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Thread: What is Zen compassion?

  1. #1
    disastermouse
    Guest

    What is Zen compassion?

    Hey all,

    I just wanted to bring this up because sometimes when I hear people talk about 'compassion', they're talking about something very watered down compared to how it seems to me.

    There seems to be this rather small idea of compassion where we should have concern for others because they are 'like' us - that is, that we are parts of a group or peers or something like that.

    To me, compassion is something much more profound (and harder to realize). You are not 'like' your neighbor - you ARE your neighbor. You are not similar to him or her, you ARE him or her. A realization of this is how one has compassion for the whole world, including plants and inanimate objects.

    All respect for Thich Nhat Hahn, but when he and other teachers describe 'interdependence' as though we are all parts of an interconnected web - that's really beside the point, IMHO. It's far too intellectual, far too watered down and removed from actual experience.

    You ARE your neighbor. I think that until you realize that, your compassion will always come up short - based as it is on your own identity and relationship to the 'rest of the world' in what ever way you conceive that.

  2. #2

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    To me, compassion is something much more profound (and harder to realize). You are not 'like' your neighbor - you ARE your neighbor. You are not similar to him or her, you ARE him or her.
    Chet,

    I couldn't agree more. If one extends compassion on the basis of being "like" others, then there's always the option of withdrawing it on the basis that they are "not like" you. We see suffering generated in this way all the time, at levels ranging from personal to international -- e.g. the Georgia crisis or any number of other conflicts based on group identity.

    Reminds me of the following... these are framed using the ideas of transmigration and rebirth but the main point could be seen as having to do with empathy. The Buddha suggests that we think of anyone you meet as being our kin, and regard the suffering (or happiness) of everyone else as something that has happened to us.

    "A being who has not been your mother at one time in the past is not easy to find... A being who has not been your father... your brother... your sister... your son... your daughter at one time in the past is not easy to find." (SN 15.14-19)

    "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. When you see someone who has fallen on hard times, overwhelmed with hard times, you should conclude: 'We, too, have experienced just this sort of thing in the course of that long, long time.' (SN 15.11)

    Reading beyond the "literal" meaning here these passages seem close to what you are saying.

    Gassho,
    Rob

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Hi disatermouse,

    Yeah...Dropping compassion and any definition of what it is seems to me a very good start.
    The web is a convenient and dualistic picture that speaks to my dualistic mind. A great teaching tool.
    if one tries to realize compassion, one misses it. Once you are grabbed by it, tossed by it, gulped by it, you don t even know its name. And there it is. There is a gap beteween any statement like: "I am my neighbour" and the reality of this. Don t you think? :wink:

    Gassho

  4. #4
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Honestly, I've never really grooved on the formulation of it as "you ARE others." I don't find it any more mystical or any less of a self-centered way to put it than "you are like others." And, in a way, it's false. Yeah, sure, on some absolute level we're all the same thing, but in our day-to-day experience we have to deal with the other as the other. Saying, "We're all one, man," doesn't change that. I find that the awareness that we're not exactly the same is a key part of the experience of compassion.

    The knowledge that I cannot ever really know another person's experience from the inside out alerts me to the fact that I have to find the time and patience to listen and enter into that experience as best as I can, knowing I can never know that experience exactly as the other knows it. It saves you from making a lot of assumptions and mistakes. Different people experience the same things differently, based on their past experiences, the way they think, the way they're wired emotionally. If you're open and intuitive, you can get a good sense of how something that feels a certain way to you feels different to someone else, but it's a sort of guesswork you're doing. There are definitely those mysterious moments where you just know something, you vibe off someone and it's as if their feeling is communicated directly to you, and you can act from that intuitive knowing, but you have to be careful there, too, because sometimes that strong feeling of knowing can be inaccurate. You have to check yourself. Before you wreck yourself :lol:

    To me, compassion is a process of transformation. Empathy is part of it, intelligence is part of it, action is part of it. As with zazen, it is an emptying of the self, a process of opening. You let the other in, you let go of your thoughts and beliefs and just meet them. It's one of the most mystical, wonderful things possible to experience. There's a quality of love that enters into it that is absolutely beyond anything else you can experience. That you are so open to the other, so attuned, so absolutely ready and willing to meet them, that your heart is so raw, the tears just come... or perhaps they don't. Sometimes compassion is so simple and matter-of-fact, you see someone in a situation and it's communicated directly to you something they're feeling and needing and you are able to extend that to them. It's not exactly a profound or tearful moment when you realize the person next to you needs a tissue to blow their nose--but that's compassion too

    To me, compassion is what makes life worth living. It's why and how you can continue to go on in the face of emptiness and impermanence. Otherwise, the void would ice you over from the inside out. If your heart has been broken by the world, you can keep on going, because it means your heart is broken open and ready to accept and take in the joy and sorrow of others, able to respond to them with openness, kindness, and intelligence. Living with compassion is like living art, every moment is surprising and poignant. Kids playing in the street just fill your heart with joy and you don't have to turn away from the homeless person sleeping near them, even though it's hard. You realize that all is just so, and you can be there and sometimes offer them a little something, limited and humble but something nonetheless, because something that is not you is moving through you, a love without a name or origin, to which you can surrender the puniness of your little self.

  5. #5
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    And that's something else that's wonderful about compassion... that it is so creative. That you're put in the position of, "What could I do that would be most useful to the other person? What would move them, make them smile, get through to them?" You have to have an open heart but you also have to have the patience to get to know them, even if you only have a moment to do so, and the intelligence to know how to transform what you've learned into something that communicates to them. It engages you on every level.

  6. #6

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Honestly, I've never really grooved on the formulation of it as "you ARE others." I don't find it any more mystical or any less of a self-centered way to put it than "you are like others." And, in a way, it's false. Yeah, sure, on some absolute level we're all the same thing, but in our day-to-day experience we have to deal with the other as the other. Saying, "We're all one, man," doesn't change that. I find that the awareness that we're not exactly the same is a key part of the experience of compassion.
    Hi Stephanie,

    I'm new here. Good to meet you!

    And yes, you're right. "We're all one, man" is way too easy. Overlooking the otherness of the other, or making too many intuitive assumptions is likely to lead to misunderstanding, not a wonderful shared sense of "we-ness." Unless your intuition happens to be spot-on, which sometimes is the case.

    However, for people like me who are NOT very compassionate and are prone to solipsism, couldn't it could be a good first step to try to broaden what we consider "our" experience? In other words, what happened to him/her could also happen to me, may happen to me, and might have happened to me already. Also: what I call "me" is the result of others -- family, community, friends, culture, genetic inheritance, etc. The elements that combined to form me have combined in similar ways in other lives and will do so again; much of what I term "my" consciousness isn't unique. "In the slow rise to the self, we're drawn up by many hands," as a poet once put it.

    To me, compassion is a process of transformation. Empathy is part of it, intelligence is part of it, action is part of it. As with zazen, it is an emptying of the self, a process of opening. You let the other in, you let go of your thoughts and beliefs and just meet them. It's one of the most mystical, wonderful things possible to experience. There's a quality of love that enters into it that is absolutely beyond anything else you can experience. That you are so open to the other, so attuned, so absolutely ready and willing to meet them, that your heart is so raw, the tears just come... or perhaps they don't. Sometimes compassion is so simple and matter-of-fact, you see someone in a situation and it's communicated directly to you something they're feeling and needing and you are able to extend that to them. It's not exactly a profound or tearful moment when you realize the person next to you needs a tissue to blow their nose--but that's compassion too

    To me, compassion is what makes life worth living.
    You express this so beautifully that I feel a little chagrined. I'm very far from experiencing such a transformative process firsthand -- right now, the occasional moment of compassionate awareness makes me happy.

    Rob

  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Good to meet you too, Rob.

    Quote Originally Posted by robert
    However, for people like me who are NOT very compassionate and are prone to solipsism, couldn't it could be a good first step to try to broaden what we consider "our" experience? In other words, what happened to him/her could also happen to me, may happen to me, and might have happened to me already. Also: what I call "me" is the result of others -- family, community, friends, culture, genetic inheritance, etc. The elements that combined to form me have combined in similar ways in other lives and will do so again; much of what I term "my" consciousness isn't unique. "In the slow rise to the self, we're drawn up by many hands," as a poet once put it.
    Well, yes, of course. I think the key is actually realizing this, feeling this deep inside, versus just throwing out some mystical sounding language that doesn't really penetrate. I've heard a lot of flaky and un-compassionate people talk about how we're one, or the same thing. Anyone can say the words--it's doing it, feeling it, that is the real heart of the matter, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by robert
    You express this so beautifully that I feel a little chagrined. I'm very far from experiencing such a transformative process firsthand -- right now, the occasional moment of compassionate awareness makes me happy.
    That is the process, brother. Just keep living it, it will get deeper and deeper, I promise. That is the mystery

  8. #8

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Just keep living it, it will get deeper and deeper, I promise. That is the mystery
    It's good to hear this -- thank you for the encouraging words.

    Rob

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Honestly, I've never really grooved on the formulation of it as "you ARE others." I don't find it any more mystical or any less of a self-centered way to put it than "you are like others." And, in a way, it's false. Yeah, sure, on some absolute level we're all the same thing, but in our day-to-day experience we have to deal with the other as the other. Saying, "We're all one, man," doesn't change that. I find that the awareness that we're not exactly the same is a key part of the experience of compassion.
    You're arguing with the concepts instead of going where they're pointing. I'm not saying, 'We're all one, man' and your reduction of what I said to that sentence shows me you have no real experience of what I AM talking about. If you had, you wouldn't say 'yeah, sure, on some absolute level we're all the same thing' - you're conceding the point in a way that shows you've never realized this.

    The knowledge that I cannot ever really know another person's experience from the inside out alerts me to the fact that I have to find the time and patience to listen and enter into that experience as best as I can, knowing I can never know that experience exactly as the other knows it. It saves you from making a lot of assumptions and mistakes. Different people experience the same things differently, based on their past experiences, the way they think, the way they're wired emotionally.
    The first part of this statement makes the argument against the second part of this statement. If you truly cannot know another person's experience from the inside out, then you can't know that different people experience the same things differently. Even if they say that they experience things differently, you cannot really know this. As a matter of fact, if you stick to what you can really know, you'll find yourself at 'I am the other'.

    It saves you from making a lot of assumptions and mistakes.
    Apparently, it doesn't. I wasn't aiming for mystical - I was aiming for the exact opposite of mystical. Any mysticism attributed to the statement came directly from you.

    To me, compassion is a process of transformation. Empathy is part of it, intelligence is part of it, action is part of it. As with zazen, it is an emptying of the self, a process of opening.
    Is that what zazen is?

    You let the other in, you let go of your thoughts and beliefs and just meet them. It's one of the most mystical, wonderful things possible to experience. There's a quality of love that enters into it that is absolutely beyond anything else you can experience. That you are so open to the other, so attuned, so absolutely ready and willing to meet them, that your heart is so raw, the tears just come... or perhaps they don't. Sometimes compassion is so simple and matter-of-fact, you see someone in a situation and it's communicated directly to you something they're feeling and needing and you are able to extend that to them. It's not exactly a profound or tearful moment when you realize the person next to you needs a tissue to blow their nose--but that's compassion too
    This sounds exactly like an un-contrived experience of 'I am the other'. Especially, 'you see someone in a situation and it's communicated directly to you'. This doesn't sound ANYTHING like the complicated and intellectual 'everyone sees everything different man, and you can never really know so you just have to guess' In fact, you said, 'The knowledge that I cannot ever really know another person's experience from the inside out alerts me to the fact that I have to find the time and patience to listen and enter into that experience as best as I can'. Great, but then you describe a process that sounds NOTHING like that.

    To me, compassion is what makes life worth living. It's why and how you can continue to go on in the face of emptiness and impermanence. Otherwise, the void would ice you over from the inside out.
    Have you truly had an experience of emptiness and impermanence? IT IS NOT A VOID. It's never been a void. Your description of it as a void shows you have no direct, unmediated experience of it.

    If your heart has been broken by the world, you can keep on going, because it means your heart is broken open and ready to accept and take in the joy and sorrow of others, able to respond to them with openness, kindness, and intelligence. Living with compassion is like living art, every moment is surprising and poignant. Kids playing in the street just fill your heart with joy and you don't have to turn away from the homeless person sleeping near them, even though it's hard. You realize that all is just so, and you can be there and sometimes offer them a little something, limited and humble but something nonetheless, because something that is not you is moving through you, a love without a name or origin, to which you can surrender the puniness of your little self.
    What you are offering is not limited or humble. It's the entire universe. It's everything. It might be a quarter. It might be nothing at all...but it's still the entire universe.

    What you are describing sounds like sentimentality.

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    Well, yes, of course. I think the key is actually realizing this, feeling this deep inside, versus just throwing out some mystical sounding language that doesn't really penetrate. I've heard a lot of flaky and un-compassionate people talk about how we're one, or the same thing. Anyone can say the words--it's doing it, feeling it, that is the real heart of the matter, isn't it?
    What's mystical about 'you ARE the other'? I think you heard something I never actually said.

    That is the process, brother. Just keep living it, it will get deeper and deeper, I promise. That is the mystery
    Okay, THAT sounds like mystical baloney. So does all the talk about 'transformation'. What are you trying to transform? What are you trying to fix?

    Chet

  11. #11

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Just in from a run tonight. I came across a tailback of traffic caused by a broken down car in the outside lane of the road. Quickly stopped the traffic and pushed the guy and is car to the side of the road (his clutch had gone), where is was out of the way & could wait for the breakdown services. Shook his had and ran on (up quite a big hill ) and home. Whole incident took a few minutes - it felt like the right thing to do & didn't require any thought.

    Kind regards

    Julian

  12. #12
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    DM, if you want a pissing contest over who has had what experience, I'm not the person to challenge. I'm not interested in proving to you or anyone else what I've experienced. I don't even know what I've experienced, myself. I'm a mess--I know it, everyone here who's acquainted with my posts knows it--and I can guarantee you I have no intention to present myself as an authority on happiness or enlightenment. But I have been practicing for years, and gained some hard-won wisdom through some damned hard times, and I offer my experience for what it is. I can tell you now, friend, that you're misreading my intent.

    Please describe what you mean when you talk about "realizing I am the other." Tell me about your experience of this. Most of the people I've known who have used that phrase or one like it have turned out to be pretty phony people. What do I mean by that? That these people that lecture others about what compassion is and is not often seem strangely devoid of it themselves. Why this is, I don't know. And I'm not calling you out as phony--I don't know you well enough. Though I'm not sure, with the way you're projecting yourself here, that you're the kind of person I'd come to if I was having a hard time. You know? :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Have you truly had an experience of emptiness and impermanence? IT IS NOT A VOID. It's never been a void. Your description of it as a void shows you have no direct, unmediated experience of it.
    Honest answer is, I don't know if I've had the kind of experience you're suggesting I should have. But I'm wired such that I do experience what I would call "the void" at times. Very likely this is rooted in my own psychological conditioning as anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    What you are describing sounds like sentimentality.
    What can I say, I'm an emotional person. It's not real unless I'm feeling it. You feel me? :lol:

  13. #13
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    DM, if you want a pissing contest over who has had what experience, I'm not the person to challenge. I'm not interested in proving to you or anyone else what I've experienced. I don't even know what I've experienced, myself. I'm a mess--I know it, everyone here who's acquainted with my posts knows it--and I can guarantee you I have no intention to present myself as an authority on happiness or enlightenment. But I have been practicing for years, and gained some hard-won wisdom through some damned hard times, and I offer my experience for what it is. I can tell you now, friend, that you're misreading my intent.
    You seem proud of your spiritual and psychological achievements. Hard-won, huh?

    Please describe what you mean when you talk about "realizing I am the other." Tell me about your experience of this. Most of the people I've known who have used that phrase or one like it have turned out to be pretty phony people. What do I mean by that? That these people that lecture others about what compassion is and is not often seem strangely devoid of it themselves. Why this is, I don't know. And I'm not calling you out as phony--I don't know you well enough. Though I'm not sure, with the way you're projecting yourself here, that you're the kind of person I'd come to if I was having a hard time. You know? :wink:
    If you're looking for comfort, maybe not. If you were looking for something besides 'idiot compassion', I might be just the person to come to, you know? :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Have you truly had an experience of emptiness and impermanence? IT IS NOT A VOID. It's never been a void. Your description of it as a void shows you have no direct, unmediated experience of it.
    Honest answer is, I don't know if I've had the kind of experience your suggesting I should have. But I'm wired such that I do experience what I would call "the void" at times. Very likely this is rooted in my own psychological conditioning as anything.
    But is that void the 'emptiness and impermanence' of Zen? If it isn't, then what are you talking about? I'm not saying you haven't had some experience you should have had - I'm saying that you might have interpreted what I actually did say with something other than, 'We're all one, man....'.

    All I really wanted was for what I intentionally said to sink in without all the noise you have in your head about what sorts of people say things like that.

  14. #14
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    You seem proud of your spiritual and psychological achievements. Hard-won, huh?
    What is there to be proud of when you've got nothing anyone else would want? I would be shocked if the people who read my posts thought, "Wow, I really wish I was like her, roaming the streets of New York all strung out on dark emotions. That's what I came to Buddhism for--so I could find ways to be more messed up!" :lol: I throw my thoughts out there not because I feel I am saving the benighted with my wisdom, but because I enjoy doing so, because it helps me reflect, because it's a way to engage with others and experience the joys of communication. Sometimes the things I say are useful to others, sometimes not. Sometimes I've got some pretty smart things to say, sometimes I'm full of shit. That's part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    If you're looking for comfort, maybe not. If you were looking for something besides 'idiot compassion', I might be just the person to come to, you know? :wink:
    You really think you're somethin', don't you? I find your cockiness endearing. It makes me want to pinch your butt. :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    But is that void the 'emptiness and impermanence' of Zen? If it isn't, then what are you talking about?
    The void--duh! :lol: In all seriousness, I'm talking about something I and others encounter in life, especially these days, which is a feeling of meaninglessness, a sense of nothingness. I don't think this is the same as shunyata but I think it is something one encounters along the spiritual path. Or maybe only people with psych issues encounter it. I don't know. All I can tell you, is that it's hard some days, to find a reason. On such days, compassion supplies that reason. I'd probably be dead or in a nut bin without having experienced it--both from others and from within myself. Although--WAIT--it's all the same thing, regardless of the source, isn't it! I GET IT MAN!! :lol:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I'm not saying you haven't had some experience you should have had - I'm saying that you might have interpreted what I actually did say with something other than, 'We're all one, man....'.

    All I really wanted was for what I intentionally said to sink in without all the noise you have in your head about what sorts of people say things like that.
    I'm genuinely sorry if I misrepresented you with my response to you. My comments weren't targeted at you in particular, they just arose out of my past experience with people who have insisted that the only correct understanding of the Dharma or compassion is that we are the same thing. It's not so much that I disagree or agree with this, either way--it's that I'm interested in what's practical, and find this teaching pretty useless in that regard, because we have to function every day as distinct, separate individuals and it's in that everyday world that compassion really functions.

  15. #15
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    You seem proud of your spiritual and psychological achievements. Hard-won, huh?
    What is there to be proud of when you've got nothing anyone else would want? I would be shocked if the people who read my posts thought, "Wow, I really wish I was like her, roaming the streets of New York all strung out on dark emotions. That's what I came to Buddhism for--so I could find ways to be more messed up!" :lol: I throw my thoughts out there not because I feel I am saving the benighted with my wisdom, but because I enjoy doing so, because it helps me reflect, because it's a way to engage with others and experience the joys of communication. Sometimes the things I say are useful to others, sometimes not. Sometimes I've got some pretty smart things to say, sometimes I'm full of shit. That's part of the game.
    And all I was saying is, 'You're full of shit, Stephanie.'

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    If you're looking for comfort, maybe not. If you were looking for something besides 'idiot compassion', I might be just the person to come to, you know? :wink:
    You really think you're somethin', don't you? I find your cockiness endearing. It makes me want to pinch your butt. :wink:
    I was just acknowledging that I'm sort of an asshole, on the edge of things. Deep down, I'm a sweetie, but it takes a little while to see that.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    But is that void the 'emptiness and impermanence' of Zen? If it isn't, then what are you talking about?
    The void--duh! :lol: In all seriousness, I'm talking about something I and others encounter in life, especially these days, which is a feeling of meaninglessness, a sense of nothingness. I don't think this is the same as shunyata but I think it is something one encounters along the spiritual path. Or maybe only people with psych issues encounter it. I don't know. All I can tell you, is that it's hard some days, to find a reason. On such days, compassion supplies that reason. I'd probably be dead or in a nut bin without having experienced it--both from others and from within myself. Although--WAIT--it's all the same thing, regardless of the source, isn't it! I GET IT MAN!! :lol:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I'm not saying you haven't had some experience you should have had - I'm saying that you might have interpreted what I actually did say with something other than, 'We're all one, man....'.

    All I really wanted was for what I intentionally said to sink in without all the noise you have in your head about what sorts of people say things like that.
    I'm genuinely sorry if I misrepresented you with my response to you. My comments weren't targeted at you in particular, they just arose out of my past experience with people who have insisted that the only correct understanding of the Dharma or compassion is that we are the same thing. It's not so much that I disagree or agree with this, either way--it's that I'm interested in what's practical, and find this teaching pretty useless in that regard, because we have to function every day as distinct, separate individuals and it's in that everyday world that compassion really functions.
    You're right, we do have to deal with people as distinct individuals - at least most of the time. I do think that the experience of 'self as other' can be a catalyst for compassion though - and when it IS actually your experience (not all the time), it is so much more powerful than the smaller compassion of distinct individual-hood. IMHO.

  16. #16
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    And all I was saying is, 'You're full of shit, Stephanie.'
    Back at ya, homie :mrgreen:

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I was just acknowledging that I'm sort of an asshole, on the edge of things. Deep down, I'm a sweetie, but it takes a little while to see that.
    You are what you do in every moment. What else could you be? There is no "deep down." Unless you're talking about Buddha Nature, and even Charlie Manson has that.

  17. #17
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    And all I was saying is, 'You're full of shit, Stephanie.'
    Back at ya, homie :mrgreen:
    Show me.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I was just acknowledging that I'm sort of an asshole, on the edge of things. Deep down, I'm a sweetie, but it takes a little while to see that.
    You are what you do in every moment. What else could you be? There is no "deep down." Unless you're talking about Buddha Nature, and even Charlie Manson has that.
    I'm saying that people who get to know me like me better than people who've just met me. I tend to make a terrible first, second, and/or third impression.

  18. #18

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    (quick interjection)
    Chet you are so right here. I was ready to strangle you after a few days, but several days later got to enjoy the sass and energy you bring. Also, I tend to like people who make me think--and you do that.

    Okay, as Ros, or somebody here would say--

    back to your regularaly scheduled discussion
    (end interjection)

    Ann

  19. #19
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    I like ya already, Chet, you obnoxious twat :mrgreen:

  20. #20

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    ... please relax, calm, find natural balance ... peace and unity ...

    Do not bring division and anger to a discussion of wholeness and Compassion.

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    My apologies for using harsh words. I respect what you try to realize here in terms of the atmosphere, Jundo, and sometimes I forget or get carried away. I do promise my intention was not to hurt or create division. What I offered here was offered in a spirit of mirth and goodwill, even if there was an edge to it. I will try my best to tone it down--again (isn't this familiar?) ops:

  22. #22
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    My apologies for using harsh words. I respect what you try to realize here in terms of the atmosphere, Jundo, and sometimes I forget or get carried away. I do promise my intention was not to hurt or create division. What I offered here was offered in a spirit of mirth and goodwill, even if there was an edge to it. I will try my best to tone it down--again (isn't this familiar?) ops:
    I wasn't offended by a single thing you said. Maybe I was a bit miffed that you seemed to miss my point, but your language or tone didn't offend me.

    I don't know why I'm so rough sometimes. I will endeavor to do better.

    Chet

  23. #23

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I will endeavor to do better.

    Chet
    Me too. All of us.

  24. #24

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    This post is a great example of two people having a proper conversation without any forced politeness - the scattering of winks made me feel at ease.
    Not being too worried about causing offense is important, no?
    I'm terrible at that - always worrying how people might take my words...so I write the minimum :wink:

  25. #25
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    I enjoy a bit of edgy wordplay and verbal scrappin', it actually helps me make friends with people who annoy me at first :wink: because I can just go with it, have fun, and get into a groove with them. I'd have gotten mad at Chet if I hadn't been able to call him a few names. Instead, I had fun, and irritation gave way to pleasure. His brazenness allowed me to be brazen. That's how I like to roll. Lord knows I can be annoying too and I think people should be able to curse at me as well :mrgreen:

    But Jundo has a vision for how he wants this place to operate, and I respect what he's doing. He's asked me to mend my cursin', fightin' ways before, and I try. Just not very hard sometimes, I guess... :lol:

  26. #26

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Hi,

    THIS POSTING MOVED OVER HERE ...

    viewtopic.php?p=15034#p15034

  27. #27

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Am I clear, or have I said too much?
    Perfectly clear Jundo - you get my vote & support

    Kind regards

    Jools

    ps - Mcbeam flaky at tonight's sitting, but Ustream fine - thank you for all your efforts

  28. #28
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Steph, Chet, Will, Everybody!

    I love yous guys stuff. I love what you guys write. I find so many of the ideas fascinating. I love great conversations and "back & forth". I am from the Bronx ... I understand the verbal style, Steph. That's not really it.

    I think that what I am trying to say, actually, is not so much about the tone (though there is that sometimes, let's all "make nice" and keep gentle language even when we don't want to do so) ... but more, it is about slowing up the racing mind. The ideas are fascinating, but there are too many of them for Zen practice, too many all at once and/or in sequence.

    The way to practice silence and simplicity is so often silence and simplicity.

    How about I make a suggestion to everybody in the Sangha (except folks who never post ... they should post more! ): Force yourself to skip two out of three postings you wish to make, and answer with silence? It is like Mushin's excellent practice of looking for the space between breaths (which I fully support ... just not during Shikantaza). We need to respond to more ideas and questions with silence and simplicity, not animated conversations. Don't stop posting and communicating (like we should not stop breathing), but be reserved ... hesitant to speak ... of few words ...

    Sometimes, maybe most times, we can best talk about "Zen" ... and these topics ... with stillness, silence, a smile.

    I have to go do the Saturday "live" sitting now, but I think I will post this up as its own topic later tonight.

    Am I clear, or have I said too much?

    Gassho, Jundo
    I don't understand the 'why' of it. It seems like a personal preference not really having anything to do with Zen. If you think silence is Zen, well...that seems....misguided, IMHO. In Sesshin? Sure. In the Zendo, yeah. Out in the kitchen or coffee hall? It's all conversation at every Zen place I've ever been. If you want silence, why have a discussion forum?

    If it was idle talk, that'd be one thing - but the threads here have actually piqued my interest in resuming my practice in a way that 'silent smiles' just never could.

    The only possible reason I could imagine enforcing silence on a discussion forum would be to instill the virtue of 'restraint'. The thing is, in the meatworld, you can say something to someone and they can be completely silent - and yet you know you've been heard. On a DF, the only way you know someone heard you is if they respond.

    Probably another reason I have resistance is that I live a very isolated life, and I don't feel very similar to the people around me. It's unusual for me to be around this many people, all of whom are engaged in an authentic Zen practice... or would even be interested in what I find to be the most important thing in this life.

    Lastly, with such a far-flung Sangha - it's would be hard to develop any sense of community without these conversations.

    Chet

  29. #29
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    I share some of Chet's opinions, especially about things being different in online discussion forums than they would or could be in "realspace" gatherings. But I understand and respect what Jundo's trying to do, too. If you put too much energy into the sort of arcane arguments you can have on an Internet forum with other people who are geeked out on the same topics you're geeked out on, you can mentally wander down a rat-maze that's easy to get lost in, not find your way out for days, and lose sight of "the bigger picture." I think there should be room for us to throw down with each other here, but I also respect that a good teacher would suggest we shut the hell up every now and then :wink:

    I also like Jundo's suggestion of holding back a response every once in a while. I think it would be a good practice for me, at least, and I plan to take it up. Although sometimes I know I won't be able to stop those fingers of mine from flyin' :mrgreen:

    And Jundo--where exactly were you born? Didn't you mention Brooklyn before as well? I'd be curious to hear more about your New York background. You're obviously one tough mf, under all that cuddly "play nice" stuff :wink:

  30. #30

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    To me, compassion is a process of transformation. Empathy is part of it, intelligence is part of it, action is part of it. As with zazen, it is an emptying of the self, a process of opening.
    Is that what zazen is?
    Yes, and no. Thats only part of it.

    Ask yourself, empty what into what? opening what into what?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  31. #31

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Hi.

    I was thinking, aren't we discussing "the net of indra", in which it is stated that we are all "reflections of everybody else and so forth"?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  32. #32

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Gassho y'all,

    I had what was for me a very meaningful experience regarding buddhist compassion. I was at a sesshin and at the end of the week there was a formal question session with two of the five teachers who were there. We were all (I think there was about 70 of us) told to think of a question that was significant to us but something that we wouldn't mind asking in front of everyone, then we could choose which of the two teachers to publically ask oour question. One thing that struck me is that every single question that was asked applied to my life, it was amazing. Anyway, the question I thought of was "what is compassion?" and almost as soon as I thought of it, I had this vivid brief fantasy of Chozen Bays Roshi saying, in a very firm voice "Just Don't Judge". And there was my answer. For me it is not about a generalized feeling of warmth or benevolence (as nice and positive as that can be as a force for a kinder, gentler and more ethical world) but it is about just not judging. As I am a very simple minded person, this answer works for me. Now of course, living it is the work of a lifetime. And it is work, moment by moment. I believe living an ethical life is based on constant examination of my actions and understanding, looking more and more and asking how can I live a more respectful life. Do I live up to this? Of course not. Do I hope to? All we have is hope.

    As for self and others are one, speaking as a person with serious (psychological) boundary "issues", I think that that view is only half the picture. In formal koan study, the first set of koans (per Bernie Glassman ROshi I think) is about seeing the interconnectedness and oneness of all phenomena. The second set of koans is about seeing the uniqueness and separateness of all phenomena. The third set is about seeing the oneness of all phenomena and the separateness of all pehnomena At the Same Time. I believe all three understandings are very important and none should be left out (at least they are very important to me ) I hope I did not offend anyone by mentioning koan study in this Soto zendo, it was just the best way I could explain things.

    As to tone, conflict, etc in people's posts, I am concerned that a lot of of playful insults might make Treeleaf an emotionally unsafe place for some people (and we would never know because they would simply not post and go away). I am the WORST person to judge these things since I am VERY nervous about what I feel is hostile language. But I am learning that what I perceive as hostility is just free chat. And I do believe in openess and people being far less inhibited than I am (which is very since I suffer from a VERY unenlightened (not very) subconscious......really.....terminal foot in mouth.....maybe whole leg......)

    One last note on compassion, for me it begins with asking questions, what do you need? how do you feel? what do you think and why do you think it? Part of "just don't judge" is, for me, firmly knowing that even when I hear someone's answers, I only know my imagining of what that person means/experiences. I get very nervous when people talk about "empathy" since (for personal herstory reasons) I have a rather hard time coping with other people's misconceptions about me.

    But even one more note on compassion. I believe it is getting off my butt and doing what needs to be done, helping those called Rowan and those called other names as THEY wish to be helped (or not, as the case may be). In sanzen with Zen Master Jeff Kitsis, he asked the koan "How do you love the world?" and I answered "I cook lunch for the sangha" (I used to do the first retreat day lunch). And he said "CORRECT!" This is what I believe.

    As always, thank you for your time
    gassho to all,
    rowan
    who is wading through a rather desperate need to feel welcome

  33. #33

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Hi Rowan,

    Thank you for a lovely post. Please feel welcome here.

    As a minor point of clarification ...

    Quote Originally Posted by ros

    As for self and others are one, speaking as a person with serious (psychological) boundary "issues", I think that that view is only half the picture. In formal koan study, the first set of koans (per Bernie Glassman ROshi I think) is about seeing the interconnectedness and oneness of all phenomena. The second set of koans is about seeing the uniqueness and separateness of all phenomena. The third set is about seeing the oneness of all phenomena and the separateness of all pehnomena At the Same Time. I believe all three understandings are very important and none should be left out (at least they are very important to me ) I hope I did not offend anyone by mentioning koan study in this Soto zendo, it was just the best way I could explain things.
    In our Soto way, we have the very same philosophy and most of the same Koans. It is just that we do not focus on the Koans during Zazen, which is radically 'goalless just sitting" in our way. We also tend not to approach the Koans as a test to be passed in interviews with the Master. Yet we pierce them in much the same way ... thinking non-thinking, reading non-reading.

    I just point that out, because there is so much confusion on the Soto approach to Koans.

    Gassho, Jundo

  34. #34

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Rowan,

    Thank you for a lovely post. Please feel welcome here.

    As a minor point of clarification ...


    In our Soto way, we have the very same philosophy and most of the same Koans. It is just that we do not focus on the Koans during Zazen, which is radically 'goalless just sitting" in our way. We also tend not to approach the Koans as a test to be passed in interviews with the Master. Yet we pierce them in much the same way ... thinking non-thinking, reading non-reading.

    I just point that out, because there is so much confusion on the Soto approach to Koans.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Greetings Jundo,

    I think I am waiting to here exactly what the "Soto approach to koans is". The approach I know of is Mumon's

    "To realize Zen one has to pass through the barrier of the Patriarchs. Enlightenment follows when the road of thinking ceases. If you do not pass the barrier of the Patriarchs, or if your road of thinking does not cease, then no matter what you think, no matter what you you do, you are like a tangled ghost. You may ask "What is the barrier of the Patriarchs?" This one word "Mu" ("Wu" in the original Chinese) is it. This is the barrier of Zen. If you pass through it, you will see Joshu (Chao Chou in Chinese) face to face. Then you can walk hand-in-hand with the whole line of Patriarchs. Is this not a pleasant thing to do? If you want to pass this barrier, you must work through every bone in your body, through every pore of your skin. You must become filled with the question, "What is Mu?" Carry it with you day and night. Do not believe that it is the common negative syllable meaning "nothing". It is not nothingness, the opposite of existence.If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel as if you had a hot iron ball embedded in your throat. You can neither swallow it nor spit it out. Then your previous lesser knowledge disappears. Like a fruit ripening in season, your subjectivity and objectivity naturally become one. You are like a dumb man who has a dream. Your ego shell is crushed and you can shake the heaven and move the earth. You are like a great warrior holding a sharp sword. If a a Buddha stands in your way, cut him down. If a Patriarch blocks your way, kill him. You will be free from birth and death. You will be able to enter any world as if it were your own playground. I will tell you how to do this with this koan. Just concentrate your whole energy into this Mu, and do not allow any disruptions to sway you. When you enter this Mu and there are no disruptions, your attainment will be like a burning candle illuminating the whole universe". (From Eido Shimano Roshi's collection "Golden Wind")

    So can you please describe the procedure, in Soto zen, for "studying" koans? Maybe you have and I have missed it (I miss many things)?

    gassho,
    rowan

  35. #35

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Rowan,

    Please feel welcome here.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Thank you, I will try to.

    gassho to all,
    rowan

  36. #36

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Quote Originally Posted by ros

    But even one more note on compassion. I believe it is getting off my butt and doing what needs to be done, helping those called Rowan and those called other names as THEY wish to be helped (or not, as the case may be). In sanzen with Zen Master Jeff Kitsis, he asked the koan "How do you love the world?" and I answered "I cook lunch for the sangha" (I used to do the first retreat day lunch). And he said "CORRECT!"

    As always, thank you for your time
    gassho to all,
    rowan
    (So vain to quote your own posts (where is that damn "smugness" face.......)

    I wanted to say that Treeleaf is such a a fine example of getting-off-one's-butt compassion, or rather of Jundo and Skye's compassion "in action". (Yes, yes, I know Jundo's compassion of getting off his butt is most often to get ON his butt and to "just do it" by not doing it :wink

    with palms together,
    rowan

  37. #37

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    deleted by rowan

  38. #38

    Re: What is Zen compassion?

    Hi Folks,

    I don't think that I have heard of the term "zen compassion" before. Thich Nhat Hahn's discussion of interdependence resonates a truth for me, but it might not for everyone. Perhaps it is "intellectual" if we only read and think about it. The concept needs to be experienced; then it's not so cerebral. Yes, "I am my neighbour", but at the same time I'm not. If I was to try to walk in someone else's shoes, it would be me doing the walking. I guess that I feel differently about compassion, in that I think it's possible to have compassion for others and also respect that their experience is their own. Hence, I can't totally know what they're going through, even if I've been through a similar experience.

    A regular meditation practice has given me the gift of being comfortable with silence, and that in turn has allowed me to slow down and have moments in which I am present for another person. My mind and heart can contain the moment in which I am with the other, without my mind being preoccupied with getting in my opinions and thoughts right away. For me, that's a big part of compassion.

    Metta and gassho,
    Marina

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