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Thread: Do you pray?

  1. #1

    Do you pray?

    Jundo's recent talk about Kannon made me wonder how many people on this forum pray to Buddhas/Bodhisattvas. Or if there were members who follow another religion along with their Zen practice, and pray to some deity.

    I'm now attending a Chinese temple. Ch'an and Chinese Pureland are almost always practised together, so the temple is always ringing with "Namo Amituofo" (Japanese=Amida Butsu, Sanskrit=Amitabha Buddha) and "Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa" (Japanese=Kannon, Sanskrit=Avalokiteshvara - the bodhisattva of compassion).

    I've been in pretty rough shape for the past while and am undergoing surgical evaluation for medically refractory epilepsy. The nuns keep saying that they are praying very hard to Guan Yin on my behalf, and got me a CD of the Great Compassion mantra to listen to over and over again.

    What does anyone else here think about the usefulness of prayer or mantra recitation? I feel deeply honoured and cared about when people pray for me, and I try to really put my heart into it when we recite mantras for other people. But I feel pretty uncomfortable (and maybe even a bit silly) about praying.

  2. #2
    Prayer is superstition, superstition is not Buddhism. According to the Buddha.

  3. #3
    sometimes i pray. may not be very Buddhist of me, but then again i thought part of the fun of practicing Buddhism was that it's not necessarily a religion, more of suggestions of things that worked well for some guy whom a lot of people held in high regard.

    do i pray to anyone/anything in particular? i'm not really sure, i kinda think we're all part of the same big thing, whatever it is, so maybe i'm just praying to myself, or at very least to something which is a larger part of "me", if there is even such a thing as "me".

    superstitious? maybe. but i suppose i've changed my prayers over the year to correlate with changes in my beliefs, and now i just rather hope i'll have some glimmer of understanding as to how any given outcome can be a positive force in the world (and save/free all sentient beings, yada yada yada - aren't the vows a bit of a prayer, too?)

  4. #4

    Re: Do you pray?

    Hi Paige,

    Quote Originally Posted by paige
    The nuns keep saying that they are praying very hard to Guan Yin on my behalf, and got me a CD of the Great Compassion mantra to listen to over and over again.

    What does anyone else here think about the usefulness of prayer or mantra recitation? I feel deeply honoured and cared about when people pray for me, and I try to really put my heart into it when we recite mantras for other people. But I feel pretty uncomfortable (and maybe even a bit silly) about praying.
    One of the recent talks was pretty much on this topic.

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/06 ... i-xli.html

    I do not pray, but I do 'wink' at the universe in recognition that I am trying my best to be a human being, and I pretty much accept what the universe brings my way. I do not know what (or not what) is at the controls ... if there is anything/one/whatever in control ... yet I wink wink. Perhaps the best prayer, or wink, just is to be grateful for what we have been given. :wink: The hardest part is to embrace what we have been given even if we do not care for it, and even if we do not know "why".

    I do believe that we need not chant, and need not pray, but that Zazen is a complete act with nothing to add to it. In this way, it represents your life, with nothing to add to it even as you feel something lacks.

    Praying cannot hurt. I feel that it is not necessary, however. I feel that if there is someone/something/whatever in the universe that wants my prayers, it/him/her can have my Zazen instread. Of course, because prayer cannot hurt, and might help, why not do it?

    Gassho (with prayer hands and a wink), Jundo

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I agree with Jun about it being superstition. I'd rather find insight in looking at the bees flitting around the flowers next to my house, or the clouds drifting by in the sky. The idea of asking any intercessionary being to do anything strikes me as vain, hubristic, and totally illogical.

    Kirk

  6. #6
    Hi Paige,

    Paige wrote:

    I feel deeply honoured and cared about when people pray for me, and I try to really put my heart into it when we recite mantras for other people.
    Personally I don't pray (to whom or what should I pray to???), but at the same time I wouldn't say it's worthless. Based on what you've said it obviously has a special meaning for you, so why feel uncomfortable? In any case, I won't pray for you, but I do truly wish you all the best for your health.

    Gassho
    Kenneth

  7. #7
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    The idea that there is some one / thing "out there" who will or might intercede to answer my need of the moment, but who did nothing to answer the cries of, say, those in Auschwitz or on the planes on September 11 is not one I find easy to live with, not least because it suggests a degree of capriciousness on the part of the person / thing being prayed to which is rather scary.

    But if it works for you, Paige, go for it.

    And St Francis of Assis said of prayer "When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing - nothing" which maybe suggests that prayer and sazen are closer than we (ok, I) might think.

    Gassho

    Martin

  8. #8
    I look a prayer from a different perspective. I don't pray but I do talk to myself.

    Sometimes my internal dialog is about wanting things to be different, about worrying about the future, about regrets from the past, about my anxieties, focusing on my many "fun defilements". Pretty plain to me that this type of dialog does NOT connect me with reality yet it is what I think of when I presented with traditional prayer.

    More and more my internal dialog has been changing towards being compassionate with my fellow humans, encouraging me to be present, to investigate my experience, to ask who hears and who thinks. This feels like a path worth exploring more. Hence my participation here. Maybe this is a non-traditional form of prayer but you won't catch me calling it that. :wink:

    Neither of these modes of dialog feels like the point of Zen. When Joko Beck uses prayer and zazen in the same sentence (Everyday Zen p.17), she is equating being in the moment without ANY dialog as both zazen and prayer. If this is what the word prayer means, I'm all over it like clouds in the sky ...

  9. #9
    Thanks everyone.

    I have feelings similar to Martin's - I find that discussions of miracles and the power of prayer tick me off. Like cancer patients who die just didn't pray as hard as the ones who recover?

    But I don't think my opinion really matters all that much right now. I mean, if someone says that they've added my name to their prayer list, I'm not going to say "Well, take it off! Prayer is just superstition." And if temple members say "So-and-so's father is dying, we're going to the hospital to say a sutra for him," I wouldn't say "Count me out, I don't believe in chanting." And when the nuns offer me a "mantra machine" that plays the Great Compassion Mantra on an endless loop, to put by my pillow when I'm in hospital - I'm not going to tell them to put the mantra machine where the sun don't shine.

  10. #10

    Re: Do you pray?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Paige,

    I do not know what (or not what) is at the controls ... if there is anything/one/whatever in control ... yet I wink wink.

    Gassho (with prayer hands and a wink), Jundo
    Or, as someone in another forum I haunt likes to say:

    "Dear God, if you exist, please help me! And if you don't exist…help me anyway!" ~ Brother Theodore

    And Thank you Kat.

  11. #11

    Re: do you pray

    Hi Keishin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    I do chant the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra. This is not a prayer and it doesn't ask for anything. It explains zazen in a nutshell.
    I do too, although in my case, it's typically 'silent chanting' (hmm, not sure if there's a proper word for it. :roll: ). I decided to memorize it about a year ago so I can chant/think it wherever and whenever I wish to, typically once a day. For me it's definitely not prayer, but more so a reminder or a guide post along the Way, and I experience it differently each time.

    Gassho
    Kenneth

  12. #12
    I'm definitely uncomfortable with the idea of praying for myself, of petitioning Guan Yin or whoever to intercede on my behalf.

    But -

    If nothing else, I think prayer can be useful as a way to "be with" the sick and dying (and their families). And being with the dying is, I think, absolutely necessary.

    Saying sutras at someone's hospital bedside may not do anything to help them find an auspicious rebirth, but it's a comforting ritual. I'm there, I'm saying something. Not anything original, but I'd have run out of original things to say pretty quickly anyway, especially if the patient's not capable of making conversation. I know other people bring in favourite books to read out loud, I think it's basically the same kind of thing.

    Kind of like how the significance of the cosmic mudra might just be "Ya gotta do something with your hands!"

  13. #13

    do you pray

    Hello Paige:
    I really resonated with the words 'be with' because I think that is all we ever get to do. And I think when we fully do it, there is nothing else for us to do!
    There is no need to distinguish between the well and living and the ill and dying--being with is being with--nor is there someone or a situation more deserving of 'being with' than another.

    Everything you do, every circumstance you find yourself in you are 'being with' because that's all there is.

    In my experience, it's when my stinkin' thinkin' is going on that I end up with a gap between 'me' and what is. When thoughts just bubble up and away, they don't cloud my view, but when I get caught up in not only adding on conjectures and suppositions to thoughts, but then judgements about myself (or others) because of my conjectures and suppositions--well let me tell you, it's more entertaining than any film Hollywood could produce and just like Hollywood films, ain't any of it real!

    When reading a sutra at someone's bedside in hospital, just read a sutra at a someone's bedside in hospital. Who knows about auspicious rebirth in the future? I do know there is rebirth moment by moment--my cells regenerate--even as I am aging--there is still more of me regenerating itself than not--could this moment by moment rebirth be anything other than auspicious?
    Everytime you open your mouth it is fresh and original, even if you've said everything before--just like sitting zazen on the cushion--each moment is fresh and like no other.
    Conversation takes place on many levels more than just spoken words between people. Without a single word uttered, rich conversations can and do take place.

    What stood out in your comments, for me, was the central aspect of 'being with,' thank you.

    It sounds as if you are doing hospice work, or work of similar nature. It is very important work.
    My sister was caring for her father in law in her home, she was not trained in this area and now recognizes that she experienced 'burn out'.
    I urge everyone I know engaged in this field to take good care of themselves!
    gassho
    Keishin
    and thank you for 'being with' the forum and for starting this topic going!

  14. #14
    Thank you, Keishin.

    "being with" is "being with", like you say, and is the most important thing we can do. whether with someone or with the task at hand.

    which is why "multi-tasking" becomes so difficult. :?

    Gassho. cd

  15. #15
    Hi All,
    When I think of prayer, I think of contemplative prayer as advocated by St. Francis, Thomas Merton, Keating, etc. It's the kind of prayer that brings you into God's light so that there is no separation between you and God.

    However, I was just poking around online to find some cool quotes about prayer and came across a great debate in the Christian community as to whether or not contemplative prayer is actually prayer or the work of the devil. It seems that the evangelical crowd is either skeptical of contemplative prayer, or even vehemently opposed to it.

    I'm inclined, like Merton and the others, that being closer to God in the form of quiet, meditative-like prayer makes more sense. I don't see how "asking" for anything is beneficial since God already knows what you need.

    Anyway, I'm not Christian, but I found the argument amongst the community interesting. In fact, it seems the definition of prayer is a difficult thing to nail down.

    I hope everyone is well, *wink*
    Eric

  16. #16
    The "devil" "god" "deities" are all human constructs. They are a fiction that impedes awareness, an alternate reality that is idealism at work.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    The "devil" "god" "deities" are all human constructs. They are a fiction that impedes awareness, an alternate reality that is idealism at work.
    Hi Jun,

    I would say that what you say is likely so (I won't know for sure, if a human can ever know for sure, until I get to heaven or hell ... if there are such places). But, overall, I would say that I think you are right.

    On the other hand, I would say that the other popular philosophical viewpoint these days (what my teacher, Nishijima, calls the religion of meaningless "materialism) is also likely wrong: namely, that we live by random chance in a cold, dark, dire & ultimately dead universe on a pointless piece of rock in a dusty corner of a deaf and dumb galaxy ... nothing but matter going no where driven by blind mathematical equations. That kind of thing. We are just something that universe happened to spit up like a bit of phlegm, or maybe a cosmic fart.

    Our Zen practice presents us many alternative perspectives (experienced perspectives) besides either of those. Here are just a couple to ponder: If we are not merely a tiny PART of the universe, but instead, if we ARE an UNBROKEN EXPRESSION of the universe (much as the manner in which your smile is not a 'part' of you, but is 'you smiling' ... get the subtle difference? ... you are the "universe you-ing") then every time you smile, this universe smiles. So, given that you are conscious, alive and find direction in your life, this universe is conscious, alive and has direction. When you cry, it is a crying universe, when you are angry or peaceful, it is a peaceful or angry universe.

    I mean, when you are angry or peaceful, you are "an angry or peaceful you." Our Buddhist perspective is much the same about all of Reality.*

    *(Note: Some people may object at this point that the universe is this really really big and old thing, compared to little tiny us ... therefore it shows our importance, or lack thereof in the universe. Well, thoughts of "big" and "little", "old" or "young" are some of the first things we drop in our practice. But that is a bit off topic. Just think that every place in your body is you, so it is with you and the universe ... something like that)

    As well, our Zazen leaves us with an awareness that we are beings of limited intelligence, just a tad smarter than ants, if that much. Our Zazen lets us embrace that fact, and not claim knowledge we do not have (like all those silly stories of gods and devils which you mention, which silly humans have invented over the centuries to explain things they could not grasp). However, our Zazen practice also leaves us with a deep, abiding suspicion that something more is afoot than that cold and dead system, that perhaps the dice were somehow loaded in our births and being, that our having popped up in the middle of time and space was not just a crazy happenstance of blind fate. (That does not mean that the universe was necessarily built with us at its center, as in that silly Adam and Eve Story. If the universe has a 'purpose', we may be here to serve its purpose ... not the other way around ... like the cells of your heart are born and beat, not for themselves, but for you. But, our Buddhism lets us know too, EVERY PLACE and TIME in the universe IS A CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, as much an expression of the universe as any other!)

    It is that "unknowing suspicion" that I 'wink' at sometimes. "Hey, universe," I say, "I do not know what the game is fully (or if there really is a game), but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I have my suspicions. Do with me as you will."

    Something like that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18
    Jun,
    Believing that gods, deities, devas, etc. are human constructs doesn't really matter. After all, they're not going to lead to the cessation of our own suffering. I think that's why the Buddha kept silent when asked about God or the origin of the universe...It doesn't matter either way.

    Gassho,
    Eric

  19. #19
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    On the other hand, I would say that the other popular philosophical viewpoint these days (what my teacher, Nishijima, calls the religion of meaningless "materialism) is also likely wrong: namely, that we live by random chance in a cold, dark, dire & ultimately dead universe on a pointless piece of rock in a dusty corner of a deaf and dumb galaxy ... nothing but matter going no where driven by blind mathematical equations. That kind of thing. We are just something that universe happened to spit up like a bit of phlegm, or maybe a cosmic fart.
    The problem with Venerable Nishijima's comment is that no-one believes the above. It is a construct developed by fundamentalist Christians, designed to suggest what atheists believe in (or don't believe in). I have never read such a nihilistic viewpoint, except in debates between Christians and atheists. It is part of the "atheists are immoral, because there can be no morality without God" meme. In fact, Nishijima's assuming that such a viewpoint is the belief of anyone means he has been taken in by the fundamentalists.

    That sort of comment really bothers me, not only because it is (if I may be so bold) clueless, and uses the rhetoric of one religious group to attempt to define what other people believe. It is, in fact, quite dangerous (IMHO) to spew such ideas around, because they only fan the fire of fundamentalism.

    Sorry to sound harsh, but I have to react to what seems to be someone who simply doesn't understand western beliefs.

    Kirk

  20. #20
    Hi Kirk,

    Yes, I admit it paints things with a broad brush, as two black and white extremes for purposes of conversation. Each person has their own believes, most somewhere in between and all their own. You are right. But I think it does nicely summarize the two prevalent trends for folks who are religious and those who are not in Western countries.

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Sorry, coach, I still have to disagree. The problem, again, is that it is an image created as a negation of all that is theistic. And I really don't know of anyone who would support that view. (Well, maybe Dostoyevsky...)

    For me, the opposite of theism is simply a universe that doesn't need a god; that can function without the supernatural. One that values humans for what they are, rather than for some mystical mumbo-jumbo that has accreted over the millenia.

    Kirk

  22. #22
    Kirk,

    With respect: though Nishijima's point is "broadly painted," there are in fact people that believe precisely what he suggests. I have met these people. I still know some of these people. I have been one of these people.

    The Religious Right does use and abuse this particular portrait as a straw man (straw person?) for all atheists. It's an innacurate and incomplete image of the atheist population.

    For me, the opposite of theism is simply a universe that doesn't need a god; that can function without the supernatural. One that values humans for what they are, rather than for some mystical mumbo-jumbo that has accreted over the millenia.
    I agree with you completely that this is an accurate and sympathetic description of a specific non-theistic worldview, namely a non-theistic worldview that you and I seem to agree on. But this is decidedly different from the particularly nihilist form of materialism Jundo & Nishijima seem to be describing.

    Gassho.

  23. #23
    I have a slight problem with Nishijima Sensei's insistance on 'religious' status for things which are clearly not considered religious and are, effectively, non-religious... do people, for example, generally pray to 'material' in 'materialism' (as they certainly do to 'Buddha' in some forms of 'Buddhism'?) Is 'material' seen as a beacon of hope for mankind? Is 'material' a teacher, a prophet, or a result of practice?
    I think it's important to note here that some materialists (Karl Marx, let's say) do in fact believe that material conditions, in themselves and largely independent of human will, will bring about revolution and freedom from capitalist oppression. Material conditions in themselves are studied like religious texts for the sake of prophecy. See Lenin's The State and Revolution, for example.

    My suggestion here, like my suggestion to Kirk above, is simply that this sort of worldview does exist (and I have subscribed to this one too! I did say I was a philosophical tourist, didn't I?).

    I understand that one might chafe at the implication that ALL non-theists "worship" material life, buuuuut...

    we live by random chance in a cold, dark, dire & ultimately dead universe on a pointless piece of rock in a dusty corner of a deaf and dumb galaxy ... nothing but matter going no where driven by blind mathematical equations.
    ...sounds like quite a few half-formed existentialists to my ears.

    This is a good conversation to have. Very stimulating.

    Gassho.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Harry

    I don't feel that I practice a religion, even though I practice what I think its fair to call "Buddhism", but I would never suggest or argue that another Buddhist was non-religious if he/she didn't feel that way... it seems like it would be bad manners.

    "Religion" is a very loaded term at this stage, I think it is wise to use it carefully.

    Regards,

    Harry.
    Hi Harry,

    Yep, we are just slicing the meaning of words, and painting with an overly broad brush some very complicated issues. When it comes to peoples' beliefs, there are about 6.6 billion (the current world's population) varieties, I think.

    Nishijima never has made much distinction between a person's religion/philosophy/worldview. He says, rightly I think, that almost every individual holds some value judgments deep inside about the universe and our human place in it. The interesting point he makes, I believe, is that everyone is just ultimately making some major suppositions, even the people who think that they are being modern, scientific and rational about it all.

    So, for example (to go again, for a moment, to wide extremes), if one person says that the universe is run by a god named "Fred" based primarily on conclusions of faith, then (I would say) that person may be jumping to superstitious conclusions. As well, if a person says the universe is dead, dank and dreary, pointless and without a creator, that person has little better evidence to back up of his or her position, I think (mainly because humans are slightly smarter than ants, and really have no idea what is going on any more than an ant can understand modern physics). Furthermore, statements that the universe is "without meaning or purpose" are just as much personal value judgments as those that the universe "has meaning and purpose". Each is in the eye of the beholder, and furthermore, are human-centric judgments that may have little if anything to do with what is really going on in the universe (which may be beyond any of that).

    The interesting point (to me anyway) is that nobody escapes Nishijima's defintion. So, for example, even a fellow "in between" who generally believes in the theory of evolution, scientific method, and considers himself an agnostic on questions of diety is (in the end) just making certain inevitable, major value judgments, half-informed calls and suppositions, interpreting the meaning behind scientific facts (e.g., Darwin's ideas means the universe is operating blindly and without direction vs. that Darwin's system is itself the product of something with direction and purpose) thus relying on a bit of faith of his/her own.

    I would say Harry is a good example. In the end, his opinions on the topics we are now discussing are his value judgments, and interpretations, based on his personal reading of the facts. That is his religion/philosophy/world-view. Same for mine, and what I express here. Same for all half-smart/half-dumb human beings.

    It is easier to call a spade a spade, not a shovel (as each is a concrete object of generally agreed properties). It is much tougher to not engage in personal faith and value judgments when discussing the definitions and significance of more abstract topics such as faith, religion, science, life etc. etc. I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.S. - I want to underline that we are having a fun chat here, and I do want to emphasize that it has little to do with some unique "correct perspective" for Zen practice. I am not insisting that my, or Nishijima's definition of "religion", is something you must accept (that would be forcing our "religion" on you, asking you to drop your religion). In other words, we could all be right, all be wrong, yet still practice the Zazen we do around here without change. This is a VERY flexible practice, this Zen Practice.

  25. #25
    Oh, and Nishijima calls Buddhism a "religion/philosophy" of being and action, a kind of optimistic, positive existentialism ... just to be/act as a human being. On top of that, you can dress the doll in whatever "ism" hats and "value judgment" suit of clothes you wish. Our practice is merely to realize our "Original Face" prior to all that (the Christmas Tree itself) and that we can then live however we decorate it (whatever tinsel, shiny balls and popcorn strings we choose to to lace across it).

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    So, for example (to go again, for a moment, to wide extremes), if one person says that the universe is run by a god named "Fred" based primarily on conclusions of faith, then (I would say) that person may be jumping to superstitious conclusions.
    I met someone who used to mess up the Lord's Prayer as a child:

    Our Father,
    Who art in Heaven
    Harold be thy name..

  27. #27

    Re: do you pray

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    When reading a sutra at someone's bedside in hospital, just read a sutra at a someone's bedside in hospital. Who knows about auspicious rebirth in the future? I do know there is rebirth moment by moment--my cells regenerate--even as I am aging--there is still more of me regenerating itself than not--could this moment by moment rebirth be anything other than auspicious?
    Everytime you open your mouth it is fresh and original, even if you've said everything before--just like sitting zazen on the cushion--each moment is fresh and like no other.
    Conversation takes place on many levels more than just spoken words between people. Without a single word uttered, rich conversations can and do take place.
    Thanks Keishin! Having certain prayers or sutras to recite makes piling into the car with other temple members and driving off to the hospital much less stressful for me - I know what my 'job' is, and it doesn't matter how well I know the sick person.

    On our way back from a sesshin, our rented bus got stuck in traffic due to an accident and we chanted Guan Yin praise for the victims and the rescue workers. Which seems a reasonable thing to do - we weren't moving for 1/2 an hour anyway, and nobody'd brought a bridge set!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    What stood out in your comments, for me, was the central aspect of 'being with,' thank you.

    It sounds as if you are doing hospice work, or work of similar nature. It is very important work.
    Unfortunately, I've pretty much given up my charity commitments - my seizures are too frequent now, I can't give any assurance that I will be able to make it for the day and time I'm scheduled to work.

    Unless you want to count my baby-sitting my sister's three kids (she's pregnant and on partial bed-rest). They are little :twisted: s!

  28. #28
    Hi again Harry,

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    Dear Jundo et al,

    Yes, a person (me very much included!) will view the world in his/her own unique way for myriad reasons (reasons beyond a few 'ist' and 'ism' values...)

    But, doesn't Buddhism teach that we are also inherently of the same stuff, the now a bit trite: 'we're all one'?... Is this just another philosophy, a relative view, or an actual reality?

    Relative philosophies, 'ists' and 'isms', out of their real contexts seem quite dicey in religious territory. I am only interested in some forms of Buddhism because they seem to see beyond these superficialities to an inclusive whole.

    Regards,

    Harry.
    Yes, Buddhism lets us taste something so whole that it is even beyond all silly words such as "One". (What is a "one", after all, without two, three four.) It is Reality.

    And that "One" can sometimes come to be a Republican, a Communist, an Atheist or a Methodist. That is also Reality.

    Perhaps we might think of the universe as a salad, and you (Harry) as a slice of tomato. (Give me a break guys ... in this Zen biz, We've always got to reach for new references and metaphors ... So why not a salad? ;-) )We do not know how this salad came to be mixed ... whether by blind nature or by the hand of some cosmic Salad Chef or something else (I have my suspitions). Whatever the origins, the leaves are green (a few sometimes wilted), the peppers ever generally fresh, the dressing well balanced save for some naked spots, and the seasoning not overly done ... if you don't happen to catch a fork full of pepper by chance (okay, guys ... humor me!).

    Now, is the salad not fully a "whole" and "one", even though it is not a single ingredient and flavorless? (I hope that was worth waiting for! ;-) ) Does it not need each of its Harry tomatoes, its walnuts, its oil and it tart vinegar for it 'saladness'??

    The salad is both the salad and all the salad contains, and all are the salad and each is itself ... and the whole is whole. I think.

    So, please think of our Zen Practice at Treeleaf Zendo as salad tasting lessons.

    Gassho, J

  29. #29

    do you pray

    Hellos to everyone!

    I experience it as Buddh--Is m, it's about the IS ness, of the whole enchilada.

    gassho
    Keishin

  30. #30
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    In the abscence of any proof to the contrary, one has to accept whatever evidence there is. Therefore, should someone say that there is no proof that a god exists that runs the universe, that person is not wrong; that person cannot be wrong, because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

    If we grew up in a civilization that hadn't descended from cavemen who had created gods to explain the thunder, would we even be having this kind of discussion?

    As to the universe "having a purpose" or not, that's a ludicrous concept in itself. Rocks don't "have a purpose"; nor do streams or stars. They just are. Suggesting the contrary is merely a projection of our hopes, desires or feelings of insufficiency. Purpose comes from thought; it comes from us. If you say the universe has a purpose, then you are implying that there is some level of thought that the "universe" has. Of course, one cannot rule out that the universe (or universes, to be more correct) is a thinking being, but since there is no evidence to suggest this is the case...

    The problem with this whole discussion, and with Nishijima's splitting of people into two artificial groups, is that it attempts to label things that don't even exist. While a few posters said they knew people with nihilistic views of the "universe", I say, "so what?". There aren't many people like that; only those who are interested in philosophy. Look at the average person in this world - what does he or she do? Eke out an existence. Worry about the quotidian. Out of 6 billion people, only a handful have time to have such thoughts. Of course on the other end of the spectrum, one can say that a majority of people do have superstitious views. Again, we've descended from those quivering cavemen who found creating a god (or many gods) to be helpful because it offered explanations for the unknown. But as we know more (we know that no god makes winds or thunder) we still can't, as a society, throw off the belief in other superstitions.

    Yet when Zen comes into the game, it says - if I understand correctly - that it doesn't matter whether there is or isn't a god; in fact, don't even bother speculating, because that's not what Life is all about. Look beyond those ideas, look through the veil of superstition and see what Is. So I think what bothers me most about Nishijima's comments is that he should be practicing what Zen preaches rather than spout a caricature of non-believers.

    Sorry to sound harsh, but I'm especially sensitive to the whole issue of god vs. all the bad people who don't believe in him...

    Kirk

  31. #31
    Hi Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It is that "unknowing suspicion" that I 'wink' at sometimes. "Hey, universe," I say, "I do not know what the game is fully (or if there really is a game), but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I have my suspicions. Do with me as you will."
    That made me think of a couple of papers I read a few years ago from Nick Bostrom (Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University) and Jürgen Schmidhuber (Co-Director of the Swiss Institute for Artificial Intelligence). In popular terms, what they're arguing for is a kind of 'Matrix' theory. The difference is, however, they're not science-fiction writers, but rather quite brilliant scientists.

    "This paper ('Are you living in a computer simulation' argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching the posthuman stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run significant number of simulations or (variations) of their evolutionary history; (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the naïve transhumanist dogma that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. " -- Nick Bostrom (http://www.nickbostrom.com/)
    "As a consequence of Moore's law, each decade computers are getting roughly 1000 times faster by cost. Apply Moore's law to the video game business. As the virtual worlds get more convincing many people will spend more time in them. Soon most universes will be virtual, only one (the original) will be real. Then many will be led to suspect the real one is a simulation as well. Some are already suspecting this today." -- Jürgen Schmidhuber (http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/computeruniverse.html)
    At the time I read those papers a few years ago, I found those theories quite disturbing. Now, I just think, so what? Even if they're true, I'll just continue with my practice as best I can.

    Gassho
    Kenneth

  32. #32

    do you pray

    Hello Paige!
    There were so many comments to read through that I missed your remarks (this is exciting--the view of all these views!--I see us all, fingers flying on keyboards--tap, tap tap tap, tap......tap taptappatappa tap...)!
    Frequent seisures--that can't be much fun--I imagine it to be like going in and out of a life tunnel...it must be something, those first conscious-again moments.
    Watching your sister's 3 kids....well now that's almost enough to go into a seisure just to get a break! (please excuse this humor of mine!!)

    Back on topic, do you pray.

    Well, as said above, I do chant the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra, and the Four Great Vows. When I sat with a different group among quite a few other chants they also chanted Hakuin Zenji's Song of Zazen which I very much appreciated, and Dai E Zenji's Vow for Awakening--
    which was the only chant which actually declares itself to be a prayer.
    Both of these I found to be very encouraging to my zazen practice.
    I don't chant them, but occasionally I do re-read them. There are certain phrases in particular I like to contemplate.

    The only 'prayer' as such which seems to come up regularly and spontaneously for me is 'may we all realize the Buddha Way together.'
    This is the very last line of some chant I've done with a different group.
    The rest of that chant escapes memory, but that last line has stayed with me, I really like it a lot.

    All of us, all together, right in this very moment, moment by moment nowness: Realization realized! (tap tappa tappa tap tap tap!)

    gassho
    Keishin

  33. #33
    To chime in more relevantly on the thread topic, I repeat gathas to myself before meals that make me mindful of the toil and suffering that brought the food to my plate. I also make an effort to 'look deeply' (as they say) at the food and see the entire universe in what sits on the end of my fork.

    I don't exactly practice oryoki or anything, but I try to 'eat mindfully.' Does that count as "Zen grace"?

    I enjoy attending the chanting services at my local Center and am making an effort (thanks to Brad Warner's helpful guide) to learn the Heart Sutra so that I can chant it before zazen at some point in the future.

    When I'm asked why I chant I bring up the old commercial with the yodeling guy on top of a snow-covered mountain. Someone complains to him that there's too much snow, it's too cold, so he steps outside and sings. The vibrations from his voice bring down the snow and the mountain underneath is uncovered.

    I'd like to think that chanting does the same to my mind.

  34. #34

    Praying

    I think the perfect prayer is "Not my will but thine be done." I'm not big on the "Thine" having a will and responding to requests, but I think surrendering one's will/ego is necessary in order to know peace and live compassion.

    I do think that prayer has some possibility of changing reality beyond myself (I like the idea of a participatory universe), but I'd still call the doctor fo appendicitis.


    I think the purpose of prayer is the same as the purpose of sitting. Less me, more of thee, all of us, on the bus.*

    FWIW, in many churches the sermon will be on prayer this weekend because of the assigned scripture for this Sunday.



    *I have no idea what 'on the bus' means beyond the Firesign Theater. I just added b/c it ryhmes.



    p.s. I know I've been posting a lot. It's newbie ethusiasm. I see it where I moderate a discussion also. I'll slow down after bit.

  35. #35
    Don,

    Please keep the wisdom coming. Keep it coming. Gassho, Jundo

  36. #36
    Nope, no prayers here. I let go of thoughts of the supernatural a while back, it's not something I need. Day to day life is all the ritual I require.

    But that is just me

    R

  37. #37
    I think the recitation of a mantra can have a lot of benifits in terms of directing concentration or focusing the mind. But, I don't think its has much to do with hocus-pocus, instead more of a mindfulness or training practice.

    The mantra and prostrations used in more esotreric and devotional schools definetly serve a real purpose for the practitioner. I've simply found that such practices are not a good fit for me.
    Well put, and I would wholeheartedly agree.

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