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Thread: Another Good article on Zazen

  1. #1

    Another Good article on Zazen

    [GREG-- I HOPE YOU DON'T MIND THAT I REPOSTED THIS. I THINK IT GREAT. JUNDO]..


    essay by Soyu Matsuoka Roshi

    Soto Zen meditation is not the sitting which preceded Shakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment, but the sitting at the very moment of his new-found wisdom. the Buddha had been sitting in deep silence, much like the manner in which each of us sits in his daily or weekly meditation. He sat with his legs crossed, his hands clasped, sitting upright, regulatiing his breath, and keeping his mind pure of evil passions or of any thoughts. Yet, the Buddha's meditation was much more than just sitting in silence, for his mind had reached an open and free world wherein everything was embraced and the distinction of self and not-self had been done away with. The Buddha had seen things as they really are, but this does not mean that he was blessed with an insight into some mysterious things. The shell of his egotistical self had been smashed, and it was as if he were the only being in the Universe or as if he had become one with the whole universe. This wisdom of the true nature of things became fused with his practice of sitting in meditation, and because the two were inseparable, the practice of sitting must be thought of as wisdom itself. The outward form of sitting in meditation may not appear to have much meaning in itself, but once the spirit of the Buddha's Enlightenment is fused into it, it takes on the highest value.
    Dogen Zenji praised this posture, saying, "The Buddhas in all directions as numerous as the sand grains of the Ganges River would be unable to estimate the merits of an hour's sitting in meditation by a single person." To Dogen Zenji, there was no dualism of mind and matter. Zazen or sitting cross-legged in meditation was, to him, Enlightenment itself. The practice of sitting in meditation was not separated from Enlightenement itself. Dogen said at another time, "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice." To him, meditation is life and vitality itself. People are heard to say that Enlightenment is the ideal of Zen meditation and that Zazen is the means of attaining that ideal. But, it is unfortunate that words limit our explanation of Zen to such a great extent, for talking about Meditation and Enlightenement in this manner may lead us to think of sitting in silence with empty minds as solely a means to an end. We must not think of Zazen as a mere means to an end or as different from the "End." In the Bendowa, a chapter of the Shobo Genzo, Dogen said, "It is held that Zazen and Enlightenmnt are different things. This opinion is wrong because the Buddha teaches that they are one and the same. Zazen is the full expression of Real Enlightenment." He also wrote, "We cannot be without practices if we see Enlightenment at all, which is inseparable from practice." but that "Zazen is neither a kind of Zen meditation in which one waits for Enlightenement, nor a means to become a Buddha."
    Enlightement is an integral part of Zen meditation from the onset. It is a world of religion that is absolute because it rejects the categories of means and ends. It has been mentioned to you many times that there is Buddha-nature within you. In the Mahanirvana Sutra or the Nehan-gyo, there is a passage which reads, "All beings have Buddha-nature." However, Dogen reads this as "All beings are the Buddha-nature," emphasizing that the Buddha-naure is the basis of all existence and the source of all value. In another chapter of the Shobo Genzo, the Bussho-no-maki, Dogen emphasized that the "Buddha-naure is everything." All things which exist are part of the sea of the Buddha-nature. We are apt to think of the Buddha-nature as something mystic, unfamiliar, but it is nothing more than "the chin of a donkey or the mouth of a horse." to quote Dogen Zenji. All existing things are a manifestation of the Buddha-nature, yet it transcends mere existence and moves on into the infinite. Within a person, it is their true self. for this reason, Zazen has been explained as what "shows one's natural self." If you sit for one minute, you are a Buddha for one minute, or if you sit for five, you are a Buddha for that length of time. This is because the practice of meditation and its wisdom--Enlightenment--are not separate. Even the sitting of a beginner will be a brilliant one which has the 'lining' of right Enlightenment of the Shakyamuni Buddha

  2. #2
    Sweet! Thanks Greg.

    I hope you did not misunderstand my point the other day about Rev. Fujita's article. I wanted to emphasize that "Sitting Cross Legged Zazen is Enlightenment Itself" is not the same as teaching "Sitting Cross Legged Zazen is Enlightenment itself". Some folks, even Zen teachers (mostly those who are good at Full Lotus) confuse the two even though the words are the same ...

    First off, if the emphasis of the latter means "only the posture of Full Lotus itself is Enlightenment itself", it is going to shut out Greg and everybody else who can't get into the Full Lotus posture.

    And, anyway, it does not mean that. It means that "Zazen is Enlightenment itself", a perfectly complete what-it-is act, the only act at that moment in the whole wide whatever and the whole wide whatever sitting Zazen at that moment. Zazen is Enlightenment Itself even if "sitting meditation" has to be done standing, running, reclining or skipping down the road with a hula hoop.

    Of course, the Lotus Posture has a lot going for it, and that is why I recoomend it for Zazen over skipping with a hula hoop ... at least most days.

    I hope that is clearer.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks Jundo, I think you've explained that clearly.


    Thank you for reposting the article that I deleted. I could not find the original link to it and thought it to hard to read just copied into the post.

    I was coming back to share this link to my blog where I posted it, it might be easier to read here:

    http://uponthepath.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... editation/

    Regardless, it's well worth reading for anybody interested in a good take on Zazen from the Soto perspective. Hopefully, the folks here would be interested in that, lol.

  4. #4
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice." - Dőgen

    One of the reasons why there is such a large percentage of failures among students of meditation - any school of meditation be it Buddhist or not - those who get little out of the practice of meditation and soon leave; is that most schools believe that there is only one way to meditate for everyone and, by a curious coincidence, it happens to be the way they practice.

    The Buddha taught that there were many ways to practice, and even set out the details of those practices.

    It's one thing to say, "Hey, I've discovered that this way is best for me, I'll teach it to you and hope that you feel the same." And, "This is the ONLY way."

    I believe that the Buddha stated the first.

  5. #5
    The Buddha taught that there were many ways to practice, and even set out the details of those practices.
    That's the truth I believe the Visuddhimagga lies out forty different meditation methods itself. . .

  6. #6
    Hi Jun,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice." - Dőgen

    One of the reasons why there is such a large percentage of failures among students of meditation - any school of meditation be it Buddhist or not - those who get little out of the practice of meditation and soon leave; is that most schools believe that there is only one way to meditate for everyone and, by a curious coincidence, it happens to be the way they practice.

    The Buddha taught that there were many ways to practice, and even set out the details of those practices.

    It's one thing to say, "Hey, I've discovered that this way is best for me, I'll teach it to you and hope that you feel the same." And, "This is the ONLY way."

    I believe that the Buddha stated the first.
    The emphasis in that quote shouldn't be on 'our', but rather on 'practice', i.e.
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice.", so basically he's just saying here that practice and realization are one, not that 'our' practice is the only valid one.

    Gassho
    Ken

  7. #7
    The emphasis in that quote shouldn't be on 'our', but rather on 'practice', i.e.
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice.", so basically he's just saying here that practice and realization are one, not that 'our' practice is the only valid one.

    Gassho
    Ken


    That's right. Matsuoka Roshi, was not implying that Soto Zen meditation was the only way to realize the way. But, that practice is the only way. Big difference.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth
    Hi Jun,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice." - Dőgen

    One of the reasons why there is such a large percentage of failures among students of meditation - any school of meditation be it Buddhist or not - those who get little out of the practice of meditation and soon leave; is that most schools believe that there is only one way to meditate for everyone and, by a curious coincidence, it happens to be the way they practice.

    The Buddha taught that there were many ways to practice, and even set out the details of those practices.

    It's one thing to say, "Hey, I've discovered that this way is best for me, I'll teach it to you and hope that you feel the same." And, "This is the ONLY way."

    I believe that the Buddha stated the first.
    The emphasis in that quote shouldn't be on 'our', but rather on 'practice', i.e.
    "Attainment of the Way can only be realized with our practice.", so basically he's just saying here that practice and realization are one, not that 'our' practice is the only valid one.

    Gassho
    Ken
    Ah, well throw some cold water over me and spank me stupid!

    Please disregard my silliness and my inability to read! As it was one large block of text without punctuation and paragraphs I found it hard to follow. Anyhow, my silliness.

  9. #9
    It was hard to read that's why I erased it in the first place.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    One of the reasons why there is such a large percentage of failures among students of meditation - any school of meditation be it Buddhist or not - those who get little out of the practice of meditation and soon leave; is that most schools believe that there is only one way to meditate for everyone and, by a curious coincidence, it happens to be the way they practice.


    It's one thing to say, "Hey, I've discovered that this way is best for me, I'll teach it to you and hope that you feel the same." And, "This is the ONLY way."
    I absolutely agree: Everyone needs to find the Practice (or even whole religion or philosophy, Buddhist or not) right for them. Different personalities require different medicines.

    But the main reason, I think, most people are failures is they they do not give it a sincere and sustained effort. No different for my diet and jogging. We need to make the constant effort to sit, to bring it into our lives. It is a lifetime Practice.

    Now, I am not going to say that all methods of meditation, or all religions or philosophies, are equal and I do think that some are better medicine than others. Of course, I am totally biased for the medicine I take (because I have been taking it for so many years and see the effects in my life), but I truly believe its clean effect, it directness and simplicity will bring good effects for most human beings who tried it and stayed with it. I may only be bias, but I suspect not.


    Gassho, Jundo

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