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Thread: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

  1. #1

    2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hello Readers!

    An auspicious day to begin our discussion of Master Shunryu Suzuki's "BRANCHING STREAM FLOW IN THE DARKNESS, Zen Talks on the Sandokai"

    We will begin with the FIRST TALK: "THINGS-AS-IT-IS", pages 27 to 36. Please also read the introductions, if you have not had a chance as yet. Of course, it is best to buy the book, but if you need, the talks appear to be available online here:

    http://72.14.235.132/search?q=cache:2xJ ... =clnk&cd=1

    I also ask you to please read this ADDITIONAL ARTICLE on the Sandokai to get a general overview. It is an interesting little article by Sekkei Harada Roshi :

    http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/jo ... e14_03.htm

    OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Zoketsu Norman Fischer Roshi, a poet, psychologist and teacher in Suzuki Roshi's Lineage, has a series of audio talks on "Branching Streams" at his website. Here is the first.

    A series of talks on Suzuki Roshi's Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, Zen Talks on the Sandokai. These talks are on an important Soto Zen text whose theme is the interpenetration of oneness and diversity, a cornerstone of Suzuki Roshi’s understanding. Talk one includes historical background and meaning of the Sandokai, and an initial discussion of the first few sentences.

    http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?It ... io-272-142
    All of the above materials are the same ... just different. :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Right off the bat I can tell I'm going to like this book (not that liking it is important).

    His explanation of not one/not two on p. 28 was very nice. The term "whole being" is a great way to present that. I'm still going over my notes to let that one sink in.

    I like Suzuki Roshi's point about taking our desires into account. I feel like that is what I'm spending most of my time doing now, learning to see how my desire creeps into every activity. Not that it is bad, it is simply present and, therefore, a part of all that I do. If I can get to the point of accounting for it all the time . . . well, there's the rub.

    Later he writes, "We each have out own unique personal tendencies. But if you think to get rid of them, or if you try not to think or not to hear the sound of the stream during zazen, it is not possible. Let your ears hear without trying to hear. Let the mind think without trying to think and without trying to stop it. That is practice."

    Reminds me of the "expansive sky does not hinder the floating clouds."

    The remarkable thing, I think, about Suzuki's writing is that he is able to explain so many complexities in such compact and simple language. I don't mean simple as in lesser, merely uncomplicated or unassuming.

    I'm anxious to hear what others got from this . . .

    Gassho,
    Bill

  3. #3

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Oh cool . . . I've not checked in at Treeleaf for a week or two and viola the first day I'm back the book club is starting up again. Neato, I'll make sure to get started tonight after I get some laundry going and fix one of my fencing weapons in preparation for an important competition this weekend.

    I'll try to take those experiences as a "things-as-it-is" moment.

    gassho,

    Greg

  4. #4

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi.

    A funny thing is i was looking like crazy for the drum story a couple a days ago, i knew i had read ity, but i couldn't find it.
    And then last night i read this weeks chapter and voila!
    Funny thing the things we find are always in the last place we looked...

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  5. #5

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi
    Master Dogen taught that you," must drop body and mind". Master Nishijima taught," while sitting in the mountain still state without physical perception or mental consideration is enlightenment." To me Shunryu Suzuki Roshi intrepreting Sandokai is giving precise examples of those teachings for us to use in our practice as well as everyday affairs. All roads used to lead to Rome now they lead to Zazen! Gassho Zak

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi all,

    I've read through everything twice and listened to Fischer Roshi's entire talk and I get the feeling I haven't even begun to grasp the full meaning...and perhaps I never will.

    The most striking passage in the chapter for me was on page 32 when Suzuki Roshi discusses self respect. Much like the quote from Aitken Roshi in my signature line, you don't achieve self respect by trying to gain self respect...it is the process of dropping that which we've accumualted over a lifetime. I've wondered lately how far that can really go...if we can capture our "true" selves or even what one might call our "original" selves. But it doesn't really matter because neither can be a goal as such...they are what they are and are what they will become by just sitting.

    As Suzuki Roshi says, "When you speak or act it will be just to express yourself. That is complete self respect. To practice zazen is to attain this kind of self respect." I've only been sitting zazen for a little less than a year now and I have gleaned many truths over that time by not trying to glean anything. For quite awhile I tried to push out the thoughts I had during zazen, only to realize one day that doing so was the opposite of letting them go. More recently, I was troubled by the amount of thoughts that arose in my head during zazen, but I realized that the worry was nearly the same as trying to push them out. It doesn't matter if thoughts arise...the point is not to judge them as we do in our daily lives or to trip the automatic responses we have cultivated over the years. In zazen, we let go and do not judge...only then can something result but that is never the aim, never the goal. The goal is just to sit.

    I'm sure I will have more to say, but that's a start. As Bill said, I'm excited to hear what other people have to say.

    Gassho,
    Scott (Dosho)

  7. #7

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi,

    Just a few notes from talk#1

    Soto Zen has a gentle quality.
    San - "three" (usual meaning), "things" (in this context)
    do - "sameness"
    kai - "befriend" (my term, called "shaking hands" in the book)
    Another reference explains the meaning of Sandokai as "difference, equality and harmony" - http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/jo ... e14_03.htm
    The many beings are facets of one being. (Individual fingers on the same hand in one of Jundo's posts - but what is the hand?)
    Small mind is limited by desires, emotions and discriminative thought. We should learn to let go of (not to grasp onto) desires, emotions and discriminative thought.
    Acceptance is observation without judgement = seeing "things-as-it-is"

    John

  8. #8

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    've read through everything twice and listened to Fischer Roshi's entire talk and I get the feeling I haven't even begun to grasp the full meaning...and perhaps I never will.
    I know the feeling, Scott. Much of the time with Zen teachings I get the feeling that the teaching is true but I can't say that I understand it. This used to bother me and I would spend hours rehashing something that seemed intuitively correct but beyond my mental capacities. I think somewhere along the way, some of that drive (but definitely not all) got beaten out of me by the teachings. I'm more content now to let the teaching seem true while not intellectually understand it. The Sandokai has been a favorite of mine for a while. I feel more of an affinity to it than most of the other classic Zen writings. I bought Master Sheng-Yen's book The Infinite Mirror several years ago and have repeatedly returned to it, each time puzzled by this beautiful old poem. I didn't know until Jundo chose Suzuki's book for the book club that it even existed.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the talk that addresses the arrow points meeting in mid-air. I have no clue what it means, but it is a striking image.

    Bill

  9. #9

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hello all,

    I completed all the readings, but it was the podcast by Fischer Roshi that really pulled it all together for me. I was really impressed with his discussion of the title of the poem and it started to spin off in a million directions in my mind.

    Fisher Roshi points outs it is possible to make a list for San and one for Do. San being such concepts as ordinary world, form, confusion whereas Do is the opposite, absolute world, emptiness, peace. I may be wrong on this point, but Suzuki Roshi’s “Things as it is” appear to me to be Do and “Things as they are” seem to be San. I would like to hear others’ opinions on this. The Suzuuki Roshi book mentioned that Sandokai is the same name as a Taoist text and it appears that San and Do have some connection to ying and yang, but again I could be off on this.

    Kai is the integration of the two and Fisher Roshi states that in life it is often hard to resolve these two. He mentions that we can take Sandokai as a “koan of life” and contemplate how we get stuck in one side or the other in our practice. This brought to mind how sometimes after zazen I am so relaxed that I get a bit irritated when someone presents me with a problem or conflict immediately after my zazen. Applying this notion of “being stuck” it is almost as if I want to stay in this nice relaxed empty place and am a bit ticked at someone messing up my state of mind. The “Kai” for me to work on would be more fully integrate my zazen state to everyday life.

    What a fantastic book but, I seemed to have gotten stuck on the title!

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  10. #10

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    As I often feel a bit like the dummy in the back row of the class with a hand up all the time wanting
    to know the "answers", it comes as a relief to read what Bill says about knowing intuitively that what is being taught is true without necessarily understanding it.

    Each year our small group is visited by a Zen teacher from San Francisco Zen Centre, and last year I
    happened to mention to him that I found "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", difficult to understand, and he just
    gazed at me in astonishment!

    I already had this present book but had given up on it, so am now having another go at studying it with
    the Book Club and look forward to hearing all the views and responses from the members.

    Jenny

  11. #11

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi everyone,

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzuki Roshi
    We say that Zen is not something to talk about. It is what you experience in a true sense. It is difficult. But anyway this is a difficult world, so don't worry. Wherever you go you have problems. You should confront your problems. It may be much better to have these problems of practice rather than some other mixed-up kinds of problems.
    This final passage of the first talk really made me smile. Zen won't solve all of our problems. It may - and perhaps should(!) - make us aware of problems we weren't aware of before or even create problems we didn't have before beginning with this practice. Such is life, and such is our practice. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  12. #12

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I was also compelled by Suzuki Roshi's description of self respect, I had never thought of it this way before but as soon as I read the words, I knew it was right.

    Gassho

    James

  13. #13

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Each year our small group is visited by a Zen teacher from San Francisco Zen Centre, and last year I
    happened to mention to him that I found "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", difficult to understand, and he just
    gazed at me in astonishment!
    Sorry. OT....Astonished? Its both difficult and not. :mrgreen: Personally, I bought that book in 1993 or so. This was way before Buddhists in the internet, me practicing, etc. I picked up because I wanted an intro book into Zen Buddhism. After all, it does say "Beginner's" in the title. :wink: I got stuck in the first chapter and couldn't understand the rest. Fast forward almost ten years, reading more about Buddhism and having done some meditation practice, I picked up the book again. It made way more sense.

  14. #14

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Am ashamed to say have just looked flyleaf of book and I bought it in 1983 - 26 years ago! Yes, I have
    to say some of it makes more sense now, but maybe the way Zen masters talk in riddles at times keeps
    us on our toes!
    Jenny

  15. #15

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi,

    Part of the problem with Zen Mind (and with many books by Japanese teachers ... my own Gudo Roshi is certainly no exception) is that their English is poor (not their fault, but Suzuki like Nishijima often struggled with English), that Japanese sentence structure is very indirect in making statements, that essay structure is "mushy" (essays and talks tend to meander, while most public speakers in the west keep the train on the tracks), and ... gee... this is Zen, and some of these ideas are spagehtti nailed to the wall even for the teacher!

    On top of that, Suzuki's students RECREATED the talks in the books from handwritten notes taken during the talks and really poor quality tape recordings. The transcribers mostly did not speak Japanese, so were hindered in that too.

    Reminds me of when (true story) I first came to Japan and met my first Japanese "Zen Master" (my first teacher, Azuma Roshi of Sojiji). I promptly proceeded to ask him the big questions, one of which was "What is Time?"

    His answer: "Now 5:30"

    Wow, I thought. HOW PROFOUND. He must mean "time is just what it is!" and it is "Now!"

    Instead, I later found out that his English was not so good, and he just thought I was asking what time it was. ops:

    Lots of stuff like that in Beginners Mind I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Reminds me of when (true story) I first came to Japan and met my first Japanese "Zen Master" (my first teacher, Azuma Roshi of Sojiji). I promptly proceeded to ask him the big questions, one of which was "What is Time?"

    His answer: "Now 5:30"

    Wow, I thought. HOW PROFOUND. He must mean "time is just what it is!" and it is "Now!"

    Instead, I later found out that his English was not so good, and he just thought I was asking what time it was. ops:

    Lots of stuff like that in Beginners Mind I think.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Or maybe it really was profound.
    Beginners mind in general is profound and wonderful.
    I find it preferable to my aversive mind, and I get along with others better when I am open to my beginners mind.

    Gassho, "Fuken" Jordan

  17. #17

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I have enjoyed the first chapter, especially since it touches on what Jundo has been teaching us about shikantaza. And, Suzuki Roshi's discussion of self respect is very good and probably will get photocopied as handouts for my son and other students. What I found very interesting about the audio cast by Fisher Roshi is how we can divide up the word Sandokai into so many multiple meanings. At first I thought it was just a translation issue (love the 5:30 story Jundo). But, I think it is even deeper in the sense that what we 'assume' or think we believe is 'not always so' (borrowing from Suzuki Roshi's other interesting book.

    I am going to reread the chapter again since there is time. But, my appetite is definately whetted!

    As for the discusion about Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind... it isn't an easy book. You have to give credit for those folks who can describe the mind's eye so well.

    My first introduction to Zen was during my undergrad days. I read Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki. As a 20 year old I didn't have a clue but intuitively felt there was something there. I read it again about 2 years ago and found more meaning and relevance. To make a long story short, that reading led to my interest to where I am now--this current post.

    Jeff

  18. #18

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I had mentioned this in a previous post, but I love this part:

    "We just sit. It is like something happening in the great sky. Whatever kind of bird flies through it, the sky doesn't care. That is the mind transmitted from Buddha to us." --pg. 30 - S. Suzuki.

    To me it feels like a good visualized explanation of the meditation practice.

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    On top of that, Suzuki's students RECREATED the talks in the books from handwritten notes taken during the talks and really poor quality tape recordings. The transcribers mostly did not speak Japanese, so were hindered in that too.
    Jundo,

    Do you think one's understanding of Zen, at least what can be learned of it through texts like these, can be enhanced by knowing how to read Japanese? "Enhanced" is a bit of a loaded term there, but are there aspects of Zen that would be better understood if one did not have to rely on translations?

    Gassho,
    Scott (Dosho)

  20. #20

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    When we chant Sandokai at my local zendo in Toledo it's translated as "The Identity of Relative and Absolute" and we studied the translation in The Roaring Stream Anthology as "The Coincidence of Opposites." So, it's interesting for me to think about it as "The Harmony of Difference and Equality" - and to consider that all of these translations of Sandokai are both different and alike at the same time . . . and that this difference is good and important even as it points to the same thing.
    I have been thinking about Suzuki Roshi's statement that "[o]ur effort in Zen is to observe everything as-it-is" (28), which is a real challenge, especially when I think about taking it into everyday life, and working with seeing "things-as-it-is." I was also struck by Fischer Roshi's comment in his talk that ran something like "we need to bring 'ordinary life' to our religious practice, just as we need to bring our religious practice to our everyday life" (I'm sure I've mangled this - I should go back and listen to it again), which I understood as the "coincidence" or "harmony" of the opposites in the title translations above. All good practice!
    Simon.

  21. #21

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    Do you think one's understanding of Zen, at least what can be learned of it through texts like these, can be enhanced by knowing how to read Japanese? "Enhanced" is a bit of a loaded term there, but are there aspects of Zen that would be better understood if one did not have to rely on translations?
    I sure wish I knew more about Japanese / Chinese characters. Fisher Roshi’s explanation of the some of the Chinese characters really peaked my interest in having a bit more understanding on this topic. Unfortunately an audio podcast and thus no visuals. It appears that the component parts (if that is the right terminology) of Chinese characters can really enhance the meaning of material written in that format….especially poetry.

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  22. #22

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan

    Or maybe it really was profound.
    Beginners mind in general is profound and wonderful.
    I find it preferable to my aversive mind, and I get along with others better when I am open to my beginners mind.

    Gassho, "Fuken" Jordan
    Oh, 9 bows to you Jordan. I did not mean to say otherwise.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    Jundo,

    Do you think one's understanding of Zen, at least what can be learned of it through texts like these, can be enhanced by knowing how to read Japanese? "Enhanced" is a bit of a loaded term there, but are there aspects of Zen that would be better understood if one did not have to rely on translations?

    Gassho,
    Scott (Dosho)
    Not really, unless you are engaged in translation. In the case of Sukuki or Nishijima Roshi, it is helpful because they are often speaking Japanese in their minds by just sticking the matching (or what they think are the matching) English words into their Japanese grammar and very fuzzy sentence structure. Because I am familiar with the Japanese way of speaking and writing, I can often (not always!) pierce through what Nishijima Roshi is trying to get at in his "Gudo-lish". :-)

    I also want to say to folks that, here in the 21st Century, you (as lay folks at home) have access (right over this internet thingy and in books) to higher quality and better understood Buddhist texts, teachers and teachings than, for example, monks ever had back in some 16th century monastery studying by oil lamp. Click click click, and Robert Thurman or somebody is explaining the texts and the latest scholarship right in your living room. I often say that the average lay person today can have a wider and (more importantly) deeper Buddhist education than any monks of ages past who spent their whole life (which usually was pretty short) on top of a mountain. Plus, monks (even today) can be pretty narrow, otherwise uneducated folks who are not prepared to approach these texts with the mind of modern, university educated folks, for example, they were very prone to superstition and all kinds of crazy beliefs (not to say too that 21st century "educated" minds don't have their own ignorance and prejudices based on "modern thinking").

    Now, however, whether we meditate as much as monks on a mountain ... that's a separate question! That part is still important. :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Howdy all
    OT a bit but funny (lol well to me so ... you must now suffer!)
    My wife glanced at this book when it arrived and repeated what she read it to be "Raging streams glowing in the darkness" and said that was one helluva title for zen book! :lol: Once i cleared up the title she said MEH and stated her title would have been cooler.

    Okay, so as always, so many good posts before my COMPOST ops:

    Things that stood out to me as I read were the bits on many/one - the whole. This part was clear to me as Iread it and seemed like I knew this all along. However I think I was looking too hard at it before, Trying with all my being to see, when all I was to do was to see it.

    Seeing things as they are including your desires and how they account for your view, Including them instead of overlooking them because they are not desirable in our practice, makes perfect sense.

    This
    Quote Originally Posted by page 32
    When you are just you, with out thinking or trying to say something special, just saying what is on your mind and how you feel, then there is naturally self-respect
    and this
    Quote Originally Posted by page 33
    While were talking about self respect a bird was singing outside. Peep-peep-peep. That's self respect. It doesn't mean anything. Maybe he was just singing. Maybe without trying to think he was just singing, peep-peep-peep. When we heard it we couldn't stop smiling. We cannot say that it is just a bird. It controls the whole mountain, the whole world. That is self respect.
    really stood out to me too.

    The first discussion bit with the student and the spider made me smile. I have had a silly fear of spiders for ever and a day. I escort them outside most now, but not that long ago i really had to have them um.. taken care of :C. I decided to face that fear a few years ago and try to work to get along with them. There is one in my bathroom *(was Our bathroom but its tiny, no tub, and well there is now a permanent spider resident :lol: ), Ive not bothered it since it moved in in the fall. I haven't moved it outside as we have an understanding and its freezing out! So when i read this bit i thought immediately OMG he squished it :S! Funny I would have interrupted the flow of things for the spider... even though my first reactionary thought in fear is OMG SQUISH IT! Funny how that changes.

    Gassho, Shohei

  24. #24

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi,

    My first thought was that there is a place in Tokyo called Omotesando and the character for 'san' looks the same as in Sandokai. Omototesando is a place where plots of people meet up and just walk around the shops.

    My second thought was that this is amazing to have a text written by an early patriarch.

    My third thought was "The four elements return to their natures", even though they are not parted. How does that happen?

    Cheers,

    Paul

  25. #25

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    These are my notes on the first talk.

    The central importance in Zen history and ritual of the Sandokai is interesting. For me a religion or spirituality is not some collection of absolute truths about the world that is documented in religious texts and celebrated in ritual. Instead the texts and the ritual to a large extent create the truths and experience of the religion. So learning about the Sandokai is part of my exploration into whether I should follow the path of Zen Buddhism (though even if I decide not to I would most likely continue to do zazen every day).

    "Things-as-it-is" puzzles me a little. I don't see how we can perceive "things-as-it-is" without adding our own interpretation. Even when we drop away the sense of the "I" there is a huge amount of processing going on in our brains, transforming the raw data of our senses into something meaningful in ways which have developed over the course of our lifetime as our brain has reacted to experiences. Does it just mean what we experience when we take away the sense of the "I"?

    When we talk about the mountain and the moon we confuse thoughts about something with its "reality", though the reality is not something "out there". It is part of "big mind" though I don't know what "big mind" is. It seems to me a rather nebulous concept in the same way as "God" is. Does it mean a state of mind, for example more spacious and non-judgemental than how we normally think, or does it mean something more metaphysical in which everything is merged together into some sort of mystical oneness?

    I got some more about the meaning of "Sandokai" from the Fischer talk. From what he says it refers to one of the key aspects of Zen, the interplay between the one and the many, everything being one yet also differentiated at the same time.

    When we eat we just eat, the food is part of the awareness we have of the world which includes ourself, not something we are thinking of just from a nutritional or utilitarian point of view. Suzuki talks about dropping discrimination between good and bad, but how difficult is that! I often react with sadness or anger because the world is not how I think it should be.

    Does Suzuki mean "things-as-it-is" contains our desires, that when we sit in zazen there is no fundamental difference between the place we are sitting in and our desires, emotions, thoughts, bodily feelings, etc?

    I liked the description of what happens when you sit. Thoughts come and go, things happen, you can enjoy them, but you don't cling onto them and turn them into something different inside your mind so that the mountain is not the mountain, etc.

    I can''t make any sense out of the paragrah containing "liable to".

    He describes self-respect as when we act without a sense of our self, without a sense of separation from everything else. I'm not sure what he meant about personal tendencies. We have to be strict with ourselves about them but at the same time we cannot deliberately get rid of them?

    "More and more, you will have this rhythm or strength as the power of practice". That resonated with me, though it is a slow process for me, a very slow process. There was a bird singing outside my window when I was doing zazen at daybreak this morning - Spring is on the way - which reminded me of the "peep-peep-peep".

  26. #26
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Like many others I found page 28 on the translation of "Sandokai" fascinating, and it was interesting to hear from Monsho about how the same characters have been given other translations. Words are not that which they are describing, and seem to slide across the meanings we think they have as if on ice.

    I have always struggled, though, with the idea of the Buddha mind / mind of the great sage of India being "transmitted", intimately or otherwise, from west to east, or from person to person. To me the phrase implies something that was previously in the west (or wherever) and not in the east (or wherever) being passed across whereas I suspect that the Buddha mind was / is in the east (and the west and north and south) long before the first person calling themselves "Buddhist" showed up there. Is something being lost in translation here, or am I muddled again?

    Gassho

    Martin

  27. #27

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hope to get my copy this week.

    The text is no longer available through the link but I did have a glance the day before when I thought, "Great, I will print out the first talk tomorrow". :evil:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  28. #28

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    Hope to get my copy this week.

    The text is no longer available through the link but I did have a glance the day before when I thought, "Great, I will print out the first talk tomorrow". :evil:

    Gassho,

    Irina
    I just tried and got a cached version. If you still need it I can send you the html page.

    Cheers, Paul

  29. #29

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi Charles, I would like to have a go at giving some answers to your questions. Not that they are the right answer they are just my answers.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC

    "Things-as-it-is" puzzles me a little. I don't see how we can perceive "things-as-it-is" without adding our own interpretation. Even when we drop away the sense of the "I" there is a huge amount of processing going on in our brains, transforming the raw data of our senses into something meaningful in ways which have developed over the course of our lifetime as our brain has reacted to experiences. Does it just mean what we experience when we take away the sense of the "I"?
    I think it is more a case of taking in the whole lot and leaving it all as it is. My experience is that my brain seems to have 2 modes of operating. One is where I take things and run with them e.g. I see a nice looking lady walking down the street and I think "she looks nice, I wonder where she is going?" etc and that leads to a memory of a previous girlfriend and that leads on to a thought about a particular night etc etc. The other mode is that the same lady walks passed, I still see the lady but I let her pass and stay in the whole moment so when she is gone from my view she is also gone from my mind. Things are seen in the moment as they are and left as they are. Reactions are just left as reactions and not developed into a thought streams.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    When we talk about the mountain and the moon we confuse thoughts about something with its "reality", though the reality is not something "out there". It is part of "big mind" though I don't know what "big mind" is. It seems to me a rather nebulous concept in the same way as "God" is. Does it mean a state of mind, for example more spacious and non-judgemental than how we normally think, or does it mean something more metaphysical in which everything is merged together into some sort of mystical oneness?
    I think the "big mind" is more spacious and non-judgemental, what I was trying to say above. However, as "big mind" extends to infinity (and beyond!) I can't see how it could be different from an infinite god.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC

    When we eat we just eat, the food is part of the awareness we have of the world which includes ourself, not something we are thinking of just from a nutritional or utilitarian point of view. Suzuki talks about dropping discrimination between good and bad, but how difficult is that! I often react with sadness or anger because the world is not how I think it should be.
    I don't think dropping good and bad means not reacting with sadness and anger it is more to do with not avoiding bad and being attached to good, despite our reactions.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Does Suzuki mean "things-as-it-is" contains our desires, that when we sit in zazen there is no fundamental difference between the place we are sitting in and our desires, emotions, thoughts, bodily feelings, etc?
    It's the whole lot, inside, outside and anywhere else. The five aggregates, four elements etc.. etc.. Nothing is left out.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    I can''t make any sense out of the paragrah containing "liable to".
    I think he means that we should try and see our tendencies (What we are liable to do, likely to do) and that this is the main Buddhist practice aka Dogen's "To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is...."

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    He describes self-respect as when we act without a sense of our self, without a sense of separation from everything else. I'm not sure what he meant about personal tendencies. We have to be strict with ourselves about them but at the same time we cannot deliberately get rid of them?
    Getting rid of our tendencies would just become another tendency, there is no escape from samsara by doing more samsara but also blindly playing along is not going to help either. AARRGH I don't know, just do zazen....

    Cheers, Paul

  30. #30

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is


    I just tried and got a cached version. If you still need it I can send you the html page.

    Cheers, Paul
    Thanks, Paul!

    I got the document by e-mail from another kind TreeLeafer.

    Gassho,
    I.

  31. #31

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi Paul: thanks for your response to my questions. As usual, even a short piece like this triggers so many thoughts and questions.

    :Charles

  32. #32

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzuki
    So, without sticking to some particular way, we open our minds to observe things as-it-is and to accept things as-it-is
    Says it all for me really. I am finding that through my practice I am gradually being empowered to open myself to more and more of life's experiences and accept them, pleasant or unpleasant, when formerly I would have tried to avoid possible hurt, or control the outcome.

    Gassho,
    Doshin

  33. #33

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi.

    Went to a city close by where they have an "buddhism for beginners course", with some friends who asked if i came along.
    Very relaxing, to come to a place where people don't expect you to/expect you not to know anything about buddhism, by the way, and just sit along...

    There the man having the course talked about similarities in different "religious texts" and buddhism.
    And i came to think about p. 29:
    What is the diference between daoist teachings and buddhist teachings? There are many similarities. When a buddhist reads it, it is a buddhist text, and when a daoist reads it, it is a daoist text. Yet it is actually the same thing.
    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  34. #34

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC

    "Things-as-it-is" puzzles me a little. I don't see how we can perceive "things-as-it-is" without adding our own interpretation. Even when we drop away the sense of the "I" there is a huge amount of processing going on in our brains, transforming the raw data of our senses into something meaningful in ways which have developed over the course of our lifetime as our brain has reacted to experiences. Does it just mean what we experience when we take away the sense of the "I"?
    I took out the kitchen trash this morning. Did I first ponder whether it is "real" or not? Or is the smelly trash just what it is? It is perfectly the smelly trash, and if I reason that "ultimately it does not exist", the equally empty cockroaches will soon come.

    The trash just "is what it is" when I drop my human demands that it be more or less smelly, to my liking.. Each rotten banana peel just is that rotten banana peel, and cannot be more or less itself.

    Same with a sweet flower. Do you first think of its reality before you admire its beauty with your eyes and inhale its scent with your nose, saying "this flower is ultimately like a dream, so I will not waste my time"?

    What is more, while the small mind may think "in this world there are more beautiful and less beautiful flowers", when we drop such thoughts, each flower is just perfectly that flower. It is what it is.

    But, hand in hand, there is also a perspective by which we drop all thought of trash, stink, cockroaches, bananas and banana peels, flower, sweet and sour, beautiful and ugly, eye and nose. We even drop all idea of trash and flower, Charles and Jundo.

    What is there then?

    Things-just-as-it-is.

    All such perspectives are true in their way, AT ONCE!

    Does Suzuki mean "things-as-it-is" contains our desires, that when we sit in zazen there is no fundamental difference between the place we are sitting in and our desires, emotions, thoughts, bodily feelings, etc?
    Yes, our emotions are also "just what they are". I am repulsed at the smelly trash, I am frustrated when the bag breaks and the trash falls all over my clean floor. I love flowers. When I drop all resistance to human emotions such as "repulsion, frustration and love", we experience each as "just what it is" in the same way as the trash and the flower are each "just what it is". Each is perfect in that moment, just what it is with not a thing to add or take away (but, mind you, from one perspective at once!)

    As well, by also dropping all thought of "repulsion, frustration and love" from mind, what remains? All dropped away.

    And when you can see both perspectives at once, the "repulsion, frustration and love" are just not what they were before. Each is perfect and A-OK! Yet "repulsion" when felt hand-in-hand with "all repulsion dropped away" is simply not the same "repulsion" as before (without the perspective of the dropped away).

    When we talk about the mountain and the moon we confuse thoughts about something with its "reality", though the reality is not something "out there". It is part of "big mind" though I don't know what "big mind" is. It seems to me a rather nebulous concept in the same way as "God" is. Does it mean a state of mind, for example more spacious and non-judgemental than how we normally think, or does it mean something more metaphysical in which everything is merged together into some sort of mystical oneness?
    Throughout the history of Buddhism, different texts and teachers have interpreted concepts such as "Big Mind" or "Buddha Nature" or "Emptyness" or "One's Original Face" in both ways. Some Sutras and Teachers (mostly of the more florid Mahayana) present these concepts as not unlike a "Cosmic Consciousness" or, truly, the "Force" in Star Wars.

    Others (the early Theravada Buddhist texts, many others in the Mahayana), present "emptyness" etc. as just our complete, smooth, frictionless union with life when we drop all ideas of separation ... the spacious, non-judgmental interbeing by which all thoughts of Charles and of the "not-Charles world" are dropped ... and thus all friction vanishes (you need two things bumping into each other to have friction, and this is so much a "dropping away" that even the ideas "one" and "two" are dropped away!).

    (be aware that different Buddhist books and different teachings, ancient and modern, come in these different flavors based on the author's inclination)

    So, WHICH IS IT? ANSWER!

    While you are doing that, I have to go take out the trash.

    Gassho, Jundo

  35. #35

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi Jundo: well... I don't suppose an answer is necessary... but if we have to put it into words "complete, smooth, frictionless union with life" works better for me. The fewer cosmic and supernatural concepts and entities the better, for me at least.

    Thanks for your reply. It helped a lot.

    :Charles

  36. #36
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Pg. 33
    We say that Zen is not something to talk about. It is what you experience in a true sense. It is difficult. But anyway this a is difficult world, so don't worry. Wherever you go you have problems. You should confront those problems. It is much better to have these problems of practice rather than some other mixed-up kinds of problems
    We sit , we take what we gain from our practice and in put it into action. We sit and a billion times and a billion times more we confront the reality which is this single connected moment. Gassho Kent

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    So far, I am really enjoying this book! I was particularly struck by the image of the "absolute" and the "relative shaking hands. What a great way of expressing it! Like many others have already stated, there is just something about this practice that feels "right". Yet, when you try and express it, it disappears.

    Ron

  38. #38
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I am interested in Suzuki Roshi's comments related to strict practice following on from the incident with the spider

    When replying to the question asking for examples that apply to our individual lives Suzuki Roshi says When you get up you should just get up. When everyone sleeps you should sleep
    He then goes on to say To live in this world is not easy. He then says "you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist".

    I've grappled with this question for some time as on one level it seems to come into conflict with the Buddhist precepts and yet on another he is absolutely right to say that it is impossible to live in this world without killing something. My understanding is that this comes down to intention and that in the spider example their is no intention to kill therefore the karma created will be commensurate with the action. However to say that' you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist' seems to imply that there is the intention to kill.

    I'd be grateful for other peoples perspective on this

    Gassho
    Brian

  39. #39

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by brian
    I am interested in Suzuki Roshi's comments related to strict practice following on from the incident with the spider

    When replying to the question asking for examples that apply to our individual lives Suzuki Roshi says When you get up you should just get up. When everyone sleeps you should sleep
    He then goes on to say To live in this world is not easy. He then says "you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist".

    I've grappled with this question for some time as on one level it seems to come into conflict with the Buddhist precepts and yet on another he is absolutely right to say that it is impossible to live in this world without killing something. My understanding is that this comes down to intention and that in the spider example their is no intention to kill therefore the karma created will be commensurate with the action. However to say that' you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist' seems to imply that there is the intention to kill.

    I'd be grateful for other peoples perspective on this

    Gassho
    Brian
    A close friend or family member in pain who is begging for death, a mad man with a bomb strapped to his chest running toward a crowded venue, a child molester in the act of doing his nefarious deed, etc…

    Or a deluded thought.


    Gassho, “Fuken” Jordan

  40. #40

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by brian
    However to say that' you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist' seems to imply that there is the intention to kill.
    Hi.

    To be ready/prepared to kill and to intend to kill isn't the same thing.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  41. #41

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Hi,

    I came across a translation of the Sandokai on Zen Forum International, which is quite interesting as it gives a completely different twist to a few things in comparison with other versions I've seen. Gregory Wonderwheel, who has done the translation, was kind enough to give me his permission to post it here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregory Wonderwheel
    AN AGREEMENT FOR PARTICIPATING TOGETHER
    – CAN TONG QI (TS’AN-T’UNG-CH’I) (J. SANDOKAI)
    By Shitou Xiqian (Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien, J. Sekito Kisen)
    (b.700 - d.790)

    The mind of the great sage of the land of India
    has been intimately and mutually handed down from west to east.
    A person's roots are sharp or dull;
    the Way has no Northern or Southern ancestors.
    The mysterious source is shining and clean in the light;
    the branching streams are flowing and pouring in the dark.
    Grasping at primary phenomena is bewilderment;
    agreeing with Principle is still not enlightenment.
    Each and every gate corresponds to circumstances,
    revolving with each other and not revolving with each other.
    Revolving and alternating are mutually entangled,
    they do not rely on remaining in place.
    The root of form is distinguished by substance and appearance;
    the primal sound is differentiated as joyful or painful.
    High and middle words unite in the dark,
    clean and dirty sentences, in the brightness.
    The four great elements return to their natures
    like a child to its mother.
    The heat of the fire; the waving of the wind;
    the wet of the water; the solidity of the earth.
    The colors of the eye; the sounds of the ear;
    the fragrances of the nose; the salt and sour of the tongue.
    This is the way with each and every thing;
    according to the roots the leaves separate and spread out.
    Roots and branches necessarily return to the ancestral origin;
    venerated and vulgar, these are used in speech.
    Right in the middle of the light there is dark;
    don’t use the mutuality of darkness to meet it.
    Right in the middle of the dark there is light;
    don’t use the mutuality of the light to see it.
    Light and dark are mutual polarities,
    for example, like front and back steps.
    The ten thousand things naturally have their function,
    and are regarded in the use and placement of words.
    Phenomena exist like the joining of a box and lid.
    Principle responds like the support of the sharp point of an arrow.
    In receiving words you should meet the ancestors,
    and not establish rules by yourself.
    If your contacting eye does not meet the Way,
    how do you know the path by using your feet?
    Progress is not near or far;
    bewilderment causes the distance from mountains and rivers.
    Sincerely, I say to people who participate in the profound depths,
    from brightness and shadow, there are none who have ferried across in vain.

    ###
    Here are some comments I made on it there (sorry for quoting myself):

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    I like your selection of the word 'participation' in the title, as it implies action on the part of the practitioner, i.e. it's not something we just passively take note of as an intellectual exercise, but rather something to actively participate in. Also, when I read your translation of the last sentence about 'participating in the profound depths from light and shadow' I couldn't help but think of Hee-Jin Kim's description of awakening not as a transition from a state of delusion to a final, static state of enlightenment, but rather as the dynamic interplay between the focal points of delusion and enlightenment as a continual process. A continual process of repeatedly falling into delusion and subsequent awakening which we actively participate in during Zazen.
    The entire thread can be found here: http://www.zenforuminternational.org...3&p=4222#p4222

    Also, Gregory has a complete translation with the original Chinese as well as some notes which I found very insightful here: http://home.pon.net/wildrose/promise.htm

    Gassho
    Bansho

  42. #42

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I noticed that reading deep texts at different moments in life different passages "speak" to me.

    This time around it was the same one John commented on that really seems relevant:

    So, without sticking to some particular way, we open our minds to observe things as-it-is and to accept things as-it-is
    This "particular" way is something that really sticks and becomes second skin. I was touched by how Suzuki Roshi spoke of moving to a different mountain should Tassajara be lost and having things differently there. Every day for the last week we hear on the news here in Sweden about the fate of Saab or Volvo and the arguments for and against the government steping in and helping General Motors save the car factories and ensure that thousands of people in Sweden don't lose their jobs. We hear of the long tradition and people working on those factories for decades.

    While I find it sad that so many people lose their jobs these days, I see the endeavors to postpone the ineviatble for the sake of having it because this is the way it has been for a while as resistance to accept things-as-it-is. We have been spoiled here but things running pretty smoothly.

    Moving to a different mountain can be hard, especially in the beginning. We might have to learn cultivate a different kind of soil (learn to do something else instead of cars) on a new place. But how far will lamenting and arguing take us?

    This said, I often notice that my first reaction to a change no matter how small is often a contraction inside, a tightness that comes from the feeling of uncertainty and resistance to simply open up and see that just because it is new it does not mean it is "bad". It just means it is different. When I remind myself of this, it doesn't always make the experience more comfortable but then, even when I still feel uncomfortable, somehow I am OK. I don't know if this makes sense to someone else.

    Gassho,

    Irina

    Gassho,

    Irina

  43. #43

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Quote Originally Posted by brian
    My understanding is that this comes down to intention and that in the spider example their is no intention to kill therefore the karma created will be commensurate with the action. However to say that' you should be ready to kill something even if you are a Buddhist' seems to imply that there is the intention to kill.

    I'd be grateful for other peoples perspective on this

    Gassho
    Brian
    Hi Brian,

    I don't interpret here "to be ready to kill" as "the intention to kill". I read it as "To be prepared that you might have to kill (unintentionally)". Sort of like with the Bodhisattva vows. I think I have "to be prepared" to break a vow, that is to realise and accept that it is impossible not to break it or else I will never dare taking one and trying my best at keeping it.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  44. #44

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    Does this look like a spam? :lol:

    When you do something without any feeling of having done something, then that is you, yourself. You're completely with everyone and you don't feel self-conscious. That is self-respect.
    Never thought of self-respect this way but I recognise the "doing something without any feeling". It reminded me of Stanislavski's words: "Love art in yourself but not yourself in art" (if my memory serves me right). Sometimes when someone came and gave compliments for something I did "without any feeling of having done something" and asked me if I felt proud I could not understand what they were talking about and later wondered if I had bad self-esteem and could not be proud of something I achieved. Yet on some level I did not feel like I was the one who did it and the word "proud" felt irrelevant. I guess it did not make much sense to me to take pride in doing something I did not even know I was doing. :wink:


    Gassho,

    Irina

  45. #45

    Re: 2/13 Branching Streams: 1st Talk - Things-As-It-Is

    I have enjoyed the first chapter very much.

    If we also change the words "difficult" and "problems" with "beauty" this part as well as some others mentioned rang home,

    Zen is not something to talk about. It is what you experience in a true sense. It is difficult. But anyway this is a difficult world, so don't worry. Wherever you go you have problems. You should confront your problems. It may be much better to have these problems of practice rather than some other mixed-up kinds of problems.
    I also understood the intention to kill as explained nice and clearly by Irina.

    Gassho

    Undo

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