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Thread: When we take Buddhism out of Zen

  1. #1

    When we take Buddhism out of Zen

    From several experiences I came across, it seems like Zen had became a trend. It is trendy to be Zenny in many places. Zen to some people seem to be independent and has nothing to do with Buddhism. I believe Buddhism is essentially Zen so I don't see how Zen and Buddhism can be separated. The first moment the Buddha attain enlightenment, that was when Zen was born in my opinion.

    Now Zen means a lot of thing, it means just sit together and meditate for relaxation which isn't a bad thing. It means interior and exterior decoration, it means fashion.

    Do you think it is a bad thing that Zen doesn't necessarily has anything to do with Buddhism or any other aspect of Buddhism such as karma or rebirth at all anymore? Would this cause Zen Buddhism to deteriorate or does it actually promote Buddhism?

    Gassho
    Victor

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hello Chuan Ming

    You might want to check out some of Jundo's introductory videos in which he addresses some of these very questions. As for me, I think that many people are drawn to "Zen" for different reasons. Yes, relaxation being one of them. But is it so bad that they might also find that there is something deeper they might to learn about later? I think that this can be a doorway for many to discover more about Buddhism than they knew before. However, if they merely stop at relaxation then I think they are missing out on a great deal. There are movements out there, I think one is called Juniper , in which they are trying to "modernize" Buddhism by trying to teach Buddhist principles without so much Buddha. I am a bit of a traditionalist and a mystic as well, so for me, I think it sounds like catchy merchandise packing for the new hip crowd. What would Buddha say? I don't know, expect that I am not so sure he would be caught up with people following HIM, as much as exploring his truths for themselves.

    Gassho
    C

  3. #3
    Hello there Victor,

    I think we live in a pick and mix global society. I don't mind so much if others want to take certain aspects of Zen (like meditation) if they find it helpful.
    It would only bother me if I was a teacher of Zen specifically - and then I would want to be certain I was teaching all aspects of Zen as an expression of Buddhism.

    There is of course no definitive Buddhism - only the underlying teachings of the dharma of the Buddha which ground all the different expressions. I feel it's a shame that the core of the teaching is often put to one side, though certain aspects do underly what is being put across.

    Knowledge and understanding evolves in interesting ways and perhaps this 'phase' of modernizing buddhism will be followed by a return to more traditional or mystical elements.

    Gassho

    Willow

  4. #4
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Hi Victor,
    I see where you're coming from. Zen is sometimes paired with the "image" people have of Zen (I'm sure we all do that at times). It used to bother me...sort of a "they don't get it" mentality. But now I look at it differently. Maybe it will help some people find peace in their hearts and minds. Maybe they will explore it more. Or possibly that this is how Zen Buddhism is beginning to manifest itself in modern society....a seed to grow at another time.

    Gassho,
    Entai / Bill

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

  5. #5
    Hi Victor,

    I do feel that "Zen" or "Mindfulness" or other like meditation courses and therapies stripped of their Buddhist elements miss the real "powerhouse" medicine this Way has to offer, to wit, the embodying of basic Buddhist Teachings on "non-self", "Emptiness" "Dukkha/the Four Noble Truths" "Impermanence" the Precepts and Bodhisattva Vows and others. There must be a doorway (doorless doorway) to Awakening.

    Without allowing someone to fully transcend the small "self", and to truly embody "Emptiness", meditation is often little more than a relaxation technique or watered down medicine.

    David Loy and Ron Purser had some additional criticisms of the "mindfulness" movement in a recent essay ...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-pu...b_3519289.html

    Now that being said, folks for centuries have turned to Zen just to relax, improve their health, improve their performance in their career. Is that a problem? Well, perhaps not, especially if it leads some (as mentioned by Clark) to delve deeper later on. It is a shame that they are missing the real power of the Practice, like someone who gets on an airplane but never takes off.

    And just a final note: I did not include mechanical views of Karma and detailed descriptions of "post-mortem rebirth" in my list. Like many modern Teachers, I am rather agnostic on the topic and do not take those as central to Practice in this life, here and now.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hello Victor,

    yours are important questions. Although it is IMHO precisely the impossibility of finding definite general answers that makes the questions so powerful.

    Where does Buddhism stop and where does superstition start?

    Where and when does western empricism become arrogance?

    How does all this relate to my experience here and now?

    There is tension in those questions, but only where the tension in our hearts is most strong and most frustrating - there you can find out and lose who or what you really are.

    Every frustration a gateway to freedom and certainty. Your freedom, and your certainty. Not someone else's second hand reality.


    Keep asking, keep wrestling.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  7. #7
    Hi TreeLeaf Sangha,

    Thank you for all the response and inputs.

    I came from a Pure Land tradition which is why I think my view is so conservative and so traditional sometimes, especially regarding things such as Karma and rebirth, it is something that became a part of me since I had been around it for so long. But I can definitely see why it isn't exactly the focus in Zen, since Zen focus on here and now. As stated by Entai, the modernization of Zen could very much be how Zen Buddhism is manifesting itself in modern society and we probably can see Buddhism do that throughout its history. However with that said, I feel like the separation of Zen from Buddhism is like separating a child from his parents, or a river without a source.

    In my opinion, when Buddhism is removed from Zen, it is like removing all the flavors and seasoning from a dish. It isn't the same and doesn't taste the same. I guess like stated above by many and Jundo, it is watered down. Infact like it was stated above, That is not to say it still can't benefits people. Infact, as modern society evolves, most of us are probably trying to move away from what is considered "Mystical" in order to seem less backward and outdated. Maybe the watered-down Zen is what needed in order to have some people practicing it who would not otherwise.

    Like Hans said I can't really answer since everybody is different and what works for one doesn't work for others. Personally in my foolish opinion, it just seems rather sad. I think the only way I can describe how I feel about it is as if a civilization rich in customs and tradition forgetting its ancestor and history and what all these customs mean.

    Gassho
    Victor

  8. #8
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Thank you for the lesson.


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

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuanMing View Post
    Maybe the watered-down Zen is what needed in order to have some people practicing it who would not otherwise.
    To echo what's already been said, but I'm compelled. lol

    Zen is completely useless. Watered down zen used to help someone feel good or to be more productive or fashionable is not Zen. In the end, Zen is Buddhism. This is zazen Buddhism.

    I can understand filtering out the superstitions like reincarnation, but using zazen as a means to achieve something, like a comfortable state, isn't zen.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  10. #10
    Hi Risho,

    I agree with you but what you said makes me wonder. In Buddhism, we all pretty much ultimately aim to realize enlightenment and be awakened to our true nature. When we are awakened we enter a state of mind called Nirvana which is the state of ultimate bliss. Is it really that far from the fact then that some people use zen meditation to achieve a comfortable state of mind?

    I often wonder then if rebirth is filtered out, would that affect the need for practicing Buddhism? I suppose that is for another day.

    Gassho
    Victor

  11. #11
    No you don't understand what I'm saying. Zen is completely useless. It is not used to realize some other elevated state, enlightenment, belief in rebirth or what have you. Just sit, not "Just Sit for...".

    Really. Just Sit

    Gassho,

    Risho

  12. #12
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuanMing View Post
    we all pretty much ultimately aim to realize enlightenment and be awakened to our true nature. When we are awakened we enter a state of mind called Nirvana
    hmmm. When I bend my knees, I try to aim straight enough that my butt hits my Zafu. Otherwise, no aims, no gaining ideas, no thoughts of betterment. Zen is useless.

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

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    No you don't understand what I'm saying. Zen is completely useless. It is not used to realize some other elevated state, enlightenment, belief in rebirth or what have you. Just sit, not "Just Sit for...".

    Really. Just Sit

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Ah that is it. Nothing to understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    hmmm. When I bend my knees, I try to aim straight enough that my butt hits my Zafu. Otherwise, no aims, no gaining ideas, no thoughts of betterment. Zen is useless.

    Gassho,
    Juki/William
    Very useless indeed.

    Gassho
    Victor

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuanMing View Post
    Hi Risho,

    I agree with you but what you said makes me wonder. In Buddhism, we all pretty much ultimately aim to realize enlightenment and be awakened to our true nature. When we are awakened we enter a state of mind called Nirvana which is the state of ultimate bliss. Is it really that far from the fact then that some people use zen meditation to achieve a comfortable state of mind?

    I often wonder then if rebirth is filtered out, would that affect the need for practicing Buddhism? I suppose that is for another day.

    Gassho
    Victor
    Hi Victor,

    I can only speak for the little cornerless corner of Buddhism which I occupy, but many Zen Teachers I know have a rather interesting way to express this Buddha state of "ultimate bliss". It is not some mere perpetual la la happy happy joy joy of little human judgment. When the needs of the little selfish-self are transcended, 'tis rather a kind of Bliss (Big "B") that holds, dances and flowers as all the small human moments of smiles and tears, bliss and distress. One need not even feel happy all the time, and there is a certain "Bliss" as one sits broken hearted next to the casket of someone loved. It is a Peace that holds peace and war, all the round and sharp pieces of life. No need to feel merely "peaceful" all the time.

    Nor do I think that such perpetual bliss and perfect peace is possible to human beings ... even to the human being who was "buddha" ... absent the imagination of later religious writers. On the other hand, Bliss and Peace are perfectly available to any of us ... you and me ... to experience first hand on the Zazen cushion, on a mountain, in our living room or casket side.

    In our strange Shikantaza way, we attain this unattainable by the radical stopping and ceasing of "useless" Zazen. We realize Enlightenment when we give up the hot pursuit of "Enlightenment" and perfectly rest.

    On another note ... many modern Zen Teachers do accept "rebirth" in the perpetual instant by instant sense, by which we are constantly reborn. As well, I do not know about the "heavens" or "hells" which may exist after we die, but I do see the hells that many people create for themselves (and those around them) right in this life ... and the heavens and hells that people experience right between their ears.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-15-2014 at 06:06 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Hi Jundo,

    Thank you very much for sharing your insight. I think at the moment I still have problem wrapping my mind around the idea. I guess the only way is to sit and experience it myself.

    On rebirth, what you said remind me of a Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh that said rebirth happens every moment, we are dying every moment and reborning. Maybe it is true that it seems useless to worry about what happened after death when suffering is now.

    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Victor

  16. #16
    Hi all

    Sometimes I get sad when I see Buddhist teachings watered down (as I see it) or Zen used more as a buzzword than a description of a form of Buddhism. However, if I try and control how the word is used or whether other people are drawn to authentic practice or not I will likely drive myself mad. Sure, if people use the word wrongly on a Zen Buddhist forum, it is good to correct it, but otherwise I find it easier to concentrate on my own practice and setting as good an example I can of our form of Soto Zen than worrying that someone has set up a business called Zen Waterfalls that is doing a roaring trade.

    Gassho
    Andy
    Last edited by Kokuu; 01-15-2014 at 06:20 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    In our strange Shikantaza way, we attain this unattainable by the radical stopping and ceasing of "useless" Zazen. We realize Enlightenment when we give up the hot pursuit of "Enlightenment" and perfectly rest.
    Dude, frame this!

    Many gasshos,

    Kirk
    -----

    I know nothing.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi all

    Sometimes I get sad when I see Buddhist teachings watered down (as I see it) or Zen used more as a buzzword than a description of a form of Buddhism. However, if I try and control how the word is used or whether other people are drawn to authentic practice or not I will likely drive myself mad. Sure, if people use the word wrongly on a Zen Buddhist forum, it is good to correct it, but otherwise I find it easier to concentrate on my own practice and setting as good an example I can of our form of Soto Zen than worrying that someone has set up a business called Zen Waterfalls that is doing a roaring trade.

    Gassho
    Andy
    I totally agree Andy,



    Willow

  19. #19
    You know, Buddhism has been being "watered down" for 2500 years. Perhaps, in some ways, the situation is better now than ever. The "golden good old days" were not necessarily so good or golden as our idealized pictures of the past. How?

    Well, first, outside of monasteries for lay folks, there were very few lay men who had the time, energy, education, opportunity, availability of an easily accessible community of teachers and fellow practitioners. The situation was even more restricted in traditional, conservative socieities for women! For those lay folks who did have some calling toward Buddhism, the best option was a "faith based" flavor which called for prayer and faith in a "Buddha in the sky" such as Amida or any of the other countless Buddhist figures who, with prayer, would take one to a "pie in the sky when you die" heaven or better rebirth. There is nothing wrong with that, and I do not criticize, just in the same way that I do not criticize the very similar beliefs of Christianity (so extremely similar on some many fronts, in fact, that I believe the need for such beliefs are hard wired into us somehow). These pathways are what some people need and benefit from, and the right medicine for so many. **

    And what did people pray for? Why, health, wealth, success in business and for their children. The same things that people pray for now. The same feeling of peace, contentment and being protected that people "mindfully" meditate for now.

    Even within the monasteries of the past (even the monasteries of today in many traditional places), the situation was far from golden. It was a mixed bag and, in some ways, your opportunities to practice (dear reader of this post) are better now than the folks had back in Dogen's day right at Eiheiji. How? I had a series on that, pointing to the "plusses and minuses" of monastic practice ...

    Lay practice now is not the same as lay practice has been in centuries past.

    One vital reason for monasteries and the like ... from the earliest days of Buddhism ... was an absence of other chances for communication with teachers and fellow practitioners, and a lack of other means to encounter "live teachings". In other words, wandering ascetics walking hither and thither in the Buddha's time needed to gather during the rainy seasons to "touch base" and reconnect with the group after being on their own for weeks and months. In the middle ages in China and Japan, one could not easily encounter a Buddhist teacher, teachings and opportunities to practice without going to live full time in a monastery. This is just no longer the case. Members of our Treeleaf Sangha, for example, can have 24 hour contact, using modern means of communication, with teachers, teachings, sittings, robe sewing, Sutra and Text study, sharing with fellow practitioners times of sickness and health and smiles and tears, Samu, spiritual friendships, "sharp stones crashing into each other" ... much of which, until the current times, was denied to people outside monastery walls.

    In some important ways, sincere lay practitioners today may enjoy better surrounding circumstances for practice than did the average monk in, for example, Dogen's day. Things in the "Golden Age" were not so golden as we too easily romanticize. Most monks back then were half-educated (even in Buddhism), semi-literate (or what passed for literacy in those times), superstition driven, narrow folks who may have understood less about the traditions and teachings they were following ... their history and meaning and depth ... than we now know. The conditions for practice within old temples and monasteries might have been less than ideal, many teachers less than ideal, despite our idealization of the old timers. Studying Sutras by smoky oil lamp, living one's days out in Japan or Tibet while having no real information grasp on China and India and the customs of prior centuries, living in a world of rumor and magic and misunderstanding (in which all kinds of myths and stories and superstitions were taken as explanations for how the world works), unable to access a modern Buddhist library, or to "Google" a reliable source (emphasis on making sure it is reliable however!) to check some point, or to ask a real expert outside one's limited circle, being beholden to only one teacher at a time (no matter how poor a teacher), with no knowledge of the human brain and some very important discoveries of science ... and after all that effort ... getting sick and dying at the age of 40 from some ordinary fever. (Can you even imagine trying to listen to Dogen Zenji recite "live" a Shobogenzo teaching from way across the room ... without a modern microphone and PA system and "Youtube" to let one replay it all? I suppose many never heard a word!)
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...onastery-Walls
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post58431
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post58800
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post59637

    Practice where and when you are ... the best place ... the only place possible.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** PS - Not all interpretations of so-called "Other Power" Buddhism (worship of Amida and the like) are simply a matter of prayer for "pie in the sky" and wish granting. For many, the doctrine is much more subtle, and the walls between so called "other power" and "self power" drop away. In fact, for many hundreds of years, Pure Land/Amida Buddhism and Zen have been all mixed together in places like China, Vietnam and Korea (not so much in Japan for historical reasons). As you may know, "Zen" is usually considered "Jiriki" Buddhism (self-power) in contrast to Pure Land "Tariki" (other power) Buddhism. For those who blended the Paths, all the doctrinal gaps and seeming inconsistencies between so-called "Inner Power" Zen and so called "Other Power" Buddhism as in Amida were worked out, basically by saying that inner is outer and outer is inner ... and anyway, what is "in" or "out"? Amida and his "Pure Land" Heaven "stand for something beyond words ... so we cannot say exactly what even if felt in the heart. Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh from Vietnam and many others teach a mix of Zen and Pure Land. D.T.Suzuki, toward the end of his life, mixed Rinzai practice with Pure Land. Here is a little on the history ...

    http://www.cloudwater.org/index.php/...bined-practice

    Here is a bit on the perspective of blending the two (by Thich Nhat Hanh) ...

    http://www.urbandharma.org/ibmc/ibmc2/zpzp.html

    Or course, there is the truth that there is no "self" or "other", that "going in" is but "reaching out" to the universe, that (as some Zen chants go) the "Pure Land is always right here". Sure.
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-16-2014 at 01:07 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Hans wrote:

    "but only where the tension in our hearts is most strong and most frustrating - there you can find out and lose who or what you really are.

    Every frustration a gateway to freedom and certainty. Your freedom, and your certainty. Not someone else's second hand reality.

    Keep asking, keep wrestling.
    "

    Wonderful - this speaks to me very profoundly Hans. Thank you for the teaching.

    Deep bows
    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

  21. #21
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


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

  22. #22
    Thank you, Hans, too. Going to the core of the most tense energy in my body, in my heart, has been the toughest part of practice for me lately. But also the most penetrating. These are the places where I am surely self-clinging. As it goes in the meal chant, "may all be free from self-clinging."

    Bows. Shinzan

  23. #23
    Good thread. I like what Hans says about tension - I think that is right on.

    The thing to be wary of, I think, is when Zen (or any other form of Buddhism or Meditation) becomes a product. I think that's dangerous and irresponsible. On the other hand, if people want to meditate to relax, to me, there is nothing wrong with this. They may not be practicing Buddhists, but I don't see it as a bad or dangerous thing. It would be like criticizing a runner, who feels "meditative" while they run, b/c they aren't really practicing Buddhism - it doesn't make sense. But yeah, when zen costs something, when you have to pay to learn meditation, when, because you're paying, you believe you're getting enlightened, well, that that me is manipulative and exploitive. It's one of the things that drew me to Treeleaf. Jundo and Taigu give of themselves, freely, without asking for anything in return, and that, to me, signals something sincere and honest, and something I'm deeply grateful for.

    Anyway, interesting thread, and obviously, I think about this from time to time. There's a place in my town called Zen Garden Yoga, which seems to teach like three or four different things, none of them having to do with Zen - is it bad? Not really, unless they're telling people they'll get enlightened by paying for some classes.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  24. #24
    Another small concern is people who shop through the "spiritual marketplace" as if it were a cafeteria in which they skip the nutritious veggies, heading right over to load up their tray at the desert counter! Or, folks mix and match without any sense of what goes with what ... a little Tibetan this, a little Zen that, a bit of a Hindu thing here ...

    Mixing and matching is a fine art. One must pick and choose from the spiritual cafeteria well, not just head right for the desert section while neglecting the vegetables that are not as sweet on your tongue. Also, bananas are lovely and ketchup is lovely, but a little strange to mix for most (although, someone pointed out once, some folks do! It is just that the flavors just need to be blended carefully) ...



    I fear that, these days, we live in a world of "fast food" cafeteria Buddhism and spirituality, where people head for the stuff they want (high in spiritual sugar and fat), not what they necessarily need ... demanding the fast "drive thru" in their busy day because they have no time or patience for a slow, nutritious cooked meal. People want instant gratification, as if Buddha were a bag of chips.

    One should pick the Path suited for one ... and GO DEEP! DEEP! MEASURELESSLY DEEP! Do not neglect the garden veggies, even if a little bitter sometimes. Experience is a good teacher, if one is a person of some sense and fine taste. If one is mixing and matching to choose a menu, do so with the eye of a master cook ... not grabbing whatever one sees off the convenience store shelf.

    Many Buddhist Paths are pretty much a complete path. One can mix and match, but needs to be careful. For example, when sitting Shikantaza, when on the cushion ... THAT IS ALL THERE IS, THAT IS ALL NEEDED, WHOLE AND COMPLETE! Of course, one can get up from the cushion of Shikantaza and do other things ... bow down to Mecca or pray to the Goddess Isis. But when on the cushion sitting Shikantaza, just sit Shikantaza ... one does not sit Shikantaza while contemplating Allah or praying to the Goddess.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Turning from food to sports analogies ...

    Treeleaf is a Dojo where a particular style is taught. It is much like saying that one can play tennis, but also like football, and both may be great sports. It is just that one needs to be careful about playing football with a tennis racket, or tennis with goal posts. Some ways do not mix well.

    And while football may be a lovely sport, here in the Treeleaf Tennis School we play tennis ... not football. So, leave your cleats outside.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


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

  26. #26
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    I have really been enjoying this thread and the conversation it has generated. It hits a bit home with me as I was originally drawn to Zen after my doctor recommended finding a "way" (pun intended!) to reduce stress. In essence, I was slowly killing myself with anger and frustration, which led to a vicious cycle of stress and a few unsavory health-related side-effects. It was the meditation method that first drew me to Zen, and I had no clue as to how it was related to Buddhism. In fact, in my mind's eye I associated Zen purely with the martial arts and Yoda from Star Wars. I pictured a bunch of Samurai sitting around and meditating before going out to kill (or be killed) and coming to terms with their fate by way of said meditation.

    Anyhow, it was a friend of mine who suggested I look further into Zen for the benefits of "quieting the mind" and gaining the benefits of meditation. Well, being the visual learner that I am, I went out and bought a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living" by Eve Adamson and Gary McClain (not a plug....no ties to the authors, however I do recommend it to anyone "new" to Zen). It was there that I read through the connection (or non-connection) between Zen and Buddhism and the history (or legend) of Siddhartha and his teachings. I encountered the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path. Well, they struck a cord with me and so here I am!

    So in keeping with the original topic of this thread, I was initially drawn into Zen by a stereotyped impression, whereby I stumbled across the "deeper" teachings of the Buddha. It has opened my eyes, and it has most certainly helped me to improve my sitting, as well as how well I ride the waves of life. Therefore, I believe that even if someone becomes involved in Zen for reasons other than Buddha's teachings, that eventually she or he will benefit from just sitting. The rest will follow.

    Gassho,
    Tim

  27. #27
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    This is a interesting thread that has turned into an important question for me about my Buddhist practice, which recently I have found myself really questioning. It is good to reflect and challenge oneself and for me this thread has really helped bring me back to why I actually do this practice.
    I arrived here at Treeleaf, perhaps like many of us, as a result of some questioning about this 'reality' of this life, which was as I read about, just as Gautama did....a man. For me, what was so wonderful was that he questioned himself and he questioned his experience and he rationalised the cause and effects around what reality he and his understanding of it created...happiness or suffering. So he simply challenged this, over and over. He investigated further until the end of it and then developed his teachings. But he always left it up to other individuals to make their own investigations, in fact he insisted on it. He simply pointed the way and gave us an indication of what he had discovered on the way and the path that he had used. This basis of personal investigation is what I liked. Now, we can investigate using Buddha's methods and it is up to us how far we take this. We may stop at mindfulness, as it creates peace we may think we seek... and that is OK in my book, or if we so wish we can question further and really challenge the reality we THINK we experience. In the end zen is one of the methods we can use. I used to think that if he could do it then so could I! Modern life is not so simple, and the tensions and challenges that are part of any form of investigative and creative work impact in all aspects of my life, even more so when making a first-person study of what this is that is here! So this path gets harder, really hard. Even with experienced teachers it's still up to me to go further. How can you take Buddha out of zen? Only by taking taking yourself out of zen!
    So I just practice shikantaza zazen and the practice here at Treeleaf, the dharma of the Buddha, and it's great to do this with like-minded friends! Gassho.
    Last edited by Heisoku; 01-18-2014 at 08:49 AM.
    Heisoku
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  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Victor,

    I do feel that "Zen" or "Mindfulness" or other like meditation courses and therapies stripped of their Buddhist elements miss the real "powerhouse" medicine this Way has to offer, to wit, the embodying of basic Buddhist Teachings on "non-self", "Emptiness" "Dukkha/the Four Noble Truths" "Impermanence" the Precepts and Bodhisattva Vows and others. There must be a doorway (doorless doorway) to Awakening.

    Without allowing someone to fully transcend the small "self", and to truly embody "Emptiness", meditation is often little more than a relaxation technique or watered down medicine.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Spot on methinks

    Thank You Jundo

    In Gassho

    Taikyo

  29. #29
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    You know, Buddhism has been being "watered down" for 2500 years. Perhaps, in some ways, the situation is better now than ever. The "golden good old days" were not necessarily so good or golden as our idealized pictures of the past. How?
    I couldn't agree with you more! The closest physical Zendo ( other than mine) is 90 minutes drive from me. If I had to learn all I have absorbed here in the last 6 months from books at the library, assuming I could get them, it would have taken me much longer. I don't think what is possible now, even WITH a closer physical Zendo, would have been available to me as little as 20 years ago. Thank you all for participating in this Sangha!



    Gassho
    C

  30. #30
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Another small concern is people who shop through the "spiritual marketplace" as if it were a cafeteria in which they skip the nutritious veggies, heading right over to load up their tray at the desert counter! Or, folks mix and match without any sense of what goes with what ... a little Tibetan this, a little Zen that, a bit of a Hindu thing here ...
    I agree again! you're on a roll I saw so much of this crossbreeding spiritual junkie type in Southern California. Jack of all Trades Masters of None. And very little real wisdom practice or understanding either. I tend to believe that it is more like a spiritual buffet where people are only picking the parts of each the like or agree with, and discarding the rest. They want to appear spiritual, but not really do any of the work, or as you say eat their veggies. ( I also happen to see the same phenomena with many alternative health practitioners) You have to put your roots down somewhere eventually or you never hit water!

    Gassho
    C

    PS I think I will eat my veggies instead of the banana ketchup.

  31. #31
    Member Liang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I do feel that "Zen" or "Mindfulness" or other like meditation courses and therapies stripped of their Buddhist elements miss the real "powerhouse" medicine this Way has to offer.

    Gassho, Jundo
    This is a bit of a dilemma for me so any help would be appreciated. I came to Zen from "mindfullness" as a psychological, clinical practice and I completely agree that Zen is much more.

    But next week I return to finish my last semester of schooling before diving head first into therapy with my own clients. I was going to get a certification in mindfullness and there is plenty of evidence supporting it's help. But how do I approach that now? It would be absurd, on multiple levels, to prescribe a Zen practice to my clients! But yet, it will feel odd to give just mindfullness exercises when I know there is so much more.

    Luckily I have a good mentor in a professor there who can help me walk this line. But any thoughts?

    Gassho,
    Fred

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by MyBody'sNameIsFred View Post
    . But any thoughts?
    Prescribe mindfulness exercises as usual. If they ask you three times where they came from tell them you are not a Zen teacher but you heard about a place called treeleaf...

    They can also find out about it on their own.:-)

    Gassho, Jishin

  33. #33
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Awesome thread, don't know what else to add, but I have enjoyed everyones' posts here.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Prescribe mindfulness exercises as usual. If they ask you three times where they came from tell them you are not a Zen teacher but you heard about a place called treeleaf...

    They can also find out about it on their own.:-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    Excellent advice Doc.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    They can also find out about it on their own.:-)
    Gassho, Jishin
    I agree with this. If this practice has touched one deeply it is natural to wish to share it with others, but sometimes that is not what is needed.
    Express your practice not through your words but through your silence. Sometimes this reaches deeper.
    Humbly,
    Seiryu

  36. #36
    By the way, some of the "Mindfulness" Teachers admit that they are trying to present traditional Buddhist teachings in a rather rephrased way in order to better present the same in a secular world, public schools, for non-religious settings and such. I think that is a good thing, and certainly better than those selling a kind of "Mindfulness meditation" missing all the fine Teachings, merely guiding people to relax a little, be better and more productive greedy corporate drones or less emotional soldiers for the pentagon!

    In fact, I would not mind to develop a more secular, less obviously Buddhist form of "Just Sitting Mindfulness" based on Shikantaza, but without the incense, statues, Kesa and robes, chants in foreign languages from old Sutra books, overt references to "Buddha" and such. This would also be an attempt to keep as much of the Traditional teachings as possible, but to present the Practice in a way better suited as an introduction for secular, non-religious people and settings. Compassion, Wisdom, the harmless and healthful ways of the Precepts can be presented without, for example, over reference to "the Buddhist Precepts".

    What do I see as the basic difference between such "Just Sitting Mindfulness Meditation" and some of the "Mindfulness" courses out there now? It is a very subtle different, but something I believe we really have to offer. Namely, much of the Mindfulness training out there now seems based on those flavors of Buddhism which emphasize degrees of reaching and attaining ... attaining insight, attaining peace or a goal of relaxation. "Just Sitting" would, in our Shikantaza way, emphasize a bit more the radical non-attaining, sitting in completeness and wholeness, dropping of goalness, being one with "just how things are"-ness of our Shikantaza way. In fact, many of the existing Mindfulness courses do seem to emphasize that "non-attaining" to one degree or another (and have been influenced partly by Zen approaches), so our way might just bring that front and center more. People who are suffering would truly benefit from the beauty and sacredness (even if a non-religious sacredness) of sitting wholly in/with/as this world as it is.

    I would like to work with some mental health professionals on developing such a "secular Shikantaza" in the coming years.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2014 at 02:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I would very much like to see the, Jundo.

    Gassho,
    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    -----

    I know nothing.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Now that would be an interesting project Jundo. I am working with some 11 year olds with 'general anxiety' which is not severe enough to be referred to any mental health primary care (they are overloaded).
    I was exploring some calming strategies with them involving qigong as a standing breathing exercise (I already run two lunchtime sessions and are quite popular - particularly among the quieter and more vulnerable children). However as they said you cannot do this in class or before national exams. So we have been trying sitting abdominal breathing for 10 breaths with awareness, then We tried body scan which they can do and finally we tried a simple 'walking on the beach' visualisation, which was a disaster as they are so agitated that visualising 'pictures' was not possible.
    Now I have been thinking of what you have suggested about just sitting (and breathing) as an additional 'move' in my qigong to introduce the idea of sitting and breathing meditation without calling it meditation (this is considered a yoga in some Christian groups and can be quite contentious). I think it is how to introduce the activity of shikantaza without the religious aspect since many people are not prepared or informed enough about what it truly does. Too much superstition and suspicion around still! I would be very interested to be involved in such a project and I would be able to involve learning mentors, art therapists, primary mental health workers and educational psychologists with an interest in this. Gassho.
    Last edited by Heisoku; 01-19-2014 at 08:45 AM.
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  39. #39
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Hi again, here is a link to current research in the Uk which comes out of a local Uni linked to Cambridge. http://mindfulnessinschools.org/rese...hools-project/
    You may also wish to look at the .b (DotB) project which seems to be the main mindfulness in schools approach here in the uk. http://mindfulnessinschools.org/what-is-b/
    These look very organised but look at the prices! At least £750 for a certificate to teach!
    Gassho.
    Last edited by Heisoku; 01-19-2014 at 09:02 AM.
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  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I would like to work with some mental health professionals on developing such a "secular Shikantaza" in the coming years.

    Gassho, Jundo
    I agree with others. This would be great. Would very much like to see it happen.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  41. #41
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    I agree with others. This would be great. Would very much like to see it happen.

    Gassho
    I would too. In fact, I'd like to somehow be part of seeing it happen.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  42. #42
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    As someone with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) , I would love to have had an approach to Zen in my youth. I am convinced that a "secular" Shikantaza may have helped me out when I was having difficult times "taming" my mind. Zazen has worked wonders for me since joining Treeleaf, and I would love to see sitting help others!

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  43. #43
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hey Tim! I have ADD too, and some other people here.

    Shikantaza isn't really about taming the mind... nor is it really secular or sacred (in my current understanding) many times I still frolick around like a madman in my head and all thoughts are violently asserting themselves, but they're just thoughts. . . Whole and complete, even when they drop away like my brain is shedding skin 900000 times a second.

    Nevertheless, it has personally helped me learn how to let go of thoughts, and not be enslaved by them as much. I learned that I don't really need to react to my thoughts, that I don't need to believe them all the time (or at all sometimes)... most of all that they never last forever...and thus not -me-

    So, who am I, really?

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  44. #44
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hey Tim! I have ADD too, and some other people here.

    Shikantaza isn't really about taming the mind... nor is it really secular or sacred (in my current understanding) many times I still frolick around like a madman in my head and all thoughts are violently asserting themselves, but they're just thoughts. . . Whole and complete, even when they drop away like my brain is shedding skin 900000 times a second.

    Nevertheless, it has personally helped me learn how to let go of thoughts, and not be enslaved by them as much. I learned that I don't really need to react to my thoughts, that I don't need to believe them all the time (or at all sometimes)... most of all that they never last forever...and thus not -me-

    So, who am I, really?

    Gassho, Ben
    I agree with that! While I understand that Zen is not about achieving anything, when I sit I am getting better at just letting things go, even when I am under constant barrage of thoughts and feelings. I no longer cling to them....I am able to recognize them and let them disappear on their own accord. Some moments are better than others but I have found a certain comfort in the teachings of Buddha as well as in zazen.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  45. #45
    Sounds like both you fellows are A-OK,

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  46. #46
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi all.

    I am loving this thread, but I took a few days to sit with it. Here are my two cents, which are similar to what's already been said.

    When I began running I was desperate to do anything to improve my health. I didn't know how I was supposed to run, but I knew I had to do it. I had seen the results of it in many friends and in the ads. Running makes you better. Running heals you.

    So I read a couple of blog posts and started only to hit myself against a wall again and again. Injuries were a daily thing.

    Then it hit me. A couple blog posts wouldn't cut it. I needed more quality information. So I started reading books and asking the pros.

    One step at a time I sucked less and less. I still suck, of course. But at least I now have a guru to slap me in the forehead whenever I'm doing something stupid (which is most of the time)

    So I think the analogy holds true. If you want McBuddhism, sure, you can get it. Tons of enlightenment and mindfulness, just like a Big Mac has tons of salt, chemicals and grease.

    You can take some elements and change names and labels, to use them in your daily life.

    But taking Buddhism out of Zen is like drinking decaff coffee. You only get a spiritless and bland stuff.

    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

  47. #47
    Wow lots to read, and take in.

    As a new practising Buddhist and sitting Zazen; I can maybe be a little candle shedding some light on the topic.

    The popularity of "Zen" has grown, and become almost a creature of it's own these days. I've had many friends, and family comment on how I'm just "following a trend."

    That makes me quite sad. I agree that people have watered it down, some for the good intention of understanding in their own way; others for benefit of themselves which isn't very Buddhist at all. I have to be honest, I've been overwhelmed sometimes with the amount of knowledge on each of the part of Buddhism and Zen. But, (and of course in my own personal opinion) being Buddhist is expanding one's knowledge, while being kind, compassionate and mindful. Each of those things requires much concentration (as a novice) and Zen (again in my own personal opinion) is a way to find that balance. Sitting Zazen; helps a new mind sort things out and understand themselves. For a more senior Buddhist, it is to remember clarity. Each of which to better themselves to better the people around them. Being "Zen" is fully and completely useful, for those who find it that way.

    A river will follow the same path for decades, but the water travelling that path has come from a different place each time, whether it a cloud that has travelled many miles, a deer with dew stuck to it's legs going for a drink. It is the same with human beings. We can all follow the truest, oldest path of Buddhism and the traditions, but with each generation; is new knowledge and understandings. Our fundamentals are all the same, we each just like a different flavour now and again. To be a good chef, is to be knowledgeable of different ways to cook the same dish.

    Gassho,
    C

  48. #48
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    C,

    There's no senior Buddhists or novice Buddhists. Just people who have either practiced for a long or short time. Some have been assigned some kind of rank, some have not. For some a few years is a long time and for others it is barely stepping over the gate. For some who have practiced a long time, there are days when they do not feel the clarity that you mentioned, and those who have barely practiced at all may be in the very midst of Nirvana, full of Beginner's Mind.

    Zen is usefulness and uselessness together.

    To be knowledgeable of different ways to "cook" is good, however most good chefs pick a favorite method and hone their skills with time, perhaps making something new and their own out of it, perhaps not.

    迎 Geika

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    C,

    There's no senior Buddhists or novice Buddhists. Just people who have either practiced for a long or short time. Some have been assigned some kind of rank, some have not. For some a few years is a long time and for others it is barely stepping over the gate. For some who have practiced a long time, there are days when they do not feel the clarity that you mentioned, and those who have barely practiced at all may be in the very midst of Nirvana, full of Beginner's Mind.

    Zen is usefulness and uselessness together.

    To be knowledgeable of different ways to "cook" is good, however most good chefs pick a favorite method and hone their skills with time, perhaps making something new and their own out of it, perhaps not.

    Please listen to this very experienced voice! Lovely!

    The only comment I would add is that there is no "rank" and we are all "the person of no rank".

    Some folks just lead the class because they have sat in the lesson before, or drive the Buddha-bus because they are a bit more experienced in turning the wheel and pushing the pedals.

    An old Koan by Master Rinzai, quoted by Master Dogen in Shinji Shobogenzo No. 147 ...

    There is a true person who has no rank. He is always going in and out through [the sense portals of] your face. A beginner who has not experienced this should look carefully. Look!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-21-2014 at 01:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  50. #50
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Some days experienced. Some days not. Many bows. The koan will probably sit me a few days. Thank you, Jundo.
    迎 Geika

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