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Thread: Split thread: Who avoids death in buddhism?

  1. #1

    Split thread: Who avoids death in buddhism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    The immediate fruit of zazen is zazen. Sitting and “just being”. But then there is getting up off the cushion and living life, and the tedium of having our efforts at “getting it together” fail over and over. Every day we sit, and sitting is still just sitting... but somehow realizing your true self is the sound of the rain doesn't pay the bills, so there is still life off the cushion.... which is not always so sweet as rain on the temple roof. Off the cushion there is only the pretense of “just being”. I say pretense because although the sound of the rain is your true self, so is the tax audit, or a friends death. Underneath playing at “just being” we still wiggle and scheme as much as always to avoid being old age, disease, and death. The good news is these schemes fail.

    Sitting every morning.. bum on cushion, light on the floor, the muffled thump of the washing machine. Then getting up and having my pretensions and games fall apart yet again. Then sitting again. It's as easy as dirt.

    Gassho Daizan/Richard
    Daizan - I am so glad that you still pop in from time to time because the above words have really helped me.

    Forgive me if I have put my own spin on your words and not fully understood.

    This holding together simultaneously a sense of the absolute and wholeness, and our struggle with the day to day difficulties of life in the world, is a position I fail to achieve over and over again.

    The test of my ability to hold to this practice was my daughter's critical illness 5 months ago (she is still ill). Within myself I totally lost it - there were times when I entered a dark space that no amount of belief or practice of Zazen could touch or help with.

    I'm not sure that I would identify the above level of distress with the wiggling and scheming you mention ( though I understand what you mean - we do fall into that too) - it's just that in those moments of intense fear and concern for my daughter's well being - pure love seemed inevitably bound with pure agony. To be aiming for unity and wholeness in those moments of total fragmentation feels like a sort of 'wiggling' to me - reaching the wholeness - a sense of peace - possibly involves walking through fire with no protection.

    In another thread (Attention is Attention) Jundo wrote of a 'healthy schizophrenia' - and also expressed a concern (exasperation ?) that people just don't get it.

    It isn't really that I don't get it - getting 'it' mentally isn't the problem - living it is the problem.

    I feel I'm at some kind of crossroads here because the sticking point for me (and has been all along) is that there's a voice inside my head that constantly questions whether (for me - this is NOT a judgement of any one else's practice) I can ever feel truly authentic living this 'healthy schizophrenia' in moments of total existential pain/doubt.

    I think these thoughts have been expressed here by others before - and those individuals inevitably leave because they do not feel they belong. I wrote on the other thread that I felt that a process was taking place and I needed to be patient. I hope this is the case because Tree Leaf is important to me and I've gained a great deal from being here - but I don't want to turn into one of those people who are always arguing the toss and won't accept the basic premiss.

    I need to take some time out from the message board to sit with this.

    Thank you for your practice Daizan and every one else at Tree Leaf.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-24-2013 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi Willow.

    I always follow what is going on here at Treeleaf. I've just been busy failing in new and robust ways.

    This is something I droned on about elsewhere recently, probably because it is where my own practice/life is at, and so it seems essential.

    Old age, disease, and death, are empty. That means there is no birth and death, and at the same time there is birth and death... they are “not two”. This is not news. But what has come up in my own life strongly is the fact that realizing no-birth and death means realizing birth and death. Denial of death is rampant in zenny type discussions (death is illusion etc.) and that is unfortunate, because denial of death is denial of the deathless. I understand denial of death, because every drive and instinct in this body and mind is geared to do so, and to avoid the appalling emotions, loneliness, and animal fear, that comes with accepting birth and death at face value. Just as grief is directly proportional to the depth of love, realizing the deathless is directly proportional to the depth of letting go in/as that grief, in my experience.

    Here is a simple personal example. When my wife was first diagnosed with cancer, we knew that at the very least it would mean painful surgery, followed by radiation. We did not know for a while what the prognosis was, and the doctor warned that it may be poor. At the same time my son was asking me if his mother was dying, and looking to me for the truth. My mind/feeling state was so bleak and lonely, and the sense of loss so bottomless, that I thought it was unbearable. I tried every strategy to change that state of mind, and also sought comfort, and there is nothing wrong with that, but at a certain point there was no escape. And so I sat with what was unbearable. You know the poem “...we sit together the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains...” By sitting precisely with the whole state of being as it was, I sat with Hell until only Hell remained. In other words, just as my true self is the sound of rain when rain is present, my true self is Hell when Hell is present. Then Hell is Hell, but not Hell. My wife had a similar experience at that time. After surgery she received a lot of radiation therapy, and the skin had come off her still wounded chest. It was open and raw, and all she could do was lay still in bed, because any movement increased the pain. At one point she said to me.. “ I am like a bug pinned to the wall. I can either wiggle or just be the wall.” So she was the wall, the pain, and she demonstrated zazen and unconditional peace.

    This aspect of practice has been upfront for me of late, but that does not mean I am humorless and no longer being a goof. Because being birth and death/ no-birth and death.. includes ordinary ok times as well, just as much, without dwelling on birth and death. The grass is long enough to be cut, relatives are visiting from Vancouver, painting pictures, bathing the pooch.

    Gassho Daizan/ Richard.
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-23-2013 at 02:08 PM.
    大山

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Richard;
    Thanks for that sharing, be well

    gassho, Shokai
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  4. #4
    Who the hell denies death?

    Having gotten word just this week of the death of a college friend, having gone through my mother's slow cancer, having been in the room after telling the doctor to pull the plug on my still semi-conscious father who was choking to death, a handful of miscarrages, almost losing our baby daughter last year to a blood infection that put her in the ICU, having pulled a guy out of a car covered in blood near death ... I went to two funerals this past year for disabled young people at the place I volunteer whose twisted bodies just gave out before the age of 25 ...

    ... what are you talking about???

    When have you ever heard any Buddhist say that this life doesn't sometimes suck, with sickness, old age and death? Open the news ... did you see that knifing in England today? What people are capable of ...

    (not for the squeemish)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotat...&v=1TtRMC4zF3A

    Buddhists go right into the heart of the ugly. We don't turn away. Here, in our Sangha, we have war veterans, folks in the medical professions, a funeral director, law enforcement, ambulance drivers. I (my wife too) was a friggin' hospice volunteer who worked bedside in the care center for 5 years with hundreds of terminal patients, babies on up, and their families, with all one can imagine experiencing in such a place.

    What may be confusing folks is that Buddhists ... the Buddha ... somehow found something that is simultaneously beyond and through-and-through the sickness, old age and death. (Or, if not, a whole lot of Buddhists have been wasting their time for 2500 years).

    Death ... no death, at once. Dogen said die die, right to the death ... live live, as if your life depended on it! He wrote in Zenki ...

    Life is the manifestation of all functions,
    Death is the manifestation of all functions.


    We turn away from death? Baloney.

    I will say that, yes, some folks don't "get this" as easily as others . That is probably why old time Buddhist said that some may pierce it in a moment, but some may take lifetimes and lifetimes.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-23-2013 at 05:16 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  5. #5
    Jundo - where did I say that you or anyone else here turns away from death?


    Maybe I am one of those people who take lifetimes to get something that others pierce in a moment. I feel you have turned around what I was attempting to explain - that I have difficulty holding together this underlying unity of the absolute/everyday experience and piercing the death/no death teaching. It is something that I can't quite grasp or actualize.

    Just upset that you choose to deal with a lack of understanding on the part of a student - that can not surely be mine alone - in a way that feels shaming (to me).

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 05-23-2013 at 08:15 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Who the hell denies death?

    Having gotten word just this week of the death of a college friend, having gone through my mother's slow cancer, having been in the room after telling the doctor to pull the plug on my still semi-conscious father who was choking to death, a handful of miscarrages, almost losing our baby daughter last year to a blood infection that put her in the ICU, having pulled a guy out of a car covered in blood near death ... I went to two funerals this past year for disabled young people at the place I volunteer whose twisted bodies just gave out before the age of 25 ...

    ... what are you talking about???

    When have you ever heard any Buddhist say that this life doesn't sometimes suck, with sickness, old age and death? Open the news ... did you see that knifing in England today? What people are capable of ...

    (not for the squeemish)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotat...&v=1TtRMC4zF3A

    Buddhists go right into the heart of the ugly. We don't turn away. Here, in our Sangha, we have war veterans, folks in the medical professions, a funeral director, law enforcement, ambulance drivers. I (my wife too) was a friggin' hospice volunteer who worked bedside in the care center for 5 years with hundreds of terminal patients, babies on up, and their families, with all one can imagine experiencing in such a place.

    What may be confusing folks is that Buddhists ... the Buddha ... somehow found something that is simultaneously beyond and through-and-through the sickness, old age and death. (Or, if not, a whole lot of Buddhists have been wasting their time for 2500 years).

    Death ... no death, at once. Dogen said die die, right to the death ... live live, as if your life depended on it! He wrote in Zenki ...

    Life is the manifestation of all functions,
    Death is the manifestation of all functions.


    We turn away from death? Baloney.

    I will say that, yes, some folks don't "get this" as easily as others . That is probably why old time Buddhist said that some may pierce it in a moment, but some may take lifetimes and lifetimes.

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo. Who the Hell denies death? Well, I think we have a really old , like paleozoic, instinct to avert/deny death. Buddhism does not deny death, but yes personally and online, generally, I do hear the view that birth and death are an illusion. and always have..and I do hear Buddhist teachings picked up that way. BTW I did not post that to throw a stone at Treeleaf. You frequently talk about embracing all of life and death/no death. You have been clear about that.

    Gassho, Daizan/Richard

    Edit: had run and pick up the kid and did not have time to fully respond before. I just now really noticed the very pointed naming of the thread "SPLIT THREAD: WHO THE HELL AVOIDS DEATH?". It would be interesting to poll Buddhists, longtime and new, including folks arriving here and already here, about the how they view death. Is it "Illusion"? and if so what is the nature of that illusion? All I can offer is my own interactions with people (online/offline) over the years and how I have often heard Buddhist teaching explained in that light. There is also my own experience of denial and the different forms it can take.

    I will also just state again that talking about denial of death is not a challenge to Jundo, or Taigu, or Treeleaf.

    All the best to Treeleaf and Treeleafers.


    Thankyou and Gassho
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-23-2013 at 10:07 PM.
    大山

  7. #7
    Willow,

    I have a teacher who talks about meditation practice in terms of capacity. Sitting with experience increases our capacity to be with life without falling into our usual dualistic thinking. Being able to do that with small things is the first step and we go on to be able to sit with and acknowledge the existence of pain. I am not saying this is a constant experience of kensho but we are more able just to be with what happens (or be what happens).

    Anyway, when the big stuff happens - death, serious illness, divorce and such like - it often exceeds our capacity to be with it and life looks just like it was before we started practice and as if it is pointless to ever expect to feel any different.

    What to do then? I sit with the fact I can't deal with it. I have to do this all the time with my illness (and maybe you do to). The trick is not to keep beating myself up for not being a good enough practitioner. I also find that other practices in addition to Zazen such as metta, mantras (the dreaded dharanis!) and (sorry not Zen) tonglen give me something to hold onto during these times that feel like being swept away by a tidal wave of dread, confusion and not knowing (I'm sure Jundo and/or Taigu will say if I am offering completely inappropriate advice but sometimes we have to hold it together although it might be better practice to fall apart).

    I do agree with Jundo that at times life just sucks. Practice, for me, is not about making life not suck. A friend of mine (and one time Treeleaf member), Irina, has a saying "This is what it feels like to be human". The pain of loss is one of those things.

    Willow, I think that many people often feel that they don't belong and can't measure up. I can't say for sure that what you are feeling is the same or not but that is part of being human too.

    >This holding together simultaneously a sense of the absolute and wholeness, and our struggle with the day to day difficulties of life in the world, is a position I fail to achieve over and over again.

    I fail again and again too and expect to continue to do so. Sometimes there is just the struggle. If we try and feel wholeness when we don't there is separation and we can feel that. No point in faking it.


    With much metta
    Andy
    Last edited by Kokuu; 05-23-2013 at 09:27 PM.

  8. #8
    Daizan, very sorry about your wife and wish her a full recovery. Many years ago I faced a similar situation. Take care.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    @Willow:
    As far as I understand you have doubts about your practice and your doubts can be summed up in your sentence:
    getting 'it' mentally isn't the problem - living it is the problem.
    Am I right?

    However, I think that's quite normal! That's why it's called a practice. We cannot be expected to grasp it and fully implement this at once.
    We are humans and not machines. I remember your story about your daughter, and it would have scared the hell out of me.

    In these situations we are numb, hardly able to think clearly.
    This practice does not make us robots and does not turn us into superhumans who can't be thrown off the track anymore.
    IMHO this practice is not supposed to make us immune against feeling devastated and even helpless in these moments. However, it can help us regain our balance faster, getting back on track after the initial shock.
    We get hit by life and come back. Another hit and come back. And so on and so forth.
    And if you feel scared it is normal and not a reason to doubt yourself.
    The thing is to allow the feeling of fear and accept it, too.
    And when the dust begins to settle you can try to start with piercing through this and try to see the wholeness underneath (which is quite difficult sometimes, I must admit).
    That's why Zen for me is not a religion, but actually a practice (others will disagree with this vehemently, I know).

    @Daizan:
    It breaks my heart to read about the illness of your wife. I wish you guys all the best and all the strength you need!

    And yes, I also have the impression that there are not too few Buddhists who think of death as an illusion. And in some way they are right, but in another way they are not.
    Just think about the impression Thich Nhat Hanh's book title "No Death, No Fear" might give... (I loved that book, don't get me wrong, it's one of the best I've ever read!)
    I think the "Death is an illusion" thing is coupled with a misconception of the teaching of "No self".
    It was just yesterday that I read in a book by the Dalai Lama:
    It is not that phenomena are illusions; rather, they are like illusions. (...) Similarly, although persons and things are empty of existing the way they appear to be established in their own right, they are not utterly nonexistent; they can act and can be experienced. Therefore, being like an illusion is not the same as appearing to exist but actually not existing,
    I think there are lots of people who misunderstand this, i.e. I agree with you.
    On the other hand, AFAIK there a lots of Buddhist schools out there which focus pretty much on the topic of death (a bit too much for my taste).

    And yet another lengthy post by me ... so sorry guys!

    Gassho,

    Timo


    PS: Since some very personal things were shared in this thread by Willow and Daizan, perhaps it would be appropriate to move it into the non-public area...
    no thing needs to be added

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    I also have the impression that there are not too few Buddhists who think of death as an illusion. And in some way they are right, but in another way they are not.
    I actually would be hard pressed to name any Teacher of any Buddhist Tradition I know who teaches simply that "death is an illusion" ... period. I think we are setting up a non-existent "staw man" here (Now, HE'S not real! )

    If one looks at their words closely, almost any Buddhist Teacher I know (me too) will teach that death is "an absolute illusion" caused by ignorance (by the human mind judging divisions such as "start" and "finish") ... but that death (and maybe rebirth and redeath again and again for Teachers who teach rebirth ... not me so much ... ) are experiences that are truly felt and cause human beings to grieve and greatly suffer.

    Some teach that this life is a dream or like a dream (that is pretty much Buddhism 101). However, all Buddhist Teachers teach that sickness, old age, death are a bitter part of life ... dream or not.

    I prefer Dogen's way of putting it, that this life is like a dream within a dream ... our dream to dream ... sometimes our nightmare ... that we had best dream well.

    Dogen's poem on death, written while he was very sick ... "Yellow Springs" is the doorway in Chinese legend from this world ...

    Fifty-four years lighting up the sky.
    A quivering leap smashes a billion worlds.
    Hah!
    Entire body looks for nothing.
    Living, I plunge into Yellow Springs.


    If any Teacher taught that death is "not an illusion", they might be teaching something ... but not Buddhism. All Buddhist Ancestors I know taught that "life and death is a complete illusion" ... although if you read their old words closely (because now all those old guys are all dead and in the cold grave) one would see that they really were actually teaching in some way that "life and death is a complete illusion ... except not just illusion".

    I just had a conversation with someone, and the subject came up as to why these Teachings, seemingly so simple on the one hand (to me anyway) may be so hard to get to most folks. I came up with two analogies ...

    One is because they are resisted by our little "self" which simply does not want to "get the message". It is much like telling a cigarette smoker to quit smoking. You can explain the reasons, show them the pictures of what it does to the body, talk until the cows come home. They may even understand intellectually the need to quit smoking (because it will kill them ... assuming death is real, of course! ). Nonetheless, the addiction can't acknowledge it, so the brain can't fully accept it, and they keep smoking.

    The other analogy is riding a bike. Before one knows how to ride a bike ... it seems impossible! Hard! Against the laws of physics! How does one stay up on two wheels without falling over? Then, when one finally gets the knack, it turns out to have been as easy as child's play all along.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-24-2013 at 11:21 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  11. #11
    Jundo. I have not set up a straw man. ....but maybe crossed some line with you. Whatever the case the push back is obvious. I talked about "discussions" participated in over the years, in the contest of personal experience. That's all. Thank you. Gassho.
    大山

  12. #12
    Hi Daizan,

    No line crossed my friend. Like the line of "life turning into death", such a line is not there.

    I was merely commenting on the statement that "Denial of death is rampant in zenny type discussions (death is illusion etc.) and that is unfortunate, because denial of death is denial of the deathless" and Timo's "I also have the impression that there are not too few Buddhists who think of death as an illusion."

    I am sitting for the difficult times in your family right now.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Wow, this has been a pretty intense thread. I've just been sitting back and observing it. I'm kind of afraid to say anything, but I'm going to anyway. I am sorry for your frustration Willow, this is a touchy and often depressing subject. I think that at times in this thread we've mistaken Jundo's frustration for sternness. A teacher must be kind and compassionate, imparting wisdom on the students, yet they must also be stern and forthright.

    All that being said, here's my take on things, from a novice's mind. From the Heart Sutra and the commentary:

    No old age and death, no cessation of old age and death.
    All right, that's the line from the Sutra that we all recite, here's some explanation:

    If we observe birth and death, then there is birth and death; and if we observe non-birth and non-death, there is no birth and death... What, then, is the Real Self? Our Original Nature is our Real Self. It depends on the body only temporarily and the body is no different from a house. A house is completed and then gradually deteriorates; similarly, the body has birth and death and the period between them. Our True nature on the other hand, has neither birth nor death. It is enduring and unchanging...

    So, in light of that, there is birth and death in the world of "dharmas" or "things," yet in the supramundane void in which we are all also a part there is no birth and no death. Duality rears its ugly head here, but it can be overcome. One does not have to accept one or the other as solely true. You can say that the first is true, and the second is True. You can be more extreme than this if you want and deny the existence of the material and only claim the existence of the immaterial, but I don't really consider it the Middle Way, which is our practice.

    When you look into the eyes of your dying loved ones, frail and sick in hospital beds, one can't deny that death exists. Yet at the same time we can know that no one ever really dies because we are all one. No one has come, and no one goes. The illusory perishes, their name, their personality, their likes and dislikes, their loves and hates, their voice and all else that our senses perceive, but seeing nature, thinking nature, it all lives on and that is what we Truly are. As it's been said, knowing this and living this are different things. That's why there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom, yet they are both connected.

    The inability to turn this knowledge into practice is hindered by the ego's attachment to duality. Sure, there is a "you" and "I" but there is no Real you and I. We are all the Buddha, all the Tathagata. That's the only way I could suggest turning this into practice, see everyone as the Buddha. Look beyond their name, their disposition and what not and see the Buddha. This is the essence of compassion, and this tempers the sorrow of loss.

    Gassho,
    John

  14. #14
    I have a request to make as I didn't actually start this thread - not with the title it has been given.

    I feel the title is provocative and out of respect for the sensitive material that is shared in this thread I would ask that it be changed to something more neutral like 'the issue of death in buddhism'.

    I admit that I originally felt Jundo's response was totally aimed at me - but re-reading I can see that it was also in response to Daizen.

    Even so - I have struggled with the 'tone' of the response - and don't feel it was necessary to be so heavy handed.

    I'm reluctant to leave Tree Leaf because there are many caring members here - as born out by the sensitive responses within this thread. I also respect and value the time and effort Jundo puts in.

    But I do need to withdraw and sit quietly with all of this.

    Thank you for your practice

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 05-24-2013 at 08:13 AM.

  15. #15
    Hi.

    Thank you all, i'd like to comment by quoting Master Oogway

    Yesterday is a memory,
    tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift,
    which is why it is called the present.
    What the caterpillar perceives is the end;
    to the butterfly is just the beginning.
    Everything that has a beginning has an ending.
    Make your peace with that and all will be well

    - Master oogway, kung fu panda
    And as i don't want to intrude on the thread itself, i've written down a short text about life, death and funerals in another thread.

    Thank you for your practice and may the force be with you.
    Fugen
    Treeleaf Unsui
    Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

  16. #16
    Hi Willow,

    I have softened the title a little (dropping "who the hell") out of respect for your request. But I feel I --did-- mean to provoke.

    Sometimes Zen folks look like this scowling guy ...



    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-30-2013 at 05:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you for that Fugen! And Jundo, that looks remarkably like one of the managers I knew back when I used to work at a huge retail store that shall remain nameless. I wonder if this cartoon depiction's breath also smells like rum and cigarettes?

    Gassho,
    John

  18. #18
    Hi Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I actually would be hard pressed to name any Teacher of any Buddhist Tradition I know who teaches simply that "death is an illusion" ... period. I think we are setting up a non-existent "staw man" here (Now, HE'S not real! )
    Actually, I never said that a Teacher simply teaches "death is an illusion" - so I wonder who put up that straw man... (Anyway, out of respect we should refrain from accusing each other of using straw men)
    However, what I really meant is that there are lots of people out there who don't have a teacher and get their information about Buddhism from books or the internet. And that gives room for some serious misinterpretation. Of course, we could argue now whether these people can be called Buddhists (for me personally it depends on how they live their lives, not if they underwent an official ceremony), but I don't want to end up in another definition game.
    Before I came to Buddhism I heard countless times things like "According to Buddhism there is no death" (without any further explanation), "Buddhism is nihilistic", "According to Buddhism nothing is real" (not to forget all those other clichés you probably heard thousands of times). Without any further explanation, these statements can be misunderstood seriously.

    Yes, TNH for example says there is no death, but more like a change of manifestation. Our "shell" that other people see and consider to be an Ego fades away, but it has nowhere to go - we cannot leave. There is just a change of form/manifestation.
    Of course, I know what you teach here at Treeleaf, and I agree with what you say, but I was basically referring to a common problem of misconception often due to practicing without a teacher.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I just had a conversation with someone, and the subject came up as to why these Teachings, seemingly so simple on the one hand (to me anyway) may be so hard to get to most folks. I came up with two analogies ...
    Thanks for these analogies - and of course I also agree with them.
    However, IMHO there is another aspect besides this:
    There is also a difference between getting something intellectually and really living it. And this is a matter of practice IMHO.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  19. #19
    I have softened the title a little (dropping "who the hell") out of respect for your request. But I feel I did mean to provoke.

    Sometimes Zen folks look like this scowling guy ...

    A teacher who does not look like that once in a while, is no teacher of mine

    Great thread, very deep and meaningful. Don't have too much to say about death in theory only in practical sense. It's the reality of living and makes life itself a precious thing. Pain and suffering are a part of it, just like joy an happiness. Denying this would make life meaningless, it would make all of us meaningless. The gift we are given here, in this life, is maturing to learn to see how both are a part of the same awesome dance, to get enlightened. If we accept the gift of living with the one hand, we must take death and suffering with the other. The more we take one, the more we get the other and I sure take that deal any day. They are not opposites you know.

    Dear Willow, you being upset is not meaningless. For example, denying you are upset right now and discarding it as a funny trick of the mind or an illusion without value, would be an insult to you. Your existence. It would mean denying the very you that you ae. Stealing the chance for us all to learn or for you to be comforted by a fellow human being. Or the birth of a child against all odds in a war torn country and a dying child on the middle of the road in a war torn country, are reality. Denying death and suffering or just calling it illusion, would make life itself meaningless. In a way we would try to steal existence from existence, however short or long it is.
    Dharma is useless but certainly not meaningless.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    Hi Jundo,


    Actually, I never said that a Teacher simply teaches "death is an illusion" - so I wonder who put up that straw man... (Anyway, out of respect we should refrain from accusing each other of using straw men)
    However, what I really meant is that there are lots of people out there who don't have a teacher and get their information about Buddhism from books or the internet. And that gives room for some serious misinterpretation. Of course, we could argue now whether these people can be called Buddhists (for me personally it depends on how they live their lives, not if they underwent an official ceremony), but I don't want to end up in another definition game.
    Before I came to Buddhism I heard countless times things like "According to Buddhism there is no death" (without any further explanation), "Buddhism is nihilistic", "According to Buddhism nothing is real" (not to forget all those other clichés you probably heard thousands of times). Without any further explanation, these statements can be misunderstood seriously.

    Yes, TNH for example says there is no death, but more like a change of manifestation. Our "shell" that other people see and consider to be an Ego fades away, but it has nowhere to go - we cannot leave. There is just a change of form/manifestation.
    Of course, I know what you teach here at Treeleaf, and I agree with what you say, but I was basically referring to a common problem of misconception often due to practicing without a teacher.



    Thanks for these analogies - and of course I also agree with them.
    However, IMHO there is another aspect besides this:
    There is also a difference between getting something intellectually and really living it. And this is a matter of practice IMHO.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    This kind of view is not unusual at all.....

    Yes, TNH for example says there is no death, but more like a change of manifestation. Our "shell" that other people see and consider to be an Ego fades away, but it has nowhere to go - we cannot leave. There is just a change of form/manifestation.
    ...and easily picked up by a wishful, denying, mindset. Sure it is a misunderstanding.. taken out of context, but so what. People without teachers... and maybe with teachers too, and maybe some Buddhist teaches. I suppose I aught to go collect quotes and citations, to demonstrate what is pretty plain to me. Put together a little package. I'll return in day or so. Gassho.
    大山

  21. #21
    There is also a difference between getting something intellectually and really living it. And this is a matter of practice IMHO.
    In my time in Tibetan Buddhist traditions I have spent a lot of time meditating on death and the death experience as a basic part of the training. It takes a long while for this to hit home, and even that can be fleeting. Impermanence of other is so much easier to accept than one's own mortality. When it does bite, though, I find there is little better for bringing attention to the presence moment and what is actually important.

    One of the 'interesting' things about death is the holding of the two notions that we know we are going to die but do not know when that will be. Therefore we have to continue to plan for living although it may not happen. In 'How to Cook your Life', Uchiyama Roshi talks about this in relation to preparing food for the next day (p64):

    "In this world of impermanence, we have no idea of what may occur during the night; maybe there will be an earthquake or a disastrous fire, war may break out, or perhaps a revolution might erupt, or we ourselves could very well meet death. Nevertheless we are told to prepare the gruel for the following morning and make a plan for lunch. Moreover we are old to do this as tonight's work. In preparing the meal for the following day as tonight's work, there is no goal for tomorrow being established. Yet our direction for right now is clear: prepare tomorrow's gruel. Here is where our awakening to the impermanence of all thing becomes manifest, while at the same time our activity manifests our recognition of the law of cause and effect. In this routine matter of preparing tomorrow's gruel as this evening's work lies the key to the attitude necessary for coping with this absolute contradiction of impermanence and cause and effect."


    Gassho
    Andy

  22. #22
    In relation to the idea of death being no death, there is one passage I dread being read at funerals. I understand why it is often included but it seems, to me, to deny the very existence of death itself. It is this one:

    "Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!"

    -- Henry Scott Holland


    Is it expressing a fundamental truth of the continuity of things or trying to deny the inevitable? Maybe it is both but the denying aspect does grate with me. At a time which seems to be an opportunity to confront our own mortality, the basic instinct seems to be to keep avoiding the fundamental truth that life inevitably involves death.


    Apologies for multiple comments.

    Gassho
    Andy

  23. #23
    Here. Have some tea. :-)

    Gassho, John
    治 Ji
    心​ Shin
    #SatToday

  24. #24
    Yes please, I'll have some. Beautyfull day, is it not?

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  25. #25
    One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river.
    "Look at the fish swimming about," said Chuang Tzu, "They are really enjoying themselves."
    "You are not a fish," replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves."
    "You are not me," said Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?"



    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  26. #26
    Just googling “death is an illusion” brought a lot of results, but I thought this (below) sums the common view well. It is beautiful and ends thus.....

    ” When you empty the heart, things appear as in a mirror, shining there without differences in them: ‘Life and death is an illusion, and all the buddhas one’s own body”


    The way out of life and death*is not some special technique; the essential thing is to penetrate to the root of life and death. It is in the centre of everyone, and everything else is dependent on it. Zen is to pierce through to it.
    Zen sitting is not some sort of operation to be performed. It is going into one’s true original nature before father or mother were born. The self seeks to grasp the self, but it is already the self, so why should it go to grasp the self? Look into it. Where was it then? Where is it now? When life ends, where does it go? When you feel you cannot look any more, look and see how that inability to look appears and disappears. As you look and see how the looking arises and goes, satori, realization, will arise of itself.

    At the beginning you have to take up a koan riddle. One such is this: ‘What is your true face before father and mother were born’. For one facing the turbulence of life and death, such a koan clears away the sandy soil and opens up the golden treasure which was there from the beginning, the ageless root of all things.
    In concentration on a koan, there is a time of rousing the spirit of inquiry, a time of breaking clinging attachments, a time of furious dashing forward, and there is a time of damping the fuel and stopping the boiling. In general, meditation has to be done with urgency, but if after three or five years the urgency is still maintained by force, the tension becomes a wrong one and it is a serious condition. Many lose heart and give up. In such a case, the koan is to be thrown down. Then there is a cooling. The point is that many people come to success if they first have the experience of wrestling with a koan and later reduce the effort, but few come to success when they are putting out exceptional effort. After a good time, the rush of thoughts outward and inward, subsides naturally, and the true face shows itself as the solution to the koan. And mind, free from all motivations, always appears as void and absolute sameness, shining like the brightness of heaven, at the centre of the vast expanse of phenomenal things, and needing no polishing or cleaning. This is beyond all concepts, beyond being and non*being.

    Leave your innumerable knowing and seeings and understandings, and go to that greatness of space. When you come to that vastness, there is no speck of Buddhism in your heart, and then you will have the true sight of the buddhas and patriarchs. The true nature is like the immensity of space, which contains all things. When you can conform to high and low, square and round, to all regions equally, that is it. The emptiness of the sea lets waves rise, the emptiness of the mountain valley makes the voice echo, the emptiness of the heart makes the Buddha. When you empty the heart, things appear as in a mirror, shining there without differences in them: ‘Life and death is an illusion, and all the buddhas one’s own body’.


    The Sayings of Bukko, are an extract from:
    The Old Zen Master, Trans. Trevor Leggett

    .. beautiful, and yet there is birth and death. If it is denied as mere illusion (ie not “real”) then so too is no birth and death , because no birth and death is found only in birth and death as such, and not elsewhere. The view that there isn't "really" death, is not uncommon in my experience... and that is what I was referring to in the original post.

    Gassho.


    P.S. All the best with your live-media visiting teacher event. _/\_
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-25-2013 at 04:01 AM.
    大山

  27. #27
    Hi Daizan,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this beautiful quote!

    If I may add something Jundo himself posted some time ago:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I remember how shocked I was when I saw my first teacher, Azuma Roshi, crying one day soon after his wife died. I thought Zen teachers were supposed to be above all that. I said to him "I thought 'life and death' are but a dream, so why are you crying? He responded, 'Life and death are but a dream. I am crying because my wife has died.'

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  28. #28
    Born like a dream
    In this dream of a world
    How easy in mind I am,
    I who will fade away
    Like the morning dew.

    One prays for the life of tomorrow
    Ephemeral life though it be.
    This is the habit of mind
    That passed away yesterday. (Give it up!)

    The Original-nature
    Means non-birth, non-distinction.
    Then know that illusion
    Is birth, death, rebirth.

    That's what Ikkyu said.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  29. #29
    Notice that Bukko said 'Life AND death is an illusion' So what is this? Not knowing, and being of limited verbal skills, I quote the words of Augusto Alcalde

    "But also we have to be very careful not to interpret that as something lacking. This “not to attain, not to know” is the mind of Bodhidharma facing the Emperor Wu, saying “I don't know”. There we have Bodhidharma, 120 years old, coming from far away, facing the Emperor, and all he can say is, “I don't know”. This is, of course, not merely ignorance, or not knowing how to answer, but being in intimate contact with the mystery itself, and showing it without any kind of defilement—just “don't know”. I call that basic sanity."


    Our practice is about dropping all illusions.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  30. #30
    When someone near me suffers the death of a loved one, there are a few things I can do: I can offer a hug, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen. I may offer support by attending the funeral. I might send flowers or a card, or make a donation.

    There are a range of things I might say to offer comfort: I might tell a grieving person that a loved one "went to Heaven" or "a better place". I might offer that the deceased is "still nearby", in the clouds and rain and trees. Within Buddhism specifically, I might speak of "merging into Buddha" or "going to the Pure Land" or "heading for a better rebirth". Some Buddhists believe in such things and some do not.

    I might offer such possibilities whether or not I personally believe in some particular interpretation (I feel some more likely than others), because the point is to offer comfort and possibility ... and is not about me and my personal belief. (I encountered this many times in the hospice where I worked, when a patient or family member asked me "where" I thought people "go". It happened when my child asked me about a pet that died, and I wanted to offer something that a child might understand. I spoke to offer comfort to them, not to express my opinion).

    Anyway, I believe that expressions such as "going to Heaven" or "to the Pure Land" or "found in the clouds" or "heading for a rebirth" each represent something quite possible (I close my mind to no possibility) and, further, each expresses a true longing in the human heart.

    You see, if you ask me, the Real Treasure we Mahayana Buddhists have to offer is the Teaching that "death" --is-- in fact ultimately a complete and thorough illusion ... that we never truly "die" because we were never truly "born", and there is no place to "go" ... that coming and going, birth and death can be seen through, that this life of beginnings and endings, me and you, is a kind of dream. The old analogy is that of waves which rise and fall on the ocean, each seeming to have a beginning and end, each seeming to stand alone and distinct, yet flowing without clear border into the rest, all thoroughly the wet ocean all along. Yes, in such way ... death is an illusion. There are no waves apart from the sea, and thus while the waves may seem to "come and go" the sea remains swirling on. Zazen is a means to lose our separateness, our "start and finish", and to dive into the flowing water of who we are all along. Such is Kensho, experiencing and embodying the True Nature.

    And perhaps, the sense in our hearts of that "merging with what we have never left" is what's meant by "going to Heaven" or "the Pure Land" or "merging with Buddha" or "with God"... the quiet depths of the sea where all is whole. Furthermore, waves vanish and reappear, one wave leading to the next and the next, one the cause and one the effect ... maybe an image of "rebirth" we can all easily see and agree upon. And furthermore, if "we" are the waters ... and the waters make the clouds and the rain and the trees ... then that is also right too and what we are!

    But don't stop there!

    Master Dogen and others taught us that the point of this trip is not simply to abandon our "beginning and endness", "birth and life and death" ... even as we see through each. We may realize that all is "like a dream", but celebrate that a dream is to be dreamt. Far from escape, we come to realize that life is to be thoroughly lived, death is to be heartily and vibrantly plunged into! And each moment of this life, the happy and sad times ... although all a dream ... is each a shining moment, a step in the dance, a single drop into which the entire ocean flows. Forsake none of it, neither our entrance nor exit on stage.

    This is why I have no hesitation to affirm that, yes, LIFE-&-DEATH IS JUST A DREAM, AN ILLUSION, A FALSEHOOD! And thus LIFE-&-DEATH IS THOROUGHLY REAL!

    Life is no more real than any story or show or dance, and should be seen through for the fiction it is. Nonetheless, this is our story, our poem, our real dance. Act, recite, create it well.


    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-30-2013 at 05:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Jundo,
    That was beautiful, thank you. You have expressed what I have struggled to find words for. In describing the dance of life I find some of your own background as well as mine - Zorba the Greek (and Nikos Kazantzakis) would dance, laugh, cry, and live the theater of life out fully!

    Gassho
    Yugen

    Gassho
    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

  32. #32
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks a lot for your post! I am glad you teach "the whole thing".

    I personally like TNH's approach in "No Death, No Fear" and the wave/ocean analogy (which one can also find in philosophical Taoism interestingly).
    The best way to express this is through analogies, metaphors and poetry, I guess...

    When my grandma died my little daugther asked me what happened to her. I told her that now my grandma is air, clouds, rain, water, dust, etc. And my daughter liked that idea.
    When she is bigger, more questions will come, I'm sure...

    I just remembered the old story:
    The Emperor asked Master Gudo, "What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?" "How should I know?" replied Gudo.
    "Because you are a master," answered the Emperor.
    "Yes sir," said Gudo, "but not a dead one."
    Unfortunately, many people don't like "dunnos". So let's keep to poetry (what a pity I'm no poet).

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  33. #33
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    That was truly beautiful Jundo. Death is not something to be feared. I love that life is a dream that is meant to be dreamt line. Really hits the point home because I've often wondered if everything's an illusion, then why does anything matter? But it is meant to be accepted and experienced, like all things in our lives.

    Gassho,
    John

  34. #34
    Thank you for clarifying Jundo. It clarifies my heartfelt dissension.

    I understand Mahayana to be not picking Nirvana over Samsara, as realizing that emptiness is not other than form, as not giving the “absolute” primacy over the “relative”, since they are “not two”. I understand that Mahayana is realization of no birth and no death while not denying death at face value. ..and what is the "face value"? Everything called “I” “me” and “mine”, Body and mind, “inside”, “outside”, “heaven” and “earth” , is impermanent, ...and that only in that, respectful of grief and loss, is the genuine taste of no birth and no death. This life is ephemeral and impermanent, dreamlike, but it is not so in contradistinction to something else that isn't. It is in the very ephemeral impermanence of this “dream” that no birth and no death is realized. That is my broken heart and true home, free of birth and death, while completely being born and completely dying.

    So I respectfully disagree with what you are teaching. Deep bows.

    Gassho, Richard.
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-27-2013 at 10:46 PM.
    大山

  35. #35
    Yes beautiful Jundo, thank you.

    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.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Thank you for clarifying Jundo. It clarifies my heartfelt dissension.

    I understand Mahayana to be not picking Nirvana over Samsara, as realizing that emptiness is not other than form, as not giving the “absolute” primacy over the “relative”, since they are “not two”. I understand that Mahayana is realization of no birth and no death while not denying death at face value. ..and what is the "face value"? Everything called “I” “me” and “mine”, Body and mind, “inside”, “outside”, “heaven” and “earth” , is impermanent, ...and that only in that, respectful of grief and loss, is the genuine taste of no birth and no death. This life is ephemeral and impermanent, dreamlike, but it is not so in contradistinction to something else that isn't. It is in the very ephemeral impermanence of this “dream” that no birth and no death is realized. That is my broken heart and true home, free of birth and death, while completely being born and completely dying.

    So I respectfully disagree with what you are teaching. Deep bows.

    Gassho, Richard.
    That is interesting, because I do not disagree a bit with what you are teaching here, and Practice this too right 100% to the marrow. Deep bows, Richard.

    Everything in impermanent, and grief and loss is the very taste of no birth and no death. There is no "contradistinction" to something else ... and so when living, there is only living. When dying, there is nothing but dying. In grief and loss, fully grieve and rend your clothes and cry your broken heart out. As Dogen said,

    it is an established way in buddha-dharma to deny that birth turns into death. Accordingly, birth is understood as no-birth. It is an unshakable teaching in Buddha's discourse that death does not turn into birth. Accordingly, death is understood as no-death.

    Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You do not call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.


    When the spring, or when falling into "Yellow Springs", there is nothing else, and all present right here.

    On the other hand (Zen folks always speak out of both side of the no sided mouth ... and reality is both and neither "either/or" at once) THERE IS 100% such "contradistinction" too ... a realm where all divisions ... birth/death, spring/winter, Dogen/Richard, fire/ice are washed away as the swirling waters. A Heart which cannot be broken into pieces or loss in its Wholeness. It is a cleansing so thorough that there is no "contradistinction" for no "two" to be "contra"!

    All so at once, each the other ... and each thoroughly just so to the total exclusion of the other ... no other.

    Even the "ocean" of which I spoke is impermanence itself, for it is in such constant motion that such is never still ... and even ice, though seeming to our eyes as solid, is always flowing and changing. There is truly no "ocean" there to be nailed down in its swirling impermanence. Nonetheless, ice is cold and water wet.

    When in Spring live gently in Spring, when the Winter die shivering in Winter (there is no other time or timeless in "contradistinction" to just this) ... and know What is Timeless & Undivided too, beyond all "contradistinction".

    No "contradistinction" between and through all the "contradistinctions".

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-28-2013 at 09:26 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That is interesting, because I do not disagree a bit with what you are teaching here, and Practice this too right 100% to the marrow. Deep bows, Richard.

    Everything in impermanent, and grief and loss is the very taste of no birth and no death. There is no "contradistinction" to something else ... and so when living, there is only living. When dying, there is nothing but dying. In grief and loss, fully grieve and rend your clothes and cry your broken heart out. As Dogen said,

    it is an established way in buddha-dharma to deny that birth turns into death. Accordingly, birth is understood as no-birth. It is an unshakable teaching in Buddha's discourse that death does not turn into birth. Accordingly, death is understood as no-death.

    Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You do not call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.


    When the spring, or when falling into "Yellow Springs", there is nothing else, and all present right here.

    On the other hand (Zen folks always speak out of both side of the no sided mouth ... and reality is both and neither "either/or" at once) THERE IS 100% such "contradistinction" too ... a realm where all divisions ... birth/death, spring/winter, Dogen/Richard, fire/ice are washed away as the swirling waters. A Heart which cannot be broken into pieces or loss in its Wholeness. It is a cleansing so thorough that there is no "contradistinction" for no "two" to be "contra"!

    All so at once, each the other ... and each thoroughly just so to the total exclusion of the other ... no other.

    Even the "ocean" of which I spoke is impermanence itself, for it is in such constant motion that such is never still ... and even ice, though seeming to our eyes as solid, is always flowing and changing. There is truly no "ocean" there to be nailed down in its swirling impermanence. Nonetheless, ice is cold and water wet.

    When in Spring live gently in Spring, when the Winter die shivering in Winter (there is no other time or timeless in "contradistinction" to just this) ... and know What is Timeless & Undivided too, beyond all "contradistinction".

    No "contradistinction" between and through all the "contradistinctions".

    Gassho, J
    I just want to say how much I appreciate this thread. Also, bringing in Genjo-koan here, something I've been (trying to) deeply study, it illuminates a lot. Thank you everybody.

    Gassho,
    a
    Shōmon

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    When someone near me suffers the death of a loved one, there are a few things I can do: I can offer a hug, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen. I may offer support by attending the funeral. I might send flowers or a card, or make a donation.

    There are a range of things I might say to offer comfort: I might tell a grieving person that a loved one "went to Heaven" or "a better place". I might offer that the deceased is "still nearby", in the clouds and rain and trees. Within Buddhism specifically, I might speak of "merging into Buddha" or "going to the Pure Land" or "heading for a better rebirth". Some Buddhists believe in such things and some do not.

    I might offer such possibilities whether or not I personally believe in some particular interpretation (I feel some more likely than others), because the point is to offer comfort and possibility ... and is not about me and my personal belief. (I encountered this many times in the hospice where I worked, when a patient or family member asked me "where" I thought people "go". It happened when my child asked me about a pet that died, and I wanted to offer something that a child might understand. I spoke to offer comfort to them, not to express my opinion).

    Anyway, I believe that expressions such as "going to Heaven" or "to the Pure Land" or "found in the clouds" or "heading for a rebirth" each represent something quite possible (I close my mind to no possibility) and, further, each expresses a true longing in the human heart.

    Gassho, J
    Thanks Jundo. Doing some of things you mention above to help a situation is true Mahayana Buddhism.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That is interesting, because I do not disagree a bit with what you are teaching here, and Practice this too right 100% to the marrow. Deep bows, Richard.

    Everything in impermanent, and grief and loss is the very taste of no birth and no death. There is no "contradistinction" to something else ... and so when living, there is only living. When dying, there is nothing but dying. In grief and loss, fully grieve and rend your clothes and cry your broken heart out. As Dogen said,

    it is an established way in buddha-dharma to deny that birth turns into death. Accordingly, birth is understood as no-birth. It is an unshakable teaching in Buddha's discourse that death does not turn into birth. Accordingly, death is understood as no-death.

    Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You do not call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.


    When the spring, or when falling into "Yellow Springs", there is nothing else, and all present right here.

    On the other hand (Zen folks always speak out of both side of the no sided mouth ... and reality is both and neither "either/or" at once) THERE IS 100% such "contradistinction" too ... a realm where all divisions ... birth/death, spring/winter, Dogen/Richard, fire/ice are washed away as the swirling waters. A Heart which cannot be broken into pieces or loss in its Wholeness. It is a cleansing so thorough that there is no "contradistinction" for no "two" to be "contra"!

    All so at once, each the other ... and each thoroughly just so to the total exclusion of the other ... no other.

    Even the "ocean" of which I spoke is impermanence itself, for it is in such constant motion that such is never still ... and even ice, though seeming to our eyes as solid, is always flowing and changing. There is truly no "ocean" there to be nailed down in its swirling impermanence. Nonetheless, ice is cold and water wet.

    When in Spring live gently in Spring, when the Winter die shivering in Winter (there is no other time or timeless in "contradistinction" to just this) ... and know What is Timeless & Undivided too, beyond all "contradistinction".

    No "contradistinction" between and through all the "contradistinctions".

    Gassho, J
    I hope I am not coming across as presuming to teach.. I mean I am a "teacher" like everyone else, but so is a traffic jam. I also do not imagine you are missing some realization or understanding. You are the teacher after all, and I also feel I know you.

    It is something else that has maybe been stuck in my craw (whatever a craw is)... and it has to do with language, and how words are picked up. My own history with how words are picked and my sense how they are being picked up by others. I'll try and articulate it here in the next day or so .

    Thank you. Gassho
    大山

  40. #40
    Hi Jundo

    On the other hand (Zen folks always speak out of both side of the no sided mouth ... and reality is both and neither "either/or" at once) THERE IS 100% such "contradistinction" too ... a realm where all divisions ... birth/death, spring/winter, Dogen/Richard, fire/ice are washed away as the swirling waters. A Heart which cannot be broken into pieces or loss in its Wholeness. It is a cleansing so thorough that there is no "contradistinction" for no "two" to be "contra"!

    Ok. So Zen teachings have always been conveyed without attachment to any particular skillful means. Zen teachers will use positive language or negative language... or maybe whatever language comes in the moment without any thought of it being either. In some traditions it can even be a kick or a shout. The point is to wake people to their true nature. Is that a fair understanding?


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





    You held up my post and asked "Who the Hell avoids death?" My answer is ..all of us, me.. even you.

    The reason I came to Buddhism was because unlike other religious traditions I grew up with and explored , including some non-traditional ones, Buddhism spoke directly to my experience in an uncompromising way. It did not play to my wishes and hopes. It did not bow to what I wanted life to be. Buddhist teachings said if I turn around and embrace what I am running from, if I am willing to be in the last place I want to be, I will realize my innate freedom. It was summed up at the time by the title of that wonderful book by Trungpa .. “The wisdom of no escape”.

    I was recently at a funeral with family and friends. The talk was of Aunt Marie looking down upon us from heaven. The feeling in the room was that a limb had been cut off, but people wanted comfort and hope. My son, Will, who is slightly autistic and not always socially appropriate, looked very uncomfortable viewing Marie, made up in lipstick with color applied to her cheeks. She was asleep, not dead, because there is no death... really. I asked if he was ok, and he got angry saying loudly “No I'm not OK, I'm just inches from a dead corpse!” . It really was like burping in the church, and people were upset by it. Later, Marie's daughter said that she just had to believe her mother lived on in heaven, because it was the only way she could cope. Obviously I can only say “of course she is heaven” . That is not being Mahayana. It is just not being a total dick. What else am I going to say? But later a teenager asked me what I really thought, and I just spoke the basic view that body, mind, and world, heaven and earth, are impermanent, and in deeply accepting that, there is a deeper ineffable realization . This teen was was not put off all, and she seemed to appreciate being talked to honestly instead of wishfully.

    We are so primed to seize on any shred of HOPE, not realizing that it is a millstone. It reminds me of the direct instruction for release hidden in plain sight at the entrance to Dante's Hells “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE “ . It is the last thing we want to do. Any message that suggests in some infinitely subtle way that some “spiritual” part of “me” is timeless.. and ever free of birth and death, will be seized upon with every drive in this body and mind. That is my experience, and it is what I see others do, naturally, all the time. I also believe people who come to Buddhism deserve the same credit as that teenager for seeing things at “face value”, and that talk of illusion misses that chance, instead feeding that shred of hope. That is the best I can explain misgiving with talk of "illusion" right now.

    Gassho Daizan/Richard
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-29-2013 at 09:25 PM.
    大山

  41. #41
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    While 'tossing' life and death around my rescuer became "Big" Suzuki. The near centinarian was asked his reaction to death. He laughed saying, "Life and death is one thing."
    With gratitude,

    Gassho,
    Edward

  42. #42
    Richard,



    I am putting together my thoughts on this.

    Willow

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Ok. So Zen teachings have always been conveyed without attachment to any particular skillful means. Zen teachers will use positive language or negative language... or maybe whatever language comes in the moment without any thought of it being either. In some traditions it can even be a kick or a shout. The point is to wake people to their true nature. Is that a fair understanding?

    Hi Rich,

    Yes, the point is to wake people to their True Nature because people are suffering.

    A facet of that True Nature to which to "wake people" is that there are no "people" to wake up, no waking, thus no suffering.

    I sometimes prefer to say "True Natures" because, while a single Jewel, there are many facets.


    The reason I came to Buddhism was because unlike other religious traditions I grew up with and explored , including some non-traditional ones, Buddhism spoke directly to my experience in an uncompromising way. It did not play to my wishes and hopes. It did not bow to what I wanted life to be. Buddhist teachings said if I turn around and embrace what I am running from, if I am willing to be in the last place I want to be, I will realize my innate freedom. It was summed up at the time by the title of that wonderful book by Trungpa .. “The wisdom of no escape”
    Yes, Buddhist Practice instructs me that there is no escape from death, and prepares me to charge right into it (when the time comes ... no need to rush things either! ).

    On the other hand, Buddhist Practice instructs me that death is scary, heart breaking, tragic, grief filled ... the loss of all we have and love. I fall crying and screaming right into the heart of all that too. I am afraid and broken hearted.

    On yet another hand (Buddha has many hands! ) Buddhist Practice also instructs me (in the Mahayana Version) that birth and death are something of a dream. It is really not rocket science. Simply stop measuring and dividing "Richard" from "Reality", "Richard" from "Buddha" from "Not Richard", cutting up "starts" from "finishes". No need even for the words "Richard" or "Reality" or "Buddha", "Richard" or "Not Richard", "Birth" or "Death", "Start" or "Finish", "Change" or "No Change", "Permanent" or "Impermanent", "Moving" or "Standing Still". What then? I cannot "fall" or "not fall" for there is and is not no "there" to jump or fall to, no "I" ever standing or not standing "apart", no something to "fear", no "heart to break"or not break. Buddha.

    Maybe that is the end of self awareness, maybe there is more. Maybe I end up in some bizarre "Bardo" realm like Trungpa and many Tibetans describe in fantastical and painful (sometimes literally painful) detail ... maybe I end up with Jesus, maybe with Allah, maybe nothing at all.

    http://www.amazon.com/Tibetan-Book-D.../dp/1570627479

    Personally, I tend to feel that "Bardo" and "Pure Lands" and "Pearly Gates" are "Bullshit" if taken too literally. But actually I am not so concerned, content to go where one goes ... or does not go, flowing to heaven or hell or everywhere or no where at all. Content to be going or not going with the flowing ... because one -IS- the flowing all along.

    It is not complicated.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I can't help it if some students only "get" ... or are attracted too ... one or two of the many facets of True Natures. A Zen Teacher can employ all those skillful means and Koans to get the points across, but some folks are just too blind or thick. That is why it is called "Ignorance". Or maybe their own personal Karma or psychological make-up just makes them deaf to it ... or maybe they just require some other way of seeing to suit their temper or needs. That's fine. But to me ... it is not complicated.
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-30-2013 at 05:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  44. #44
    Thank for the words Sensei.

    Life is the manifestation of all functions,
    Death is the manifestation of all functions.
    Quite.
    My thoughts are with you all friends,
    As is any help I can provide.

    Gassho,
    arthus

  45. #45
    By the way ... what I wrote above is basic Mahayana/Zen Buddha Dharma 101 ... basic Teachings.

    But, of course, our way is not merely to talk about such. A little talking is necessary to prepare us for what is to be encountered, a kind of road map for the lay of the land, but much more vital is REALIZING in the bones and REALIZING (bringing to life) in one's life.

    And how is that accomplished?

    Why, Koans, of course, Dharma Talk, Chanting this or that, Bowing ... but most vitally ... by living and just sitting Zazen.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  46. #46
    Hi Jundo. You also know me, and you know that what you are describing is not a revelation. When "just sitting", where is Richard , Jundo, Life, death, beginning, ending... or for that matter the absence of these? That is how we practice, and one is the flowing... on the cushion and off the cushion. ...and there are dolled up corpses, squeamish kids, and distraught daughters.... and today, a leaky roof.

    ...and by the way, personally.. to be curmudgeonly about it... I have valued the interactions on this thread. Sometimes discussions at Treeleaf turn into a stream of appreciation for everything you or Taigu says. I respect that, but I am glad to have this discussion adult to adult. If that looses me friends.. that's ok

    Gassho, Daizan/ Richard
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-30-2013 at 06:56 AM.
    大山

  47. #47
    Hi there - I have found this thread really useful and given it a lot of thought.

    Just need to clarify that I'm not mis-understanding any teaching given here.

    Zen, or no Zen, the process of grief results in our locating our loved ones 'someplace' after death. It may be in the universe (the sky, trees, mountains,etc as TNH teaches) or simply as an abiding presence within our hearts and minds.

    I'm not too concerned about an afterlife - if there be any such thing. As you teach Jundo - we are the flowing all along - and that's what seems to count.

    The only point I was reaching to clarify is that our small self prevaricates and sometimes loses a connection with the absolute/unity (we shift away from the connection -the absolute never shifts away). Sometimes we are lost in an abyss of 'no hope' (I think this is what Richard was pointing to?) so that we don't 'always' embrace our true nature.

    But - within this 'no hope' we sit zazen and re-affirm (practice is re-affirmation?). Connecting to an 'ineffable freedom' (Richard's words) literally cracks open the defences and armouring we wrap around our fear.

    I understand that we also (at times) may need a verbal shock or some other shock to break through to an understanding. I admit I'm not good with this (you mention temperament Jundo ) but given time I'm able to make a necessary shift. I also accept that I'm a free agent and that if I feel this style of teaching is not suited to my temperament I can elect to leave.

    Well - life is full of 'shocks' and 'knocks' - and most times these prove to be a gateway to deeper understanding.

    I do feel this to be a place of learning and support - I mean - if we knew/understood it all - what would be the point of spending time here?

    Thank you all for your practice,

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 05-30-2013 at 10:17 AM.

  48. #48
    Hi willow.. Jundo is offering the teaching , I was just making conversation. So please don't let me muddle that. Sitting Zazen is no problem of a self, large or small, connecting with anything, and no problem of losing or having hope, because it already full and whole. Just sitting.

    My talk of hope and funerals was about language and how we pick it up and experiences with that. It was maybe not an appropriate subject, because it can confuse things for people.
    Gassho
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-30-2013 at 02:11 PM.
    大山

  49. #49
    I was not confused by what you wrote Richard - if I've misunderstood something I'm sure Jundo will correct.

    Gassho

    Willow

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    I was not confused by what you wrote Richard - if I've misunderstood something I'm sure Jundo will correct.

    Gassho

    Willow
    When I was talking about hope, I was talking about the hope of ego to live forever. Not ego as a little self as opposed to our true deathless nature, but ego as the thought of “I”. It is only a thought, an instant of confusion, but a deeply ingrained one. . The idea put forward was that any suggestion of a deathless nature is seized upon by ego ... That is basically it. It is a chronic issue among people coming to Zen. A real challenge of means. Something to look at.

    ...and just my opinion! , as a Mahayana, Zen, fellow. gassho
    Last edited by Daizan; 05-30-2013 at 08:27 PM.
    大山

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