Results 1 to 25 of 25

Thread: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

  1. #1

    Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by From the recent sit-a-long talks on Beliefnet

    What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day.
    This sounds like strong criticism of a particular school of Buddhism and I'm wondering how to reconcile that with the attitude of acceptance encouraged by the Sandokai?

    Jundo (or anyone), do you know the context of this writing? For example, Sekito was responding to the friction between the northern and southern schools. The writers of the Heart Sutra were countering arguments about dharmas. Was Master Dogen responding to some specific situation when he wrote this? Where's the harmony and equality in his criticisms? Or is he just calling a spade a spade?

  2. #2

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment.
    The point is that the man speaks the truth. A lot of Zen masters back in the day shut up about practice. You have to go to a mountain or find them by a stream to hear their teachings. Dogen wasn't quite like that. He told the truth according to what he realized sitting on Tiantong mountain. No pussy footing about. Straight to the point. Direct teaching.

    Read Bendowa and you can get an idea of What Dogen set out to do.

    The point is that he speaks the truth.

    We can't base our realization on only Dogen's. We have to do some of that our self. We question Dogen each time we sit.

    He's not telling us that Soto Zen is better, or that we should shun other traditions. He is just telling us to sit and find out. Bendowa says it more clearly.

    Plus, teachers say different things sometimes according to the situation. We weren't living during Dogen's time trying to establish a new school of Buddhism, so we don't really know.

    A more modern version of what he might be saying is the prevalent spiritual shopping and lack of commitment that goes on today.

    Gassho

    W

  3. #3

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Edit:

    I think it's important to try an understand what the guy was trying do with the Shobogenzo. He used every resource he had available to convey what Zen practice is. He used Koans, Questions and answers, poetry, instructions, and whatever else.

    Someone's got to step up. Otherwise no Zen, no Soto Zen, no Buddhism.

    Gassho

  4. #4

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    If I may add to Will's excellent post, I would just say that Dogen challenges approaches solely based on the use of intellect, Buddhism in these days had a lot of scholars living in great comfort and luxury spending their time discussing subtle points of Buddhist theory, and based on the faith only practice, Nembutsu might lead to a repetitive pattern when one utters words without being with/in them. The genius of Dogen was to renew the vision of Buddha Dharma, to look at mountains rivers and tiles as the true sutra, the living thread of the teachings at the time when everybody was obsessed by bringing scrolls and texts from China (or the portrait of a teacher), to see in flesh, bones and marrow sitting the real Amida, not in a distant-future land. To cut through all false hopes and idle activities. What Dogen does is that he dismisses various tools to focus on the original action of the Buddha sitting under the tree. It is pretty radical but so compassionate and we also have to remember that he had a lot to put up with, the great hostility of Tendai school, the hornet's nest that was Kyoto at the time, the Rinzai school criticism...Hee Jin Kim essay on Dogen, Eihei Dogen mystical realist, might give you further insights into this pretty hot furnace of 13th century Japanese Buddhism and also give you a pretty fair picture of where Dogen comes from with his strong criticism.
    So to cut a long story short, yes Dogen was a man of his time, today he would certainly do and write things differently ,and yes Dogen is also a man of the Dharma stressing the essential, coming back to the source.

    gassho


    Taigu

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    2,937

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    We can't base our realization on only Dogen's. We have to do some that our self. We question Dogen each time we sit
    Nice post in its entirety Will! Of course many times more eloquent than I could have mustered this would have been what I wanted to reply with^^ .

    The part quoted makes sense though... saying e=mc[squared] certainly allow us to inherit the the scope of understanding Einstein had prior to, and after, that equation was worked out.

    Also in this the question, the "questioner"- Master Dogen's split personality (lol)- is purporting that transmission of the Dharma for us non-monastics is to just say the words since we couldn't possibly understand meaning - beyond common sense "...reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment ".

    As Will already has said he wanted to reach everyone... so I figure the tone taken was also reflecting the "questioners" tone too. I think its a case of know your target audience. Well that's how i read it.

    Gassho, Shohei

  6. #6

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Also in this the question, the "questioner"- Master Dogen's split personality (lol)- is purporting that transmission of the Dharma for us non-monastics is to just say the words since we couldn't possibly understand meaning - beyond common sense "...reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment ".
    Yes!!!!!!

    the Dharma for us non-monastics
    non-monastics??? :? How about "no monastics".

    Gassho

    W

  7. #7

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by From the recent sit-a-long talks on Beliefnet

    What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day.
    This sounds like strong criticism of a particular school of Buddhism and I'm wondering how to reconcile that with the attitude of acceptance encouraged by the Sandokai?
    Hi.
    As others already have said, it isnt an criticism of a particular school.
    More in the line of an criticism of people who "miss the point" and at the same time give an "direction" for those who need it.
    Note "direction" as this is also an written text, as are the sutras.
    He more or less "challenges you" to "find out yourself"...

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  8. #8

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the responses. The question came about because we're about to finish The Sandokai in the "book club" reading. It sounds like Dogen had "moved on" from the message of equality and the harmony of the Sandokai, written a few hundred years earlier. Thanks Taigu for some clues on the historical context. As you said, Buddhists today would probably frame their comments in a different way.

    Will, I note your comment about spiritual shopping, although I'm not sure if you think that the original questions are evidence of a lack of commitment. These days it's very likely that we'll run across (or even be influenced by) other schools of Buddhism - it's almost unavoidable.

    JohnH

  9. #9

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Hi,

    Well, one entire school which Dogen Zenji did harshly criticize was Dainichi Nonin's Darumashu.

    Quote Originally Posted by William M. Bodiford, Soto Zen in Medieval Japan
    Members of the Darumashu apparently taught that because one's own mind already is a Buddha, the desire for enlightenment already is its attainment. If one believes in this inherent Buddha mind, then one is not only freed from all sin without having to observe the Buddhist precepts but also delivered from all torments to a life of continual pleasure. Observance of the precepts, Ch'an style meditation, and formal rituals all were disparaged.
    This line of thought has it's roots in Senika's 'naturalist heresy' of an immutable self which is not subject to causation. In the Darumashu, this doctrine came to encompass the idea of original enlightenment (J. hongaku) as the spontaneous and inherent expression of Buddha Nature - without the need for practice. Dogen Zenji didn't reject hongaku thought in its entirety, but he did vehemently attack the idea that original enlightenment meant that practice was superfluous. Having said that, though, his criticism of this school wasn't just a polemic for its own sake. Several Darumashu followers (e.g. Ejo and Gikai, etc.) later joined Dogen's monastic community, and so he had a very real stake in clarifying his method of practice to them. Just as Jundo often says, he teaches baseball around here, so if you want to play football, that's fine, but this isn't the place for it.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  10. #10

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Will, I note your comment about spiritual shopping, although I'm not sure if you think that the original questions are evidence of a lack of commitment.
    No. This is just something that one may talk about to clarify what one needs to do to practice Zen. It's in context.

    As I stated, we don't know what it was like living during Dogen's time and different teachers say different things according to the context.

    Today we can choose a tradition or practice at the click of a button. We don't have to go to a monastery, or find a teacher. In that day there was little choice. You had to get on a boat, walk or travel by horse. So yeah, there might be a little more commitment there. A little less convenience.

    I'm not saying that at that time there weren't people who shopped around, but in today's society this might be an issue that is brought up more frequently.

    Gassho _/_

    W

  11. #11

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    ... Just as Jundo often says, he teaches baseball around here, so if you want to play football, that's fine, but this isn't the place for it.
    Ah yes! Fully understood. Although I do notice some outside influence from time to time. http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1199

    (BTW. I've just ordered Eihei Dogen Mystical Realist, time to read up on some history.)

    JohnH

  12. #12
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    One can only know for oneself. I'm sort of surprised to think that anyone ever thought differently, actually.

    Chet

  13. #13

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by will

    As I stated, we don't know what it was like living during Dogen's time and different teachers say different things according to the context.
    I agree and I'll amplify that by saying that sometimes the same teacher says different things, also because of context. One student might need a hug, another a slap depending on their temperament.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  14. #14

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    This sounds like strong criticism of a particular school of Buddhism and I'm wondering how to reconcile that with the attitude of acceptance encouraged by the Sandokai?
    Well, I just want to say "ditto" to wonderful comments by others above. That happens to be the section of Bendowa I will touch on for the sit-a-long Friday, but basically I will be hitting the same notes expressed on this thread.

    I might add this: If you look at the history of Zen Buddhism in China and Japan, and of the relationships among schools of Buddhism in general (even from the time of the Buddha) ... teachers frequently would offer criticism of other schools and beliefs, sometimes very passionately. So long as it is constructive criticism, there is no problem, I think.

    To bring this in line with the Sandokai (which is also a kind of criticism of others, if you think about it) ... One can perfectly see and accept our sameness, and see and accept our differences, yet also often offer strong criticism and comment on what they see as the better course. Depending on the circumstances, one might speak words with power. There are times for silence, times for gentle words, times for direct words. Buddhist teachers (including Zen teachers) of old could be quite biting in their words sometimes.

    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    For me (not that I matter), I don't care what a person's practice is as long as the results are that they engage with the world in a peaceful and constructive way. If this means chanting a sutra for hours on end one evening a week, and that leads to good fellowship and good deeds in the community, then fine. If this means reading the Bible on occasion and leads to good fellowship and good deeds in the community, then fine. If this means sitting visualizing whirled peas,,, well, you get the idea.

    My point is it is not so much the practice as much as it is the result of the practice. If the point is only to chant or just to read the Bible or just to sit zazen, with no goodness outside of that, then not so fine. Is this what Dogen was criticizing, the result of those other practices? if so, then I (not that I matter) agree with him. Different paths up the same mountain, right?

    Sorry if this is redundant, because I think it kind of is, so no need to respond. I just felt the need to more directly point out the difference between criticizing someone's practice versus the results of that process. Who are we to criticize a practice of any kind that leads to goodness extending from that practice? if it leads to good works, then more power to ya!

  16. #16

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Hi Al,

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    My point is it is not so much the practice as much as it is the result of the practice. If the point is only to chant or just to read the Bible or just to sit zazen, with no goodness outside of that, then not so fine. Is this what Dogen was criticizing, the result of those other practices? if so, then I (not that I matter) agree with him. Different paths up the same mountain, right?
    No. Dogen Zenji didn't separate practice from the result of practice. Please don't take this as personal criticism, but it is precisely that kind of dualism which Dogen vehemently attacked, and which makes our Soto Zen practice very much different from some other Buddhist traditions. Although practice and result aren't one, neither are they two. While practice is practice and result is result, it is also the case that practice is result and result is practice. Just as our practice causes the result, so does the result cause our practice. They always appear simultaneously. We don't engage in Zazen in order to become wise and compassionate. The practice of Zazen is the direct manifestation of wisdom and compassion at that particular place and time. Whatever our practice may be, if we do it wholeheartedly, there can be no "goodness outside of that". We can never exhibit wisdom and compassion in the future, nor can we make up for lack of wisdom and compassion in the past. We can only do it here and now.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Sorry if this is redundant, because I think it kind of is, so no need to respond.
    Not at all, understanding this is crucial to understanding our Practice - thank you very much for bringing it up, Al.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  17. #17

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Although practice and result aren't one, neither are they two. While practice is practice and result is result, it is also the case that practice is result and result is practice. Just as our practice causes the result, so does the result cause our practice. They always appear simultaneously.
    Well said.

    Gassho

  18. #18

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Thank you for your teaching Bansho.

    Taigu

  19. #19

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    . Dogen Zenji didn't separate practice from the result of practice. Please don't take this as personal criticism, but it is precisely that kind of dualism which Dogen vehemently attacked, and which makes our Soto Zen practice very much different from some other Buddhist traditions. Although practice and result aren't one, neither are they two. While practice is practice and result is result, it is also the case that practice is result and result is practice. Just as our practice causes the result, so does the result cause our practice. They always appear simultaneously. We don't engage in Zazen in order to become wise and compassionate. The practice of Zazen is the direct manifestation of wisdom and compassion at that particular place and time. Whatever our practice may be, if we do it wholeheartedly, there can be no "goodness outside of that". We can never exhibit wisdom and compassion in the future, nor can we make up for lack of wisdom and compassion in the past. We can only do it here and now.
    All this is true ... yet, just to make clear, Dogen was never against our manifesting wisdom and compassion through this practice at times other than when we are sitting Zazen. Nor did he believe that no wisdom and compassion would result from Zazen that would carry forth into the rest of our day and lives.

    And, though we seek no result, and though the practice is the practicing of the result, while the result is the resulting of the practice ... that does not mean that there are no results obtained from this practice.

    Dropping all seeking of dualistic, distant results ... knowing that there is no "goodness outside of wholehearted practice" does not mean that no goodness comes out of that. A lot of goodness sure does come out of that.

    Practice and result always appear simultaneously even when they appear hours or days apart. Otherwise, it makes it sound as if we are "wise, compassionate and good" only when sitting in the Lotus, cross legged on the floor ... and it all ends the moment we untangle the legs.

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    We don't engage in Zazen in order to become wise and compassionate. The practice of Zazen is the direct manifestation of wisdom and compassion at that particular place and time. Whatever our practice may be, if we do it wholeheartedly, there can be no "goodness outside of that". We can never exhibit wisdom and compassion in the future, nor can we make up for lack of wisdom and compassion in the past. We can only do it here and now.
    Indeed.

    Chet

  21. #21
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Gassho

  22. #22
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Zazen has absolutely nothing to do with sitting or lying down. - Dogen
    Chet

  23. #23

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Zazen has absolutely nothing to do with sitting or lying down. - Dogen
    Chet
    Yes, everything is Zazen, but that does not mean that Zazen is everything ... or that seated Zazen meditation can be neglected (and Dogen often said specifically Zazen in the Lotus position, but I'm willing to bend the rules that much )

    Then there is another type of person [who says,] "To pursue the way in seated meditation is a function essential for the "beginner's mind and the latter-day student", but it is not necessarily an observance of the buddhas and ancestors. 'Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen; whether in speech or silence, motion or rest, the substance is at ease.' Do not adhere solely to the present concentrated effort [of seated meditation]." ... It is because they are deficient in transmitting the right life of the buddha-dharma that they speak thus. What is the "beginner's mind"? Where is there no "beginner's mind"? Where do we leave the "beginner's mind"?

    Be it known that, for studying the way, the established [means of] investigation is pursuing the way in seated meditation.

    From: Zazenshin: ???. Lancet of Zazen (Bielefeldt)
    http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/proj ... nshin.html
    Hee-Jin Kim has a good section on this, and Dogen's view on the primacy of seated Zazen practice over all other Buddhist practices. Read from the middle of page 59 here for a couple of pages ...

    http://books.google.com/books?id=j0byXF ... 0#PPA60,M1

    Dogen talks with forked tongue, out of both sides of his sideless mouth ...

    So, Zazen is everything, but everything is not Zazen

    We practice dropping all thought of obtaining results, thus results are obtained.

    Enlightenment is Practice, Practice simply enlightement ... thus enlightenment is attained.

    We are always working on several vantage points here, folks ... not two.

    Gassho, J

  24. #24

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    ...Hee Jin Kim essay on Dogen, Eihei Dogen mystical realist, might give you further insights into this pretty hot furnace of 13th century Japanese Buddhism and also give you a pretty fair picture of where Dogen comes from with his strong criticism.
    So to cut a long story short, yes Dogen was a man of his time, today he would certainly do and write things differently ,and yes Dogen is also a man of the Dharma stressing the essential, coming back to the source...
    Hi Taigu,

    Two months on....

    Many thanks for this suggestion. I've been reading Hee Jin Kim's book and it's been very helpful. It takes some effort to understand and I find myself going over and over certain sections (usually while on the train - another commuter!). Today I read about "binding one's self without a rope" and it struck a deep chord.

    Thanks for your help.

    gassho,

    JohnH

  25. #25

    Re: Dogen's criticisms of other schools

    Dear JohnH,

    Glad you liked it. It is a great book and gives a very good picture ofthe man and the time.

    Gassho


    Taigu

Similar Threads

  1. Teachings Practices from other Schools / Traditions
    By Daibh in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 48
    Last Post: 05-24-2012, 01:12 PM
  2. After Dogen
    By TrevorMcmanis in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 02-11-2011, 03:48 PM
  3. New York Times article on meditation in US grade schools
    By kirkmc in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-21-2007, 03:47 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •