Hi every body.....
I just want to ask... what will be your answer if some one who don't know about Zen at all, ask you this simple question..."What is Zen?"
Hi every body.....
I just want to ask... what will be your answer if some one who don't know about Zen at all, ask you this simple question..."What is Zen?"
Hi Shui Di,Originally Posted by Shui_Di
I think the "answer" you wrote in the poetry corner is pretty darn good ...
Originally Posted by Shui_Di
Only in that moment when the question is asked would I open my mouth and words would come out
and that would be my response to the question that asker asked at that moment
and I wouldn't 'know' what my answer was until I heard it for the first time myself.
But here, right now out pops: "It's not what you think!"
I dont know...
Daniel ( who really has no clue)
Depends on what answer is needed. :twisted:
Well thanks for your replies guys.... :wink:
I`m not sure right at this moment, :? but the answer does come to me now and zen. :roll:
PS Just off for a hernia operation this afternoon. Back in a day or so. :cry:
eegh, several replies I've used in the past.
" you 'know... stuff"
" what isn't?"
and no, almost nobody who's asked me is satisfied with those answers.
Hi Tora..., me too, nobody is satisfied about my answer..... :roll:
But, I remember about one of the zen story:
one day a young monk ask his teacher, about what is the most precious thing, and the master replied,"A dead cat's head".
The young monk ask again, "why 'a dead cat's head' is the most precious thing?"
The master replied, "because no one see it as a precious thing". :wink:
Btw, thanks folks... for the replies.....
Is that really what you all answer? The words glib and cavalier come to mind. While we are encouraged to not give our knowledge away cheaply there is also that pesky vow thing. Something about "no matter how numberless I vow to something or other. Your answers remind me of that Harley Davidson conceit, "It's a Harley thing. If you have to ask you wouldn't understand." I don't have the attainment of Jundo or someone like him so I try to articulate what I understand of the teachings. It's his job to transmit the essence not that he doesn't articulate also. Sorry to rant after so long an absence but it is a question I have often wondered about. I saw a lot of potential in this post. Maybe I missed something
"Don't know"s answer is good thouigh.
well i have tried answering that question many many times...
i live in Israel where Buddhism and zen in particular are pretty much non existent, there are some groups that sit but its mostly Tibetan Buddhism and maybe about 5 groups of zen for the entire country, no teacher though.
so when i say i am practice zen i usually get a weird look and a question about it. to tell you the truth i found it is impossible to explain, people just dont get it... or might i even say dont wish to get it.
mostly i hear how can you not believe in god?! or how did the universe get created in my opinion? or that what i say contradicts itself.
what i came to believe is that people dont really want to understand it and therefor i dont really try to explain, in the odd chance they actually do they usually come from a certain point of view and dont wish to think of other views and therefor its hard for them to accept.
so usually i just tell them that its just nothing and there is no real difference between zen and anything else since zen is pretty much everything, and i cant put a tag on it. or that the only way to understand it is to practice it.
or maybe many many other things i might say. but usually i just get lost in the words and cant really explain it intellectually.
one thing i must say that the more i listen to the talks Jundo gives i feel he actually talks about the same thing, and i dont mean the actual same thing but the core of it deep down comes from the same place, there is something there that makes it the same ( but it still rings true to me on every level although sometimes contradictory ). some hidden meaning or notion... yet i dont really know what it is, and for me that is zen... knowing with your heart of hearts that something is true, yet never really knowing what it is and yet trusting it entirely.
Daniel, who once again spoke to much and lost his point in the chatter.
I may be going out on a limb here but one answer is that zen is one of the main Buddhist traditions.
Really though, it does depend on who is asking and why. Where did they get the word 'zen' from?
As many of you have said, the reply would depend on the circumstances. I fear that I'd feel a pressure (coming only from within me) to say something "clever" or "zen" and would end up being incoherent as a result. I'd like to think that I would resist that pressure and just try to give a reply that was helpful.
I heard an interview with Brad Warner once where Brad was asked "What exactly is Zen?" and he replied "It's (kind of) a way of looking at reality". I thought that was probably helpful.
"It's about not getting too caught up in my thoughts and focusing on what I'm doing and doing it properly. I also sit for 30 minutes in Zazen, learning to just sit with the thoughts and emotions I have. Again, not getting caught up in them. Just trying to become better at that, I suppose is what Zen is to me. "
That's what I think. But I probably wouldn't say that. Unless someone was really interested
The answer to what is Zen?... Yes, I agree with Jundo, your first answer is really good. The answer could also be another question such as...who is asking?
PS. Did you all finish your rakusu? I wonder. What is the answer?
By the way, I kind of disagree with the great Brad...? No, because reality is always as is, looking at it in certain way makes it unreal. It could beA kind of way of looking at reality. Brad could have phrased it differently like...Reality watching itself, reality watching you.a way to look at illusion, or self-delusion.
Just a deluded thought...
I usually just get the weird look, that could be because I'm not the prettiest boy in town though.Originally Posted by Zen
Once a fellow tried to evangelize me, he was literally speechless when I told him. Honestly, I love that moment when the little thought balloon bursts and all you can think is "huh?".
I get that sometimes too, but mainly because I'm fairly open about my atheism.mostly i hear how can you not believe in god?! or how did the universe get created in my opinion? or that what i say contradicts itself.
I think you are right to a point Daniel, but there is also somewhat of a stereotype that the world of Zen is mysterious, mystical, exotic, and just unapproachable to mere mortals.what i came to believe is that people dont really want to understand it and therefor i dont really try to explain, in the odd chance they actually do they usually come from a certain point of view and dont wish to think of other views and therefor its hard for them to accept.
No answer is more correct than another. I think a good answer is one that best helps the beginner to get a general understanding of what Zen is.
If you give an opaque 'koan-like' response, you are probably showing off. Unless the beginner is a fool he or she will recognise that and probably think you are a smart-arse, become immediately alienated from you and from zen practice, thinking it is a bunch of pointless, pretentious nonsense.
Since the asker is a beginner, the most useful sort of answer would be straightforward and conventional.
Zen is a form of Buddhism that emphasises meditation and direct contemplation of reality
Hi Sho Nin,
Thank you for your imput. If I may say ( and please, take this with great caution)
I am a beginner. So are all of us. We are not talking about what should be the correct answer, the propper form for beginners over there...
Don't you see? It is about you. You. You. Your life.My life.
Zen is not a form of Buddhism. Where did you get that from? Zen is Buddhism. Before and after, Zen is sitting. Sitting as life.
It does not emphasise anything as such. Emphasis? Duality!?...
Reality? Who is seing reality?
These are not Koan. Real questions I ask myself everyday...as a beginner.
Anyway, thank you for sitting your bum on a cushion and reading my empty prose.
Yes I know it's about this life, this moment. Everything is this, this, this. This is already this, why the need to add 'Zen'? An answer like that is fine, but its also open to a great deal of misunderstanding. The listener might not know what 'this' refers to. They might think it refers to the physical world, or living for the moment and all sorts of misunderstandings I've heard over the years.
But that wouldn't help a beginner.
If you gave your answer to my wife she wouldn't be enlightened. She'd probably be tempted to punch you.
To say Zen is Buddhism not a form of Buddhism disrespects all other Buddhist sects that don't call themselves Zen. This is a sectarian attitude.
Why are you repelled by conventional understanding?
What sort of answer to give depends on what is appropriate for the asker: what sort of beginner? A total beginner or an active practitioner who is ready to move beyond the purely conventional?
Dear Sho Nin,
Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I might be a bit challenging...Do you mind? :wink:
You start your post with I know. Well, I don t. That is why I consider myself as a beginner. Because I constantly miss the point, the moment, the actual moment. May I suggest you ask yourself Who says I know?.
Helping a beginner is beyond my ability. Maybe you can do it. Afer some 32 years of practice, I cannot really. Even if I received the Dharma, I consider that I am not worthy of It. Every morning I get up and find myself back to square one.Helping others is to do the job ourselves. Not trying to find the right answer for the right person, but just get on with our crooked lives. If the listener knows what thisb refers to', it is a bad sign. Your invitation should be to take her or him to the place where there is no more I know. We are not talking about Zen in thirty lessons or Zen for dummies, we are talking about real life. everyday life, not books, not dictionnaries or conventionnal knowledge. As a ex University Professor, I have the experience of that kind of knowledge, believe me, it is more or less pointless.
Congratulation, you have a strong wife! And, thank God, I have no intention to enlighten her. If I meet your wife I would presumably get on with my crooked life because I am nothing to prove to her. It is just the way it is.
About the sectarian attitude...Well, let me tell you a story. Two years ago I visited a temple in Daitokuji, Kyoto. A Rinzai temple where a delightful abbot invited me for a tea. I could not speak a word of Japanese but we were both laughing like stupid kids and having a real great time. There was a young monk there, in his twenties, who started to challenge me in his brave and bold English saying that I should study the Japanese way, learn the ceremonies, because Zen was Japanese! I was loosing my time doing Takuhatsu and begging, I was a deluded Gaijin! And so on...My simple answer was that Zen is not Japanese. Zen is even beyond Buddhism. And Zen could be found in the West as well as in the East. He lost it at the great delight of my host, the old abbot, who was enhjoying the whole row between these two roosters.
Well Thank you, here you are again apparently. You don t have to call yourself Zen to be it. Many people would not say they are christian but they actually behave like christians. You don t need to say that you are a human being, do you? Things, people, stuff exist without the need to be named. Why would Zen be Buddhism. Because. it originated, in this form, under the Bodhi tree when Gautama sat in lotus posture watching the morning star. The core of Zen is this practice, as it is the core in all Buddhist traditions. exept some late Mahayana paths such as Jodo shin Shu but even then, in the eyes and behaviour of old the Jodo shin practionner that shares my train journey every morning from Umeda to Mino I see the esssence of Zen.
My invitation. Sit. Ten more years. And ten more years again. But you may know the quote. Do it, then.
The sectarian attitude is to see forms of Buddhism as forms of Buddhism. Once you see the deep interconnectedness, the common ground, the empty field in all of them, you can say that this is Zen. When this morning the Jodo shin guy talked to me he was looking at me a if I were Amida. This was wonderful. A complete non sectarian attitude.
Thank you and good luck with ...your life.
No one says. What it is is what it is. You can make me fall over my own words if you like. I don't claim to be free of delusions, but I understand that the meaning of Zen is *this*. I can't grab some and hold itOriginally Posted by Taigu
You consider youself 'beginner' and theat it is 'beyond your ability' and you are 'not worthy' and then you 'casually' drop the fact that you've been practicing 32 years into conversation. Is this modesty or false modesty? While you hesitate, waiting for certainty to arise, the beginner walks away or lives out their life and dies. The opportunity to be released from suffering is gone. A provisional response will suffice to help this person, no need to wait for a perfect one.Originally Posted by Taigu
I thought you felt you were unworthy even to give a lesson to a complete beginner, yet you are giving me a lesson now. Everything that depends on words and concepts is conventional understanding. Zen for Dummies may be a good at the introductory level. I have a copy of Islam for Dummies and it's really not bad.Originally Posted by Taigu
Fair enough. And yet I have to safely answer her questions about Zen!Originally Posted by Taigu
Seems like a good answer. You were both right, but in different ways. We can trace Zen's journey: India, China, Japan, the West and yet it was already here. But if it never arrived would we be able to recognise that it was already here?Originally Posted by Taigu
Thank you for the lesson. GasshoOriginally Posted by Taigu
Hi Taigu and Sho Nin, thanks for your input...
and for all folks, thanks for your replies...
Sometimes, I also answer it with a conventional way, like Zen is one of the Buddhism teaching which was brought from India to China by Bodhidharma, and has been spread to another country like Korea and Japan.
But if they ask me, what is the Zen teaching?
The answer can have a lot of variety....
Great discussion! I've been asked this question several times. In every instance the 'answer' is awkward. However, I at least make something up with a smile on my face. Zen is silly.
I liked your take on Brad Warner's comment: reality watching iteslf, or reality watching me.
And yes, I'm (still) finishing my Rakusu. Or perhaps my Rakusu is finishing me.
Just a word.
And words are empty.
Dear Sho Nin,
Thank you for making this very nice exchange possible. I really like your voice and and feel your sincerety and will to the truth. Am I humble or not? Don't know. Ask the people around me ( i have got my fair share of stupidity and pride). Am I a mess? For sure. The point I wanted to make, and not the lesson, is that the more you sit, the more you are invited to drop square answers and the will to ease the universal suffering. The sweeping and cleaning is done at home, and questions are left for what they are: amazing ways to keep alive and not sleep awake.
As you write :
While you hesitate, waiting for certainty to arise, the beginner walks away or lives out their life and dies. The opportunity to be released from suffering is gone. A provisional response will suffice to help this person, no need to wait for a perfect one.I would like to suggest that seing a Boddhisatva as a person that tries to release people from suffering is a beautiful yet very naive perception of the Boddhisatava path. A Boddhistava has a huge broken heart, is not a Buddhist super hero, doesn't always help others with answers. A Boddhistava is often doing nothing, allowing people to be in their suffering, no preaching, no big or eloquent teaching... a Boddhistava is just breathing and living gently among others. The wish to help is a vow, as a reality it translates into many forms. Tonight I just listened to a woman talking to me about her husband's death 10 months ago, and the pain she was going through; I did not suggest anything. I was there for her, aware of my both our lifes. Years ago, I would have gone into sermon land. That' s is now my understanding. Am I a Boddhistava? Don't know and don't care. I do what I can do.
Remember the good old story of Ryokan weeping in front of that young relative who was naughty and difficult. Not a word. Just tears and a smile. After Ryokan left, the young guy changed his behaviour. And as Maezumi told the young Glassman one day as he was asking how to help a friend in pain, the master said: Don't steal people's pain!Let them go through what they go! It is what they need to wake up!
Just a suggestion really.
Thank you for your patience and understanding...
Yes, my first answer ("nothing much") was glib and pretentious, and I felt a little guilty about it later. So please let me try again. Assuming the person asking needs a sincere and informative answer I would say something like this:
Zen is a Buddhist way of life where we practice zazen, a form of meditation.
Zen is living life fully, moment to moment, being as present and aware as we can in each of those moments, which is something we practice in zazen.
Zen is living the precepts, which is practicing our Buddhist way of life out in the world.
Zen is everything and nothing, all at the same time, and recognizing the beauty in this non-discrepancy.
And then I expect there would be a longer conversation.
thank you taigu and sho nin.
i read what you write and i must say something.
i agree with taigu, life is just life and as you drop things it becomes different.
i am also a beginner i practice for about 6 years, in this time i have been practicing by myself as best i could and as best i understood.
when i first stared on this path ( yet it is not a path but a walk for the sake of walking ) i had my own ideas and preconceptions about zen
with time they changed, and i wanted to take away the pain and save all beings... i still want to do so, as a nurse i get my chance to try and help people, yet some people are beyond help. so i just try to help them as best i can.
if it means doing nothing, or listening to them, or just talking to them, or drinking with them, or anything that needs to be done... i just do it as long as it is within my ability as a human being.
i always say i am a human being first and a Buddhist after, yet the truth is there is no difference between the 2.
with time understanding changes, if people ask me how does zen affect my life, i tell them it is in everything i do and it effects all aspects of my life yet i cant tell them what it is that is effected. i cant tell when it happened or even why, maybe it is because of my practice and maybe it is because my life has taken a certain course, or than again i got older... i dont know but i change, everything changes.
it is just life i dont care much for why it happens, i just know it happens and that is enough for me.
thank you both for another point of view on everything.
a deep and humble Gassho
Daniel, the beginner.
"And as Maezumi told the young Glassman one day as he was asking how to help a friend in pain, the master said: Don't steal people's pain!Let them go through what they go! It is what they need to wake up!"
When I went on a silent retreat recently, there was a question time with the monks. One girl felt it was really annoying that we couldn't speak to each other. And I said, yeah, we can't speak, but we can smile at each other - acknowledge each other. Then one of the senior monks said, "Why would you want to rob other people of their experience of this silent retreat?" And I thought he was right.
To what extent do you reckon we should let others suffer their own mistakes or pain? There was another moment at the retreat where a lady with crutches was having trouble propping her crutches up against the wall to sit down to dinner. A senior monk just looked on without helping at all. I thought that was wrong.
It's in these moments that I find Zen quite extreme - it's the opposite of conventional thinking.
Just now, it seems to me that there's a difference between someone who has come to a retreat to practice and would benefit from being able to face difficult issues, and someome who is completely lost in the midst of suffering and is not practicing Zen or any other form of 'getting to know yourself'. Someone who is not working on understanding themselves, probably won't benefit that much from pain, will they? Most of the time when I'm in pain, I'll find a way to lessen the pain, block it out, or run away from it. That's not helping is it? I think most could benefit from advice during pain.
Hmm...Just thinking out aloud with regards to that Maezumi quote.
I haven't been to a retreat yet, so maybe I shouldn't chime in, but it would seem that the retreats serve a specific purpose and are meant to be more intense, especially of the zen flavor. It may be that for some people who are experiencing some forms of suffering shouldn't go to such retreats, yet.
I think maybe some people read too much into the retreats. As far as I know the authentic teachers of zen retreats aren't promising anything, so maybe there is some misunderstanding in the participant to expect to be fixed... or expect anything at all. I would suggest that the participant research what they are getting themselves into so they can be somewhat aware of what's coming, so that disappoint would be minimal. Too many people have a new-ager eastern mysticism type feel good expectation and so they think that going to a zen retreat will somehow give them instant enlightenment. When they go and get offended they throw the whole thing away not realizing that the fact that they went with certain expectations is what killed it for them. I'd say don't expect anything then everything is a bonus.
I think this is part of why guys like Brad Warner are so pissed off at guys like Ken Wilber and his Big Mind instant enlightenment "for only $1,999".