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Thread: If everything has Buddha-nature...

  1. #1

    If everything has Buddha-nature...

    then does nothing have Buddha-nature?

    Gassho,
    Steven

  2. #2
    What is Buddha-nature?

    Gassho, John

  3. #3
    Hmmm. Maybe start by dropping such little words as "every thing" "no thing" "this thing" "that thing" and "thing".

    Maybe even drop "Buddha-nature", all to find each and all and none and you and me and every as Buddha-nature.

    Have a look over here, then go sit ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post111337

    I thought, before opening the thread, that you were going to ask the old question "If everything has Buddha Nature already, why bother to Practice?" That is the question which is said to have sent Dogen on his search to China. The story goes that Dogen, who was originally a monk in the Tendai School of Buddhism, was so puzzled in his youth by the traditional Tendai Buddhist teaching that we are all "originally Buddha from the get go" that Dogen wondered why, then, the need to Practice. He went to China in search of an answer to that question.

    The answer he found is what we discuss here all the time: Although we are already "Buddha", one needs both to realize that fact (understand it in and as one's bones) and to realize that fact (make it real through our practice, bring it to life in all of life by how we behave, free of Greed, Anger and Ignorance).

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Hi Steven,

    Everything, and nothing, are the same. Not two, but one.

    _/\_

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    Hi Steven,

    Everything, and nothing, are the same. Not two, but one.

    _/\_
    Yeah, my advice to you is that one had best drop that too.

    Both one and two ... yet Not Even One.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Still think it is puzzling, Jundo. What is missing? When deluded be fully deluded, when enlightened be fully enlightened. Genjokoan life as it is. Fully there.

    Drop everything? Everything? Pretty attached to sitting and practice you know. Feel bad if I don't sit everyday at least once but something is missing. What is missing?

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  7. #7
    Missing is not missing. Missing is full of life.

    Drop everything, thus filled with everything.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Give everything away so nothing to want remains? Like that? Stop searching so nothing is lost?

    Reading that book "Zen Questions" I came across a passage from Dogen that struck me deeply and is on my mind a lot:

    When Dharma does NOT fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient.
    When Dharma DOES fill your whole body and mind, you understand something is missing."

    I don't understand this. Seems that missing something is just fine and maybe even a good sign? Formulating what is missing however is SO very difficult. It is a wordless thing. When sitting shikantaza sure, there is nothing lacking and nothing to drop. In a way I think I maybe caught a glimpse of that wholeness at times. But OFF the cushion, there sure is something missing. Maybe because there is too much searching going on?

    Here is the problem: I have been so cocky on this forum in the past. Having an answer to everything. Since of late I am losing my taste for all of that. A question that won't let itself be asked or formulated, has nestled itself in my practice. Decided to drop all of that and start with the right questions but if I can't formulate it how can I answer it? I suppose this missing should be accepted and done fully too. If you don't have anything, you have nothing to loose either. Is that what you mean by "missing is not missing"? It is very difficult.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  9. #9
    The way I look at it is that the only way something can be missing is when we compare experience against some conceptual idea of how things are. Experience on its own has nothing missing (what is the sound of one hand clapping?). Missed a sit - no problem, you have just missed a sit. If the mind starts to come up with ideas that the day would not be complete without a sit or a good Buddhist would have sat, suddenly there is comparison and missing.

    For me, if you feel something is missing it is good to feel that as it is part of experience. Then drop it.

    Regarding the Dogen passage, it strikes me deeply too but I would be lying if I said 'I get it'. Something missing? Maybe ;-)

    Gassho
    Andy

  10. #10
    Dropping being cocky is a very good place to start from. Understanding how foolish we are is the very core of practice. Do you think guys like a Dogen, Ryokan, Sawaki did think they were great? They could see through the field of their delusion, once you sit on Buddha s seat, you see the culprit right in the face ( something is missing) as long as you sit in the culprit s sit , you are drunk with Buddhas and ancestors ( it is already sufficient ).

    Dogen goes about this in a Genjokoan.

    In many other important bits of Shobogenzo.

    Far from the mountain, you see it. It is like an object within your reach. Once on the mountain, it vanishes, all is but clouds, mists. Something is missing.

    Our path is to cut through on the spot. Neither mountain nor pile of shit.
    As you sit with the mountain, this only remains and you don't give a f... about being awake or not, being Buddha or not.
    All the games and expectations drop like a castle made of cards, the water goes through the bucket.

    You cannot make it. Trying to make it is like adding another card.

    Kicking the castle like a child having a tandrum does not work.

    Nothing works.

    That's how "it" works.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  11. #11
    Part of the problem is the way people imagine Buddha to be like: a kind is superman with instant knowledge, visions and freedom.

    Buddha is absolutely not for your eyes to see or your ears to hear.

    You would not notice it.

    That's Buddha s true faceless face.

    It lives in the here- beyond-with- without self and others.

    Gassho

    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Reading that book "Zen Questions" I came across a passage from Dogen that struck me deeply and is on my mind a lot:

    When Dharma does NOT fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient.
    When Dharma DOES fill your whole body and mind, you understand something is missing."

    I don't understand this. Seems that missing something is just fine and maybe even a good sign? Formulating what is missing however is SO very difficult. It is a wordless thing. When sitting shikantaza sure, there is nothing lacking and nothing to drop. In a way I think I maybe caught a glimpse of that wholeness at times. But OFF the cushion, there sure is something missing. Maybe because there is too much searching going on?
    Hi Enkyo,

    Oh, I feel that you have hit on precisely the appropriate Dogen Zenji quote from the Genjo Koan, but in your interpretation you are missing Dogen's point on "missing". I believe this Teaching is one of Master Dogen's expressions of vibrant Enlightenment worth the whole price of a ticket to his Teachings. Here is how I express the point:

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

    In our Practice, we may enter in Zazen some timeless moments where all is Peaceful, Boundless, Pure, Complete, Never Missing, Nothing to Lack ... the Boundless Sky without a Cloud to be seen. The small "self" and the "subject-object" split might be fully evaporated. One might feel, "Eureka! Such is Enlightenment!" One might try to stay such and never "come back".

    But such is only 80%

    For Master Dogen's brilliant vision is that this organic, unpredictable, vibrant, often confusing, frustrating, sometimes clean and sometimes dirty, often beautiful but often so ugly world, frequently lacking and painful .... -- IS ALSO, NO LESS PRECISELY -- ... the Peaceful, Boundless, Pure, Complete, Never Missing, Nothing to Lack when correctly perceived as such. Thus, when truly Enlightenment fills one's body and mind ... one realizes that the incomplete is complete in&as its very incompleteness, that "something lacking" has nothing lacking whether lacking or not ... that there is a certain Beauty which embodies both the human eye's judging of "beautiful" and of "ugly" ... that imperfect things are Perfectly-Just-Imperfect-As-They-PerfectlyImperfectly-Are (ATTENTION: Such is not to be confused with "actually complete though appearing incomplete" or "ultimately perfect though appearing imperfect", which is not the point here).

    Maybe an example I just read from Master Hsu Yun, the great Chinese Rinzai Chan Hua'tou Teacher, will give a feeling for this:

    The mind, life, this world is something like a room with light shining through a window, revealing all kinds of dust particles floating and swirling through the air. The dust represents all the dirt and schmutz of life ... the confusion, greed and anger, the whole catastrophe of life, sickness and health and birth and death, a mind cluttered like an old dusty attic. Often this mind-life-world is clogged with so much dust we may choke! Sometimes we can't see or breath for all the choking dust of thoughts! (This represent suffering sentient beings before Buddhist Practice).

    The clear, open light between the dust ... free of all that ... represents the wide open Dharmakhaya, free of all that mess. Pure Crystal Light. So, we might feel that the purpose of Zen Practice is to so thoroughly clean the room that not a speck of mental dust remains, down to surgical sterility ... leaving only the wide boundless light shining, the open air totally open.

    Well, no ... that is so sterile that such is robbed of life.

    True Enlightenment is finally to see that the clear open light AND the dance of twirling dust particles are One beyond One. Be at home in the real life room where dust is kicked up because that is what happens when life is lived. Light and Dust are not one, not two. Do not seek some barren "white room" where all is too pure. Of course, one should keep the dust reasonably down to a healthy level (please don't live in a mental pig sty), and avoid the truly toxic dust of greed, anger, jealousy and all the rest. Do not live as a prisoner trapped in unhealthy air pollution! The pure and impure is Thoroughly Pure, yet we seek to keep the impure thoughts in healthy check so to realize such.

    But, in true Enlightenment one encounters that each swirling grain of dust holds Buddha, is Buddha, Countless Buddhas.

    Something like that.

    Savor the often unpredictable, frequently ambiguous, quite often unsatisfying, filled with delusion, feeling sometimes like "somethings missing", sometimes messy "Whole Catastrophe" of Samsara as Nirvana (even as we try to keep the truly toxic poisons of greed, anger and delusion to a minimum).

    As Dogen also writes in the Genjo ...

    Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings.

    Gassho, J

    PS -What Taigu wrote above is So Lovely!

    Last edited by Jundo; 10-06-2013 at 11:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about Buddha nature, really.

    It's a concept that flows all over round us.

    So now I 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

  14. #14
    Thank you both Jundo and Taigu for your explanations and for demonstrating why you are the teachers and we are students. It is good to know that those moments of clarity during Zazen are not the whole story although they can seem to be what we are aiming at.

    This thread has been very helpful.

    Gassho
    Andy

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Thank you both Jundo and Taigu for your explanations and for demonstrating why you are the teachers and we are students. It is good to know that those moments of clarity during Zazen are not the whole story although they can seem to be what we are aiming at.

    This thread has been very helpful.

    Gassho
    Andy
    Oh, Taigu and me are just two very very horribly deluded beings. Then again, you and me and Taigu and the Tree in the Garden and all the world are Buddha too.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-06-2013 at 11:21 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you Taigu, Jundo and all who contribute. I really think these discussion are going to cause me to buy aspirin. I was tempted to add to this discussion by asking the question:

    Exactly where is this nothing? I can't find it.

    But then I thought I had better... oh darn it.. I had to go and ask it anyway.


    Gassho
    C

  17. #17
    Mu

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  18. #18
    Horribly deluded, cannot put it a better way and yet, like all of you...

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  19. #19
    You guys! Wanted to give a sensible and balanced reply. Here it is:




    AWESOMENESS!!!!!!!

    Nine bows

    E.


  20. #20
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Some know -

    "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. . .the rational mind is a faithful servant. Society honors the servant and has forgotten the the gift."

    Big Al Jones ( aka Albert Einstein )
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by drocloce View Post
    Some know -

    "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. . .the rational mind is a faithful servant. Society honors the servant and has forgotten the the gift."

    Big Al Jones ( aka Albert Einstein )
    Einstein probably never said that, but the words are well taken nonetheless.

    this saying was derived from the words of Bob Samples who was presenting his individual analysis of Albert Einstein. The phrasing evolved over time, and by 1997 someone had placed quotation marks around the descendant expression and had assigned the words to Albert Einstein. However, the ascription to Einstein is spurious.
    http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/09/18/intuitive-mind/
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Hi Steven,

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven View Post
    If everything has Buddha-nature...

    then does nothing have Buddha-nature?
    As soon as you talk about every - thing, you have already created a separation.

    This is an awesome thread, thanks a lot for all contributing to it.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  23. #23
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo.

    What I MEANT was the intuitive mind is a gift so don't honor. . .uhmm. . the rational because a gift horses' mouth is something not to be looked at. . .rationally.

    Glad that's cleared up.


    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

  24. #24
    It's amazing what can be learned from asking one question. Thanks for everyone's response: especially our teachers!

    Gassho,
    Steven

  25. #25
    This is an awesome post. To me, the magic of Dogen, and of Taigu and Jundo's teaching which are really pointing to the same "it non-itness" is that you think you've got it, but you don't have it. It's slippery; nothing to grab. When I try to intellectualize the teachings or add them to my Zen resume, they elude me and I can no longer remember what I've "gotten". But when I drop that grabbing, then it just is it and I see what it is... I don't know, now I've lost it. lol

    Anyway, thank you for the question and teachings.. So many good topics here lately.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  26. #26
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Yeah, thanks for asking that question. Had you not chosen to open this thread I would have not read this wonderful line.

    Jundo said...
    [The answer he found is what we discuss here all the time: Although we are already "Buddha", one needs both to realize that fact (understand it in and as one's bones) and to realize that fact (make it real through our practice, bring it to life in all of life by how we behave, free of Greed, Anger and Ignorance).]
    Off the cushion or on the cushion life goes on. What we make of that life reveals our Buddha nature.

    Gassho,
    Heishu


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  27. #27

  28. #28
    Taigu:
    once you sit on Buddha s seat, you see the culprit right in the face ( something is missing) as long as you sit in the culprit s sit , you are drunk with Buddhas and ancestors ( it is already sufficient ).
    Jundo:

    True Enlightenment is finally to see that the clear open light AND the dance of twirling dust particles are One beyond One. Be at home in the real life room where dust is kicked up because that is what happens when life is lived. Light and Dust are not one, not two. Do not seek some barren "white room" where all is too pure. Of course, one should keep the dust reasonably down to a healthy level (please don't live in a mental pig sty), and avoid the truly toxic dust of greed, anger, jealousy and all the rest. Do not live as a prisoner trapped in unhealthy air pollution! The pure and impure is Thoroughly Pure, yet we seek to keep the impure thoughts in healthy check so to realize such.
    How could I ever leave the culprits seat? Being alive means kicking up dust for myself and others. We say not two, but if I hit my head you wont get a bump on your head. All we can do is trying to keep the dust in check but for whom sake? My own? What use is this to all of you out there?

    That just may be what is bothering me. We sit, work hard and talk Dharma but I'm missing THE GETTING IT OUT THERE! Do we really only sit for ourselves, for our own enlightenment and training/ learning ourselves in how WE deal with this world for the short while we are actually here? Maybe some of the more talented ones in our sangha will reach that certain point someday. Great! But to what end? What use?

    What do I tell that hungry homeless guy at the street corner or that orphan girl dying of cancer all alone in the hospital? What do I effectively do for them, when sitting hours and hours working on "me, myself and I" in my little shed in the back of my garden?

    That's what is missing. Self sacrifice, compassion and love for all other beings IN ACTION. Living Zen, out there in the the trenches of Samsara for the sake of you without thinking of "me".

    Saying they are not two but one is too easy. I'm lacking and found the question:

    HOW?

    Please be gentle, this is now keeping me awake at night ( not kidding)

    Gassho

    E.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post

    That just may be what is bothering me. We sit, work hard and talk Dharma but I'm missing THE GETTING IT OUT THERE! Do we really only sit for ourselves, for our own enlightenment and training/ learning ourselves in how WE deal with this world for the short while we are actually here? Maybe some of the more talented ones in our sangha will reach that certain point someday. Great! But to what end? What use?

    What do I tell that hungry homeless guy at the street corner or that orphan girl dying of cancer all alone in the hospital? What do I effectively do for them, when sitting hours and hours working on "me, myself and I" in my little shed in the back of my garden?

    That's what is missing. Self sacrifice, compassion and love for all other beings IN ACTION. Living Zen, out there in the the trenches of Samsara for the sake of you without thinking of "me".
    So, if it bothers you, get your ass up off the Zafu after your few minutes of sitting and DO SOMETHING TO HELP! How the hell does sitting Zazen prevent that? How the heck would your little time of sitting each day interfere with your doing so? (In fact, it should make you better equipped to do so, more than not sitting or using the time some other way like watching tv or playing a video game).

    Before sitting Zazen. there are hungry homeless dudes and cancer kids.

    Sitting Zazen, there are no hungry homeless dudes or cancer kids.

    After sitting Zazen, there are hungry homeless dudes and cancer kids again.


    All the bowing and sitting won't do a damn thing to get a hungry man a sandwich or to cure cancer, not any more than choosing to spend the time watching TV or walking on the beach will feed the hungry or heal the diseases. What the heck do you feel that your Zazen will do for them, or for you? If it bothers you so much, start handing out tuna melts and writing checks to charity.

    The most that Zazen might do is let you also taste a realm where there is no lack and no disease, but that does not mean that we don't live in a world filled with lack and disease (for both Truths are True At Once). The most Zazen can do in that case is as described in the essays at the following link ... a bit of care for the caregivers, and a taste of "Saying Yes" even as our heart cries No No NO! So, in that way Zazen does help our work to feed the hungry and cure the disease.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ers-Saying-Yes

    You seem to feel disappointed that sitting has not turned you into a saint yet. Buddhist Practice might make one somewhat softer hearted and more compassionate, but it is unlikely to make someone a saint who doesn't have the makings of one. You seem kind of confused as if you expected it to do so. Even the Buddha did not spend much time feeding the poor (nor did Dogen for that matter). I did not see either of them start soup kitchens, or open public health clinics. They seemed most directly concerned with keeping their own monks fed each day from donations. Next, they seemed most concerned with finding a cure for Dukkha, not a cure for poverty or death. A cure for Dukkha is not a cure for poverty, old age and death ... just a way to see through it all, be one with it all, allow it all. (Oh, they both made some statements about charity, as we saw during this week's Teisho ... but also knew that they really were limited in their power to fix Samsara). ++

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post111346

    The Buddha never found a cure for disease, death, hunger, poverty. He knew that Samsara was kinda hopeless. That is why Buddhists talk a lot about getting the heck out of Samsara to the Pure Land, making the escape to Nirvana or some such. The most Buddha did was let us see a bit through the lack and death to a realm without lack or death. However, some of us believe that, maybe someday, we can bring a bit of the Pure Land/Kingdom of Heaven right down here to earth.

    Kannon becomes real when we use our own hands and eyes to make her move and see.

    We say not two, but if I hit my head you wont get a bump on your head.
    Saying "not two" is not saying that we are one and the same! Well, it is ... but it is not. I think you misunderstand.

    There is an old Koan that goes ... "When Jundo catches cold, Enkyo sneezes". That's a fact.

    But of course, when Jundo catches cold, Jundo sneezes ... not Enkyo (unless he caught it from sitting to close to Jundo's sneeze). Both Truths are True At Once. The most Enkyo can do in practical terms is get off his butt and offer Jundo a tissue.

    Gassho, J

    ++ I recently heard of Theravada Practitioners who actually oppose engaging in charitable work in this world (not all Theravada Buddhists, of course, just some). Their reasoning? Anything that makes Samsara easier and more pleasant for people makes their desire to escape the world and reach Nirvana less likely. I can't buy such thinking. One can sit or not sit ... do charitable work or not do it. Up to you, but I recommend doing it.

    PS - Please give a listen to the Talk during this week's Zazenkai, which was on the topic of charity ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ays-of-Service
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-07-2013 at 01:34 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    If you stop bumping your head at least the medical bills won't be paid by me. . Since I have started my practice in "just sitting" I have stopped using caffeine, I have stopped drinking in excess, I have stopped wasting time on the internet, I have become a better father, husband, professional. In returning to my original nature again and again I take that self/ nonself out into the world . It does make a difference all around me. Also I don't think our teachers would ever say, NOT to take your practice out to the trenches. I have donated 5 large boxes of food and what will be about 400$ to local charity because of my participation here. I don't think anyone is suggesting to hide from other's suffering. Someone keeps insisting we get dirty.

    Gassho

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Also I don't think our teachers would ever say, NOT to take your practice out to the trenches. I have donated 5 large boxes of food and what will be about 400$ to local charity because of my participation here. I don't think anyone is suggesting to hide from other's suffering. Someone keeps insisting we get dirty.

    Gassho
    That right.

    By the way, very good to hear of the good effect this Path seems to be having for you.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    Hi Enkyo,

    I don't know if I totally get what you want to say, communication is a tricky thing, so please excuse me if I get something wrong what you said:

    IMHO Zazen is the home from which we act.
    Our practice almost naturally leads us to outreach and to help.
    However, you still have to act and make decisions in this world of samsara - we cannot say "I practice, everything else will go alone from there."
    It's up to you to come up with a way to "get it out there" as you said.
    You and I are not zen, we just practice zen.

    If a butterfly's flapping wings can create a storm elsewhere, guess what even a simple act of kindness and love can do. Think about the chain reaction this can create.
    Sitting won't solve the problems of the world, but as Camus said: "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

    It never ends, but putting our heads in the sand is too easy.
    Look at what people like Bernie Glassman do! He is truly inspiring. And there are others out there.


    BTW: What do you mean by "the more talented ones in our sangha"? This practice is not about being talented if you ask me.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  33. #33
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    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

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Taigu:


    Jundo:

    How could I ever leave the culprits seat? Being alive means kicking up dust for myself and others. We say not two, but if I hit my head you wont get a bump on your head. All we can do is trying to keep the dust in check but for whom sake? My own? What use is this to all of you out there?

    That just may be what is bothering me. We sit, work hard and talk Dharma but I'm missing THE GETTING IT OUT THERE! Do we really only sit for ourselves, for our own enlightenment and training/ learning ourselves in how WE deal with this world for the short while we are actually here? Maybe some of the more talented ones in our sangha will reach that certain point someday. Great! But to what end? What use?

    What do I tell that hungry homeless guy at the street corner or that orphan girl dying of cancer all alone in the hospital? What do I effectively do for them, when sitting hours and hours working on "me, myself and I" in my little shed in the back of my garden?

    That's what is missing. Self sacrifice, compassion and love for all other beings IN ACTION. Living Zen, out there in the the trenches of Samsara for the sake of you without thinking of "me".

    Saying they are not two but one is too easy. I'm lacking and found the question:

    HOW?

    Please be gentle, this is now keeping me awake at night ( not kidding)

    Gassho

    E.

    Hi Enkyo,

    I think Jundo's response is ripe full of gems for contemplation. I will be revisiting his comment daily.

    Your comment is so timely. Many of my less, for lack of better words, "spiritual friends", joke with me at times about the act of zazen. What use is sitting there when strife surrounds us, they ask? You're not "doing" anything, they say! Go out and help others!

    I tell you, Enkyo, I may have not learned much. But through personal experience, sitting and our practice brings us to our original nature. It really does. The mental chatter, the junk, the desires, the hatred, the jealousy, the anger. We learn to recognize them as thoughts, perhaps roaring waves, and instead of surfing on the waves, we choose to sit on the shore and observe and allow them to dissipate. And that to me is so powerful. With regards to the essence of your post, it has made me much more "raw". I am much more in-tune with my surroundings, my own suffering and those around me. It's much easier to help others when you recognize your own delusions.

    Many want zazen to reveal an earth-shattering revelation. They presume it will enable them to be a mystic or a sage, of some sort. They endeavor for the big, "E"-ENLIGHTENMENT. Why seek for what we already are?

    Dogen said that enlightenment is just intimacy with all things. My personal issue is that I tend to create constructs of what and how things should be. Zazen needs to be a certain way..compassion needs to look a certain way. When I drop the constructs, everything (including the bad stuff), is just the way it is supposed to be.

  35. #35
    Timo and Sam,

    Thank you for saying so, shorter and sweeter than I managed.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #36
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    Hi Enkyo,




    BTW: What do you mean by "the more talented ones in our sangha"? This practice is not about being talented if you ask me.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    Well said LimoLama; thanks for catching that one.


  37. #37
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    I tell you, Enkyo, I may have not learned much.
    The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Eventually, maybe I will learn enough to realize that I know nothing at all. Until that time, I will keep sitting. After that time, should it ever arrive, I will keep sitting.

    Gassho.
    William
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by William Anderson View Post
    The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Eventually, maybe I will learn enough to realize that I know nothing at all. Until that time, I will keep sitting. After that time, should it ever arrive, I will keep sitting.

    Gassho.
    William
    Wonderful words William, you speak my language.

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  39. #39
    Thanks everyone, Enkyo, Taigu, Jundo, others, for this thread. What a great thread!

    Wow, William. Wow, Sam.

    I love that Dogen quote, Enkyo. And I've felt many of the things you've felt about why practicing - what does it do for others? What about this: a small touch, a smile, some warmth, or thoughtfulness, or listening, or attention - that's it. Or this: knowing one is angry, sad, frustrated, knowing that, recognizing it, not taking it out on anyone else. That. It doesn't have to be big charity or pity or world-changing-anything, but just being there with yourself honestly makes the world better for others, even if it seems totally imperceptible. Or that's my take. And it's my take only sometimes, when I'm not busy beating myself up or being self-pitying or thinking how can I change the world or thinking how great I am or thinking how bad I am - when I drop all that crap and just go, Man, I'm lonely today, or Man, so glad to be around people today, or Man, so glad to be sitting in front of this wall, thank you, thank you. That's all. Not easy. David Foster Wallace would call it real freedom: "sacrificing for others in myriad petty, little unsexy ways every day," and if we choose not to do that, okay, but then we're just part of the "rat race...with the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing." It's that rat race that is problem: never truly being happy, never truly being depressed or sad, whatever, stuck in our "skull-sized kingdoms," tricking ourselves, getting ourselves into our little traps, because our little traps feel just so important and precious - I know because that's how they feel to me.

    Anyway, hope you're well.

    gassho,
    alan
    Shōmon

  40. #40
    Thank you all for you response and I now get the feeling my post has been poorly formulated. Can't do anything about that and I promised someone never to try to safe face afterwards. All your comments are true and reflect all that we share in our wonderful practice. So wonderful, I often wonder how to bring it even further.

    LimoLama: With talented people I mean some of us will someday will become great teachers ( and already are) and that at least is a clear and visible way of how to take the teachings out there and benefit all who want to join us on our journey of discovery.

    Clark: Good to hear you too see and feel the fruits of practice in our daily lives. At some point you may feel there is even more we can do with the insights and teachings we have so readily available to us at any time at our sangha.

    Sittingzen: You are quite right. There is no earth shattering experience and if one goes in search of it, chances are ones mind is just not ready yet and it fades after a wile. A memory that leaves someone craving for more. Gradually learning to see the beauty and greatness, the sacred in our daily lives and the potential that is within us, is all one can wish for.

    Not looking to become a saint and no, don't have the makings of one. But I truly want to one day be able to say sitting made me a more mature human. Gentle, slow to anger and quick to forgive.

    My questioning was not an attack or an attempt to belittle in a frustrated way. Our practice is awesome, this sangha is awesome and you know me well enough by now to know that kind of talk or intention would never be heard from me.

    I was talking about teaching someone how to fish or give someone a fishing rod instead of that one time fish. The acidic reaction to an honest question however, leaves me with a few pebbles to chew on.
    Gassho

    Peter

  41. #41
    As I hope folks know, I am a big supporter of "engaged" projects and charity work as a way to help our fellow Sentient Beings.

    But Buddhism really was not focused on charitable work for much of its history. That "compassion" and "saving sentient beings" = "social programs" and such is a popular misconception among many modern Western Buddhists. There were always people during its history who engaged in various civic and charitable projects, but the interest in charitable work really first began in the 19th century because of inspiration from and competition with Christian missionaries who came to many Asian countries then and (for their own reasons) engaged in charitable work such as building schools and hospitals. The Buddhists suddenly felt that they should do the same. Other modernizers of Buddhism continued the trend.

    However, the fact is that, for most of its history. Buddhists believed that Samsara was truly a lost cause, to be turned from and escaped (into the Pure Land of the next life, Nirvana or at least into a monastery). One could cure "Dukkha", but not really the underlining grittiness of Samsara that was the cause of Dukkha (e.g., one can transcend the Dukkha of sickness and death, but not sickness and death themselves). One "saved Sentient Beings" by helping them attain Enlightenment or to reach the Pure Land, rather than by feeding them (and even "Enlightenment" was not for everybody, because some folks' Karma was just that they had to have a hard life and that was their lot, maybe hoping for a better opportunity in a life to come). "Engaged Buddhism", with folks like Bernie Glassman, is really a pretty modern idea. Buddha and Dogen never opened a soup kitchen or a clinic as their central focus. Life was pretty hard and gritty in ancient societies like India, China, Korea and Japan ... and the monks tended to live in their monasteries without much they could do (even if they wanted to) to solve the gross social inequalities and famines and wars and sickness outside their doors.

    There were many exceptions however, such as these noted fellows.

    Master Fajing:

    Anytime and anywhere there was a disaster
    or famine, Venerable Master Fajing was present
    to provide food and relief supplies. One time the
    famine was so bad that thousands were dying
    from hunger. The situation was desperate and
    miserable. With great compassion, he went
    every place seeking donations and help, convincing
    the government to release the emergency
    grain reserve to feed the people. Unfortunately,
    the number of hunger victims far exceeded the
    quantity of food supplies. In the end, Venerable
    Master Fajing decided to let the hungry people
    consume parts of his body to survive. What an
    incomparably fearless and compassionate spirit
    he displayed!

    Master Zhiyi “The Wise Man”:

    Venerable Master Zhiyi was known for
    releasing fish and turtles into many “rescue
    ponds” he had built. He was also known to be a
    devoted philanthropist.
    In his biography, the following was noted:
    “One time he received sixty types of different
    offerings. Out of compassion and respect, he
    immediately gave them away to the needy in the
    hope that their happiness and welfare could be
    enhanced and that the country and society as a
    whole could prosper.”

    Master Fachun:

    During a famine, Venerable Master Fachun,
    disguising himself in lay clothes, worked as a
    laborer in villages and towns, and donated all his
    wages to the poor and needy. He frequently
    volunteered to clean the toilets and remove feces
    and excrement. When the road was damaged, he
    himself would undertake the reconstruction work.
    He also encouraged neighbors and residents to
    level and smooth out bumpy and dangerous
    roads for the convenience of travelers.

    Zen Master Tetsugan Doko:

    During the Tokugawa Shogunate period in
    Japan, Zen Master Tetsugan discovered that one of
    the main reasons why Buddhism was not as
    prevalent as it should have been was the shortage
    of comprehensive collections of Buddhist
    Tripitaka (Sutras). He vowed to raise funds to print volumes
    of Buddhist sutras. After years of effort,
    the amount of funds raised was close to the point
    where the printing of the sutras could have been
    started. Unfortunately, various disasters and calamities
    hit the area and people were dying or
    struggling to survive. Master Tetsugan immediately
    donated his entire sutra-printing fund for
    relief purposes. Later, he resumed his fundraising
    activities for sutra printing. After all kinds of
    difficulties and hardships, he was reaching his
    goal again. But then a major flood came. Many
    people were homeless and struck by diseases.
    Again, he immediately donated all the money to
    relieve for the flood victims. His unshakable
    determination motivated him to continue his
    fundraising activities despite all these setbacks.
    On his third attempt, he finally accomplished his
    wish to print the complete volume of Buddhist
    Tripitaka.
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-07-2013 at 04:17 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  42. #42
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That right.

    By the way, very good to hear of the good effect this Path seems to be having for you.

    Gassho, J
    It truly is, and I would say it is more bringing back ON the path. Thank you.


  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    The more we practice and sit, the more the universe benefits.

    If I cut myself while cooking you won't get the blood nor the pain. But I become aware and mindful that there is pain and that there are people having harder times than me.

    So I go out and do as much as I can for people.

    Granted, no matter how hard I try, I won't end hunger or wars. But just making an old lady smile is enough. Sending help for victims of natural events and knowing that at least they will have a meal, it's enough to keep me going and doing more.

    We sit and we get our heads cleared of crap so we can focus on service. We don't sit for our selfish selves. We sit for the universe.

    Or at least that's how I see it.

    I may be wrong, of course.

    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

  44. #44
    Enkyo - sometimes words get a bit snagged up here. You mentioned 'teaching someone how to fish'. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of this? Would you feel able to say a bit more. I think there may be some misunderstanding in what you were asking?

    I'm not sure you were only asking about compassionate action - engaged buddhism - but you were perhaps asking about compassion in another/ but related sense? I wondered if your 'question' came from a space of questioning how we can convey to others, who are in pain, the rewards of practice? You asked what you could tell the hungry guy on the street corner.

    But - I'm full of cold just now, so possibly not absorbing the many thoughts in this thread (there should be a symbol for head colds at this time of year)

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-07-2013 at 10:08 PM.

  45. #45
    Hi,
    I think the foundation of Enkyo's question is the distinction between self and other. When we sit, we sit for all, whether we intend to or not. When we help someone, no matter the scale, we help all. When we harm ourself, we harm all. Etc. So, do good in the world, but don't hang any Buddhism on it, that's extra.

    Gassho,
    Eika


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    [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage

  46. #46
    We don t sit in remote places and hermitages anymore, we sit in the midst of this life, embracing people s sufferings and joys, we are in this joyous participation, playing the game with all our energy. Yes illness and fate will have us all AND let s enjoy this, let s fight cancers and diseases, let s work for people out there who are just another form of ourselves. Let s forget ourselves and let the ten thousand things shine forth. Leaping into this, joy , joy, joy ( it is hard sometimes, and it is not meant to be easy anyway).

    Gassho

    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  47. #47
    Ah, Taigu and Eika and Willow and Kyonin say things so beautifully, while my words are so clumsy in this thread ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    We don t sit in remote places and hermitages anymore, we sit in the midst of this life, embracing people s sufferings and joys, we are in this joyous participation, playing the game with all our energy. Yes illness and fate will have us all AND let s enjoy this, let s fight cancers and diseases, let s work for people out there who are just another form of ourselves. Let s forget ourselves and let the ten thousand things shine forth. Leaping into this, joy , joy, joy ( it is hard sometimes, and it is not meant to be easy anyway).
    Yes Yes YES!

    I feel that the main reason that large scale charity and socially engaged work were not more heavily emphasized in centuries past was because some flavors of Buddhism were focused primarily on freedom by escape from a harsh Samsara world were there was little that anyone could do to improve things on a large scale even if they wished to do so. Now, things are quite different.

    I think that most Buddhists of the past certainly would have wanted to do more to fix social ills if they could have, but in feudal, traditional, rigid, military run societies without modern ways, technical means, modern knowledge and understanding, social freedom of action, with violent political forces fighting anyone who protested ... well, there was little that could be done in the face of war, violence, poverty, slavery, social inequality, disease and all the rest.

    Now, times have changed: We can be free of Samsara all while fixing Samsara in many ways. We can seek the Pure Land while bringing a bit of the Pure Land here. We can realize Nirvana all while knowing that Samsara and Nirvana are one.

    The Buddhists of the past would have done more if they could.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika View Post
    Hi,
    I think the foundation of Enkyo's question is the distinction between self and other. When we sit, we sit for all, whether we intend to or not. When we help someone, no matter the scale, we help all.
    Eika, you are a music teacher by profession. When you study your piano, are you not helping master those skills that you will pass on to others? Your Practice is for everyone. And the beautiful, harmonious music that you and your students make fills the world with beauty.

    Pardon the musical metaphor, but the universe is like One Great Symphony in which all our individual Practice and Playing merges into One. Your Practice, your harmony or discord helps make the Sound of the Whole. Your Practice and Teaching is for all of us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    The more we practice and sit, the more the universe benefits.

    If I cut myself while cooking you won't get the blood nor the pain. But I become aware and mindful that there is pain and that there are people having harder times than me.

    So I go out and do as much as I can for people.

    Granted, no matter how hard I try, I won't end hunger or wars. But just making an old lady smile is enough. Sending help for victims of natural events and knowing that at least they will have a meal, it's enough to keep me going and doing more.

    We sit and we get our heads cleared of crap so we can focus on service. We don't sit for our selfish selves. We sit for the universe.

    Or at least that's how I see it.
    That is how I see it too. Nine Bows.

    I feel that the Buddhists of old, even if they knew that it would not then be possible to change society on a large scale, always knew the preciousness of taking loving and helpful action in the situation right at hand ... the smile to an old lady, the single act of charity to one suffering individual ... that the small can often have great effects.

    Thank you all for saying it so much better than me.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-08-2013 at 03:14 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  48. #48
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    This was a nice thread to stumble upon before bed time. I can go to sleep with a smile on my face. Right now in my practice, it seems that there is so much to this zen thing that I couldn't explain it in a million years, and yet there is so little to it that it seems very silly when I try.

    Much metta to all my fellow crazy wanderers/Bodhisattvas tonight as we roll around in buddha nature
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  49. #49
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I am a latecomer to this wonderful discussion, and plenty has been said regarding the notion of Engaged Buddhism - I would like as a lowly novice priest of no rank to hone a jewel of statement made by Enkyo:

    Here is the problem: I have been so cocky on this forum in the past. Having an answer to everything. Since of late I am losing my taste for all of that. A question that won't let itself be asked or formulated, has nestled itself in my practice. Decided to drop all of that and start with the right questions but if I can't formulate it how can I answer it?
    This, my dear Enkyo, this point, the lack of formulated questions, is the wonderful, agonizing, delicious precipice of our practice. This is the beginning of prajna - not knowing - not knowing which question to ask - and being open to not knowing.

    Linji sat for three years under Huangbo's tutelage without once asking him about the Dharma. He sat for three years and never approached Huangbo with a question. The Head Monk finally pressed him to approach Huangbo and ask about the Dharma and Linji's reply was "I don't know what to ask - what should I ask him?" Linji's many doubts became one great doubt, one great question - the fundamental question - or in our Soto Zen, the Great Matter. And all of a sudden all our questions, our worries, our anxieties about the utility bills, our jobs, our ready answers to everything, fall away to expose one great question. Glimpsing the great matter of life and death all of a sudden becomes so clear that we wonder why we spent years tying up our minds so.... but that is our nature as deluded beings.

    Welcome to a wonderful new chapter of your practice - the precipice, groundlessness.

    Deep bows to you,
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 10-08-2013 at 04:01 AM.
    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

  50. #50
    Thank you Taigu, Willow and Yugen for at least considering `why would he ask that kind of question in this thread?"

    I know I should just shut up about this but here goes nothing:

    Glimpsing the great matter of life and death all of a sudden becomes so clear that we wonder why we spent years tying up our minds so.... but that is our nature as deluded beings.
    Yugen, that is precisely it my dear brother. That is precisely it. Deep bow for you patiently looking past my clumsiness and awkward way of putting it. I was just starting to think..... Oh well never mind. Seeing my words are a poor attempt to express something quite wonderful, your words cleared a very nasty fog for me. Thank you

    Trying to answer this great question for now in: "How?" feels like a first direction to me.

    Not "how do I fix the world?" Come on, everyone knows that that is not the point. Jundo and Taigu just spoke of both light And specks of dust.

    Not "How do I fix myself?" That is taking the way backwards.

    No, just : HOW? But, like Yugen said that is not the right question either. It can't be expressed! It's like the very precise moment you realize you forgot something. "OH! Wait a minute......"

    My exploring or rather presenting that question, seems to have offended many in this thread. How can this be?

    Lately my eyes are opening more and more to the suffering in this world. The world is dying again and again and again. So much misery and pain. So much injustice. Beautiful things seem to go first and great people always die too early. Yes, it does make me cry at times. Not a saint, just a sensitive human becoming more sensitive because of sitting.

    I go to the hospital sometimes and also serve coffee to old people once a week. My heart fills with pain and helplessness and this very question is there. HOW? WHY? WHAT? FROM WHERE? all compacted into one, into a silent boundless open space that is tight like a rubber band, ready to jump at any time. Well something like that. I'm not a poet.

    So again the question: HOW does sitting benefit all others beyond the ever so important little things we can do for each other? Is there more we can do? How does one take this new found space and make it move within the precepts? Or the precepts within this space? HOW?

    You mentioned 'teaching someone how to fish'. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of this? Would you feel able to say a bit more. I think there may be some misunderstanding in what you were asking?
    Willow: We give a man a fish and that is wonderful but we must keep looking to find a way to alleviate things in a more fundamental way even though we never can cure it all? Asking this already is compassion I think? I vow to save all sentient beings does not mean we pack our bags, go on the road and search for EVERY single one of them? That's hopeless and ridiculous! Trying and aspiring to do so however, to always have this wish and intention is what is in my heart always. Even though there is no real answer, since when can we NOT ask the question?
    Saying: "OH well, that's all samsara you know. Can't be helped, sorry about that. Have to go sit now, bye!" For me and I expect all others here can honestly say THAT JUST WON'T DO! So........HOW? The answer most probably is, There is no way. Good, I think you are definitely right, so again.... HOW?

    What the heck did I deserve a whack on the head like that for? Yes I question and will continue to do so because I want to bring it in close NOT because I want to reject or ridicule it!

    I think I'm going to sit outside that Starbucks soon and let the Buddha take care of Dharma business, outside the view and control of little old deluded me. It's all I can think of anyway.

    Thank you all for caring and replying all in your very own way AWESOMENESS!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

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