trust me when I say this (taken from our dear friend Dokan): A honest "I don't know" opens the path for liberation.

    So... read a lot and rationalize all you want. But at the end, just sit.

    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

  18. #18
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you for your teaching and your patience. Feeling a lot better now. I was sitting last night, counting through the 108 beads on a mala (which is not a Zen practice, per se). At that point, I realized that a Buddhist mala is pretty much the same thing as a Catholic rosary, and I think I sprained my hamstring trying to kick myself in my own butt. Doh!

    gassho,

    william

  19. #19
    I am ignorant and not, stupid and not, all at once, and thats pretty cool!

    Gassho, John

  20. #20
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Rumor has it that when the Romans first encountered early Buddhists they found them using mala beads. A word that sounded very much to them like the Roman word for Rose. This is listed a possible source for the catholic rosary beads.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by William Anderson View Post
    Thanks to all of you for your teaching and your patience. Feeling a lot better now. I was sitting last night, counting through the 108 beads on a mala (which is not a Zen practice, per se). At that point, I realized that a Buddhist mala is pretty much the same thing as a Catholic rosary, and I think I sprained my hamstring trying to kick myself in my own butt. Doh!

    gassho,

    william
    In Korean Zen they repeat a simple chant for each bead. Kwan seum bosal for compassion. Ji Jang Bosal for the recent dead. yes, very similar to saying a rosary.
    _/_
    Rich

  22. #22
    Interesting (to me) article on malas by former Zen monk Clark Strand: http://www.tricycle.com/-practice/worry-beads

  23. #23
    For our newer folks, more about Mala/Prayer beads that came up recently. However, it is really just Buddhist trivia, good for Buddhist game shows. For example:

    Q: On which hand is the Mala traditionally properly worn?

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post93058

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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