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Thread: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

  1. #1

    7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Hi,

    I will have information on the next book for the book club this week, so folks can order it. I am going to tie it into the Jukai study of the Precepts.

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Practice the buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma. And then he says: "This is the most important point for us as students of Zen". I don't know if it is a japanese thing, but Suzuki roshi had also that tendency to emphasize with phrases like : t"his is the most important point" that, after being used more than 268 times, start loosing power. Anyways, it is essential to understand and reach this point , because as long as there is a goal in mind, Zen practice is not Zen practice, but another sad attempt at self improvement.

    So if we're not practicing the buddhadharma for its own sake, why do we do it? Here's a couple of common reasons:

    1) To become enlightened, attain the Way, get realization, etc. The Soto school has been accused of denying the importance of " realization", and more utilitarian schools consider that experiencing mind-bending states is of utmost relevance. The influence of such schools in the West is significant, their books are popular, so lots of people put a cow in their heads and repeat moo - moo to discern the ultimate nature of the universe. Oh, well. So you get your kensho, and then what?

    I don't think the Soto school underestimates enlightenment. But enlightenment as we understand it derives directly from Dogens teachings. Thus, Uchiyama states: "The only true enlightenment is awareness of the vivid reality of life, moment by moment. So we practice enlightenment right now, right here, in every moment (... ) practice and enlightenment are one. ( ... ) Enlightenment is not like a sudden realization of something mysterious. Enlightenment is nothing but awakening from illusions and returning to the reality of life". The reality of life does not need, I might add, any of those impermanent phenomena commonly called enlightenment.

    Sawaki Roshi: "I've had several big satoris and numerous small ones, and I can tell you that it doesn't amount to a hill of beans". That's why practice is forever, and not until we "solve the philosophical problems", as Nishijima would put it.

    But nothing illustrates the relevance of enlightenment better than recent historical recordings, in which the "realized" masters have shown that they are no less and no more human and full of feces than the rest of us.

    2) The other noble goal, sincere and well intentioned, may be to improve the world around us. There we are, trapped in the net of our ego. We are convinced that our way to see things is the yardstick and balance to be used in making things better. But how many times do we end up generating suffering where we thought we were helping? We refuse to acknowledge just how ignorant we are, just how limited our point of view will always be no matter what we do. What we imagine to be a better world is only better in our heads, but surely wouldn't be all that in real life because we cannot comprehend all the ramifications of even a single good act. That's why Uchiyama recommends in this chapter: "To practice opening the hand of thought, right now, right here, knowing that the reality of life is beyond human thought - that is what it means to practice buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma."

    He says "True zazen is not practiced for the sake of some value promoted by desire". Sure, there are aparent "benefits" from zazen, but its real merit doesn't have to do with our perception of it serving any purpose. All we can do is sit, and even if a gaining idea took us to the cushion, once there we can acknowledge it, let it go without lamentations, and everything will be a'ait.

    Gassho

  3. #3

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    Practice the buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma. And then he says: "This is the most important point for us as students of Zen". I don't know if it is a japanese thing, but Suzuki roshi had also that tendency to emphasize with phrases like : t"his is the most important point" that, after being used more than 268 times, start loosing power. Anyways, it is essential to understand and reach this point , because as long as there is a goal in mind, Zen practice is not Zen practice, but another sad attempt at self improvement.
    As soon as you say "the most important point", you've lost it.
    There is no "most important point", because that would lead to the conclusion that there is an "not most important point", and now youre in deep waters...

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  4. #4

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    As for the Koan, i like to say "fish swim in the heavens, birds fly in the seas".

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  5. #5

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Hi.
    As for the discussion concerning Pratimoksha "practice and enlightenment are one".

    I find that many think the term should be "zazen and enlightenment are one".
    This is true if you dont discrimintae/narrow down the term "zazen".
    If by zazen you only mean the "sitting part", then you are wrong.
    If you mean something "bigger" then you're on the right track.
    But if you mean something "bigger" then there is no separation between the two phrases, not in the way it would be if sought the "smaller" way.

    As for the rest of the chapter, it will come shortly, got a kid to take care of, My wife has customers...

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  6. #6

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto


    That's why Uchiyama recommends in this chapter: "To practice opening the hand of thought, right now, right here, knowing that the reality of life is beyond human thought - that is what it means to practice buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma."
    That's the bit I noticed. We are so enamoured of our human-centric view of the nature of the universe and that we know, or at least have a good handle on, how it all works - 'Man is the measure of all things'...

    That is so plainly daft since so many historic views and theories have been shown to be completely false and our capacities are so limited compared to the vastness of the universe. It hadn't occurred to me, either, that I should be 'opening the hand of thought' in my daily life as well as during zazen practice.

    Gassho,
    John

  7. #7
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    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Pg 145 Each precept that is kept liberates us from its corresponding evil.Where we obsrve a particular precept,there we are immediately emancipated This bit of wisdom will be of use in our upcoming Jukai preparation. Gassho Kent

  8. #8

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
    Anything our discriminating minds believe to be value is not of absolute value. Letting go, opening the hand of thought, is the reality of life, and it is that reality of life which should be most valuable to us.
    Yes, the reality of life is all we will ever have. There is nothing beyond it, and yet it is all encompassing. What could be more valuable? I think what Uchiyama Roshi is saying here is an excellent description of our practice, and it shows just how unique it really is.

    Gassho
    Ken

  9. #9

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    Hi all,

    As Alberto noted, the phrase
    True Zazen is not practiced for the sake of some value promoted by desire. Anything our discriminating minds believe to be valuable is not of absolute value.
    How true. It is so easy for the ego to highjack our practice and make us believe that we are improving the world or are on the high road to enlightenment. But yet we should practice the bodhidharma for the bodhidharma's sake. But, what should we be doing while we figure out how to do that? Ahhh, follow the precepts. Makes sense to me. :? Now all I have to do is do it.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  10. #10

    Re: 7/11 - Seven Points of Practice Intro Point I - p. 139

    I appreciated that Uchiyama cleared out the understanding of enlightenement:

    The only true enlightenement is awareness of the vivid reality of life, moment by moment. So we practice enlightenement right now, right here, inh every moment..."
    (p. 144)

    And

    Enlightenement is nothing but awakening from illusions and returning to the reality of life
    .

    The reality of life is the one I often don't see, submerged into my thinking but

    ...the reality of life is beyond human thought...
    (146).

    I guess it is a fine balance, to be able to think and not to be steared by thoughts, away from the reality of life.

    It was interesting to read about the potential traps of different attitudes to zazen and zen.

    Gassho,

    Irina

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