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Thread: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

  1. #1

    6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    This is part of the "Living Wide Awake" section of the book, as is the 6/6 topic.

  2. #2

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
    We who practice zazen hold this vow [of true repentance], and function with it as our life direction, while at the same time we just keep returning to zazen repenting at being unable to carry out that vow. This is what constitutes the religious life of the Buddhist practitioner: living by vow and repentance, and being watched over, protected, and given strength by zazen. Where there is no vow, we lose sight of progress; where there is no repentance, we lose the way. Vow gives us courage; repentance crushes our arrogance. This is the posture of a vivid, alive religious life.
    Simply beautiful.

    Gassho
    Ken

  3. #3

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    A few things I struggled here with :roll: .

    The chapter opens with a paragraph containing a quote from the NT (John 9:3):

    Doing zazrn is letting go of clinging to human thought, and this means letting go, or throwing out, human arrogance. With that we become, as the Bible says, "as God wills", and then "the works of God will be manifest" (John, 9:3)
    .

    John 9, 1-12 tells the story of Jesus healing the blind man.

    2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi,[a] who sinned, this man or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?”

    3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that[b] the works of God might be revealed in him.
    I get the metaphor: we walk around being blinded by ignorance but I don't understand (once again) why Uchiyama would borrow the quote talking of God from the Bible and to me it sounds that the verse itself says the man was blind so that God "might be revealed in him" (in the translation I found).

    Another, very confusing for me idea is that we can actually function "as a person"

    not tying one phenomenon to another, ...prior to thought
    Would I even be able to make it to the cushion without actually recognising the cushion as such (an object I can sit on during zazen as compared to other objects in the room and separate from me? At first I though U. was talking of this "before the separation of things into this and that (p112)" experience being limited to zazen periods only but reading through the chapter I think I misunderstood.

    I guess my questions are:

    a)can we actually live our every day lives without employing thoughts (is it feasible?)

    I just changed my shoes getting ready to go home from work and although I did not think think of it I am almost sure I was still thinking in order to get the right shoe on the right foot etc. Maybe I am able to function prior to thinking without realising it? :lol: If so, most of it would be instinct or learnt-in behaviours and this is not what Uchiyama talks about, I guess.

    b) Why would we try to? Would it not be attainable to learn not to be "pulled around by the thoughts and emotions"?

    I heard Zen teacher Diane Musho Hamilton mention once that our human brains are wired so that if I rub my thumb against say the middle finger I will automatically choose one of them to be an object and one a subject even though I might not be aware of it. I guess we have to devide in order to survive or else this sack of skin with all its content would be in big trouble crossing the street in a few minutes, not being able to separate itself from the approaching heap of metal. I would try though not to get started on these-people-in-cars-should-discover-what-bikes-are train of thought upon seeing a car and get all emotional about it ending up worrying about our beautiuful planet. :lol:

    Gassho,

    Irina

    PS If anything, Uchiyama's last chapters really make me think :lol:

  4. #4

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    .

  5. #5

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    The nearest I can come to understanding "letting going of clinging to human thought" is what I experience when I go hiking sometimes. As I start hiking my mind is full of thoughts but after two or three hours I sometimes feel a sense of joy arising in me. There is just the walking and the world around me and I+it feels good. It seems like I have dropped most thoughts from my mind. When I stop to take a break, I am not sitting there thinking "wow, this view of the hills is beautiful", It is more as if I am part of the scenery and it is a joyful feeling. Contrast, this with driving in a car to a viewpoint and getting out of the car and looking out at the view for a few minutes. You might as well be looking at a picture postcard (and what a lot of people do in this situation is immediately get their camera out and make their own postcard).
    Hi Charles,

    Thanks, this was really helpful.

    I certainly recognise the experience from Nordic skating when the head only is filled with the sound from the skates cutting the ice, the sound of ice cracking somewhere deep; the sky is reflected in ice so you cannot say where ice starts and where it ends and you get the feeling you are flying...

    Yes, I think no thoughts as such then. :lol:

    Walking (hiking) makes me come into this state but only the kind of walking when I am not going some place to be to do something.

    The question is how do I get into this state at work or doing other things that demand thought discrimination. :shock:

    I came to the book club rather late in the reading of this book but I am finding so much more to think about in each section than I could have imagined. The process of trying to write something is very rewarding. Without this effort I would not get nearly so much from the book.


    Gassho,

    Irina

  6. #6

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    I came to the book club rather late in the reading of this book but I am finding so much more to think about in each section than I could have imagined. The process of trying to write something is very rewarding. Without this effort I would not get nearly so much from the book.
    Quite so.

    May the force be with you.
    Tb

  7. #7

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    b) Why would we try to? Would it not be attainable to learn not to be "pulled around by the thoughts and emotions"?
    Try? there is no try.
    only do or do not.

    and even Yoda was wrong...

    May the force be with you.
    Tb

  8. #8

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Irina wrote:
    The question is how do I get into this state at work or doing other things that demand thought discrimination.
    Hi all,

    I've seen other questions like this and have always had conflicting thoughts about my understanding of this. Here's my best shot at it today: We sit on the zafu and accept everything (as best we can) that happens when we do that with correct posture. Off the zafu, we live our lives and use the precepts to assist with regulation of actions, but we do not attempt to alter our thoughts or reach a particular state of mind. By sitting often, our thought patterns change of their own accord, we don't have to try to be anything other than ourselves.
    Put another way, trying to reach the state that Charles mentioned probably wouldn't work. The way he gets to that state is to hike and let whatever happens happen (I'm guessing). Irina mentioned skating, same thing, immersing herself in the act is enough, but an attempt to create a particular state of mind is most often self-defeating. The way to play a great jazz solo is to execute the methods one has spent hours practicing without judgement. In other words, trust the practice.

    Maybe Jundo could help us out with this.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  9. #9

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    The way Uchiyama presents 'repentance' in this chapter makes me realise the difference between Zen and Christianity. From my reading of this, and I didn't notice this before, there doesn't seem to be any concept of guilt in Buddhism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama
    In other words, our thought of having done something bad is only based on some conventional, changing, standard or idea. Before absolute reality it is totally meaningless.

    To truly repent does not mean offering an apology; rather, repenting requires facng life straight on, and letting the light of absolute reality illuminate us.
    Okay, but he seems to have redefined the word 'repent' to such an extent that, IMO, he might have been better to use a different word entirely. Most definitions of the word would seem to me to require some kind of remorse for past acts and a resolve to change in the future.

    Gassho,
    John

  10. #10

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    John said,

    [quote][Okay, but he seems to have redefined the word 'repent' to such an extent that, IMO, he might have been better to use a different word entirely. Most definitions of the word would seem to me to require some kind of remorse for past acts and a resolve to change in the future.
    /quote]

    On page 116 :

    [quote]To truly repent does not mean offering an apology; rather repenting requires facing life straight on , and letting the light of absolute reality illuminate us.
    [quote]

    I take this to mean that repentence is maintaining a self-awareness of our deviating from the path or the vow as a check on our own conceit. But this deviating isn't a bad or evil act to apologize or seek forgiveness for. It's just a reminder or a call that we must return to zazen to get back in line with the truth of life.

    I agree that the word "repentence" has more of a sense or atonement or making amends (to whom?). It still seems to me that these parallels between Buddhism and Christianity do seem a little forced and incongruous. I think that there is no good/sinful thoughts or acts in Buddhism, but skillful/unskillful thoughts and acts.


    Gassho, Tony

  11. #11

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony-KY

    I agree that the word "repentence" has more of a sense or atonement or making amends (to whom?). It still seems to me that these parallels between Buddhism and Christianity do seem a little forced and incongruous. I think that there is no good/sinful thoughts or acts in Buddhism, but skillful/unskillful thoughts and acts.
    I agree. His use of Christian metaphors doesn't help me much. BTW, I didn't notice this the first time I read the book. I certainly get a lot more out of the book by writing about it and discussing it,

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Irina said:
    a)can we actually live our every day lives without employing thoughts (is it feasible?)
    This is a hard concept for me, too. Perhaps it means that instead of living without thoughts, we should strive to avoid having the thoughts take over and form our reality. And repentance (I agree this is an unfortunate translation) is when you acknowledge that your reality (the one you acted upon) is not the true reality and that your actions caused suffering.

    One of the hardest things I do every day is acknowledge that some of my actions (hopefully not all) have caused suffering. I can only hope that acknowledging my delusion will help me get rid of it in future.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  13. #13

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Linda wrote:

    This is a hard concept for me, too. Perhaps it means that instead of living without thoughts, we should strive to avoid having the thoughts take over and form our reality. And repentance (I agree this is an unfortunate translation) is when you acknowledge that your reality (the one you acted upon) is not the true reality and that your actions caused suffering.

    One of the hardest things I do every day is acknowledge that some of my actions (hopefully not all) have caused suffering. I can only hope that acknowledging my delusion will help me get rid of it in future
    I idea that I have been coming to lately about zazen is that maybe the practice of sitting itself is like training the mind (or self?) to be more in tune with the I don't know (the universal self?). The effects of the practice are very subtle. Maybe in a way the sitting and other practices do have the effect of making us more mindful of the relationships of our thoughts and deeds upon others. It softens the barriers. Sorta like the way when I was a kid and got a new baseball glove, I had oil it and shape it for a while before I actually used it. Maybe being mindful is not so much of conscious effort? Sorry for the baseball example ops:.

    Gassho, Tony

  14. #14

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    .

  15. #15

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal


    b) Why would we try to? Would it not be attainable to learn not to be "pulled around by the thoughts and emotions"?
    To me thoughts are just useful tools that help us function in our day to day lives. But they aren't reality, they are an abstraction from reality and are okay as long as we treat them as that - like a map is useful but is not the actual terrain. Our zazen practice lets us see the unreal nature of thoughts and helps them lose their power over us,

    Gassho,
    John

  16. #16

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    [
    Doesn't atonement have a place in Zen? There is the Verse of Atonement :
    From my understanding of ‘atonement’ in Buddhism, it seems more about ‘opening the doors of perception and awareness’, 'at-one-ment'
    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Jy0A ... t#PPA37,M1

    rather than the repentance, forgiveness and atonement process in Christianity. I think of atonement as what Christ suposedly did for us by dying on the cross so that our sins might be forgiven, but that's my evangelical background. Loori describes it in terms that make it sound more like an awakening process – a ’raising of consciouness’. Maybe the Japanese writers don't fully grasp the implications of these terms for a Western audience?

    This is probably getting too long but I thougt this article on the Christian sense of forgiveness was interesting:

    Quote Originally Posted by o'Leary
    In some early Buddhist texts, the emphasis falls not on forgiving, but on the foolishness of taking offense in the first place:
    “He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me”—in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease.

    “He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me”—in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.

    -- Dhammapada 1.3–4; trans. Radhakrishnan


    ......Buddhism queries the reality of the passions that make forgiveness necessary and also queries the reality of the objects of those passions. My anger, resentment, and hatred are delusions, and so is the crime or offense the other is thought to have committed against me. Indeed, my very concept of “myself” and of “other” is pervaded by delusion and fixation. Even if these Buddhist ideas were totally untrue, it would still be very wholesome to meditate on them at a time when national, ethnic, and religious identity has so often shown a murderous face.
    http://www.hsuyun.org/Dharma/zbohy/Lite ... dhism.html

    Gassho,
    John

  17. #17

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    CharlesC wrote:

    Doesn't atonement have a place in Zen? There is the Verse of Atonement :

    All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old,
    On account of beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,
    Born of my body, mouth and mind,
    Now I atone for them all.
    It's just for me that the words "Repentence" and "Atonement" carry meanings that I associate with my Evangelical Christian upbringing (confessing to and asking Christ for forgiveness) that don't quite carry over to my feelings towards Buddhism. I agree with Uchiyama Roshi that we should approach practice with humility which keeps bringing us back to zazen. And be aware of the consequences of our words and actions with other beings. Which I think is what Uchiyama means by "repentence". I think my quibble is just over my own associations with words; and therefore, should be just dropped .

    Gassho, Tony

  18. #18

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    I certainly recognise the experience from Nordic skating when the head only is filled with the sound from the skates cutting the ice, the sound of ice cracking somewhere deep; the sky is reflected in ice so you cannot say where ice starts and where it ends and you get the feeling you are flying...

    Yes, I think no thoughts as such then.

    Walking (hiking) makes me come into this state but only the kind of walking when I am not going some place to be to do something.

    The question is how do I get into this state at work or doing other things that demand thought discrimination.
    Irina

    I've struggled with that last question and here is my take: we do not need to get into any state. We're not about attaining any particular state but about living whatever the particular moment brings. If an engineer attempts to shun discrimination in order to achieve some state, his bridge will fall. If the engineer uses discrimination in his work, he is "living the life of the self". Discrimination is zazen when the situation requires discrimination. Discrimination is enlightenment when you are taking care of your world in manners that require discrimination. Thought discrimination is Buddha activity just as much as muscle contraction; it is a function of the body. The problem is our habitual overreliance on thought discrimination. Thought is such a strong secretion that we start thinking that it's good for everything.

    When you're going someplace, do you really need to be thinking "better hurry, gonna be late" or can you just calculate the speed you need and do the walking (just walking) without torturing yourself the rest of the way? I've been trying to be more mindful while driving, just drive, and if I really concentrate in what I'm doing I have no time to think whether they're gona hate me for being late, whether I'll miss this or that opportunity, etc. Buddha activity is calculating the route I'm taking; any other thought is unnecesary and, while those thoughts that stem from anxiety still arise, I try to stay alert and not let myself be pushed around by them. So my approach is to stay in the reality of the moment, and if the reality includes useless, anxious thought, I just watch it but try to return to the reality of the moment.

    Your experience hearing skates on ice is one of enlightenment, and so is you effort at work to discriminate and choose the words for a letter so you can better convey what you mean. If you catch yourself at work wishing you were in some "zen" state, letting go of the imaginary state and returning to the real world is the best strategy, don't you think?

    Zen itself is another fiction; but at least it helps you find what really is, right here, right now.

    Thanks

    Alberto

  19. #19

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    I certainly recognise the experience from Nordic skating when the head only is filled with the sound from the skates cutting the ice, the sound of ice cracking somewhere deep; the sky is reflected in ice so you cannot say where ice starts and where it ends and you get the feeling you are flying...

    Yes, I think no thoughts as such then.

    Walking (hiking) makes me come into this state but only the kind of walking when I am not going some place to be to do something.

    The question is how do I get into this state at work or doing other things that demand thought discrimination.
    Irina

    I've struggled with that last question and here is my take: we do not need to get into any state. We're not about attaining any particular state but about living whatever the particular moment brings. If an engineer attempts to shun discrimination in order to achieve some state, his bridge will fall. If the engineer uses discrimination in his work, he is "living the life of the self". Discrimination is zazen when the situation requires discrimination. Discrimination is enlightenment when you are taking care of your world in manners that require discrimination. Thought discrimination is Buddha activity just as much as muscle contraction; it is a function of the body. The problem is our habitual overreliance on thought discrimination. Thought is such a strong secretion that we start thinking that it's good for everything.

    When you're going someplace, do you really need to be thinking "better hurry, gonna be late" or can you just calculate the speed you need and do the walking (just walking) without torturing yourself the rest of the way? I've been trying to be more mindful while driving, just drive, and if I really concentrate in what I'm doing I have no time to think whether they're gona hate me for being late, whether I'll miss this or that opportunity, etc. Buddha activity is calculating the route I'm taking; any other thought is unnecesary and, while those thoughts that stem from anxiety still arise, I try to stay alert and not let myself be pushed around by them. So my approach is to stay in the reality of the moment, and if the reality includes useless, anxious thought, I just watch it but try to return to the reality of the moment.

    Your experience hearing skates on ice is one of enlightenment, and so is you effort at work to discriminate and choose the words for a letter so you can better convey what you mean. If you catch yourself at work wishing you were in some "zen" state, letting go of the imaginary state and returning to the real world is the best strategy, don't you think?

    Zen itself is another fiction; but at least it helps you find what really is, right here, right now.

    Thanks

    Alberto
    Quite so.
    Dont struggle to get "there" only to find it is "here"...
    May the force be with you
    Tb

  20. #20

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Hi Guys,

    I missed this thread and question while in Vietnam. Sorry to be a month late!

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    Irina wrote:
    The question is how do I get into this state at work or doing other things that demand thought discrimination.
    Hi all,

    I've seen other questions like this and have always had conflicting thoughts about my understanding of this. Here's my best shot at it today: We sit on the zafu and accept everything (as best we can) that happens when we do that with correct posture. Off the zafu, we live our lives and use the precepts to assist with regulation of actions, but we do not attempt to alter our thoughts or reach a particular state of mind. By sitting often, our thought patterns change of their own accord, we don't have to try to be anything other than ourselves.
    Put another way, trying to reach the state that Charles mentioned probably wouldn't work. The way he gets to that state is to hike and let whatever happens happen (I'm guessing). Irina mentioned skating, same thing, immersing herself in the act is enough, but an attempt to create a particular state of mind is most often self-defeating. The way to play a great jazz solo is to execute the methods one has spent hours practicing without judgement. In other words, trust the practice.

    Maybe Jundo could help us out with this.

    Gassho,
    Bill
    No doubt, in daily life, we need discriminating mind, thoughts, emotions, likes and dislikes, past memories and future dreams to function. Otherwise, we could not even choose to get out of bed, plan how to make breakfast, learn not to walk into closed doors, not put our hand on hot stoves, etc. etc.

    But our Zazen Practice helps us in a couple of ways in day to day life. One way is just to simplify all the clutter in our minds. Although we cannot do away with all or even most of it in order to function, we can learn to recognize and drop excess emotions (like excess longing for things that will "finally make us happy"), negative emotions like anger, greed, excessive fixation and guilt about the past (versus repentance and learning from the past), excessive worry about the future (versus planning for the future). In other words, like a "Zen" room, the thought furniture we need can be minimized to the essentials, and a lot of mental clutter and trash done without.

    But our Zen Practice also lets us develop the skill called "thinking not thinking" or, as I put it, dropping not dropping thought. I described this today on another thread ...

    In our Zen Practice, we drop judgments and preferences. We also learn how to drop without dropping. We do both at once. In "Just Sitting" Zazen, we drop all judgments and learn to live from such perspective, but people often misunderstand what this really means. Of course, if we are to live as human beings, we must have preferences and make choices. Otherwise, we can't function. We could not choose to stand up or sit down, wait for the green light to "go" instead of running red lights, we could not even choose to get out of bed in the morning.

    So, how to do both at once? Ah, this is one of the great discoveries of Zen Buddhism, namely, that folks can live on a couple or more "channels" (for want of a better term) at once, seemingly conflicting viewpoints without conflict.

    How?

    Well, for example, we drop all "likes" and "dislikes" on one channel, even as we must have "likes" and "dislikes" on another. The result is
    like choosing what you like, and avoiding what you dislike, but fully accepting either one ... all at the same time. For example, you go into
    life's ice cream store and ask for vanilla. But all they have is strawberry, which you hate. You embrace the fact that life sometimes
    gives strawberry. When vanilla, eat vanilla, when strawberry ... savor the strawberry.

    Do you see a bit how that works? Most folks think that you must only live on one channel or the other.

    HOWEVER, during Zazen itself, we practice dropping all preferences PERIOD. In life, we can live having both preferences and no preferences, but in Shikantaza, we just practice having no preferences. This is very important.
    We stop thinking of early or late ... but sorry for the late response. Gassho, J

  21. #21

    Re: 6/13 - Vow and Repentence p. 112

    Thanks, Jundo.

    Bill

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