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Thread: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII (Life After Death?)

  1. #1

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII (Life After Death?)

    Hi,

    Today's questions in our "BIG Questions" series are a matter of life and death:

    What happens when we die? Some say that death is an illusion. How so? Why is it said that Satori destroys the fear of death?- Buddhism says that Ignorance and delusion bind us to the cycle of birth and death. As such, when one who hasn’t realised his/her true nature and remains in ignorance dies, they are subsequently reborn. But what happens to one who has realised their true nature in life, attained enlightenment , Satori...? What happens to a Buddha when their physical body disintegrates, if they are not reborn and they are egoless?
    I don't know for sure (although I have some darn good suspicions arising from this practice). Frankly, I do not think that even those other folks claiming to "know for sure" truly "know for sure" that they "know for sure" ... (it's even unclear if the Buddha himself claimed to "know for sure" or just was said to "know for sure" by later folks who didn't know for sure if he knew for sure) ...

    But I will do my best to answer anyway.

    (Let me also mention that some of these questions are closely connected to our last "BIG Questions" Episode on Karma:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...VI-%28Karma%29

    First, what happens when we die?

    I believe that no human being knows for sure (not the living ones anyway). I believe a lot of folks who claim to know are merely guessing or being imaginative (I do not know for sure that they are, of course, and they might have some insight. I guess we will find out when we are dead ... or not).

    But here is the kicker, from a Zen perspective:

    1- I do not need to know, and the whole question is rather unimportant

    2- There is no "birth and death" anyway.

    Let's take those in order:

    First, among religions (and even among schools of Buddhism) Zen is generally focused on living in "this life, here and now" as opposed to being concerned about what comes next.

    As we discussed last time regarding Karma, ideas of Karmic Rebirth have been just as present throughout the history of Ch'an/Zen Buddhism as in other schools of Buddhism. HOWEVER, the emphasis in Zen Buddhism on "living in this life, in the present moment" quickly began to make the question less important to Zen Practitioners. Live a good life in this life ... and what happens after this life will take care of itself. (It sure as heck is gonna take care of itself anyway!)

    Second, Zen Buddhism (and many schools of the Mahayana particularly) came to see the whole dichotomy of "birth/life" and "death" as something of an illusion, a fiction, which can be dropped away. So, death is not a problem because we were never born in the first place, and thus never die.

    Let me explain.

    I suppose the best analogy is the "wave" on an ocean's surface. The wave (representing you or me) rises up from the ocean, and eventually merges back into the ocean, but really there was nothing there all along but the ocean. When the water rippled up, we say "there is a wave", and when the water fell back down we say "the wave is gone" ... but it was just the water, which was there before ... and is still there after. {Let me mention here that I am not crazy about the "ocean" analogy for a simple reason: The image or name limits and fixes our conception of that ultimate reality beyond what I believe is present human understanding. (I much prefer my airplane analogy, see below) In my view, the word "Ocean" conveys an image of some unbroken, homogeneous, characterless, flowing thing, I believe, in contrast, that reality may be that [homogenous, characterless, etc.] or something completely different I can be "at one" with it no matter, and without need to know precisely. I was inspired today to see Shunryu Suzuki Roshi say, in the film I pointed folks to in the book club (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7umcFZEb7c&hl=ja[/video]] from about minute 23:00 mark:

    [Things have a reason why they] exist here. And because of that reason, it makes sense - some sense [laughs]. I don't know [laughs] what sense. No one knows. But there must be some reason.
    .
    }

    So, you see, I am pretty darn sure that we never were born, so we never will die. But I am hard pressed to tell you (and I really don't care anyway!!) about what exactly our "source" is to which we return.

    Our Zen attitude to the source of our life (and to where we return) could be compared to this analogy: I am not an airplane pilot or aero-engineer (and was asleep in science class in high school), so I really do not understand what makes a 747 fly. Yet, out of great faith, I get on and ride. Now, when a dear friend of mine I'll call "Danny"was living with cancer a few years ago, he asked me for a "Zen Buddhist" perspective on what its all about [He was not a Zen Buddhist at the time]. I wrote him this:


    How can I put this? Perhaps, in the Zen perspective, life is like being born ... for some mysterious reason ... in a certain seat on a trans-Pacific flight (I thought the analogy appropriate, given how much time we both spend crossing the Pacific to Japan). We are not quite sure how we got here on this flight, who paid for the ticket, the destination ... and certainly, we are not quite sure who is in the cockpit or how the plane got made. However, something has seemingly gone to a lot of trouble to put us on this plane (earthly plane? har har). And, the movie is not bad (sometimes comedy sometimes tears), the champagne is cold, and the view out the window spectacular. Sure, some of the other passengers are hard to bear (often fighting amongst themselves), not everything is to our liking, and sometimes it downright is unpleasant. But the 747 seems to be moving along on its own power. So, nothing to do but enjoy the ride.

    But there is more to it than that ...

    For, in our perspective, we can see that we are all connected. I don't mean that we see some loose, indirect connection we all have. It is precisely that we see that the airplane and all the other passengers, the motor, the wings, movie and all the seats, and the guy in the cockpit are all part of you too, or are really you, or you are them ... or, better put, you, Danny, are the plane ... or even better put, there is just the flying).

    And we are not really going anywhere anyway that we have not always been (the point of departure and the point of arrival are precisely the same). Nor can we have any control really over the course of the flight, or its length. Anyway, what does long or short mean once you get in the air?

    And it sure seems like something went to a lot of trouble to make something as elaborate as a plane. A great mathematician and physicist [Fred Hoyle] once said ...

    "The chance that higher [sentient] life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein... I am at a loss to understand biologists' widespread compulsion to deny what seems to me to be obvious." ("Hoyle on Evolution," Nature, Vol. 294, 12 November 1981, p. 105.)

    The fact [I am writing a book on this] that so many a priori conditions were required to set our 747-world just right in order for us to share this e-mail leads me to conclude that our appearance on this plane is not mere happenstance, and the trip not without purpose (although I do not clearly know the nature of nature's purpose).


    So, have a good flight, even with the turbulence and bad food. It's all part of the flying and we are not really at the controls.

    Some Buddhists might also add that you are working through what needs to be worked through (karma and all that). I, personally, don't know about that, but it could be I suppose. Certainly, it is one explanation for how you ended up as "Danny," and not as some piece of luggage, coffee cup, headrest, other passenger or ... seemingly much, much more likely ... nothing at all. I can attest that this "Danny" is certainly one of a kind. (If I may continue with the silly plane analogy), why did you end up in seat 37D, and not some other seat, or in the baggage compartment, and why on the darn plane at all?? Maybe there is no reason at all, maybe it was an assigned seat.

    Oh, and embracing the whole things means that it is okay to be pissed off, disappointed, etc., sometimes at being sick. That's what human beings do at times when we have been diverted, seemingly, from where we wanted the plane to go.


    Your friend, Jundo ... quite often, a white knuckle flier
    So, we realize that we are the airplane, not just a passenger in economy class. Though we don't know all about what makes a 747 go, or even have a clear idea of the destination ... we have a deep trust that we are supposed to be here.

    Now, before we go, let me talk about some traditional Buddhist ideas about life after death.

    As we saw in our last "BIG Questions" episode on Karma, the Buddha and other later Buddhists often taught a very mechanical system of heavens, hells and rebirths. Could be so. Many Buddhists thought of these places of rebirth as real places. They may be.

    But the Buddha and all the Buddhists also taught that, when you get "enlightened" you escape from all that. How? Well, one interpretation that has been around for a long time is you "escape" from it because ... it was never there, except as a creation of your own mind. I guess the simplest analogy is an ordinary dream when you are sleeping, in which you are convinced that you are going from life to life. But when the alarm rings and you 'wake up' ... you realize the dream was a dream all along (real in being a real dream, but not real). When you are dreaming, you think you are a passenger moving from seat to seat on the airplane. But then, when you wake up, you are just the plane. Something like that.

    Quiet often the Buddha just refused to answer all such questions as irrelevant. His method was to afford us escape and end suffering. He had no concern for what happens after death and/or did not know. Although the Buddha is said to have given a few different answers to what happens to a Buddha after death, one of the most often cited is this:

    Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta - The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya

    Ven. Malunkyaputta arose from seclusion and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "Lord, just now, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in my awareness: 'These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One... I don't approve, I don't accept that the Blessed One has not declared them to me. I'll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he declares to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' that 'The cosmos is not eternal,' that 'The cosmos is finite,' that 'The cosmos is infinite,' that 'The soul & the body are the same,' that 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' that 'After death a Tathagata exists,' that 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' that 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' then I will live the holy life under him. then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not declare to me that "The cosmos is eternal,"... etc. or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist," then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life.'

    [The Buddha answered]:

    "Malunkyaputta, did I ever say to you, 'Come, Malunkyaputta, live the holy life under me, and I will declare to you that "The cosmos is eternal,"... etc. or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,"

    "No, lord."

    "It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

    "In the same way, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,'... or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

    "So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared. And what is undeclared by me? 'The cosmos is eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is not eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is finite'... 'The cosmos is infinite'... 'The soul & the body are the same'... 'The soul is one thing and the body another'... 'After death a Tathagata exists'... 'After death a Tathagata does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' is undeclared by me.

    "And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to [non-attachment], dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me.
    So, HAVE A SMOOTH FLIGHT! ... roll with the turbulence ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - If anyone is interested in more of the "Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions ", the links are here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-BIG-Questions
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-24-2013 at 03:19 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    First, what happens when we die?

    ...

    But here is the kicker, from a Zen perspective:

    1- I do not need to know, and the whole question is rather unimportant

    2- There is no "birth and death" anyway.
    Hi Jundo,

    As an individual pondering my own fate, I may (one day) be able to convince myself that these answers are sufficient.

    But when attending the funeral of a relative, friend or colleague and feeling the grief and sense of loss, telling myself (or others!) that the body lying there in the open casket was never born and thus never died doesn't seem to provide much hope or comfort. For those left behind, there is a real need to know.

    What could be said, from a Buddhist point of view, to help those who are grieving?

    Thanks for tackling the BIG questions.

    JohnH

  3. #3

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo


    "And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to [non-attachment], dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me.
    Hi.

    I like The 'BIG' questions, really good.

    One of my friends always, when this topic comes up, askes "but what about the zombies?".
    Well, i believe Zombies have their place in the dharma, as do men, spoons and so forth...

    But, WHAT ABOUT THE ZOMBIES?
    I'll guess i have to ask one if i ever come across one, just before i run like hell...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  4. #4

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    First, what happens when we die?

    ...

    But here is the kicker, from a Zen perspective:

    1- I do not need to know, and the whole question is rather unimportant

    2- There is no "birth and death" anyway.
    Hi Jundo,

    As an individual pondering my own fate, I may (one day) be able to convince myself that these answers are sufficient.

    But when attending the funeral of a relative, friend or colleague and feeling the grief and sense of loss, telling myself (or others!) that the body lying there in the open casket was never born and thus never died doesn't seem to provide much hope or comfort. For those left behind, there is a real need to know.

    What could be said, from a Buddhist point of view, to help those who are grieving?

    Thanks for tackling the BIG questions.

    JohnH
    Pardon my for being slow to respond. It took a while for me to get the smile off my face from Fugen's "Zombie" posting.

    Well, as to feeling grief ... I tell people (and I too experience when a loved one dies in my family) that to grieve is natural. And to feel compassion and empathy for others who have suffered a loss is natural. Kannon and Jizo Bodhisattvas feel compassion and empathy for all the suffering of the world.

    If there is anything very special about our "Zen way" of grieving ... it is that we can also see through the loss and grief into another perspective by which nothing can ever be lost, nothing can even be apart. We taste both ways of seeing at once (sometimes more one face than the other though).

    We also seek some balance and moderation in our emotions .... and we seek to avoid, as we can, extremes of grief, becoming a prisoner of grief unable to escape (although, you know, there will be those days too, and that is okay. As long as someone does not make a lifetime of grieving).

    When my mother died, people asked if I felt great loss. I said (and say) that I see and feel my mother in every tree, cloud and breeze, child's skinned knee. No distance at all. And I am not merely waxing poetic here, or trying to sound like a greeting card. I mean it.

    When my son asks where people go when they die, I usually say "the peaceful place where we came from when we were born. We are all together there for all time.". I mean that too.

    I rarely perform funerals (I think they should be more like birthday parties), but when I do I usually do this: I ask all the friends and family attending the service to raise their hands and tell a story about the effect that the person had in their lives. Usually, hands go up and people will tell stories about how the person helped them, comforted them, saved them in a hard situation (sometimes the story will be about how the person was not so nice ... which shows that our actions have effects). So, I then say, the person is still here with all of us. I mean that too.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    First, what happens when we die?

    ...

    But here is the kicker, from a Zen perspective:

    1- I do not need to know, and the whole question is rather unimportant

    2- There is no "birth and death" anyway.
    Hi Jundo,

    As an individual pondering my own fate, I may (one day) be able to convince myself that these answers are sufficient.

    But when attending the funeral of a relative, friend or colleague and feeling the grief and sense of loss, telling myself (or others!) that the body lying there in the open casket was never born and thus never died doesn't seem to provide much hope or comfort. For those left behind, there is a real need to know.

    What could be said, from a Buddhist point of view, to help those who are grieving?

    Thanks for tackling the BIG questions.

    JohnH
    Pardon my for being slow to respond. It took a while for me to get the smile off my face from Fugen's "Zombie" posting.

    Well, as to feeling grief ... I tell people (and I too experience when a loved one dies in my family) that to grieve is natural. And to feel compassion and empathy for others who have suffered a loss is natural. Kannon and Jizo Bodhisattvas feel compassion and empathy for all the suffering of the world.

    If there is anything very special about our "Zen way" of grieving ... it is that we can also see through the loss and grief into another perspective by which nothing can ever be lost, nothing can even be apart. We taste both ways of seeing at once (sometimes more one face than the other though).

    We also seek some balance and moderation in our emotions .... and we seek to avoid, as we can, extremes of grief, becoming a prisoner of grief unable to escape (although, you know, there will be those days too, and that is okay. As long as someone does not make a lifetime of grieving).

    When my mother died, people asked if I felt great loss. I said (and say) that I see and feel my mother in every tree, cloud and breeze, child's skinned knee. No distance at all. And I am not merely waxing poetic here, or trying to sound like a greeting card. I mean it.

    When my son asks where people go when they die, I usually say "the peaceful place where we came from when we were born. We are all together there for all time.". I mean that too.

    I rarely perform funerals (I think they should be more like birthday parties), but when I do I usually do this: I ask all the friends and family attending the service to raise their hands and tell a story about the effect that the person had in their lives. Usually, hands go up and people will tell stories about how the person helped them, comforted them, saved them in a hard situation (sometimes the story will be about how the person was not so nice ... which shows that our actions have effects). So, I then say, the person is still here with all of us. I mean that too.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Hi.

    When my granddad went away a couple of years ago i got the question if i thought if he was still with us.
    And without an hesitation i answered yes.
    And he still is.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  6. #6

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    I am just going to repost these wonderful lyrics from the 10,000 Maniacs (originally by folk singer Iris Dement) ... they say it all ... I have posted them before, but I really love this song.

    Give a listen hear

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl= ... =N&tab=wv#

    Here is the Iris Dement version, which is really great too

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Du5FguDSzE[/video]]

    Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from

    Everybody's worrying 'bout where they're gonna go

    When the whole thing's done

    Nobody knows for certain,

    And so it's all the same to me

    I Think I'll just let the mystery be



    Some say once gone, you're gone forever

    Some say you're gonna come back

    Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior

    if in sinful ways you lack

    Some say that they're comin' back in a garden

    Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas

    I Think I'll just let the mystery be



    Some say they're going to place called Glory

    And I ain't sayin' it ain't a fact

    But I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory

    And I don't like the sound of that

    I believe in love and I live my life accordingly

    But I choose to let the mystery be



    Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from

    Everybody's worrying 'bout where they're gonna go

    When the whole thing's done

    Nobody knows for certain,

    And so it's all the same to me

    I Think I'll just let the mystery be

  7. #7

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Beautiful lyrics Jundo, thanks for posting them!

    Gassho.

  8. #8

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Well, this thread seems to have ended on a beautiful note or song. And I think that it has all been well said by Jundo and the rest of you.

    But…. If it is that simple “quen sabe?” then why all the effort spent trying to explain what lays beyond this life? I wonder if it is not so much a concern over what happens to us as individuals, but rather what happens to those we love that are lost to us.

    Perhaps this is a new thread for Jundo…. I know up to about a month ago, I thought I was comfortable with the passing of friends, family and those persons where I was a witness to their death in my work in Emergency Services. Then I got a message that a dear friend of mine had died. I was devastated. I sat and cried and was unsettled for days. I guess the big WHY? finally hit me after some 69 years. Since then I have been giving a lot of thought to loosing those we love. For the first time I started to think about what life would be like with out my wife…someone who has been part of me for over 45 years. I think it is these types of thoughts that push us to find an answer to Jundo’s Big Question VII. Not for our end, but for comfort in loosing those we love. Perhaps, “let the mystery be” is really the only answer. And as Jundo would say, guess I just have to sit with that.

    Aloha

    Jim

  9. #9

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi everybody,

    I seem to remember that a tibetan teacher once said something like this ...

    Everybody wants to know if there is a life after death...but what about a life before death?
    Thank you for tackling this Big question.

    gasssho


    Taigu

  10. #10

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi everybody,

    I seem to remember that a tibetan teacher once said something like this ...

    Everybody wants to know if there is a life after death...but what about a life before death?
    Thank you for tackling this Big question.

    gasssho

    Taigu
    Actually some Tibetans are very precise about what happens after death: "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying", Sogyal Rinpoche.

    JohnH

  11. #11

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    I rather like this, "Where does your fist go when you open your hand?"

    clyde


    p.s: I think I first heard this from Alan Watts.

  12. #12

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by clyde
    I rather like this, "Where does your fist go when you open your hand?"

    clyde


    p.s: I think I first heard this from Alan Watts.
    Super cool! Thanks Clyde!

  13. #13

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi Jundo...

    I don't know what will be happened after I die, (I haven't died yet)

    But I think, heaven and hell is needed.

    There are three types of person (I think):
    1. a person who don't do some thing bad because he afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    2. a person who do some thing good because he has compassion. Not just because afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    3. a person who is doing good because he just want to do it. This kind of person do good thing not because he want to benefit other people, because wanting to benefit others is separation between me and others. A person in the 3rd types will see others as him self. There is no separation at all.

    For a person in the first type, believing there is hell or heaven can help him/her to refrain from doing bad thing.

    For the person in the 2nd and 3rd types, they don't really need to believe about hell or heaven.


    Although we don't know whether heavens-hell really exist or not, but as long as it can bring benefit to a lot of people, it's ok to believe it.

    But, of course it's up to the person want to believe it or not. it's very optional.

    Well, this is my opinion.

    GAssho, Mujo

  14. #14

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi,

    Why do some people suppose that we'll learn something after we die which remains hidden to us now? Perhaps we've been asking these questions for endless kalpas. Perhaps the questions arise with us and depart with us. Perhaps things are like this, perhaps they're like that. Even if this or that is so, we may never know. And - even if we do find out that it's like this or like that - what then?

    Gassho
    Bansho

  15. #15

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    Hi Jundo...

    I don't know what will be happened after I die, (I haven't died yet)

    But I think, heaven and hell is needed.

    There are three types of person (I think):
    1. a person who don't do some thing bad because he afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    2. a person who do some thing good because he has compassion. Not just because afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    3. a person who is doing good because he just want to do it. This kind of person do good thing not because he want to benefit other people, because wanting to benefit others is separation between me and others. A person in the 3rd types will see others as him self. There is no separation at all.

    For a person in the first type, believing there is hell or heaven can help him/her to refrain from doing bad thing.

    For the person in the 2nd and 3rd types, they don't really need to believe about hell or heaven.


    Although we don't know whether heavens-hell really exist or not, but as long as it can bring benefit to a lot of people, it's ok to believe it.

    But, of course it's up to the person want to believe it or not. it's very optional.

    Well, this is my opinion.

    GAssho, Mujo
    Very wise opinion.

    I also think that we create heavens and hells inside ourselves, in this life, when we are filled with goodness or filled with greed, anger, ignorance.

    Gassho, J

  16. #16
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    Hi Jundo...

    I don't know what will be happened after I die, (I haven't died yet)

    But I think, heaven and hell is needed.

    There are three types of person (I think):
    1. a person who don't do some thing bad because he afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    2. a person who do some thing good because he has compassion. Not just because afraid hell and desiring heaven.

    3. a person who is doing good because he just want to do it. This kind of person do good thing not because he want to benefit other people, because wanting to benefit others is separation between me and others. A person in the 3rd types will see others as him self. There is no separation at all.

    For a person in the first type, believing there is hell or heaven can help him/her to refrain from doing bad thing.

    For the person in the 2nd and 3rd types, they don't really need to believe about hell or heaven.


    Although we don't know whether heavens-hell really exist or not, but as long as it can bring benefit to a lot of people, it's ok to believe it.

    But, of course it's up to the person want to believe it or not. it's very optional.

    Well, this is my opinion.

    GAssho, Mujo
    Very wise opinion.

    I also think that we create heavens and hells inside ourselves, in this life, when we are filled with goodness or filled with greed, anger, ignorance.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you for a timely, if unintentional, reminder as to why I should visit this forum more often.

    Chet

  17. #17

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Thank you very much Mujo, this is very wise, nevertheless the belief in Heaven's reward and fear of hell's are of such a nature that they won't help the very person to come back to the simplicity of home. And a would be "good action" arising from the field of fear or greed has a poisonous nature that will even outgrow its primary direction. Crusaders of the past, suicide bombers of today are drunk with Hell and Heaven visions and promises. The toys have become weapons. And on the top of all this, the belief in Heaven or Hell is always happening" over there, out there, after death...", the teaching of the Buddha is to free yourself from these chains and see your reality as one witth the whole reality. Heaven and Hell are the the major obstacles to the display of the empty field, hope and fear are the way religions have controlled people and unlieshed the most dreadful hounds of human beings turned into hungry dogs.
    In fact I have heard your answer many times in the mouth of Christian priests who were trying to justify why people should believe in such things, immature and ordinary people would, according to them, do bad things if they did not dread the wrath of God. This is exactly what religions are aiming at: keeping people in a dependant state and and viewing them as inferior. Not my cup of tea.

    Heaven and Hell are ways to taste and experience reality. This is a story I remember: A famous swordman challenged a Zen monk once asking him to show him the nature of Heaven and Hell. The old monk started to dismiss the request and show great contempt for the warrior who lost it and in a fit of rage raised his sword to kill the monk. At this very moment the monk said:"this is Hell", the swordman, surprised and amazed, lowered his sword down, the monk thenuttered gently: "this is Heaven".

  18. #18

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Wonderful posts.

    My grandfather had died many times on the table with many heart attacks and he told me it was lights on. lights off. no light at the end of the tunnel type thing for him.

    After hearing this I guessed it was lights out literally - chemical energy that makes up "us" is lost and ... that it, heaven and hell to me was always right here. I never took it beyond that, probably because is scared the bejebus outta me then.

    So I never worried a lot about the existence of God, for myself. I always figured God was another device to keep us inline with promises of ... reward and punishment. That never flew for me and in the end I came to think of Hell and Heaven as a state of mind.

    Anywho I guess I have nothing to add much of value, however I am really valuing the posts in this thread... many thanks to all!

    Gassho, Shohei

    Side note: When heaven and hell are discussed i often think of the lyrics to this song :

    We don't go to hell, memories of us do,
    And if you go to hell,
    Ill still remember you.
    Inevitablility of Death - The Tragically Hip

  19. #19

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Dear folks,
    I'm enjoying reading these posts - one thing that I would like to hear more about is a line from the airplane analogy:

    " ...leads me to conclude that our appearance on this plane is not mere happenstance, and the trip not without purpose... "

    Is there anything 'wrong' from a zen point of view, with seeing life as nothing but happenstance? or as being totally without purpose? I feel that a belief in any meaning to life, whether veiled or somehow comprehendable, is related to our human predilection for patterning existence. It's what our consciousnesses need to do in order to function.

    [I would just add though that I don't find this in any way depressing, and hope no one else finds it depressing either - personally I've always found the idea of a totally random and pointless universe rather refreshing and enlivening, even if it does mean that after I die I have to spend eternity in the corner with everyone else around me having a lovely time, pausing only to tell me, "We TOLD you so!".]

    Random happiness to all,
    Michael

  20. #20

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    I've always been fond of the philosophical idea (fond, not attached!) that the very fact we can ask if there is a meaning, means there is a meaning. Now, whether that meaning is any of our business, is a whole other business :wink:

    Gassho,
    Tobiah

  21. #21

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Dear Michael

    no there is nothing wrong with the perspective you expound. Your view is as it is - no more no less - nothing added or taken away. Having thought your thoughts chop wood, carry water and go super market shopping - nothing special.

    It is one of the great unknowns & everything is speculation .

    kind regards

    Jools

  22. #22

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by monkton
    "

    Is there anything 'wrong' from a zen point of view, with seeing life as nothing but happenstance? or as being totally without purpose? I feel that a belief in any meaning to life, whether veiled or somehow comprehendable, is related to our human predilection for patterning existence. It's what our consciousnesses need to do in order to function.
    Hi,

    Jools said it, but one of the wonderful outlooks of this Zen way is ... "Grand Cosmic Purpose" or not, we fetch wood and carry water, shop for supper and tend the garden. "Just living life artfully" is a fine purpose, and meaning is all around us.

    Imagine we live in a house, built for no reason at all and thrown together by chance (as many posit this universe to be). Still, how we live in that house, the type of home we make, is all up to us. Be a good husband, father, mother, brother, sister, son and friend ... and that is meaning enough. Make the world a little better, and that is a fine purpose.

    Does a flower's growing and reaching toward the sun have a "Grand Purpose" beyond that one flower's attempt at survival? No such purpose? A purpose far beyond human understanding, or perhaps a purpose having little to do with any one little flower or human life?

    No matter! Gaze upon a flower's beauty, feel the warmth of that sun.

    Something like that.

    Have a good flight!

    Gassho, J

  23. #23

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    First, what happens when we die?

    ...

    But here is the kicker, from a Zen perspective:

    1- I do not need to know, and the whole question is rather unimportant

    2- There is no "birth and death" anyway.
    Hi Jundo,

    As an individual pondering my own fate, I may (one day) be able to convince myself that these answers are sufficient.

    But when attending the funeral of a relative, friend or colleague and feeling the grief and sense of loss, telling myself (or others!) that the body lying there in the open casket was never born and thus never died doesn't seem to provide much hope or comfort. For those left behind, there is a real need to know.

    What could be said, from a Buddhist point of view, to help those who are grieving?

    Thanks for tackling the BIG questions.

    JohnH

    John-
    I am with you on this. for me, it's thinking about how fragile the lives of those i most care about are...my two sons and my wife. ironically, what has helped the most is realizing, or trying to realize, that there is no hope. like everything, hope is empty. i first heard of this idea from Joko Beck. now, this doesn't mean that grief isn't real. it is, but it's also empty. form is emptiness-emptiness is form.
    that's just my 'intellectual' take on things of this nature right now.
    peace
    craig

  24. #24

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi,

    I don't want to step on anyones toes here, but I think utter meaninglessness is more than just one possible view among many. It's throwing away all crutches which are, in the end, obstacles to realization. Note however, that it mustn't be confused with nihilism as it's commonly understood in the West, which can lead to a sense of despair and complacency. On the contrary, the realization of the absence of any ultimate or absolute meaning, goal or purpose can be liberating, as it imposes on us a sense of urgency to practice and actualize wisdom and compassion this very moment. It's all we have!

    Hee-Jin Kim, in "Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist" discusses this in several passages:

    Quote Originally Posted by Hee-Jin Kim
    The significance of the key notion of "casting off the body-mind" in the context of Dogen's life and thought was that zazen-only, as the mythic-cultic archetype, symbolized the totality of the self and the world and represented that in which Buddha-nature became embodied. To cast off the body-mind did not nullify historical and social existence so much as to put it into action so that it could be the self-creative and self-expressive embodiment of Buddha-nature. In being "cast off", however, concrete human existence was fashioned in the mode of radical freedom - purposeless, goalless, objectless, and meaningless. Buddha-nature was not to be enfolded in, but was to unfold through, human activities and expressions. The meaning of existence was finally freed from and authenticated by its all-too-human conditions only if, and when, it lived co-eternally with ultimate meaninglessness.
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by Hee-Jin Kim
    ... zazen for Dogen was ultimately the expression of an eternal quest for the meaning of existence, which was, paradoxically enough, meaningless - it was living the meaning of ultimate meaninglessness. This is Zen.
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by Hee-Jin Kim
    At each moment of existence, reason (dori) went hand-in-hand with expressions and activities so as to exert totally. Thus, in realization of life there was nothing but life; in the realization of death there was nothing but death. When there was nothing but life, life became meaningless, since it was meaningful only in view of death. By the same token, when there was nothing but Buddha-nature, it was nil, empty, and meaningless. In this total meaninglessness, Dogen found the reason and logic of "all existence is Buddha-nature."
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by Hee-Jin Kim
    Dogen's vision is exclusionary in that when life is totally exerted and realized, there is nothing but life, excluding everything else, and ultimately life itself becomes "meaningless". At this point, the distinction between symbol and reality becomes liberatingly irrelevant. This exclusionary aspect of the mythopoeic vision of Buddha-nature demands that we choose, and commit ourselves to, a definite course of action at each moment - whatever that may be. Such an orientation is far from noncommittal, as Zen Buddhism is all to often misunderstood to be.
    Gassho
    Bansho

  25. #25
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Wonderful posts. Taigu, your comments about heaven and hell rang particularly true to me, having spent a fair part of my childhood frightened of hell, which really is a barrier to any kind of progress.

    I suspect that "meaning" is (almost by definition) in the eye of the beholder. "Meaning" is the "value" or "interpretation" we put on something, from a perspective outside that thing. I look out of my window and decide that the snowdrops under the tree "mean" Spring (or whatever). If the Truth encompasses, and is, the whole universe, then depending on how you look at it, the universe either has and can have no "meaning" (since there is no perspective outside of the universe from which to ascribe it a meaning) or (and I prefer this) all of it, the whole thing, is the meaning.

    I can't know what happens when we die. I do know what happened when I had surgery last year. One moment what I call "me" was there. The next moment, what I call "me" was also there (but had lots of tubes in me!). But in between were a lot of moments when what I call "me" wasn't there, but when some brilliant surgeons performed an operataion on "me" and, also, the whole of life went on. What I call "me" wasn't in those moments. It wasn't not in those moments. Sometimes, I think (or glimpse) that what I call "me" is simply the moments I'm in, and therefore can't be born and can't die, it's just there, the universe manifesting as "me" in those moments.

    Gassho

    Martin

  26. #26
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by monkton
    Dear folks,
    Is there anything 'wrong' from a zen point of view, with seeing life as nothing but happenstance? or as being totally without purpose? I feel that a belief in any meaning to life, whether veiled or somehow comprehendable, is related to our human predilection for patterning existence. It's what our consciousnesses need to do in order to function.

    [I would just add though that I don't find this in any way depressing, and hope no one else finds it depressing either - personally I've always found the idea of a totally random and pointless universe rather refreshing and enlivening, even if it does mean that after I die I have to spend eternity in the corner with everyone else around me having a lovely time, pausing only to tell me, "We TOLD you so!".
    It's problematic in terms of dependent origination. According to Buddhist thought, there are three possibilities.

    We are created, and that Creator guides our fate. No mention is ever made about where this Creator came from. An ethical life consists of trying damned hard to figure out what this creator wants and to live your life in that way. There are huge arguments between groups founded by people who believed they had a direct line to said deity, and there are massive discrepancies both within the messages of such founders and between the groups that follow them.

    Life is meaningless, events are random, there is no greater coherence or cohesion that keeps it all together. No answer is given for why our noses don't randomly fly off our faces, or why dogs always bark and cats always meow. With this view, it's hard to really conjure a general picture of what an ethical life looks like. Most people I know who have this view go with a 'I know it when I see it!' response. No consideration seems to be made for the human tendency toward self-deception.

    The direction of our lives is the net total of numberless conditions, which are themselves conditioned. All of reality is like a net, and a tug on one part effects the entirety of the whole, no matter how minutely. Questions of a 'first cause' are considered unimportant. Ethics consist of a loose set of principles designed for the betterment of all involved and come with a practice designed to cut through self-deception in the aid of practicing such principles.

    I think you can figure out which of these is the 'Right View' of the Buddha (hint: It ain't number one or number two..and yeah, I'm oversimplifying number three).

    Chet

  27. #27

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    We are created, and that Creator guides our fate. No mention is ever made about where this Creator came from. An ethical life consists of trying damned hard to figure out what this creator wants and to live your life in that way. There are huge arguments between groups founded by people who believed they had a direct line to said deity, and there are massive discrepancies both within the messages of such founders and between the groups that follow them.

    Life is meaningless, events are random, there is no greater coherence or cohesion that keeps it all together. No answer is given for why our noses don't randomly fly off our faces, or why dogs always bark and cats always meow. With this view, it's hard to really conjure a general picture of what an ethical life looks like. Most people I know who have this view go with a 'I know it when I see it!' response. No consideration seems to be made for the human tendency toward self-deception.

    The direction of our lives is the net total of numberless conditions, which are themselves conditioned. All of reality is like a net, and a tug on one part effects the entirety of the whole, no matter how minutely. Questions of a 'first cause' are considered unimportant. Ethics consist of a loose set of principles designed for the betterment of all involved and come with a practice designed to cut through self-deception in the aid of practicing such principles.
    Thanks Chet for a helpful illustration of "Middle Way"... this is the kind of stuff that shoots straight to the point for me :idea:

    Gassho,
    Tobiah

  28. #28

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ...
    When my son asks where people go when they die, I usually say "the peaceful place where we came from when we were born. We are all together there for all time.". I mean that too.
    ...
    Hi Jundo,

    S Suzuki says something similar in Branching Streams... when asked (p103) about where an earwig goes when it dies.
    Quote Originally Posted by S Suzuki
    Earwigs go to the source of reality. They know where to go. When we speak in this way you will feel that it is just talk. But when you suffer alot it will be a great relief to know that.
    I've never been happy with the "it's a mystery" answer because it reminds me of the "God's ways are mysterious" statement that is sometimes provided as a non-answer for so many questions. However the "return to where you came from" answer does offer hope because you know you came from somewhere.

    Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

    JohnH

  29. #29

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi Bansho,

    Perhaps there is something here that may not meet the eye ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    Hi,

    I don't want to step on anyones toes here, but I think utter meaninglessness is more than just one possible view among many. It's throwing away all crutches which are, in the end, obstacles to realization. Note however, that it mustn't be confused with nihilism as it's commonly understood in the West, which can lead to a sense of despair and complacency. On the contrary, the realization of the absence of any ultimate or absolute meaning, goal or purpose can be liberating, as it imposes on us a sense of urgency to practice and actualize wisdom and compassion this very moment. It's all we have!

    Hee-Jin Kim, in "Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist" discusses this in several passages:

    Quote Originally Posted by Hee-Jin Kim
    ... In being "cast off", however, concrete human existence was fashioned in the mode of radical freedom - purposeless, goalless, objectless, and meaningless. Buddha-nature was not to be enfolded in, but was to unfold through, human activities and expressions. The meaning of existence was finally freed from and authenticated by its all-too-human conditions only if, and when, it lived co-eternally with ultimate meaninglessness.
    As you point out, this is not "nihilism". And saying "this moment is all we have" may not mean "this moment is all we have" ...

    We must not be too quick to assume an easy conclusion in "words" here (it is the mind that wishes to do that, which is exactly what Suzuki Roshi is talking about in our next chapter in the Book Club concerning "Ri" and "Ji"). It is best not to see this as either the one side of "meaning" nor the other side of "meaningless" ... but, instead, a something which swallows whole all human ideas of "meaning" vs. "no meaning".

    We are living on a razor's edge, neither falling to one side nor to the other. And by seeing things one way, we blind ourselves to the other. Instead, by abandoning all concepts, we may encounter something quite different in the looking glass ... neither this side of the mirror, nor that side ... but the clear crystal glass itself.

    So, for example, a radical dropping, to the marrow, of all need for achievement, attainment ... is attaining a wondrous achievement (a life of being free of need for achievement, attainment!). By dropping all goals, we hit the bull's eye. Is it the same for "meaning" ... that by dropping, to the marrow, our need for meaning ... we find ... What? (Dogen often used question words like "What?" in his writings to refer to what is found ... although he actually meant something without any question).

    As you say, our way is not "nihilism". Dogen did not profess that we should abandon all need for meaning and just find life "meaningless". His teaching was much more subtle. So neither "meaning" nor "meaningless" will be last word.

    In the end, Dogen was a mystic. So are all Buddhist writers of whom I can think. I see his point as this ...

    We abandon all need for life to be as we demand ... we drop all thoughts of purpose and meaning ... we strip ourselves naked and jump into a river, abandoning all demands that the river carry us where we wish. We cease all struggles and demands, casting out our arms and floating ... at one with that river ... all thought of "us" and "river" dropped away. What then?

    Where the current flows is where we flow. Better said, there is just the current, carrying all where the waters will. By total yielding, we are totally free.

    That is one way that Buddhists, including Dogen, view life. But it is also not the end of how we experience life when it comes to Dogen's point(s) of view. Look closely at what Prof. Kim says ...

    Dogen's vision is exclusionary in that when life is totally exerted and realized, there is nothing but life, excluding everything else, and ultimately life itself becomes "meaningless". At this point, the distinction between symbol and reality becomes liberatingly irrelevant. This exclusionary aspect of the mythopoeic vision of Buddha-nature demands that we choose, and commit ourselves to, a definite course of action at each moment -
    Dogen was not a "sit complacent on your lotus leaf" kind of Buddhist. He was about the exertion of each instant, that life is to live (I view Dogen's philosophy as a form of existentialism, but of a most positive, even optimistic kind!) Each gesture of the hand and wink of the eye is sacred and complete! A flower's purpose is to reach for the sun, a bird's purpose is to fly. Our purpose is to live. So LIVE!

    We might even say that the "river of Buddha Nature" has set us afloat for just that purpose. Why else would that "What?" give us eyes except to see, ears except to hear, brains except to think, legs except to walk this earth?

    Gassho, Jundo

  30. #30

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Thank you for the above explanation Jundo, that really helped clarify it in my mind!

    Gassho,
    Jenny

  31. #31

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    I have been re-reading a wonderful collection of Dogen's poetry translated by Prof. Steve Heine.

    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Poetry-Dogen- ... 0804831076

    Perhaps more than in the prose (though poetic) of his Shobogenzo and other writings, Dogen reveals his true heart in his poems. One cannot read any of them and believe he thought life "meaningless". Nor, do I think, he actually thought life without some "grand flow" that we are in union with ...

    Wondrous nirvana-mind

    Because the flowers blooming
    In our original home
    Are everlasting,
    Though springtimes may come and go
    Their colors do not fade.


    Snow is falling far and wide,
    Each snowflake neither the very same nor completely different than the other ones;
    Singing and dancing, they chase after each other,
    Till the whole universe is made afresh with its new covering,
    As the snow even conceals the moon and clouds,
    And puts out the flame in our hearth;
    All kinds of leaves and flowers respond differently to the cycles of the seasons,
    Yet remain oblivious to the cold of night or the chill of winter--
    So goes the preaching of the Dharma
    By the pines in the valleys and the bamboos on the mountains.


    The comings and goings
    Of the waterfowl
    Leave no trace,
    Yet the paths it follows
    Are never forgotten

  32. #32
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We abandon all need for life to be as we demand ... we drop all thoughts of purpose and meaning ... we strip ourselves naked and jump into a river, abandoning all demands that the river carry us where we wish. We cease all struggles and demands, casting out our arms and floating ... at one with that river ... all thought of "us" and "river" dropped away. What then?

    Where the current flows is where we flow. Better said, there is just the current, carrying all where the waters will. By total yielding, we are totally free.
    Beautiful explanation Jundo. I would say that with total awakening, there is not even any yielding. Non-yielding that looks like yielding.

    Chet

  33. #33

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We abandon all need for life to be as we demand ... we drop all thoughts of purpose and meaning ... we strip ourselves naked and jump into a river, abandoning all demands that the river carry us where we wish. We cease all struggles and demands, casting out our arms and floating ... at one with that river ... all thought of "us" and "river" dropped away. What then?

    Where the current flows is where we flow. Better said, there is just the current, carrying all where the waters will. By total yielding, we are totally free.
    Beautiful explanation Jundo. I would say that with total awakening, there is not even any yielding. Non-yielding that looks like yielding.

    Chet
    But ya know ... I still blink and cough and thrash around so often when the water gets in my eyes and mouth.

  34. #34

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi Jundo,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree with most of what you say, however there are some points which are subtle, but have wide ranging implications if you take them a step further.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Dogen did not profess that we should abandon all need for meaning and just find life "meaningless".
    No, of course he didn't. What Dogen Zenji expounded was bursting and overflowing with meaning - to those who are receptive to it. It doesn't have meaning in-and-of-itself and it doesn't have meaning to everyone. It means a lot to me, as do many other things. That which swallows the dichotomy of meaning vs. meaninglessness is emptiness. Ultimately, there is no meaning, other than that which we see. It's up to each of us to find out what's important in our lives, and truly understanding that it's only up to us is just that which frees us to drop the excess baggage. Accepting this may just pull the rug out from under our feet - but we won't fall down.

    Just one other thing I wanted to mention, not from your post, but implicit in others: we shouldn't confuse meaninglessness with randomness, they aren't the same. Things don't happen randomly, that's fairly obvious. There are causes and conditions, but they have no inherent meaning as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Dogen was not a "sit complacent on your lotus leaf" kind of Buddhist. He was about the exertion of each instant, that life is to live (I view Dogen's philosophy as a form of existentialism, but of a most positive, even optimistic kind!) Each gesture of the hand and wink of the eye is sacred and complete! A flower's purpose is to reach for the sun, a bird's purpose is to fly. Our purpose is to live. So LIVE!
    Yes, my sentiments exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We might even say that the "river of Buddha Nature" has set us afloat for just that purpose. Why else would that "What?" give us eyes except to see, ears except to hear, brains except to think, legs except to walk this earth?
    I find this problematic. Buddha-nature is just perfectly Buddha-nature. It manifests itself in all things as they are, just as they are - without any hidden purpose. Asking why says more about our human nature than it does about Buddha-nature. The former asks questions, the latter just is (and at the same time is-not).

    Gassho
    Bansho

  35. #35
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We abandon all need for life to be as we demand ... we drop all thoughts of purpose and meaning ... we strip ourselves naked and jump into a river, abandoning all demands that the river carry us where we wish. We cease all struggles and demands, casting out our arms and floating ... at one with that river ... all thought of "us" and "river" dropped away. What then?

    Where the current flows is where we flow. Better said, there is just the current, carrying all where the waters will. By total yielding, we are totally free.
    Beautiful explanation Jundo. I would say that with total awakening, there is not even any yielding. Non-yielding that looks like yielding.

    Chet
    But ya know ... I still blink and cough and thrash around so often when the water gets in my eyes and mouth.
    Yeah.....


    Me too. I'm more than half-asleep more than half of the time.

  36. #36

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Jundo, Thank you.

  37. #37

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Thank you for this series of talks, Jundo, and this one in particular. Because of all the things going on with my father lately, I haven't spent much time here...posting or reading. Even though I'm spending more time sitting quietly and prefer to keep it that way for now, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your teachings.

    Oddly enough, I've just never been the type of person who is concerned about what happens after death. If I'm being kind and compassionate, it's because I simply choose to do so and not because I'm trying to get to some special place or be accepted by a heavenly host. My father was not the church-going type, yet was frequently heard saying, "I'm going to hell." Little did he know he was already there, and it was his own creation. In his current state of Alzheimer's-induced dementia, I'm not sure where he thinks he's going now. I plan to assure him that he need not worry if hell is still on his mind, because I am myself and my father, just enjoying the flight.

    Very, very sincere thanks, from just a guy tossing a ball to his son, who is the ball and the son, and the messy, toy-strewn house he lives in.

    Gassho,
    Dave

  38. #38

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi all. I hadn't planned on posting again today, but this discussion and the Zen view that there is no life or death got my scientifically-natured brain buzzing. It's often been pointed out that there are similarities between quantum theory and Zen or Taoist philosophies. A case in point that ties to this thread would be Schroedinger's "cat in the box" thought experiment. For those unfamiliar with it, and to shed some light on a modern experiment that may have proved it, here's a link:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=sch ... ers-cation

    I'd like to hear everyone's take on this, especially Jundo. Does our existence as we know it (life, death and everything in between) rely on mere observance? Out of sight, out of body? Both alive and dead?

    Picking your brains with joy,
    Dave

  39. #39

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hmm...No one's responding to my brain picking. Let's look at it a different way.

    Everyone has probably heard the old teaser, "If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one to hear it, does it make a sound?"

    People usually try to come up with a "yes" or "no" response, but the answer is both. Unless someone is there to observe it, what we know as the sound of a tree falling is actually nothing more than unprocessed information.
    Pretend people are satellite dishes. A signal being sent without a dish to pick it up is just a signal...pure and simple. If one person is in the forest, no big deal. But throw more than one in, and things get tricky, because no two (or more) people will process information the same way. And because the information being processed is based on our ego experiences, it can't be relied upon as truth. This even applies to what we know of as death, because in the grand scheme of things, in that pure, unprocessed signal, there is no such thing. The sound of a tree falling, the tree and the entire earth that supports it are all part of that stream of being and non-being.

    Dude. I think I just blew my own mind... :shock:

    Gassho and giggles,
    Dave

  40. #40

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by humblepie

    I'd like to hear everyone's take on this, especially Jundo. Does our existence as we know it (life, death and everything in between) rely on mere observance? Out of sight, out of body? Both alive and dead?

    Picking your brains with joy,
    Dave
    Hi Dave,

    As someone who is very interested in, and is writing about, the intersection of science and Buddhist practice/philosophy (such as neurological studies on meditation, modern theories of "time", origins of consciousness, etc.), I am very cautious ... especially as a non-scientist ... about our trying to draw too many parallels between our philosophy and, for example, current ideas of quantum mechanics, string theory, time relativity, etc. The reason is that not even the scientists themselves yet have a grip on the meaning and implications of those theories (for example, there is a very hot debate ongoing about whether "string theory" even describes anything "real" at all, or is just something that a bunch of human brains in university physics departments simply imagined up and kept going because they had hung their academic careers on the concept .... see this book for example):

    http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Physics-S ... gy_b_img_b
    and
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0465092756

    And I say that as someone who has loved books such as the Tao of Physics, Dancing Wu Li Masters and such, but also knows the criticisms of such books as being too quick to make assumptions, and draw parallels, that just may not be there.

    Physicist Jeremy Bernstein chastised Tao of Physics:[1]

    At the heart of the matter is Mr. Capra's methodology—his use of what seem to me to be accidental similarities of language as if these were somehow evidence of deeply rooted connections.

    Thus I agree with Capra when he writes, "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science but man needs both." What no one needs, in my opinion, is this superficial and profoundly misleading book.

    Physicist Leon M. Lederman criticized both The Tao of Physics and Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters in his 1993 book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?[2]

    Starting with reasonable descriptions of quantum physics, he constructs elaborate extensions, totally bereft of the understanding of how carefully experiment and theory are woven together and how much blood, sweat, and tears go into each painful advance.
    That does not mean, however, that we cannot draw some clear and conservative parallels between what Buddhism professes and what science professes. So, yes, we are all connected and "one" in many ways (for example, both ecologically, and on a sub-atomic level, as matter/energy. Those assertions are now beyond serious question. We are linked directly and indirectly to even the most distant stars of the most distant galaxy). We each exist in our own little corner or "universe" of time, and there are parallels between Dogen's view of "being-time" and time relativity. I am writing a book now on something called the "anthropic coincidences", that I think has some important implications for ideas of causation and is evidence against the happenstance of human existence (and I am bending over backwards to be conservative in drawing any conclusions in my book). Yes, there are some parallels that we can draw without going too much out on a limb or engaging in pseudo-science, but we must be very careful.

    Clearly, the mind and our perceptions mold and define and interpret all we experience of life and the whole world ... and when we change our thoughts/emotions we thus change our total experience of life/world. That is clear, and there is very little debate about that fact.

    However, philosophers East and West have been debating for thousands of years about the degree to which the mind creates the "outside world", or the "outside world" creates the mind, or the extent to which they are one. It is a classic debate within Buddhism as well. There has been no clear resolution to this debate, though most of us tend to think that there was something "out there" before we were born and our brains started mucking about with interpreting it all.

    But, for me, it is not so important to clearly answer that question, because BEYOND DOUBT, the mind creates so much about how we experience reality. So, for example, I know and can experience that when we we drop the thoughts "life" and "death" from mind, life and death do "vanish" in a very real way.

    When we drop divisions, when we think and can see that we are "at one with the universe" ... we truly are.

    Gassho, Jundo

  41. #41

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Thank you very, very much Jundo. I agree with your caution, and lucky me, I haven't read those books you mentioned. The ideas proposed by quantum theory do interest me, though.

    The book I'd like to read is yours, so when you're done, give a holler.

    Gassho,
    Dave

  42. #42

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    *PS - One of the reasons that I am on Nishijima Roshi's "sh-t" list these days is that I told him over recent years that I thought he had taken his very good ideas of Zazen as "Balance of the Autonomic Nervous System" and of Zazen having a neuro-physiological basis, and had stretched his ideas rather too far into areas where there is no scientific backing, no data, or where scientific data is directly contradicting some of what he says. I said so with all tact and respect for his (then nearly) 90 year old person, but like some of our parents and grandfathers, he does not take any contradiction well these days. He has become a kind of "my way or the highway" fellow on this issue.

    One has to be very cautious about speaking to one's seniors in Japan. That whole "hari-kiri" sword in the belly thing (I have avoided that so far).

    So, for the past couple of years I just stopped mentioning the subject when with him, and let it slide. I even just took the easy road to agree with whatever he said and say "yes yes" (he is very near the point now where everything in Buddhism comes down to "balancing the Autonomic Nervous System") But, once he had me marked as disloyal to his theory a couple of years ago, he never trusted me quite the same way.

    I want to be perfectly honest about the situation.

    He is a wonderful teacher of Shikantaza, Dogen and Zazen ... but some of his "theories" about what those all mean are his own invention that have run a bit wild over time. I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

  43. #43

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Good brain-kneading topic, Dave...

    I have long had an interest in quantum physics, and have been trying to keep up to speed on research into quantum computers, among other things... I also see similarities between theoretical physics ideas and Buddhist philosophy, but the one that stands out the most (for me) is indeed Schroedinger's cat, for this simple reason: as a perceiving entity, my universe is the total of my perceptions; aside from my perceptions, nothing can be proven to me or by me to exist in any real sense; therefore, any possibility is equally probable, unless and until I perceive it- then it "falls" into a perceived state, in the same way an electron "falls" into a state upon observation.

    Now, having said all that, I am at the same time trying to distance myself from these ideas, because they aren't doing me any good. Its fun for me to sit and think about physics, but as I'm slowly discovering, its just as fun to sit and do nothing at all.

    Too many things competing for my attention presently, I can't think! Maybe I'll get back to this later...

    Gassho,
    Tobiah

  44. #44

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    One mistake a lot of people make is that they think karma is personal. It isn't.

    Other people pay for your mistakes. Such is life.

  45. #45

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi Kevin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Solway
    One mistake a lot of people make is that they think karma is personal. It isn't.

    Other people pay for your mistakes. Such is life.
    Karma is volitional action, which may manifest itself as thoughts, words or deeds. Please have a look at Ven. Kobutsu Malone's short, but excellent essay on this topic entitled Komments on Karma, which he posted on ZFI.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  46. #46

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Bansho, I just dodged over and read the 'Komments', and wondered, am I missing the positive side of the discussion there? He seems to spend the whole article telling us what karma is not, without defining what he believes it is. Or did it go over my head? I would like to have a clearer understanding of karma in the context of that article, if possible.

    Gassho,
    Tobiah

  47. #47
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    I find that it's best to view karma as a practice, not a belief. In effect, it causes one to think ethically about one's actions on a much larger scale than one might otherwise.

  48. #48

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I find that it's best to view karma as a practice, not a belief. In effect, it causes one to think ethically about one's actions on a much larger scale than one might otherwise.
    Indeed Chet! That is the way I handle karma in practice.

    Gassho, Shohei

  49. #49

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    Hi Kevin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Solway
    One mistake a lot of people make is that they think karma is personal. It isn't.

    Other people pay for your mistakes. Such is life.
    Karma is volitional action, which may manifest itself as thoughts, words or deeds.
    I'm not sure what relevance your comment has with regard to what I said. Can you elaborate?

    I think that "the commonly accepted usage of 'karma' to represent the universal law of cause and effect" is a pretty good one, provided that we are talking about the cause and effect with respect to delusions, since Buddhas, being without delusions, do not produce karma.

    Buddhas have "actions", including willed actions, but their actions are not deluded.

    At least, that's how I define those particular terms.

    If we wanted to we could define karma in such a way that Buddhas had karma!

    The mistake most people make, as I see it, is that people think karma is "theirs", but fail to see that cause and effect does not respect such boundaries.

  50. #50

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII

    Hi Tobiah,

    He does in fact describe it in some detail, defining karma itself, as well as the context in which it is often misunderstood. What I quite like about the essay is that he's very precise about stating just what it is and what it isn't. It's not any kind of entity which inherently exists apart from us, nor is it deterministic, nor fate, nor cause/effect in a scientific sense. As I mentioned above, it is volitional action, which can take the form of thoughts, words or deeds. It's part of a model, but a well-defined model, not just some vague idea where everyone makes up their own definition. The reason why a correct understanding of it is IMHO important is that it can be - and still often is - harmful if misconceived and practiced on that basis. Maybe you should have a closer look at the essay? I'm reluctant to quote any excerpts from it directly, as it is copyrighted.

    Gassho
    Bansho

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