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Thread: Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment, Realization!!!

  1. #1

    Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment, Realization!!!

    Hi,

    Lynn, on another thread, asked THE BIG QUESTION!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    Well, apart from my personal doubt about the significance and reliability of someone's seeing "visions" (hallucinations?) in front of Buddha Statues.... .
    Yes. I was wondering how this type of thing could have possibly have been taken seriously? How does one authenticate another's "visions?"
    What of a kensho then?

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn
    Well, if you had never in your life tasted sugary, vanilla ice cream, yet asked someone to describe --- in words alone --- the coolness and sweetness of that, could it be done? I dare say not! The only way to truly understand what is the taste of that ice cream is to taste it on one's own tongue. So, anything said in words will not capture the experience.

    That being said, however, the closest that words can come to conveying the experience, I believe, is through writings such as Master Dogen's Genjo Koan and the like (small plug, as I am currently discussing the Genjo daily on the Leaf blog). The Genjo Koan, I believe, is both a description of what is perceived during the Realization of Truth ... plus, it is a road map leading us to the experience of all that, through our Zazen.

    If you are asking, Lynn, whether Kensho is like a dream or a hallucination, I dare say not. When it is known, its presence is as ordinary as a pair of eye glasses that were perched right on your brow though you hunt everywhere for them. Simply place them on your nose, and the ordinary is seen as the wonder that is. It's as simple as the sweet taste of that vanilla on your own tongue. No need for golden Buddhas floating on Lotus Flowers, choruses of angels upon heavenly clouds and such ... it is this very Suchness on the tip of one's tongue.

    Go with me through the Genjo Koan and, I expect, you will get a feel for it (or, if you know the place already, a good guide to the scenery).

    As was pointed out by many, yes, in the Soto School we tend not to make a big deal about 'Kensho'. Even the word can be misleading, and is, as Jun said, "to see the original nature" right here. I like to say there's a very nice, very wondeful "Aha Experience", and these come in all sizes big and small. Most of us (especially most of us doing Zazen for any time) probably have had the "Aha Experience" here and there in life, even if just the proverbial "time stood still" of watching a beautiful sunset or awakening from bed on a Spring morning. Even the "Big Kensho" are typically not made into a "once and for all" big deal in the Soto School, and we just tend to take them as a reference point, a bit of a peek at something (a peak experience peek?), before moving on with life. (The Rinzai folks tend to shoot for Kensho more than Soto folk, although both Rinzai and Soto style Zazen can lead to such things and the Rinzai folks also take them, usually, as stepping stones on the path ... not the end of the path).

    But, in Soto practice, the key matter is not "Kensho". Nor is it some miraculous "Satori' that "once you've got it, once and for all, your done and the job is finished". That is a grave misconception found in many Buddhist story books that mislead with their "happily ever after" style. It is like saying that the diamond (really, clusters of diamond insights, large and small) are ready for wearing merely by pulling them out of the ground. No, a diamond is ever the diamond, and that does not change in the least. But, it must be cut and polished to fit onto our own finger.

    Thus, it is, instead, the long haul of living life and making the realizations of Zazen the foundation for life, day by day. Practice never ends or should end ... not so long as the heart keeps beating in this world.

    How to tell the difference between True Realization and a dream, a fantasy, an hallucination (some mystics, all through time, have been prone to the latter and have often confused one for the other)??? I think that a dream or a fantasy is eye candy, and will capture our attention for a time with its wild colors and images ... talking dragons and flying elephants, a disney movie that lasts for a time. We tend to think, in our boring and struggling lives, that the ordinary is just ordinary and, thus, "Enlightenment" must look like Oz or Candyland. Some teachers, mystics prone to epilepsy (and Buddhist story books written by imaginative authors) would lead us to think we are looking for that, wild feelings and fantasies right out of a children's story book.

    Do not be so easily dazzled. When it is truly present, you will know the difference ... more fantastic that all the flying dragons, right here in the ordinary. I would say.

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2
    Hi Jundo...

    Nice explanation and I look forward to the Genjo Koan teachings you are offering!

    Kensho was always held up in my training as something that might occur but was not the important thing. If you thought you'd had something to this effect one never spoke of it prior to going to their teacher.

    My question was with regard to confirmation that a kensho has occured. In my experience (and I put this on the other thread but we can work with it here) this experience is authenticate by one's teacher/master or the master of another temple who has much experience with this. In my understanding it is much like the mind to mind/heart to heart Transmission between master and disciple. Not many (if any) words are spoken about the thing yet it can be known and authenticated in this way. Again, anyone can claim to be a master, to have experienced a kensho, to have "the secret." It seems good to have some kind of check and balance in order to help sort the fanciful visions from the truth.

    And what you have stated is what I have heard again and again...it is neither otherworldly mystical, magical, miraculous but abounds in the mystical, magical and miraculous ordinariness of every moment. Rev. Master Jiyu claimed that kensho only points most intimately and directly to the mantra of "gyatei, gyatei, hara gyatei, hara so gyatei, Bodhi, sowaka!" Her own interpretation of this was "going, going, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha"...the "understanding" (for lack of a better term) is that one is always going toward Buddhahood but one is never there nor has one ever surpassed this. We are always simply in the state of becoming Buddhas in every instant.

    But...I haven't had one and I am sure I have mangled something a bit in trying to explain with words that which is hard to do, although you've done an admirable job! Thank you, again.

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  3. #3
    Hi Again, Lynn,

    Pardon me for moving the comment from the other thread over to this one

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    Well, in my experience only a ratified master was able to confirm that someone had had an authentic kensho. That's all I know so I was curious what others understanding of it was. Honestly, anyone can say "I had a kensho." I guess kensho confirmation is a bit like a dharma transmission from master to disciple in a heart to heart/mind to mind context. Little words are involved in the understanding and sharing.

    But, I cannot claim to have had one myself.

    Gassho~

    *Lynn
    I believe that this is part of the mythology of Zen, along with Zen Masters being able to tame angry spirits or travel through time ... I do not think that a "Zen Master" can truly read others' minds or know absolutely what they have seen. (I have seen no evidence of any such ability)

    As with any religion, Buddhism tends toward hagiography of its saints and holy men (defined as "writing devoted to recording and glorifying the lives of saints and martyrs.")

    These koans are then systematically ordered in accordance with the types of religious and supernatural themes featured in them. ... The second chapter isolates koans that feature a Zen master in some kind of competitive encounter or contest with unusual religious adepts. Here we find Zen masters matching spiritual powers with shamans, wizards, and hermits who practice exorcism, trance, and other supernatural arts. ... The third category for displaying koans is the encounter with supernatural forces beyond the human. Although some Zen literature shows disdain for these popular religious beliefs, many of the koans in this group demonstrate ways in which they were also taken very seriously. Here we find ghosts, supernatural animals, and gods in various forms, as well as altered states of consciousness such as trance, visions, and dreams.

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenBookReview ... ntain.html
    I think a Zen Teacher, however ... as can any coach ... can recognize real ability and authenticity in a student. I can tell (with some reliability) when I am being fed a line of bull, and I think I can read certain signs in the words, attitude and expressions of a student which indicate a certain experience and view on life.

    However, I do not think that such ability is far removed from my talents as a lawyer (in a previous calling) to recognize when a client or witness was fibbing to me, or my talent as a parent to know when my 4 year old is doing so. There are a lot of fakers out there claiming "enlightenment" or some such nonsense, and I think I can spot who is full of it or just half baked.

    The Ishin-Denshin connection of Teacher and Student in Zen is more like that of parent and child, husband and wife. It is not some cheap bit of ESP. I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    It seems good to have some kind of check and balance in order to help sort the fanciful visions from the truth.
    What is this "check" or "balance?" What are the criteria and the check points to "authenticating" such a claim?

    How does one human being sanction or verify the satori of another human being?

    the mantra of "gyatei, gyatei, hara gyatei, hara so gyatei, Bodhi, sowaka!"
    Actually, that's a dhāraṇī not a mantra. More correctly in Japanese it's:

    gyate, gyate, hara gyate hara so gyate boji sowaka.

    The Ishin-Denshin connection of Teacher and Student in Zen is more like that of parent and child, husband and wife. It is not some cheap bit of ESP. I think
    .

    Ah, very nice!

  5. #5
    Hmmm..well, this becomes a sticky wicket very quickly, doesn't it?

    Yes, I think you're correct, Jundo. It's not ESP or telepathy but there is some form of "...pathy" going on to, as you say, be able to detect the evidence of authentic understanding. *Very much like that between a husband and wife, parent and child etc. I think most human beings are pretty savvy (though some are simply naieve and will fall prey to unscrupulous types) and we are pretty good at knowing if what's said rings true. If we keep the guidelines of running like hell from any "master" or "kensho enlightened guaranteed to quick fix you guru" who asks us for our money, blind trust, will or body we'll probably be okey dokey.

    Personally, I hold the whole kensho thing on the backburner for myself. And, if someone claims that they've had one the best I can offer them is a simple, "Is that so?" and then carry on with scrubbing my toilet. :wink:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer so thoughtfully. I really appreciate it.

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    Personally, I hold the whole kensho thing on the backburner for myself. And, if someone claims that they've had one the best I can offer them is a simple, "Is that so?" and then carry on with scrubbing my toilet. :wink:
    Lynn,

    What I love about you is that you seem to have your head on so straight about all this. That and your very clean toilets. :-)

    June wrote:

    What is this "check" or "balance?" What are the criteria and the check points to "authenticating" such a claim?

    How does one human being sanction or verify the satori of another human being?
    Well, I agree to a point. Only someone knows in their own innards what they know, and that does not depend on approval from anybody. There are endless folks who have gotten benefit from this Zen thing, and they need no stamp of approval to prove it. And endless folks who claim (or bear a title), who ... well, 'nuff said.

    But, still, there is some value in having some recognized and respected teacher or institution approve someone else as a teacher. It is the same reason that you don't want to turn over your heart surgery to anyone with a white coat, but would like to see that the doctor graduated from medical school. It does not mean that the Harvard Graduate doctor will not also screw up your heart transplant, but there is a little level of confidence there that the guy knows what he is doing.

    As a teacher myself, I expect that new students who do not know me will gain some confidence by the fact that I sometimes wear a Japanese robe, was recognized by a respected teacher (although, let's face it, he has also recognized some real characters), that I practiced for 25 years and belong to the SZBA, etc.

    However, that trust should last for no more than a few weeks or months. After that, I hope a student judges me ONLY for what I say and do, and for whether the philosophy I advocate is having some positive effects on their life and Practice.PERIOD. If anyone feels that I, or any other teacher, is full of bull crap ... RUN, DON'T WALK, FOR THE EXITS (and get full refund of your admission fee).

    Heck, when I was a lawyer, I had a diploma from a fancy law school on my wall, an admission to the Bar Association, expensive silk suits, an office on the 30th floor with an ocean view, etc. Hopefully, none of my clients (I was a real estate lawyer) cared about that beyond the first contract I drafted for them. (I think I am a much better Zen teacher than I was a lawyer, by the way. I would not have hired me).

    Gassho, Jundo Esq.

  7. #7
    Thank you for the corrections, Junpei. I copied that dharani out of a book that was written many years ago and I didn't have an updated version of the corrected Japanese.

    As for your questions, well, that was what I was asking. I have one experience of dealing with the issue of kensho, but I was wondering what others knew of it. Perhaps you might lend your understanding to the discussion. I agree with Jundo in that I believe that we all have an innate ability to hear the ring of truth when one speaks. (Although we often simply hear what we want to hear and can easily get into trouble.) I do not have enough knowlege of masters and the like to know much about the procedures as I witnessed them.

    I personally do think that a certain type of check and balance system is helpful, but maybe it all just falls back onto personal responsibility to research and explore the teacher. I believe this is addressed in the Pali Canon with regard to how to find a teacher. Some people need to feel that their teacher must be endowed with this that and the other credential from this that and the other institution, and/or lineage, in order to feel comfortable with that teacher. Others do not. Either way, what seems important (at least to me) is that as many people as possible are able to hear, or read, the words of the dharma. So, some people can receive it online in this format just fine. Others need to go and lliterally sit in the presence of someone with a "big name" like the Dalai Lama before they are open enough to receive it. This seems like it is simply the "skillfull means" by which the Dharma itself spreads.

    If you are claiming to be a teacher I suppose you must accept that the students who come to you will come and remain because your particular constellation of credentials/experience/training/practice/forms etc. are precisely the ones that resonate with them and open them wide for the teachings. You will not appeal to others who resonate to more or less or different ingredients than the ones you have, and they will not remain. Seems to me it's as simple as that.

    May you be well...

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  8. #8
    By the way, here is a photo of part of the "Transmission" that Gudo Roshi and I performed ... I cannot tell you the details ... it is all hush hush (pretty much to keep folks from claiming they did it when they did not. I will say that it was not that unlike my initiation as a Brother to my college fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi).

    Nishijima did have a cool hat. In the picture, he is revealing secrets by candlelight.

    Can you see the mystical light beams traveling between my heart and Roshi's heart?



    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    I don't believe I can add much to what Jundo has already said so well.

    I personally do think that a certain type of check and balance system is helpful, but maybe it all just falls back onto personal responsibility to research and explore the teacher. I believe this is addressed in the Pali Canon with regard to how to find a teacher.
    Now that is definitely sound advice.

    And I have to agree with Jundo, Lynn you have your head about you and that is rare this days with too many happy to have all the answers handed to them on a silver plater.

    Hey Jundo, from side on you look like me!? :!:

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    along with Zen Masters being able to tame angry spirits or travel through time ...
    I can travel through time...only forward though. :lol:

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Hey Jundo, from side on you look like me!? :!:
    No separate self or separated at birth...you decide.


    You guys are making this stuff way too easy tonight.

    Good thing I hid the sticks.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Hey Jundo, from side on you look like me!? :!:
    No separate self or separated at birth...you decide.


    You guys are making this stuff way too easy tonight.

    Good thing I hid the sticks.
    :shock:

    I don't think I have any Jewish blood?

  13. #13

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Hey Jundo, from side on you look like me!? :!:

    I don't think I have any Jewish blood?
    No, you look like ME! ;-)

    Are you sure that there is no Jewish back there??

    Gassho, J

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Hey Jundo, from side on you look like me!? :!:

    I don't think I have any Jewish blood?
    No, you look like ME! ;-)

    Are you sure that there is no Jewish back there??

    Gassho, J
    Ha ha ha. Touché.

    I don't think so.

    Are you sure there isn't any Scottish blood in you?

  16. #16
    Now. This practice is an interesting thing. We have a Kensho or something and feel the need to reference it in a book. Now perhaps pondering the question whether or not one has a real Kensho experience seems to me to be of no practical use, other than showing us one more reason to sit. If one truly experiences something than there should be no doubt or doubt should be seen. All this talk of confirming a Kensho experience really, really, I don't see the need for it. However, some of it would make for a great movie or chat. What is Kensho; but only a crumb of a much larger cake and perhaps nothing at all. Hanging out with friends enjoying a movie or sitting seems more appealling than Kensho.

    F*** Kensho Pardon my English

    G,W

  17. #17
    Hi Harry

    I know this is off thread but as you mentioned him...

    did you see Derren Browns most recent one 'Heist'. Over a very long and protracted period of suggestions and finding the right 'candidate's ' he set up an opportunity for 4 of them to rob a security man 'of their own free will'. 3 of them actually did it and couldn't beleive afterwards they had.

    If you assume that the whole thing isn't a set up, the thing it showed to me is how difficult it is to get people to do things that they really wouldn't normally do, out of the whole process, tests, the way the opportunity was set up etc. he still only managed to get 3 people to do it.

    Makes you think about 'free will' in a society of marketing campaigns in every medium.


    Kev

  18. #18
    The moon is not the reflection in the puddle -- I am not my reflection in the mirror. The moon is not the reflection in my mind. ....


    Something to remember is that the moon itself, even when we see it in all it's full, beautiful splendor, even with it's powerful effect on this planet, it's tides, weather, systems, life, and beings... is nothing. the moon has no light or warmth of its own. All we see is reflected light.

  19. #19
    The moon in the water ...


  20. #20
    Now that's a full moon. Yikes.

    G,W

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    The moon in the water ...

    :lol:

  22. #22
    Jundo, that's a lovely photo of your Transmission. Thank you for sharing it.

    And...I gotta say....I've noticed the uncanny resemblence between you and Junpei from the get go. Dopplegangers? Separated at birth? Not two? Heh...good fun!

    Thanks to you both for your considered replies. Very interesting grist.

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  23. #23
    Actually, it's a look ... plump Zen guy with beard. Put a red suit on us, and we make dandy Santas this time of year.

    A couple more of our dopplegangers (who I sometimes am confused with at formal Zen parties) ..

    Ven, Anzan Hoshin



    Ven. Steve Hagen



    Ven, Shishin Wick



    Ven. Daniel Terragno



    It would quite a police line-up.

    Gassho, J

  24. #24
    Actually, it's a look ... plump Zen guy with beard.
    Not at all intentional. There isn't a fashion code that we must adopt.

    Put a red suit on us, and we make dandy Santas this time of year.
    I've done that a couple of times!

  25. #25
    When I first started practicing I thought Zen Masters ate too much. Haha. Except for Suzuki Roshi. He was a little skinny guy.

    G,W

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