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Thread: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

  1. #1

    Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    http://www.amazon.com/Flowers-Fall-Comm ... 57062674X/

    I've been reading this book (found by accident at the library), by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, and I'm loving it. What a fiery teaching and cutting insight! He minces no words when it comes to cutting down what he saw as the lazy dogmatic views and infighting of the usual Zen schools...

    I'm finding his commentary really useful in my understanding, I think I'll be re-reading it several times. I like his passionate emphasis on experiencing Dogen's words and the way various verses work at different levels for different readers. Wondering if anyone else has read it?

    Skye

  2. #2

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Hi Skye,

    Yasutani Roshi is a controversial figure in Soto Zen ... and his interpretation of Master Dogen needs to be taken in that regard. You might not pick up on it.

    The Harada-Yasutani Lineage, although Soto in name, was really not ... mostly because of his emphasis on Koan Zazen and big, fat, juicy explosive Kensho experiences.

    http://www.darkzen.com/Articles/sanbo.htm

    I need to head to bed, and I will talk about it more tomorrow. But, please look at that article. Not that it is anything "bad" about the style, just that the flavor and emphasis is really quite different from the Shikantaza that Dogen was actually advocating. Folks in that Lineage like to claim that Dogen was also a Koan Zazen/Kensho man ... and he just was not.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    The plot thickens

    I didn't know about the whole SKZ thing, but I hadn't noticed an over-emphasis on kensho in this book. Perhaps because it's a limited scope commentary on one text and doesn't represent itself as a complete teaching that I haven't picked up on some of the criticisms (ie ignoring the sutras) in that link.

    Anyway, regardless of the other stuff I do like his fiery writing style!

    Skye

  4. #4

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    The Harada-Yasutani Lineage, although Soto in name, was really not ... mostly because of his emphasis on Koan Zazen and big, fat, juicy explosive Kensho experiences.

    http://www.darkzen.com/Articles/sanbo.htm

    I need to head to bed, and I will talk about it more tomorrow. But, please look at that article. [..]
    Jundo. Forgive my ignorance. Based on article you cite:


    Ignored, too, in SKZ’s treatment of Zen, is Buddhism, itself, more specifically, Mahayana Buddhism. In The Three Pillars of Zen Kapleau glosses that since "Zen is a special transmission outside the scriptures" Sûtras merely act "as a spur to full enlightenment" (p. 345)! While it is propagandized into the public mind of contemporary Zen to automatically disrate the Sûtras, there can be no question that Sutra study is necessary towards achieving a full understanding of Zen. Nevertheless, this anti-sutric attitude prevails today—and still serves to attact non-Buddhists to SKZ related teachings who ignore the Buddha’s discourses. In fact, under the tenure of Yamada-Roshi who became Yasutani’s successor, a number of Catholic priests and nuns joined SKZ and became recognized. Yamada felt that kensho transcended religiosity—and to a certain extent it does. But there is far more to Buddhism than kensho which its Sûtras set out to explain and which other religions cannot explain.
    1. They are not Soto Zen and almost skirt on not being Buddhist?

    Most tellingly, SKZ has made a huge impact on the American and European psyche. Propagated by an active retinue of teachers they insure that Zen’s hue is Sanbo Kyodan style Zen. Impressive, the list of SKZ related teachers, most of whom are no longer associated with the parent organization in Japan, reads like a Who’s Who of American Zen Buddhism. Under the leadership of Yasutani, we recognize such names as Philip Kapleau, Robert Aitken, Maezumi, Joko Beck, Bernard Glassman, Peter Matthiessen, John Loori, Dennis Merzel, Ross Bolleter, and John Tarrant. This partial list does not even include their successors!
    2. I wasn't aware that Joko Beck was not Soto or Rinzai school. Is this true? :shock: :?:

    Learn something new everyday.

  5. #5

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista

    1. They are not Soto Zen and almost skirt on not being Buddhist?
    Yes, that seems like something of an overstatement I think. Throughout the history of Zen/Ch'an in China and Japan, however, there has been a tendency among some "factions" to completely abandon any and all need for study of the scriptures in favor merely of "Kensho" and "Immediate Enlightenment" and wordlessness and such. I do not personally know really where Yasutani Roshi and the SKZ are on the issue, so I cannot say. It is true that some folks in history were extremely radical about the point, burning all the books and emphasizing that "Kensho" is all the "knowing" that is needed.

    However, it is important to recognize that this iconoclasm is on a sliding scale for all Zennists ... and all sects of Zen Buddhism (as far as I know and including my own teacher) emphasize, to one degree or another, the description of Zen teachings attributed to Master Bodhidharma ...

    "A special transmission beyond Scriptures,
    Not depending on words or letters,
    But pointing directly to the Mind,
    Seeing into one's true Nature,
    And realizing one's own Enlightenment."


    I'm also a big book burner when I need to be. As well, we also sometimes have Kensho experiences, large and small and sizeless, during Shikantaza "Just Sitting" ... we just don't consider them the "be all and end all" target, just one of many vantage points for getting on with life (Our attitude is maybe "Nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there" ... nor could we really live there day to day). And certainly we are also into "experiencing the moment" when we can (not all the time of course ... otherwise, how could you plan for tomorrow?) and wordlessness (so all the Zen teachers write tons of books about "SILENCE" :-) ) But it is rather a matter of degree. For example, Dogen was a great scholar, and highly educated in all the scriptures. I believe that he encouraged his students to be educated in Buddhist philosophy and traditional writings. It is just that, in his teachings, he would use quotes from those old writings to really pierce to the meaning beyond them. See my point? He broke right through the words, turned them inside out and rightside up again, but did not feel the need to abandon them. I do not know clearly where Yasutani Roshi was on this issue.


    I wasn't aware that Joko Beck was not Soto or Rinzai school. Is this true? :shock: :?:
    No, it is a little more complicated than that. Maezumi Roshi (who is perhaps the most influential Japanese Priest in America based on the number of noted disciples he has), was a Soto Priest who stayed so throughout his life, yet also was a disciple of the Harada-Yasutani Line and emphasized Koan Zazen and Kensho. Maezumi Roshi actually took three lines of "Transmission" (rather unusual, although not unprecedented), and was a Dharma Heir in Soto, Rinzai and SKZ!! He passed those down in various combinations to his own Heirs, the list of which is huge and constitutes a veritable "Who's Who" of most Zen teachers in the West ...

    http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVLPages/ZenPag ... utani.html

    In contrast, Sanbo Kyodan is virtually unknown in Japan, and in Zen circles, making it tremendously more influential outside Japan than inside. That is one reason that, in writings in the West, the question of what Dogen actually taught, and the relationship of Soto Practice, Shikantaza and Koan Zazen has become all muddled. The Maezumi lineage feels the needs to "prove" that Dogen was actually a "Koan Zazen" guy. He simply was not. It has resulted in a very confused situation, and people don't realize that when they pick up a book by one of these teachers in English all this mixing and matching is going on. Students picking up an English book on "Zen" really need to know where that particular teacher is coming from.


    I do not know where Joko Roshi falls in all that. I do know that, in her later years, her teaching philosophy seems to have returned more and more to emphasize "Just Sitting" over a hard Koan Practice. In fact, most of the Maezumi Roshi Lineage seems to have moved in that general direction much more than in the 1960's, when they were pretty much into a hard, rough and tumble Koan Practice. At least, that is my feeling. They have mostly moved into a much softer style than that of the old "Generals" Yasutani and Harada (who were known for grueling, killer, sit till you drop, beat people to a pulp with the Kyosaku stick "Kensho or die trying" Sesshin and such).

    I hope I expressed that clearly.

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    I'd be interested to hear if you agree with this passage on page 70. The simultaneously true perspectives theme runs strongly through this book and I think its presented very clearly here (emphasis mine):

    Hakuin Jenji's Zazen wasan says, "Open the gate of the oneness of cause and effect, don't think that these are two or three vehicles". ... Now in this "oneness of cause and effect," cause-and-effect means that there are differences of clarity and depth in enlightenment. In other words, it points to the fact that there are levels in practice-enlightnement. Oneness means that content of enlightenment is equal and without distinctions. In other words it points to the fact that there are no levels. Concretely speaking, this means that although there are tremendous differences in the clarity and depth of realization depending on the maturity of a person's practice, the content of realization itself is always one and the same. Levels are no-levels, no-levels are levels. This is the properly transmitted Zen of the buddhas and ancestors. In other words it is the properly transmitted Zen of Dogen Zenji. This is the meaning of the teaching that there is only one vehicle, not two or three. However, there is a tendancy for Rinzai Zen to present the Zen of levels on the surface with the Zen of no levels as its background, and for Soto Zen to present no-level Zen on the surface with the Zen of levels as its background. So then it seems that the Rinzai stream places emphasis on the Zen of levels and the Soto stream places emphasis on no-level Zen. Those who lack the dharma eye misperceive this. They think that Rinzai Zen is only the Zen of levels and bad-mouth it, calling it stepladder enlightenment, or else they mistake Soto Zen to be only no-level Zen that denies realization, and degrade Dogen Zenji's properly transmitted Buddha-dharma, taking it to be intellectual Zen, conceptual Zen, or explanatory Zen.

  7. #7

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Skye
    I'd be interested to hear if you agree with this passage on page 70. The simultaneously true perspectives theme runs strongly through this book and I think its presented very clearly here (emphasis mine):
    Hi Skye,

    If I correctly understand, and if the point Yasutani Roshi is making is that the "enlightenment" of Rinzai and Soto Zen are the same at heart ... I sure do agree. The difference, I think, is mostly a matter of approach and emphasis in the means of getting to our "destination" (which is really no destination).

    I sometimes say that the hard "Kensho" style blasts a tunnel through the rocks of the mountain with dynamite, carving out a new road ... and our "Just Sitting" style takes the slow, winding, unhurried, road 'round the outside of the mountain.

    But, as we finally realize, "enlightenment" is the mountain itself. Something like that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    I hope I expressed that clearly.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Just to clarify. I hope I did not offend since my query was not to question anyone's Buddhism or traditions.

    Gassho__/__

  9. #9

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    However, it is important to recognize that this iconoclasm is on a sliding scale for all Zennists ... and all sects of Zen Buddhism (as far as I know and including my own teacher) emphasize, to one degree or another, the description of Zen teachings attributed to Master Bodhidharma ...

    "A special transmission beyond Scriptures,
    Not depending on words or letters,
    But pointing directly to the Mind,
    Seeing into one's true Nature,
    And realizing one's own Enlightenment."

    If I understand you correctly, it reminds me of a speech I saw by a Buddhist monk on issue of meditation and scriptures. He compared it to a water or beverage bottle. You can read all the text in a beverage bottle. The big words and the ones with " * " next to it :mrgreen:. This is not wrong. But how do you know what is the taste or eve if it has taste? Sweet? Sour? Hot? Cold? Good? Bad? Get bottle. Open the bottle. Drink.

  10. #10

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    I hope I did not offend since my query was not to question anyone's Buddhism or traditions.

    Gassho__/__
    Not at all. Gassho, J

  11. #11

    Re: Flowers Fall: Genjokoan commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    If I correctly understand, and if the point Yasutani Roshi is making is that the "enlightenment" of Rinzai and Soto Zen are the same at heart ... I sure do agree. The difference, I think, is mostly a matter of approach and emphasis in the means of getting to our "destination" (which is really no destination).
    Yes, that's the message for sure. An important corollary is that a "big" taste or a "small" taste of enlightenment is the same taste - so the beginner's mind and the master's mind are the same (same taste), but different (small and big taste), both true.

    "The depth of the water is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky."

    Am I getting the gist of this?

    Thanks,
    Skye

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