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Thread: I rank, or maybe not

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    I rank, or maybe not

    I took a hiatus from Treeleaf for a while and during that time the book club and its study of koans moved on without me. Ah, I came back and have been trying to catch up. Back when I left the koan chapters moved slowly, a lazy river of zen contemplation, but now Jundo is cranking them out once a week or so, a damn Zen white water rapids. Anyway, I got stuck on a rock and he closes off those discussions stranding folks like me on lonely boulders, so I am here to throw out a line (ok, actually a couple lines) to any passing stranger on the Zen path alongside those rapids.

    A man of no rank (#38) seems to me a lot like the precept about humility. If I am equal to you (whoever you are), then our rank is equal, and since I am equal to all then I (nor you) have any rank. True? I watched the dharma talk and when you asked for questions I raised my hand, violently. Hey Jundo, apparently your Zen mastery could not see me. What kind of rank is that?

    Also, I have been trying to catch up to the current koan, but I like to read one and think about it a while, write about it a bit in my own journal after reading others' thoughts, and then proceed when I am ready. I know I could just skip ahead, but I want to do them in order, and then it hit me that maybe by doing them in order I was trying to "rank" them as accomplishments, which that koan says to drop. The need to finish a koan seems like its own koan, I know, and same with they must be done in order. I guess it's just another example of delusions we unknowingly carry around with us (37, 38, 39, 40…). Anyway, being a solutions oriented guy, I just flagged the ones I have missed and will try to get back to them when I can.

    Rafting along on a rapidly moving boulder, I gassho to you all
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  2. #2
    Hi Alan

    A long time ago (possibly in a galaxy far far away but probably not) I realised that the solution to the competitive nature of life that existed was to have no truck with it. By refusing to compete in the my car is better/faster/newer than your car thing (without falling into the 'I'm living with less than you' ego trap!) or 'my kids are doing better at schools than yours' game, you step outside of that system. Your car and children can then be enjoyed for what they are, and other people's too ("You have a new car and it makes you happy, good for you!"). Of course, it is impossible to achieve this completely but becoming a person of no rank seems to be a work in progress (at least it is for me and old habits die hard). Even the Buddhist path holds dangers for wanting to be a better student, complete koans the fastest/best etc.

    For me, koans are something to be lived rather than solved. My koan teacher (confession, yes I have one) calls it 'keeping company with a koan'. Coming up with an answer is pointless unless it changes how you see things. Although I know it goes against the orthodoxy here and I may well be deluding myself, I find that koan practice and shikantaza work well together, just not at the same time! Also, the longer you keep company with a koan, the more it becomes part of you, just like with some Zen stories and teachings.

    Happy rafting, Alan! Remember you don't have to ride each wave though!

    Gassho
    Andy

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Al,

    Waters just flow regardless of our raft. I sometimes read the koans, sometimes I don't.

    Then I sit and realize all is an un-pierced koan. Sit some more and then keep on rafting.

    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

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Al you are a man of true rank!
    You have always shown your big open heart here on the forums and on TED.
    So a true man of no rank?
    Gassho Heisoku.

    PS I agree with Kyonin that the koans will come and go. The fact is they are always there, like boulders to rest on or to jolt us out of our lazy flow!
    Heisoku
    平 息

  5. #5
    Hey Guys,

    Koans come and go, each Koan holds all Koans, no order of priority, nothing in need of catching up on or catching! No grades, no rank.

    Thus, although some might pass and some will fail, all sentient beings "pass" no pass-no fail the impassable barrier. Take each one or all, all as one. Go infinitely deeply and sincerely into the Koan right before you (the Genjo Koan).

    (Hey, another Koan right there! )

    Gassho, Jundo (from Amtrak train to Boston)
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-21-2014 at 03:44 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Thanks Jundo
    Gassho Heisoku
    Heisoku
    平 息

  7. #7
    Thank you Jundo.

    Al - I haven't been able to keep up with the Koan study either - but they will always be there and we're probably living them
    all the time without even thinking about it.

    I like what Kyonin writes 'Waters just flow regardless of our raft' - feels so very true.

    Gassho

    Willow

  8. #8
    No one above, no one below, all of the same substance.

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    It's funny that I was thinking similar things today & then this thread popped up! I often fall into the trap & often have to remind myself that I've fallen into it again.

    Gassho,

    Simon

  10. #10
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Hi Alan,

    Glad to have you back!

    Gassho, Shawn
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  11. #11
    Alan,
    It has been so helpful to me that Jundo prefaces each koan discussion with, "number 43 continues endlessly, and here comes number 44....." These vignettes seem to get under my skin and have a funny way of swimming back up into consciousness at interesting times. Some become favorites, like "Guishan calls Master" and the old woman who burned down the hut. I've even had occasion to write a few myself, kind of like a handle for a lesson I seem to need to revisit often enough. Some of my personal koans are titled "Manning Park," "Rengetsu at Wanda Lake," "Nothing Personal," and "What fresh hell is this?"

    _/\_ Shinzan
    Last edited by Shinzan; 07-22-2014 at 05:57 PM.

  12. #12
    I don't know why, but I read this a couple days back, and I started thinking about it today. Although I've been participating in the koan study, I always feel like I haven't had my full say... so no matter what each koan never ends. It's like it adds another dimension to practice... it's another way to view things.

    As Jundo says --> although koan (n-1) never ends, we start on koan (n).

    It's good that we feel we have more to do.. it means we are growing.... we can see more and do more in our practice. There is no final word in Zen because Zen is alive... we can have our final word of Zen when we die I suppose. hahaah But Kannon has many arms, so she'll always be alive, finding new ways to practice through us.

    To paraphrase Dogen from Genjokoan, if we feel full of dharma we are not practicing; we are practicing when we are hungry for Dharma.

    Ok I stopped being lazy and looked up the quote from the Nishijima/Cross translation. lol

    When the Dharma has not completely filled our body and mind, we feel that the Dharma is abundantly present in us. When the Dharma fills our body and mind, we feel as if something is missing.
    Anyway thank you Alan... you've given me a new way to think about koan study that I would not have realized had you not posted this.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  13. #13
    Hi All,

    I agree, these koans do come back for me too. Suddenly weeks later, some circumstance will give me a whole new angle on it. But alas, then the thread is closed. I do think the book club needs to keep moving forward, but there's no reason we can't have a thread for any koan after the book club is locked, and come back to it as we gain new insights, and let newer folks chime in too. Actually, I'm not sure why the threads get locked, but I'm sure there is a reason... I imagine it's just to keep us moving forward together, instead of getting all strung out among the different koans?

    Can I just say, I've never studied koans before, and I find everyone's insights sooo helpful. The book club is such a nice, gentle way to get into koan study. So grateful for you all!

    Then I sit and realize all is an un-pierced koan.
    Nice.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Hi All,

    I agree, these koans do come back for me too. Suddenly weeks later, some circumstance will give me a whole new angle on it. But alas, then the thread is closed. I do think the book club needs to keep moving forward, but there's no reason we can't have a thread for any koan after the book club is locked, and come back to it as we gain new insights, and let newer folks chime in too. Actually, I'm not sure why the threads get locked, but I'm sure there is a reason... I imagine it's just to keep us moving forward together, instead of getting all strung out among the different koans?

    Can I just say, I've never studied koans before, and I find everyone's insights sooo helpful. The book club is such a nice, gentle way to get into koan study. So grateful for you all!



    Nice.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    Hi Lisa,

    No reason to lock them. Maybe I will unlock them. Then you can unlock them in other ways.

    I will do it now.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  15. #15
    Woo-hoo! Christmas in July!
    Thanks Jundo, hope it doesn't make things too confusing.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Woo-hoo! Christmas in July!
    Thanks Jundo, hope it doesn't make things too confusing.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    Oh, it will, with people jumping in here and there. So be it.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  17. #17
    Uh-oh, can of worms!

    Gassho
    Lisa

  18. #18
    Love this flexibility.

    gassho
    john

  19. #19
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Aha! The koan of multiple koans at once has been unleashed!
    To take it all in must mean samsara abounds
    Which must mean enlightenment threatens.

    From what I understand of those old koans so far, some old Zen guy would SHOUT about here….

    I like the koans. In general, I like narratives with messages, even more if they have some historical value, and even more if they also have some spiritual value that applies today. But more than all that, I like hearing the input of others on how all of that applies to them individually. To me, that's really what Treeleaf koan study is all about. I believe in the greater collective study rather than the individual perspective that is, by definition, a delusion.

    So let's share that study and apply some koans...
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  20. #20
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    "A man of no rank" has nothing to do with humility!

    When you just don't become such a man, when you realize you are it, how could it be humble?


    People should sometimes just not read good old Dogen, but practice what he teaches!

    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.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post

    People should sometimes just not read good old Dogen, but practice what he teaches!

    Gassho

    T.
    Thank you Taigu. This makes me smile. For instance, I remember reading Mountains and Waters Sutra and being so confused. Just stuck in my intellectualizing, trying to figure it out. What does "mountains walking" and "mountains flowing" mean? Really trying to get a grasp on where the dharma was here - what was his point, his meaning? Then in the last couple weeks I've gone on several hikes. I hiked a mountain and in that was "mountains walking." In that were mountains flowing. Then there were mountains walking in my neighborhood when I walked the dog, or the dog walked me, the next night.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  22. #22
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I've noticed even being humble can come with ego. The "oh, look at me, I'm so humble" This is where the practice of mindfulness comes in, as I examine the innermost motives of my heart.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    I hiked a mountain and in that was "mountains walking."
    A mountain stomped all over me on a recent hike. Need to get in better shape before the next hike.

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji
    心​ Shin
    #SatToday

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    A mountain stomped all over me on a recent hike. Need to get in better shape before the next hike.

    Gassho, Jishin
    Oh yeah, there's also "mountains stomping" too, a topic Dogen egregiously missed.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  25. #25
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    A very good one, Joyo. But on mindfulness...a witness,still.
    Oheso, this is so interesting.
    Mountains stomping is a great and neglected Teaching of Dogen.

    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.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joyo View Post
    Hmmm, I've noticed even being humble can come with ego. The "oh, look at me, I'm so humble" This is where the practice of mindfulness comes in, as I examine the innermost motives of my heart.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    "the pride of humility" as a friend used to refer to it.

    gassho, oheso
    The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me. -​Meister Eckhart

  27. #27
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Oh Taigu, how I have missed you!

    In another thread I talked about the difference Maya Angelou made about being humble and humility, and it exactly echoes what you say here. To act is not as same as to be...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    "A man of no rank" has nothing to do with humility!

    When you just don't become such a man, when you realize you are it, how could it be humble?


    People should sometimes just not read good old Dogen, but practice what he teaches!

    Gassho

    T.
    Bows to my old friend
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  28. #28
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    My bad, in another thread I talked about her views on being a Christian versus christianity. Somewhere else I read her distinction between being humble and humility. I can't find that now, but I did find this page of quotes on that topic.
    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/au...a_angelou.html
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Oheso View Post
    a nice metaphor. I heard of a Asian person's surprised reaction upon first hearing the phrase "conquering a mountain" and told how in their tradition the mountain was characterized as lifting the climber's feet as they ascended.

    gassho, oheso
    You are walking the mountain, the mountain is walking you, there is just mountain walking mountain, mountain mountaining mountain, walking walks walking. All Buddha Mountain.

    And as one walks ahead or stops to rest for a time, gets lost or finds a good path, moves smoothly or stumbles and falls in the mud ... all is Buddha Mountain. How does one try to "get to" Buddha mountain when one stands on ... nay, stands AS ... Buddha Mountain? Where is Buddha Mountain to search for Buddha Mountain?

    Yes, we may get lost or fall ... but there is nothing to lose and no place to fall apart from Buddha Mountain. Nonetheless, we get up, dust off, try to find the trail again ... push on, making real progress with time. A climber of many years is better equipped to stay on the good trails ... not fall off the cliff or into the poison ivy ... than the neophyte climber of but a day (Thus, although there is no place to go and nothing to attain, we do get better at it! ) )

    Some folks believe that Buddhahood is many mountains away ... and it will take many lives to reach there. Because they believe so, it becomes so.

    Some folks find that Buddhahood was in every step, and the stepping itself ... but that there are ways to climb like Buddha and ways to climb like a fool. One may wander after mirages and go in circles, lost in Ignorance, Anger and Greed ... or one may find the Mountain as one's True Self, One's True Home.

    We make real progess in discovering that the point of the hike was never the destination, but the hike itself ... each step by step the Total Arrival and Total Realization of Buddha Mountain.

    And so with sitting Zazen, just sitting sits sitting with no place to go. 'Tis not our usual human "goal and destination" way of viewing life.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-27-2014 at 06:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  30. #30
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    doumo arigatou gozaimasu, Sensei, for this teaching and for rescuing my accidentally deleted post.

    gassho, oheso
    The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me. -​Meister Eckhart

  31. #31

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    You are walking the mountain, the mountain is walking you, there is just mountain walking mountain, mountain mountaining mountain, walking walks walking. All Buddha Mountain.

    And as one walks ahead or stops to rest for a time, gets lost or finds a good path, moves smoothly or stumbles and falls in the mud ... all is Buddha Mountain. How does one try to "get to" Buddha mountain when one stands on ... nay, stands AS ... Buddha Mountain? Where is Buddha Mountain to search for Buddha Mountain?

    Yes, we may get lost or fall ... but there is nothing to lose and no place to fall apart from Buddha Mountain. Nonetheless, we get up, dust off, try to find the trail again ... push on, making real progress with time. A climber of many years is better equipped to stay on the good trails ... not fall off the cliff or into the poison ivy ... than the neophyte climber of but a day (Thus, although there is no place to go and nothing to attain, we do get better at it! ) )

    Some folks believe that Buddhahood is many mountains away ... and it will take many lives to reach there. Because they believe so, it becomes so.

    Some folks find that Buddhahood was in every step, and the stepping itself ... but that there are ways to climb like Buddha and ways to climb like a fool. One may wander after mirages and go in circles, lost in Ignorance, Anger and Greed ... or one may find the Mountain as one's True Self, One's True Home.

    We make real progess in discovering that the point of the hike was never the destination, but the hike itself ... each step by step the Total Arrival and Total Realization of Buddha Mountain.

    And so with sitting Zazen, just sitting sits sitting with no place to go. 'Tis not our usual human "goal and destination" way of viewing life.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you and Gassho.
    Shōmon

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