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Thread: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

  1. #1

    2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi,

    We continue with the SECOND TALK in Suzuki Roshi's talks on the Sandokai ... "WARM HAND TO WARM HAND", pages 39 to 48.

    Let's start of with a Koan like question ...

    This section of the Sandokai touches upon an ancient rift between schools of Zen, the 'Northern School' of Jinshu and the 'Southern School' of Eno, each with their own interpretation of how the Way should be pursued. Suzuki Roshi write

    If you have the eyes to see or the mind to understand the teaching, you will see that it is not necessary to be involved in such a dispute. Because some of the descendants of Eno and Jinshu didn't completely understand the teaching of Buddha they got into a dispute. From Sekito's point of view there is no need for contention.

    Jinshu's teaching is good, and the Sixth Ancestor Eno's teaching is good. Jinshu's way is good for someone who studies things slowly and deliberately, and the Sixth Ancestor's way is good for a quick, sharpminded person. ... A great teacher's way of explaining the teaching will be unique. But there is no difference in true understanding.
    So here's the question:

    Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?

    I don't think so. (Here's a clue: perhaps it has to do with the perspective of the relative and the perspective of the absolute)

    Just as in driving a car, there are many ways to do things, and ultimately, each has its own value as itself. However, we can safely say that driving down the wrong side of the road, headlights off and eyes closed, is probably not a good way.

    Anyway, I will just leave the question there.

    For folks who would like more on the actual historical background of the "dispute" between North and South (including the fact that several of the participants such as the Master Hui-Neng, the 6th Patriarch himself, and his famous poetry battle may be largely a fictional composite), this is from "A Dictionary of Buddhism" by Damien Keown; p. 200) ...

    A controversy that arose between two factions of pre-classical Ch'an during the early 8th century whose polemics centred on the positions of ‘sudden enlightenment’ (the ‘subitist’ position) (see subitism) and ‘gradual enlightenment’ (the ‘gradualist’ position). The traditional account of the controversy is found in the Platform S?tra of the Sixth Patriarch. According to this Chinese text, both Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng were disciples of the fifth patriarch Hung-jen (601-74). As Hung-jen was preparing to pass the title of sixth patriarch to his successor, he asked his disciples to compose a poem that would demonstrate their level of enlightenment (bodhi). All the other monks deferred to Shen-hsiu, the senior disciple. Shen-hsiu composed a verse which Hung-jen publicly praised while telling Shen-hsiu in private that it fell short of the mark. When Hui-neng heard about the contest, he instantly knew what to write and, being illiterate, had a temple page inscribe his verse on a wall. Hung-jen, hearing of this, said publicly that this verse was lacking, but late that night called Hui-neng to his room and ‘transmitted his Dharma’ to him, naming him as his successor and sixth patriarch, and giving him the robe and bowl of Bodhidharma as tokens. In traditional Ch'an literature, Shen-hsiu's verse puts forward the gradualist position while Hui-neng's expresses the subitist position, and Hung-jen's approbation of the latter's verse is meant to demonstrate that the subitist position is the true teaching of the patriarchs.

    Thus, in Ch'an documents, the Northern School (the name given to the line of disciples coming from Shen-hsiu) is represented as teaching the position of ‘gradual enlightenment’. From a philosophical viewpoint, ‘gradual’ here does not necessarily mean taking an extended period of time to achieve enlightenment, but indicates the dualistic view that differentiates enlightenment from ignorance or practice from attainment. No matter what length of time one specifies from the beginning of practice to the attainment of enlightenment, it becomes ‘gradual’ only because the two are separated. According to teachings of Buddha-nature that had been current in China from the 4th century onwards, all sentient beings have the capacity to be Buddhas. Teachings of ‘sudden enlightenment’, which became standard doctrine within Ch'an after the controversy, posit Buddha-nature as an already fully endowed Buddhahood inherent in all beings, in light of which enlightenment takes literally no time at all, since practice and attainment are collapsed. Thus, on this reading, the Northern School adhered to a position of untenable dualism, and so fell out of the mainstream.

    A historical examination of the controversy reveals many problems with the traditional account of both the events themselves and the views ascribed to each side. There is good reason to think that the two protagonists in the poetry contest, Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng, never resided at Hung-jen's monastery on Tung Shan at the same time. Furthermore, the Northern School's views on practice and enlightenment reveal a subitist position, while Southern School literature written during less heated moments frankly acknowledges the need to spend time preparing oneself for the moment of ‘sudden’ enlightenment. Ironically, during the Council of Lhasa held in Tibet in 792 to debate the subitist and gradualist positions, Indian monks argued the gradualist position, and a Northern School monk represented the subitist position.

    In China, the controversy appears to have been politically motivated. Both Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng lived out their days peacefully enjoying great success in their own spheres. Shen-hsiu in particular had been highly prominent at the court of the infamous Empress Wu of the T'ang dynasty, and is one of only three Buddhist monks to have a biography in official court records. However, in the year 732, some 24 years after Shen-hsiu's death, a disciple of Hui-neng named Ho-tse Shen-hui (670-762) denounced Shen-hsiu's lineage for espousing a gradualist position and claimed that his own master had received and maintained the true position of sudden enlightenment. While he received a sympathetic hearing from some court officials, the Northern School had some powerful allies in court who convinced the throne to have Shen-hui exiled. He and his school might well have come to nothing but for the outbreak of the An Lu-shan Rebellion in 755. This rebellion lasted for many years and put a severe strain on the imperial treasury, and so Shen-hui was called back to the capital and put to work selling ordination certificates, a task at which he succeeded brilliantly. The court, in gratitude, granted him his own temple in the capital, providing him a base from which to recruit his own disciples in competition with the Northern School, which also remained active. His lineage was known at the time as the ‘Ho-tse School’, after the monastery in which he resided, but was also called the Southern School because of the southern provenance of his master Hui-neng. While neither the Northern nor the Southern School survived the persecution of Buddhism in 845, Shen-hui's rhetoric of sudden enlightenment became the norm for all subsequent Ch'an schools and literature, such that no master could espouse what appeared to be a gradualist position without fear of being accused of holding to a false dualism. In addition, the lineage of Shen-hui succeeded in having the mantle of ‘sixth patriarch’ transferred from Shen-hsiu to their own progenitor Hui-neng, so that all Ch'an monks from that time to the present trace their enlightenment lineage back to the latter.
    Also, please listen to this 26 minute film of Suzuki Roshi delivering various portions of these Sandokai lectures (I have not seen many of these excerpts before other than in this film. It was filmed at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and also includes some biographical material on Suzuki Roshi. The talks on the Sandokai start at about the 10 minute mark in the film

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7umcFZEb7c&hl=ja[/video]]

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    So here's the question:

    Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?
    Yes and no. A misguided teaching for one student may be a perfect fit for another. The tricky bit for the teacher is to find out where the student stands and to teach from a perspective which the student can relate to. For example, Buddha Shakyamuni's discourses vary widely in focus, depth, etc. depending on the audience. A speech delivered to his own Bhikkhus was invariably much different to one delivered to politicians, Brahmans, Jains, etc., and even within his own Sangha the flavor of his teachings was always adapted to the inclinations and level of understanding of the addressee. One Bhikkhu was alledgedly at such an intellectual level that he could not even remember one 4 line gatha. (And I can't even remember his name! :roll: ). Ananda, on the other hand, had a great memory, but was unable to grasp the teachings in their full depth until after the Buddha's death. For Mahakashyapa, the twirl of a flower said it all. Despite their differing capacities, the 'expedient means' the Buddha employed imparted his understanding to each of them, like the lid fits the jar, as Sekito Kisen would say. The same goes for all of our Dharma ancestors who were truly able to impart their understanding. And as you've implied, the teachings are relative, situative, many, but at the same time that which is being imparted is absolute, the same, one. Same...but different, as if each student were looking at the same starry sky, but through lenses of differeng color, one red, one blue, one green...

    I think that's one of the reasons why it's important to have a teacher to interact with as opposed to trying to learn everything from books. Books are hit-and-miss. Some teachings may resonate, others will not. They don't demonstrate anything, they don't correct you when you're wrong, and if you don't read them over and over and over they don't repeat themselves. I often have an 'aha' experience only after being corrected or hearing you say the same thing for the 100th time, Jundo. So go ahead and tell me I'm all wrong!

    Gassho
    Bansho

  3. #3

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi again,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    For folks who would like more on the actual historical background of the "dispute" between North and South (including the fact that several of the participants such as the Master Hui-Neng, the 6th Patriarch himself, and his famous poetry battle may be largely a fictional composite), this is from "A Dictionary of Buddhism" by Damien Keown; p. 200) ...
    On that note, I thought I'd also recommend Legends in Ch’an: the Northern/Southern Schools Split, Hui-neng and the Platform Sutra, which I think also offers a very interesting perspective.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  4. #4

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?
    I would answer no because...

    The spiritual source shines clear in the light; (absolute)
    the branching streams flow on in the dark. (relative)

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  5. #5

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    One of the main things that I've always appreciated about Buddhism is the recognition that everyone is different and he or she has to walk his or her own path. To me, this talk hits on that in "equality is differentiation". Teachers and texts are very important. But each person has to internalize these teachings with her/his own being. But, the teachings are pointing to the "same potential" that is in everyone (and everything). But, they have to arrive there differently.

    Gassho,

    Tony

  6. #6

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Susuki Roshi mentions in this chapter that the main purpose of the Sandokai is to explain reality from
    two sides. In the article Jundo recommended Sekkei Harada quotes this poem which I find helpful;

    Even though it separates
    Into rain, hail, snow and ice,
    When it falls, it is
    The same valley river water.

    Jenny

  7. #7

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I believe what he's getting at, from the quote that you posted, is that both of these schools lead to the same point. However, some practices might accommodate certain students better. For instance Buddha held up the flower. Only one person in the crowd got it. BAM!! Realization. What about the others in the crowd? Well, another practice might be needed or suit them better.

    He's talking about arguing as being useless. The Buddha would not argue what practice is better, but accommodate individuals according to the situation. That's why there is hundreds of precepts in the Tripitaka, and as many teachings, and practices.

    Gassho

    Will

  8. #8

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    He's talking about arguing as being useless. The Buddha would not argue what practice is better, but accommodate individuals according to the situation. That's why there is hundreds of precepts in the Tripitaka, and as many teachings, and practices.
    Hi Will,

    Good comment.

    The Buddha also used a lot of those hundreds of precepts to kick a lot of precept-breaching monks out of the Sangha on their behinds.

    Gassho, J

  9. #9

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hello everyone,

    My understanding of the quote Judo used is in line with what Will wrote.

    Just as in driving a car, there are many ways to do things, and ultimately, each has its own value as itself. However, we can safely say that driving down the wrong side of the road, headlights off and eyes closed, is probably not a good way.
    Jundo, I don't see your example as contradicting to Suzuki Roshi's reasoning. I don't see anything morally "right" or "wrong" in different ways of driving but we have to comply with the rules we ourslevs set up to avoide hurting oursleves and others. Someone might want to practice driving with closed eyes and with no lights in the open field and then it is no longer an issue for other people but maybe for other living forms.

    I see the argument between South and North (from what I read from the talk) more in terms of driving on the right or on the left side of the street. To some of us visiting say London it seems crazy and even signs in huge block letters reminding us to look to the right does not help (we are "wired" by years of practice to look to the left!). Yet left-hand traffic was a predominent rule of the road in most parts of the world, Europe including for quite some time (I believe it the origin goes to Napoleon and some reasoning around riding a horse and using a weapon, correct me if I am off the base here) and so there is nothing "wrong" with driving either way (as long as we follow the rules in this particular country :lol: to avoide head-on collision) because we still reach the destination. Left-hand or raight-hand traffic - we are still doing the same thing, just using a slightly different method to take us where we are heading.

    I have difficulty understanding the following passage though:

    Another way to explain reality is by differentiation. Differentiation is equality, and things have equal value because they are different. If men and women are the same, then the distinctions between men and women have no value
    I do not hand up on "men" and "women" here in the example, it could just as well be "pears" and "apples". I do not understand the way to reason here, using the kind of logic I know. I think it is dawning on me - EVERYTHING is the same in that (or because of?) everything is different? So "apples" and "peers" are "equal" because they are different? Is this what he is trying to say? Are "the same" and "equal" synonyms here?
    Can someone help me with this one?

    I think I got the second part where he says that because "men" and "women" are different, they have value.

    Thanks in advance! My brain might offer a different undrstanding after the morning cup of coffe. :wink:

    Gassho,

    Irina

    PS Just want to thank Jundo and everyone fot this opportunity to study together. I no longer yield to the temptation to skip the difficult for me passages when I know I can reflect on it and then ask others and the teacher and it gives so much more for the understanding. Thank you!

  10. #10

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I think I now get more where exactly I got stuck:

    I do not hand up on "men" and "women" here in the example, it could just as well be "pears" and "apples". I do not understand the way to reason here, using the kind of logic I know. I think it is dawning on me - EVERYTHING is the same in that (or because of?) everything is different? So "apples" and "peers" are "equal" because they are different? Is this what he is trying to say? Are "the same" and "equal" synonyms here?
    I GET that everything is the same in that everything is different. (I never thought of it this way! What a great logic platform for unitying people!)
    It is the word "value" that threw me off the wagon, I think. Because I interpret "value" as including "more" or "less" of something. More in economic terms, I guess, when we speak of comparisson. Oh, boy...

    Gassho,

    I. ops:

  11. #11

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi,

    Here's an attempt to unravel the discussion of equality and difference:

    All things are different (in some way).
    All different things have value.
    Seen from our usual perspective, value is comparative: good, bad, best, worst.
    Comparison involves judgement.
    Judgement measures value against some (arbitrary) standard.
    Seen from another perspective, value is absolute - not comparative or relative.
    All things are different.
    All different things have equal absolute value.
    Seeing "things as it is" = observation without judgement.

    JohnH

  12. #12

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Until I read this topic I thought I understood about Northern and Southern schools and gradual and sudden enlightenment. Now I don't, now I'm confused. That's great. :P

    I was thinking in terms of sudden and gradual, but the quote talks of relative and absolute. But then again, that's the point, the sudden school is both relative and absolute and the gradual school is both absolute and relative. So both are good.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  13. #13

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Northern School or Southern School who cares? The most important issue is your own practice of Zazen and self-realization or enlightenment if you prefer. The intellect and it's judgemental positions is what we are all trying to get rid of in our practice so we can clearly be face to face with our own true nature. So how are we to do this if we get caught up in intellectual banter about Northern or Southern methodology. Perhaps the intellect will exhaust its self and die a natural death.(Rinzai) Or perhaps we will get tired of the B.S. and retire to the peace of the Zafu to ripen like a peach. (Soto) Zazen is the true standard of Zen Buddhism it is where your true nature is waiting to say hello. What else matters? Thank you Jundo for this teaching and for constantly pointing us to the Zafu! Gassho Zak

  14. #14

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by zak
    Thank you Jundo for this teaching and for constantly pointing us to the Zafu! Gassho Zak
    Your welcome Zak. I always avoid intra-Buddhist disputes. :roll:

  15. #15

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi.
    Just a short one, as i'm out the door...

    Many mind, many matter.
    One mind, one matter.
    No mind, no matter.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  16. #16
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I also had a little trouble wrapping my head around "differentiation". But now, what a great way of putting things! We all compare our selves to others, "his car is nicer than mine, her house is nicer than mine....etc" It's all so pointless! Nothing is important because everything is important. Things stand on there own merit.

    I also completely misunderstood the difference between the Northern and Southern school.

    Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

    Ron

  17. #17

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    All different things have equal absolute value.
    Seeing "things as it is" = observation without judgement.

    JohnH
    Yes, thanks to reminding me about it. Thinking it in terms of "absolute" and "relative" value makes sense :-).
    It also helped to listen to the second talk by Norman Fisher.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  18. #18

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I've had some trouble wrapping my brain around this chapter. But, what seems to keep coming to mind after reading it once and viewing the discussion board is skillful means. Several have already addressed the variances in teaching methods that stil help us to achieve the same goal. Northern and Southern schools differ but they ultimately achieve the same result.

    Going to reread and hope to integrate the discussion board with what I read. It will be intersting to see if I gain any insight.

    Jeff

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi all,

    I've been away for a few days so I just got to read the chapter, listen to the film, and read the comments in this thread. That's a lot to take in over the course of an hour and I shall have to read the chapter again, perhaps several times, before I can make any thoughtful comments. However, I will say that as I compare the experience of reading the chpaters in the pure black and white vs. the grayscale of the film...seeing Suzuki Roshi speak and look into the eyes of those in the room...I think so much of what he is saying is geared towards those he sees around him in that moment. That has an interesting contrast to what he is speaking about and what has been translated and edited into the text; just considering that throws me for more than a few loops! I think so much of buddhism and how you take it in has to do with how you come to it...the assumptions about life you take for granted and what it takes for those assumptions to be dropped. In that sense it is amazing that so many of us can come together here with so many different perspectives and still be one. In any other learning setting I have ever been a part of the differences between experienced students and beginners creates dichotomies where none need to exist.

    As usual, I have no idea if that makes any sense and in the past I'd be embarrassed to put something out there that my mind thinks could be complete garbage out of fear...but for now I'll put it out there and see what develops. To cultivate such an attitude is something I never expected to hold...for that I am grateful to you all.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  20. #20

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Irina
    Are "the same" and "equal" synonyms here?
    This might be another way of putting it:

    If everything was the same, then it would be one big pile of mush or some such thing. I think it has more to do with the experience of things. Nama Rupa. Each thing presents itself exactly as what it is. S**t does not smell like roses, but somehow s**t and roses are connected by the same source. It's past Androgyny.

    Some say we breath the sky, and fan the wind.

    Gassho

    Will

  21. #21

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Ron is perfectly Ron, Irina 100% Irina, Jeff Precisely Jeff (without one drop of Jeff to add or take away to make him more "Jeffish"), Scott absolutely Scott ... each is a valuable jewel in his/her own way ... and that is true even if each could stand to fix some bad habits, lose a few pounds, get some polish.

    It is true even if Ron, Irina, etc. do not realize that perfectly-just-as-it-is-ness for themselves (that is one of the "bad" habits they could use to fix!).

    What is also true is that Ron is Irina is Jeff is Scott as much as the fingers on your hand are just your hand, each drop of the sea just the sea.

    That is true too even if Ron, Irina, etc. do not realize that yet.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- The foregoing does not apply to Will, who is in a world of his own.

  22. #22

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    In that sense it is amazing that so many of us can come together here with so many different perspectives and still be one.
    I think that's very much in the spirit of the book.

    Cheers, Paul

  23. #23

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    p. 44: "When you don't think about time, you can be very generous with everyone, you can treat people very well. But if you think about time, about today and tomorrow, you cannot be so generous because you will lose time."

    This is so true in my life. The closest I ever come to feeling "wise" or generous are the rare times when I can cultivate an attitude that recognizes that whatever it is I am doing now is the thing I'm doing now (not so hard when playing music, hard in most other parts of my life). I have spent most of my years wondering about or thinking about all of the things I must get done in a certain amount of time and all the things I'm missing out on because there is not enough time or I can't be in two places at once. All of this thinking pulls me away from my life: the thing I am doing now. Now that I see this in myself, I'm gradually getting better at staying in time, surfing the wave of the present moment, being willing and able to speak, act, and think in a way that isn't tainted by the imaginary scenarios that I can spin. I think Suzuki Roshi's point is that generosity requires us to adjust our attitude towards time; to let go of it, to drop it so that our actions can proceed unselfishly and spontaneously.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  24. #24

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    My notes on the second talk:

    I was watching the Suzuki video when something clicked about things being different. Of course they are different. Every thing, every person, is completely and utterly different to everything else. How can they possibly be compared? A comparison would be meaningless, like "apples to pears", and so everything is equally worthwhile in its own right, and because everything is different we cannot say that any one thing is better than any other thing.

    Yet at the same time everything is one. The dual perspective of differentiation and equality. I thought of my school physics where we learnt that an electron is both a particle and a wave at the same time, seemingly contradictory yet both perspectives necessary.

    "Crooked Cucumber" is the title of the interesting biography of Suzuki by David Chadwick.

    Capacity of the human mind:

    Potentiality: difference between inherent natural potential, e.g. to be buddha, to help other people, which allows us to be generous to ourselves and everyone; and potential bounded by time, the clock is ticking away, we should not put things off, we have to make choices about who we can help, so we have to be strict with ourselves so as not to waste this potentiality.

    Interrelationship: The two sides of love, giving joy and sharing suffering. Sometimes the other person will be receptive to us giving help, other times all we can do is listen to them and share what they are suffering (my tendency, possibly more common in men than women, is to the former, "problem solving" as someone close to me used to call it).

    Appropriateness: to emphasize that when relating to someone you should be sensitive to their situation and do what is appropriate (that horrible cliché "skilful means" comes to mind).

    A bit about studying, presumably meaning both practice of zazen and study of texts. Different people need different ways of teaching. Your teacher can embue you with the spirit of study but only you can do the work.

  25. #25

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Charles,

    I was watching the Suzuki video when something clicked about things being different. Of course they are different. Every thing, every person, is completely and utterly different to everything else. How can they possibly be compared? A comparison would be meaningless, like "apples to pears", and so everything is equally worthwhile in its own right, and because everything is different we cannot say that any one thing is better than any other thing.
    OI totally agree here but I think what throws us (at least me off) is that i DO have to discriminate: when picking the fruit at the market I try to choose the best ones or at least not the ones who are not fresh; employers have to choose "the best" person for the job, in the morning I have to choose between different ways to the train station. I "pick and choose" less now even when buying something and do not discard a bouquet of flowers because some of the flowers start withering.

    It seems to me (correct me if I am off my base) that this "discrimination" is something our mind does a lot of times "automatically", that this is a trait of a human mind to make decisions based on judgements about what is best for me as a surviving organism. Maybe we took this to new hights developing our own patterns of judgement?

    As I see it what you speak of is the "avbsolute value" but when we compare in our daily lives this is the "relative value" we base our decisions on. This withering flower is not "worse" because it is withering, it is just hm... different. I think a lot of confusion comes from us confusing the two notions and a lot of this comes from the language that is "judgemental" these days. We do not just use language for sharing the information that is relevant for our survival but most of what we say are judgements. This said, I just feel like shutting up myself.
    What do you think?

    Gassho,

    Irina

  26. #26

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I find Irina's question about making judgements interesting. There is a saying "Buddhism in a nutshell -
    Stop Picking and Choosing". However we have to make judgements all the time, not to cross the road
    when a car is coming, not to eat a poisonous berry off a bush. Maybe there are (the word Charles
    isn't keen on) skillful judgements and unskillful ones. And then who makes the choice? Is it our
    memory and conditioning which decides?
    Jenny

  27. #27

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    There is a saying "Buddhism in a nutshell -
    Stop Picking and Choosing". However we have to make judgements all the time, not to cross the road
    when a car is coming, not to eat a poisonous berry off a bush.
    Choose on channel 1, drop all choices on Channel 2. That's all. Choose the good, avoid the bad on channel 1, drop all thought of "good" and "bad" on channel 2. Live a life in which you can perceive both channels at once, so much so that we say they are "not even two".

    That being said, try to make good choices (and avoid the harmful ones).

    Do that, and you are guaranteed a pretty smooth life ... even with the unavoidable bumps and despite any bad choices you happen to make.

    Gassho, Jundo

  28. #28

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Will and Jundo,

    Thanks for your comments, they really helped. If we could embrace our being as we are, accept it, many of us would not have the issue of "low self-esteem". I read about Suzuki Roshi's teacher calling him "You Croocked Cucumber" which by many in my culture could be taken as an insult. Yet he seems to be accepting his being "slow" and just as he is. This is true freedom and self-respect!

    Gassho,

    Irina

  29. #29

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny
    Maybe there are (the word Charles
    isn't keen on) skillful judgements and unskillful ones.
    Jenny
    Hi Jenny: it is just the phrase "skillful means" I don't like. For me it always conjures up thoughts of people making excuses for the abusive behaviour of their spiritual leader.

    :Charles

  30. #30

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Irina: I have no idea of how far we can take non-discrimination but I suspect that even if we just reduce the amount of unnecessary judgement and discrimination in our day-to-day life then we can reduce the amount of "friction" in our life, to use Jundo's metaphor, and so reduce the low-level dissatisfaction unnecessary discrimination causes us all the time. Recent personal examples I can think of: another car too close behind me on the road, instead of entering a long-winded irritable narrative in my mind about BMW drivers, I could just drive more carefully until he passes; the work top in the office kitchen is a mess, instead of being disgusted by it I can just clean it up in a few seconds. And so on, including how we judge ourselves. Difficult to reach that level of acceptance though.

    :Charles

  31. #31

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Hi Irina: I have no idea of how far we can take non-discrimination but I suspect that even if we just reduce the amount of unnecessary judgement and discrimination in our day-to-day life then we can reduce the amount of "friction" in our life, to use Jundo's metaphor, and so reduce the low-level dissatisfaction unnecessary discrimination causes us all the time. Recent personal examples I can think of: another car too close behind me on the road, instead of entering a long-winded irritable narrative in my mind about BMW drivers, I could just drive more carefully until he passes; the work top in the office kitchen is a mess, instead of being disgusted by it I can just clean it up in a few seconds. And so on, including how we judge ourselves. Difficult to reach that level of acceptance though.

    :Charles
    The ultimate is to see the discrimination and let it go. We see, we like or don't like, it passes. Where did it come from? Where was it when it was there? Where did it go? Who is watching it? That's why zazen is the gateway as it gives us the space to see all this happening in real-time and enjoy it. Discrimination will reduce anyway as we get bored with it.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  32. #32

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Hi Irina: I have no idea of how far we can take non-discrimination but I suspect that even if we just reduce the amount of unnecessary judgement and discrimination in our day-to-day life then we can reduce the amount of "friction" in our life, to use Jundo's metaphor, and so reduce the low-level dissatisfaction unnecessary discrimination causes us all the time. Recent personal examples I can think of: another car too close behind me on the road, instead of entering a long-winded irritable narrative in my mind about BMW drivers, I could just drive more carefully until he passes; the work top in the office kitchen is a mess, instead of being disgusted by it I can just clean it up in a few seconds. And so on, including how we judge ourselves. Difficult to reach that level of acceptance though.

    :Charles
    Sometimes we can simplify our minds, sometimes it is not so easy and we get all tangled up in thoughts and passions.

    Some folks think that, when you get this Buddhism thing "right", become "enlightened" and a "Buddha" ... we will never get tangled up in thought and emotions again.

    Well, maybe so. Maybe it is true, maybe an idealized image. But in the meantime, we are all just ordinary "human beings" with heads sometimes full of trash.

    As best you can, during your day ... dump the trash and keep the gold of thoughts and emotions. Simplify your mind. You won't always be able to (and quite often you may dump the gold and be up to your neck in trash) ... but do your best.

    Gassho, Jundo

  33. #33

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Charles. Point taken. (By the way I noticed your original spelling of skilful was correct and then I
    see that in USA 2 ll's are used!)
    Jenny

  34. #34

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Irina

    OI totally agree here but I think what throws us (at least me off) is that i DO have to discriminate: when picking the fruit at the market I try to choose the best ones or at least not the ones who are not fresh; employers have to choose "the best" person for the job, in the morning I have to choose between different ways to the train station. I "pick and choose" less now even when buying something and do not discard a bouquet of flowers because some of the flowers start withering.
    Irina,

    Buddhas do not need to choose.

    But it is a choice to choose or not to choose.

    Here is a quote from Suzuki Roshi:

    Student: How much ego should one have?

    Suzuki: Enough not to get hit by a bus.

    I'll add:

    A lot of the time we have no choice in the matter. We can discriminate unintelligently with misunderstanding.

    That is what Zazen is for.

    Gassho

    Will

  35. #35

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Reading the sentence "the way has no Northern or Southern Ancestors" and the discussion of absolute equality, I wondered if Sekito/S Suzuki meant that the differences between the schools didn't matter and that the schools were of equal value.

    Without knowing any Japanese and just reading the English translation, the statement could be interpreted in a slightly different way; the ancestors of the way are not Northern or Southern. That is, the (true) ancestors precede the distinction of Northern or Southern.

    Just a thought... :idea:

    JohnH

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi
    This chapter was great. Perhaps because I'm exhausted physically and mentally to day it reached me easily, and I was nodding at the book like i was listening intently to him speaking.

    "The clever ones do not always have an advantage in studying or accepting Buddhism, and its not always the dull person who has difficulty. A dull person is good because he is dull; a sharper person is good because he is sharp. Even though you compare you cannot say which is best."
    and shortly there after

    "... Actually there is no dull person or smart person..."
    His story about staying with his master while all the good cucumbers ran away made me smile.

    Also I dug the explanation of ki. laying it out like he did with such care, it was very easy for me to grasp and gain new perspectives.

    "When you don't think about time, you can be very generous with everyone, you can treat people very well. But if you think about time, about today and tomorrow, you cannot be so generous because you will lose time.
    Suffering with others when they are suffering, crying with them and so on... very wise advice i know i have read hear before

    To practice is not to collect things and put them in your basket, but rather to find something in your sleeve.
    Actually I'd like to quote most of what I read here its all very good

    I enjoyed reading the quoted bit in Jundo's beginning post, Having read it made it reading this chapter and his use of the North and South schools, that much clearer.

    Gassho, Shohei

  37. #37

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi,

    I would like to drop in a few words on "sudden" vs. "gradual" enlightenment.

    Some Zen students may be left with the impression, from reading some types of books about Zen ... (perhaps many of the first English books about Zen, like those by D.T. Suzuki ... not to be confused with ol' Shunryu Suzuki) .... that one is eventually "suddenly enlightened" and done. Perhaps one hears the sound of a a distant bell, dripping water, or a pebble bouncing down some steps ... and, suddenly, all the universe is clear, all questions resolved ... time to collect your "Enlightenment Diploma" and call it a day.



    Others think that enlightenment is "sudden" because we are all "Originally Buddha" "Enlightened from the Get Go" ... we need do nothing. That all our greed, anger and ignorance is just the Buddha's greed, anger and ignorance ... cause we are already him and he is just foolish us. So, feel free to pillage and plunder ... do whatever you like, cause you are the Buddha.

    This fellow thought so ...



    On the other hand, some think that "enlightenment" is distant, and gradual, because we must slowly polish ourselves, strip ourselves of all human faults and imperfections to get to that far off "Promised Land" of Nirvana where ... LIFE WILL BE PERFECT and WE WILL BE PERFECT BEINGS, Buddhas COMPLETELY free of all human desire. It may take countless lifetimes of polishing until we remove each last drop of all our cravings and faults that makes us now so much "less" than Buddha.

    You can be like these fellows (made of gold, not seeing the gold that is already there)



    But I think that each of those views is true in its way, incomplete in its way (in fact, both the teachers of the Northern and Southern schools were teaching much the same thing ... )

    Enlightenment is "sudden" because we are already Buddha, are already complete. However, it may take time for us to gradually realize this fact in our lives. We must realize this, and make it real, moment by moment in our lives.

    Greed, anger and ignorance obscure the peace and perfection of our lives, so we must constantly make effort to wipe each away. But the best means to "wipe each away", is through sudden on-the-spot tastes of contentment, peace and wisdom (we see that there is no dust in need of cleaning, even as we wipe the dust). And we can never fully "wipe each away", not so long as we are human beings with these often greedy, angry and ignorant human bodies and minds. Thus, we do not extinguish "greed anger and ignorance", so much as see through them, learn not to be trapped by them, learn to see life in other ways free of "greed anger and ignorance". THE ENDLESS WIPING (and NOT WIPING) --IS-- THE PERFECT CLEANING ACHIEVED.

    Enlightenment is not a single stopping place (although, yes, in one of its many facets, it is a taste in which all things "stop"), but a freedom to live moment by ever changing moment in this life. More than peace and stillness, it is the ability to taste peace and stillness amid and as the ever changing turmoil and movement (often chaos) that is this world.

    Insights come and go in our practice. There is no "One Insight" that ends all need for others (although, yes, there is One Insight that sweeps in all others, like a single theatre stage holds all the moments of drama and comedy present there over the years ... but we best not mistake the stage for the whole wonderful show!). There are countless insights, large and small.

    If you think that "enlightenment" is distant, it is. If you search for some human conception of "perfection" (as you imagine it) no human will attain that.

    And such is the meaning, goal and purpose of "meaningless" "goalless" "purposeless" Shikantaza ...

    Taste a moment of Zazen, and any moment of life, as perfect and complete ... and it is. (Not "perfect" and "complete" as you might wish in your dreams and small ideals ... but perfectly-completely-itself, just what it is).

    Drop all judgments, desires, likes and dislikes on the Zafu ... all thoughts of separation ... and the "greed, anger and ignorance" have not fuel, vanishes like a blown out flame. Then, rise up from the Zafu and seek to remember that quiet even amid the burning firestorms of life.

    My friend Nonin likes to say,

    A minute of Zazen is a minute of Buddha, 25 years of Zazen is 25 years of Buddha ... and they are not quite the same.

    Dogen writes ...

    Day and night
    Night and day,
    The way of Dharma in everyday life
    In each act our hearts
    Resonate with the call of the Sutra


    One hears the sound of a distant temple bell, and all is resolved and just as it should be ... yet we keep on living. The vibrations of the temple bell carry on endlessly.

    It is gradual, it is instant ... it is beyond all thought of instant or gradual.

    Gassho, Jundo

  38. #38

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Jundo,

    Beautiful - thank you.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  39. #39
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    ^^ indeed it is!
    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho Shohei

  40. #40

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi.

    Scientifically, the bellringing is very interesting.

    When you hit the bell to ring, the sound resonates (bounces) of you so that it in practice your ringing.
    That would imply in the long run that when you hit the bell to ring, the bell isn't ringing you are (and the rest of the world).

    Another way of saying it would be "when you ring the bell, everything rings.."
    sound familiar?

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  41. #41
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Enlightenment is not a single stopping place (although, yes, in one of its many facets, it is a taste in which all things "stop"), but a freedom to live moment by ever changing moment in this life. More than peace and stillness, it is the ability to taste peace and stillness amid and as the ever changing turmoil and movement (often chaos) that is this world.
    Thank you Jundo, beautifully put.

    It reminded me T S Eliot in Burnt Norton on the subject of stillness yet being part of the dance:

    "At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
    Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
    But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
    Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
    Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
    There would be no dance, and there is only the dance".

    Gassho

    Martin

  42. #42
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    I think the timing of this talk is interesting regarding some of the discussions that are going on about current disputes. The dharma seems to continue through these interpretations and disputes and act to clarify issues and interpretations

    The 'skilful means' of the teacher are clearly important but it is easy to see that tensions are created by actions such as the following:

    All the other monks deferred to Shen-hsiu, the senior disciple. Shen-hsiu composed a verse which Hung-jen publicly praised while telling Shen-hsiu in private that it fell short of the mark. When Hui-neng heard about the contest, he instantly knew what to write and, being illiterate, had a temple page inscribe his verse on a wall. Hung-jen, hearing of this, said publicly that this verse was lacking, but late that night called Hui-neng to his room and ‘transmitted his Dharma’ to him, naming him as his successor and sixth patriarch, and giving him the robe and bowl of Bodhidharma as tokens.
    This seems to create an elitist position for the senior disciples and presumably is related to their own training, but for the other people involved, 'all the other monks' it creates a situation where there is a tension at the core of the teacher/disciple relationship which must play out at some time. Again presumably this is to enable learning at the appropriate time.

    I've always struggled with the precepts in this way in that I've tended to interprete them in an absolutist way you should not kill anything means exactly that.

  43. #43

    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Beautiful teaching Jundo, Gassho.

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzuki
    "…… Right now to get out of my suffering is the most important thing for me. You can't help me, nothing can help me."
    When you hear this, you should be Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva -- you should become like the one who is suffering, and you should suffer as that person suffers. Because of your innate love, your instinctive love, you share their suffering. That is love in its true sense.
    That passage really speaks to me. So often when we try to help people with their practice we have to realise that they are suffering, be aware and open to it, and realise that they don't want to hear a lot of complicated teaching or intellectual theory, but something that will help them directly with the suffering they are experiencing at this moment. And often the best teaching is just to sit and listen, "deep listening" as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it.

    Gassho,
    Doshin

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