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Thread: So, what is this Zen School anyways?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    So, what is this Zen School anyways?

    I was reading how Master Dogen referred to his path as " the awakened way" or " the Buddha way". So if the term Zen or Zen school( shortened from Zazen also know as the Meditation School) comes from people outside of the Way. Why do we follow in their footsteps and not in the footsteps of Dogen being descendants of his lineage?

    Dave _/\_

  2. #2
    Hi Dave,

    Hmmm. Not sure I get what you are asking.

    Dogen sometimes said that there is no "Zen School" really, such as here in Bendowa ...

    You should understand that the name "Zen school" began in China and the east; it was never heard in India. When Great Master Bodhidharma stayed at Shaolin ssu in Sung-shan, sat wall-gazing for nine years, the monastics and laypeople did not understand the Complete Dharma of the Buddha; they called him a Brahmin who made "a religion out of" of zazen. Since then, every Ancestor of succeeding generations has constantly practised zazen. Worldly people who saw them carelessly referred to them as the “Zazen School” without
    understanding the truth. Today the "Za" has been dropped and people just say the "Zen School".
    He also frequently said, even in that same Vehicle, that there is only One Vehicle which we all share within the "Zen Way".

    At that time there were two outstanding disciples of the Sixth Ancestor, Nanyue Huairang and Qingyuan Xingsi. They both equally received the Buddha’s seal as Teachers of humans and shining beings. Their two Lineages spread, and later the Five Gates opened: The Fayan School, the Guiyang School, the Caodong School, the Yunmen School, and the Linji School. At present in Great Song China only the Linji School prospers throughout the country. But in spite of their different styles, each of the Five Houses holds the single Buddha Mind Seal. In China after the Later Han Dynasty the Teachings of Buddhist discourses had been introduced and had spread throughout the land, but there was no conclusive Teaching as yet. When Bodhidharma came from India, the root of twining vines was immediately cut through and the pure, single Buddha Dharma spread. We can hope that it will be like this in our country.
    He could also say that all Practice Zen, but be critical of some. Naturally, Dogen felt that his own Teacher was the best! He wrote in Zanmai-O-Zanmai:

    Surely, over the last four or five hundred years only my late Master has been the one to scoop out the Eye of the Buddhas and Ancestors and to sit inside this Eye of the Awakened Ancestors; few have equaled him, even in China.
    Anyway, to make a long story short ... as I often say ...

    In Buddhism, there are many flavors, always the same but sometimes very different, very very different but quite the same. Some medicines for some folks, other medicines for others.

    In fact, Dogen's writings like Shobogenzo are wall-to-wall his quoting and working with teachings by hundreds of Zen and other Buddhist Teachers, some in his direct Lineage but most not.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    I'll see if I can find the exact quote. The book i'm reading is basically a collection of Dogen snippets. The "chapters" are organized by content. Your selection from Bendowa was also included. Speaking of the different schools: "Rujing said, "In ancient times monasteries did not carry names like the Doctrinal school, the Precept School, or the Zen School. The use of such names is simply a bad habit of this declining age. Kings' official who really do not know buddha dharma mistakenly classify monks as monks od The Doctrinal School, The Precept School, or the Zen School. Imperial tablets use these designations, and their usage has spread so that we now hear of five types of monks: Precept school monks, who are descendants of Nanshan ; Doctrinal School monks, who are descendants from the the Tiantai ; monks of the Yoga School, who are descendants of Amoghavajra; monks without lineages who are not clear about who their ancestor's are; and the Zen Monks, who are all descended from Bodhidharma. It is truly pitifulthat we have such a confusion of names and groups in this remote country, China, in this declining age."

    The direct quote I was referencing is a note from the authors , "Dogen calls his path in everyday life "the awakened way" or the " buddha way" instead of "Zen" or "Zen School". It is the path of being a buddha, which is no other than going beyond buddha. "

    Does that help?

    _/\_ Dave

  4. #4
    Yes Dave. It is what I said, I believe.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    So if these classifications exist from the Chinese gov't at the time. Why have we as Buddhists chosen to adopt them? Does it simplify? Or does it divide. I agree with what you say about diferent flavors for different people. I don't disagree at all.
    But this statement from Rujing makes me think of the term "shamanism". Many tribal cultures across the world are quite different in spirituality. Along comes whitey the anthropologist who out of ignorance puts them under the same umbrella term, much to the dismay of many of the tribes. An example being Native American spirituality where many medicine men prefer the term medicine man to shaman. Shaman is a word someone else decided to call them. On the other hand the less traditional ones don't mind as much. But it is a sore point for at least a few tribes cross the world.

  6. #6
    Hi Dave,

    Well, if I understand your question and Rujing, then it depends how one looks at these things.

    It is a fact that there historically were priests in China who were quite different in Practice ... members of Lineages mostly concerned with the Vinaya/Precepts, members of Lineages who were scholars concerning one or more Sutras and Commentaries, Zen folks of various kinds such as the Rinzai folks emphasizing "Koan Zazen" and the Soto folks "Silent Illumination/Shikantaza", Pure Land chanters to Amida. Tiantai monks who had their own "mix and match" approach, esoteric Buddhists. These were not just government classifications. However, the picture gets a little muddled in China (Korea too) because many or most folks could be various combinations of any of these, e.g., a Zen fellow who engaged in Pure Land chanting and doctrinal scholarship and study. Folks of very different kinds of practice used to share monasteries too, Practicing side by side. In Japan, the different flavors tended to stay more independent from each other (although there was quite a bit of mixing and matching too).

    Also, when Dogen says something like "there is no Zen school", know that at other times he called what we do "Zen" and distinquished all the above categories. I guess it depends when you asked him and his mood.

    I hope that helps. I have no problem in saying that Buddhism comes in many flavors, sometimes compatible and sometimes incompatibe to practice together, even if all good flavors.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you teacher(s)..


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    I was just curious as it seemed we got the name from " King's Official's" .I was wondering why we use what is essentially " Their" term for our practice.

  9. #9
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    We once had a cat we called Billie. My Aunt Janet used to say,"that's a strange name for a girl cat!" Years earlier we had a cat named Charlie. He was a male so no one commented on it. Those who knew both cats intimately never confused one for the other. And, we never referred to either of them as dogs. Perhaps we'll call our next cat Rose!

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

  11. #11
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    LOL Shokai.
    Jundo. Point taken. Thank you.

    Dave _/\_

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