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Thread: SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN (Part 1)

  1. #1

    SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN (Part 1)

    Hi All,

    I thought to post some special reading topics. The theme is "readings that will help in understanding Zen readings". 8)

    For years and years, after first starting Zen practice, I would read many "Zen Books" but not quite understand why so many seemed to be saying rather different things (or the same things, but seemingly with very different emphasis). In other words, it too me a long time to realize that "Zen Books" (not to mention "Buddhist Books" in general) come in several flavors, often by different teachers within even the same school. Buddhism has evolved over the centuries, and various teachers do emphasize teachings in ways employing particular perspectives. My attempts to "harmonize" in my mind all these differences, and resolve how everyone was really "saying the same thing somehow" often worked, but sometimes also left me quite confused. It was only when I had some historical background, and understood better where these various approaches were coming (and coming not coming) from, did I see that not all "Zen Books" were of one kind ... not one, not two.

    (it is early in the morning ... I hope the above makes sense too!)


    My point is, not at all, to say which approach is better than any other (although, of course, I have my own approach and way of presenting the practice too). My intent is merely to help people understand the context of all these different teachings, teachers and teachers' books. All are just slightly varied paths up the same mountain (and, anyway, ultimately "what mountain"?).

    Our first reading is from a book (that, unfortunately, goes in and out of print) called "Once Born Twice Born Zen" ... about the two most common "different flavors" of Zen one will most likely encounter in the West today: the "Just Sitting" Shikantaza flavor most usually associated with Soto Sangha such as Treeleaf, and the "Kanhua" Zazen flavor most often associated with Rinzai (or mixed Soto-Rinzai) lineages (PDF).

    https://sites.google.com/site/jundot...edirects=0&d=1

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-17-2012 at 02:39 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Gassho.

    My first impression was "If I had encountered Rinzai as the representative of Zen, I would likely have passed it by." But there's more to it than that. It probably takes a certain type of personality to get the most from Rinzai, or from Soto. Then again, I have no experience to make that assumption from.

    It seems there would be a greater danger of 'false realizations' with Rinzai. All that emotion and pressure, extreme mental states.

    Thanks for the reading Jundo- it will help I'm sure with navigating the vast amount of information and differing opinions available to us on the subject. It was also informative in a general way on the tenets of Soto Zen that are good to be reminded of occasionally.

    Gassho
    tobiishi

  3. #3

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi.

    An old comic that has been around for a while here in sweden has a good saying about this: "only Noah knows how it tastes in Noahs mouth (when noah want some beer, and not lemonade, to the cake at a birthdayparty...)

    Otherwise it think it very important to keep an open mind, look for the origin and see for yourself.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  4. #4
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Would like to read through it agin before commenting tooo much. But I have to give props to Rinzai as it was the initial form of Zen I have encountered which has then led me here to Treeleaf. I can see the value in both really. They both kind of say the same thing but come at it from different angles.

    I'd say in some ways I am Soto minded and in some ways I am Rinzai minded.

    Dave

  5. #5

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Rinzai Zen or Soto Zen,without judgement, both have their value. My practice is Shikantaza and Treeleaf Sangha. My teacher is a Soto Zen Priest. I also like vanilla ice cream rather than chocolate. I don't know why I like Soto Zen and vanilla ice cream but they both just make me happy. Many thanks Jundo. Gassho Zak

  6. #6

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi,

    Just to emphasize again, both paths of Zen practice ... running side by side and often merging, crossing, on the way to here & no where ... are WONDROUS. Please do not let the chapter be taken to mean otherwise, as the point is merely to educate on the somewhat different flavors found in "vanilla" and "chocolate" Zen books, teachers and writings.

    Perhaps one is more suited for certain people than others, but both are powerful and effective, not one and not two. I think that the description he uses of "once born twice born" is not very precise, but those categories are just wide baskets by which we may make generally valid descriptions of differences and similarities.While his description in the book may be a bit simple and broad brush, it may also be truer than not ... and, certainly, each form of Zen Practice better suited to some folks than others. In the end, we must each find the path up the mountain that suits us (and, anyway, "what mountain"?).

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Isn't there also a third zen sect in Japan? The name escapes me at the moment but I remember reading of it at some point or another.

    When i first began reading about zen in library books, I was more interested in Rinzai because it just seemed more gung-ho and get up and at 'em. I stumbled upon Soto because that was what the group at my college was. I looked in the phone book but not much was listed, and this was back in the dark ages of AOL 3.0 so googling for Zen centers wasn't a possibility These days I am content with Soto practice and think it is the better choice for me, but I wouldn't turn down an opportunity to practice for a short time with a Rinzai group. Like Padre mentions, I think I have 'twice born' tendencies and Soto is a way to put myself beyond my own tendencies as opposed to dwelling in them.

    Gassho,
    Jen

  8. #8

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Thank you for this reading.

    Gassho,
    Igor

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Jen, the reading mentions Obaku. It says that it is a very small sect that practices near Kyoto.

    Dave

  10. #10

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Thanks Dave, I must have overlooked it!

  11. #11

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi.

    Isn't the text dividing zen in Gradual /sudden enlightment, Being enlighted/becoming enlighted, Koanemphasis/shikantazaemphasis asf

    If thats the case, there is only the division between the two otherwise there is as many sects as there is schools/zendo's...

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  12. #12

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenDave
    Jen, the reading mentions Obaku. It says that it is a very small sect that practices near Kyoto.

    Dave
    Yes. Actually, the sect was introduced by Chinese masters who came to Japan in the Ming Dynasty, about 300 years after the time of Dogen and the Rinzai school too. The school is closely affiliated with the Rinzai school, and its major characteristic is that it is a blend of Zen-Pure Land (Amida Buddha worship. Even now in China, most sects are Zen-Pure Land)

    You can read a little more here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obaku_(school_of_Buddhism)

    Isn't the text dividing zen in Gradual /sudden enlightment, Being enlighted/becoming enlighted, Koanemphasis/shikantazaemphasis asf
    Yes, same but different ... different but same.

    Gassho, J

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    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    It doesn't matter what your donkey's name is; just as long as he/she can climb a mountain.

    I spent some time yesterday googling the Presbyterian minister that wrote this stuff. It fascinates me to think that he comes down so hard on Rinzai when it seems his only contact with zen is through reading. My understanding is that Rinzai is more exclusive to monasteries. Whereas, Soto is very accessible in Temples; which is where I became exposed to it in Japan. One of my fellow workers invited me to join him at a Temple in Urawa. But then I was transferred to Hiroshima and I started attending a zazen group at zen Pukuji but, it wasn't all that convenient and after an ichimangoju parking fine, I was delighted on Newyears eve 1995 to hear a zen priest say in perfect English, "Welcome to my Temple". After partaking in a cup of amezake and some small talk, he invited me to join his early morning zazen sessions and I never looked back. I especially enjoyed the rap on the shoulder the elder priest, Todo-oso, would give us each first session of the new year. It was done as such a token of love that you felt his entire spirit envelop you.

    gassho, rj

  14. #14

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Thank you Jundo. I attended a Pure land temple for a short time. The Amida worship personally made me uncomfortable, but it is interesting that it can be incorporated into Zen.

    Gassho,
    Jenny

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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    thank you for this reading Jundo and your comment which I found very helpful. Having previously studied with John Daido Loori I find myself on the part of the mountain where I do not find these approaches mutually exclusive and in contemporary practice there does seem to be an approach which is trying to integrate these two ways.

    as perhaps one of the leading practitioners taking this route I'd be grateful for the sanghas comments on Daido's article Dogen and Koans available at http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/24-2/arti ... daido.html in which Daido states:

    Not as popular as Dogenĺs Kana Shobogenzo is his Mana or Sambyakusoku Shobogenzo (The Shobogenzo of Three Hundred Koans), a collection of three hundred cases that Dogen collected during his travels in China from 1227 to 1230. This seminal work, which was to influence all of Dogenĺs other teachings, remained in obscurity for many centuries. It wasnĺt until 1934 that it was rediscovered and made available to the general public by Professor Tokuju Oya, and only recently was its authenticity finally verified.

    The Mana Shobogenzo, unlike Dogenĺs other writings, was written in Chinese. And though these three hundred cases were culled largely from Zen texts of the Sung eraŚThe Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku), and The Book of Serenity, (Shoyoroku)Śunlike the koans in these collections, these cases are not accompanied either by a title or commentary, yet Dogen used them frequently as seeds for his other writings, particularly the Kana Shobogenzo and the Eihei Koroku.

    However, because Dogen was an outspoken critic of koan study, some people insist that he would never have collected or used koans. What seems closer to the truth, is that he opposed the superficial treatment of koans, not koan introspection itself. Legend has it that before he left China to return to Japan, the young Dogen stayed up all night and hand-copied The Blue Cliff Record. Dogenĺs early teachers, Eisai and Myozen, both taught koan introspection. In fact, Dogen received Rinzai transmission in the Oryu line from Myozen before leaving for China, and though that lineage died out in both China and Japan, it is preserved within the Soto school to this day.

    Brian

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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi all,

    I found it to be a very interesting article and one of the first academic pieces I've read since I left graduate school...that brought back some strong emotions! The distinctions he drew seemed too simple and sharp since everything in life is more shades of grey than academic papers would have you believe. Still, it was very informative and I thank Jundo for providing it to us.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

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    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Brian,
    I agree with your post and line of thinking. The sharp distinctions between Rinzai and Soto seem to be more a matter of historiography and doctrinal competition. More recent scholarship indicates that the boundaries between Rinzai and Soto in the area of Koan use are not as sharp as the (deliberately created) historical record would have us believe. Sort of like the differences between the Red Sox and Yankees, but they both play baseball! What I find more interesting is the first born / twice born discussion deriving from William James. I have found characteristics of both in my own life! Must we choose?

    Gassho,
    Alex

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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen
    Sort of like the differences between the Red Sox and Yankees, but they both play baseball! What I find more interesting is the first born / twice born discussion deriving from William James. I have found characteristics of both in my own life! Must we choose?
    That's a very good analogy about the Red Sox and Yankees, something I always emphasize as a Sox fan with a Yankees fan. We may be on opposite sides of a rivalry, but the fact that we are both big baseball fans makes us have more in common than just about anyone else. I guess provincial differences can seem magnified with so much that's alike.

    BTW, concerning the William James typology that the author uses. He leaves a bit of an impression that James looked down on Buddhism, but I was re-reading The Varieties of Religious Experience and James was really using it as an example of a religion that didn't have a deity. He even admitted his lack of knowledge on the topic: "I am ignorant of Buddhism and speak under correction and merely in order the better to describe my general point of view".

  19. #19

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian
    thank you for this reading Jundo and your comment which I found very helpful. Having previously studied with John Daido Loori I find myself on the part of the mountain where I do not find these approaches mutually exclusive and in contemporary practice there does seem to be an approach which is trying to integrate these two ways.

    as perhaps one of the leading practitioners taking this route I'd be grateful for the sanghas comments on Daido's article Dogen and Koans available at http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/24-2/arti ... daido.html in which Daido states:

    Not as popular as Dogen’s Kana Shobogenzo is his Mana or Sambyakusoku Shobogenzo (The Shobogenzo of Three Hundred Koans), a collection of three hundred cases that Dogen collected during his travels in China from 1227 to 1230.
    Hi Brian,

    Ah, you have opened a bit of a can of Koans!

    Okay, this is a subject that comes up from time to time, and takes a little explaining. LET ME EMPHASIZE AGAIN THAT THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRIMARILY TO HELP THE READER OF ZEN BOOKS PLACE WHERE THE PARTICULAR TEACHER/WRITER IS COMING FROM. I am a BIG Daido Loori fan and, in fact, I consider a teacher in that same lineage (Doshin Cantor) to be one of my teachers. Daido's lineage (stemming from Maezumi Roshi) is perhaps the largest lineage in North America (including people ranging from Bernie Glassman to Genpo Merzel to Pat Enkyo O'Hara to Joko Beck to Chozen Bays to Joan Halifax to Father Robert Kennedy to many others). A powerful lineage with great teachers. I am a big Bernie Glassman/Daido/Joko Beck fan in particular. The extended lineage (known as the Sanbokyodan-Harada-Yasutani School) is listed here:

    http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVLPages/Zen...aYasutani.html

    That being said, the educated "Zen reader" should know that that particular branch of Soto is actually a relatively recent hybrid merging of Soto and Rinzai (not so Soto), that emphasizes Koan centered Zazen as their dominant practice over Shikantaza (although they practice both at various stages of their training). They practice Shikanataza too, although usually through the lens of "Koan Zazen" and achieving Kensho.

    Again, I am not being critical, although our way is different (same ... but different). I primarily provide such information because folks should know that there are very different approaches to Zen and Zazen, and not all "Zen" is of the same flavor (same ... but different). Thus, folks go to the book store and pick up a "Zen" book, or listen to a talk, and wonder why the contents seem so different sometimes (same ... but different ) I posted the following a couple of times ...

    [quote]as I have mentioned a few times, there is a relatively recent line that popped up within Soto-shu that actually is a hybrid with Rinzai Zen (their priests are also Rinzai priests) and, more importantly, largely split off from both to form an organization called Sanbokyodan. Those within the lineage that did not split from Soto are rather a breed all their own within it. That line is much much more influential outside Japan than in Japan, because it happens to be the source of such lineages as the Diamond Sangha (Aitken Roshi), Rochester Zen Center (Kapleau Roshi) and the White Plum (Maezumi Roshi). While the Sanbokyodan portion left Soto-shu, some of their people stayed within Soto-shu in name (including the priest who established the two temples you mention (Toshoji and Kannonji).

    The Sanb˘ky˘dan (Three Treasures Association) is a contemporary Zen movement that was founded by Yasutani Hakuun (1885-1973) in 1954. The style of Zen propagated by Sanb˘ky˘dan teachers, noteworthy for its single-minded emphasis on the experience of kensh˘, diverges markedly from more traditional models found in S˘t˘, Rinzai, or Oobaku training halls. ... There is little in Kapleau's book to suggest that his teachers were anything but respected members of orthodox Zen monastic orders. Yet such was not the case, for in 1954 Yasutani Hakuun (1885-1973), the Zen priest whose teachings are featured in The Three Pillars of Zen, severed his formal ties to the S˘t˘ school in order to establish an independent Zen organization called the Sanb˘ky˘dan, or "Three Treasures Association." The influence exerted by this contemporary lay reform movement on American Zen is out of proportion to its relatively marginal status in Japan: modern Rinzai and S˘t˘ monks are generally unaware of, or indifferent to, the polemical attacks that Yasutani and his followers direct against the Zen priesthood. Orthodox priests are similarly unmoved by claims to the effect that the Sanb˘ky˘dan alone preserves the authentic teachings of Zen. ...

    The only acceptable "solution" to the mu k˘an in the Sanb˘ky˘dan is a credible report of a kensh˘ experience, and beginning students are subject to intense pressure during sesshin -- including the generous application of the "warning stick" (ky˘saku or keisaku) -- in order to expedite this experience. The unrelenting emphasis on kensh˘ and the vigorous tactics used to bring it about constitute the single most distinctive (and controversial) feature of the Sanb˘ky˘dan method. Eido Shimano, recalling Yasutani's first sesshin in Hawaii in 1962, writes:

    The night before sesshin started, Yasutani Roshi said to the participants, "To experience kensho is crucial, but we are so lazy. Therefore, during sesshin we have to set up a special atmosphere so that all participants can go straight ahead toward the goal. First, absolute silence should be observed. Second, you must not look around. Third, forget about the usual courtesies and etiquette" . . . He also told the participants, and later told me privately as well, of the need for frequent use of the keisaku. That five-day sesshin was as hysterical as it was historical. It ended with what Yasutani Roshi considered five kensh˘ experiences.
    (Nyogen et al. 1976, pp. 184-85)[28]

    While Yasutani's successors are considerably more reserved in their use of the ky˘saku, the emphasis on kensh˘ has not diminished, prompting one student of Yamada to refer to the San'un Zend˘ as a "kensh˘ machine" (Levine 1992, p. 72).
    Students who do succeed in passing mu, along with a number of k˘ans used specifically to test the veracity of the experience (such as the "sound of one hand"), are publicly recognized
    ...

    The r˘shi will remind the student, both in private interviews and in public talks, that kensh˘ is only the first small step along the path to full awakening. Be that as it may, the Sanb˘ky˘dan treats kensh˘ as a significant achievement. Upon attaining kensh˘ students are publicly lauded in the jahai ceremony, and encouraged to write a report of their experience for publication in Ky˘sh˘. The names of post-kensh˘ students are clearly marked with a circle on sesshin seating plans, and as mentioned above, a second zend˘ may be provided allowing the post-kensh˘ group to practice apart from the others. Finally, pre- and post-kensh˘ students are often listed separately in the sesshin reports that appear in Ky˘sh˘. (Note that each of these practices are Sanb˘ky˘dan innovations -- there are no public rites of passage marking the attainment of kensh˘ in S˘t˘ or Rinzai monasteries.)

    Following the teacher's authentication of kensh˘, Sanb˘ky˘dan students move through a program of 600 to 700 k˘ans following a format set by Harada based in part on traditional Rinzai models. The practitioner first tackles the "miscellaneous k˘ans," which consist of approximately twenty-two k˘ans in fifty-seven parts. He or she then moves through the Mumonkan, Hekiganroku, Sh˘y˘roku, and Denk˘roku [?MĂ] k˘ans, followed by T˘zan's five ranks (T˘zan goi), and three sets of precepts.[30]

    Whereas passage through mu requires nothing short of kensh˘, passage through the remaining k˘ans is relatively straightforward. After formally approaching and bowing to the r˘shi the Sanb˘ky˘dan student recites his or her k˘an, and then presents (or "demonstrates") his or her understanding. If the answer is deemed satisfactory, the teacher himself may supply a more "traditional" response. All of this is more-or-less typical of Rinzai practice today. However, Sanb˘ky˘dan teachers do not use jakugo (capping phrases) -- set phrases culled from classical Chinese literature used to test and refine a monk's understanding of a k˘an.[31] Moreover, unlike Rinzai monks, Sanb˘ky˘dan practitioners are not required to compose written expositions of the k˘ans in the latter stages of their training.[32] The Sanb˘ky˘dan has, in short, sharply curtailed the explicitly "literary" aspects of k˘an training.

    As a result, once they have passed mu Sanb˘ky˘dan students tend to move through the remaining k˘ans at a relatively rapid pace, often completing one k˘an per interview. With regular access to a teacher and frequent participation in sesshin, a practitioner can complete the entire course of post-kensh˘ k˘ans in approximately five years. At the same time, if the r˘shi feels that there are inadequacies in the student's training, he may reassign certain k˘ans in dokusan (including mu), and Yamada led periodic study groups (kenshukai) for advanced students in which he reviewed the k˘ans in a more seminar-like setting.

    Once the k˘ans are complete, students proceed through a series of higher certifications that allow them to teach and may eventually result in Dharma transmission. There is considerable ambiguity in this regard, however, in part because the Sanb˘ky˘dan draws simultaneously from S˘t˘ and Rinzai conceptions of transmission -- conceptions that are not always compatible with one another. This is responsible in part for the controversy over the teaching authority of Yamada's senior disciples that emerged following his death, an issue to which I will return below.


    http://www.terebess.hu/english/sharf.html
    Even for the "Just Sitting" Shikantaza form of meditation, I believe that Yasutani Roshi (root of the Sanbo Kyodan, Diamond Sangha, White Plum and others), who was the "Big Explosive Kensho" teacher who mixed Rinzai and Soto practices, emphasized a more "sweat pouring down your brow" species of Shikantaza. Please read his essay on Page 51 to 53 of this book

    http://books.google.com/books?id=k6O...esult#PPA52,M1

    also viewable here (you can search the word "Yasutani) ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Just-Sitti.../dp/086171394X

    Now, one real criticism I do have is that some folks in that lineage are regularly writing books and articles in which they try to prove or assert that Dogen was also a "Koan Zazen" or "Big Kensho seeking" guy (the talk you mention, Brian, is subtly part of that).

    Dogen simply was not, no matter how much they try to 'revision' history. (Our Soto perspective on "Kensho", by the way, is that sometimes such views appear, sometimes they do not, sometimes they are big little or not, and all is the scenery of Zazen. We run after nothing, seek no special states ... with the perspective that "not seeking to-the-marrow any special state" --IS-- a very very special state and way to be).

    That being said, there is no doubt that DOGEN LOVED KOANS, as do all Soto teachers. Dogen loved Koans, taught Koans, spoke about Koans in most of his talks. Dogen's writings are chock full of Koans. All Soto teachers teach through Koans, me too. However, on the subject of holding a Koan, or part of a Koan, in mind during Zazen on the cushion ... raising a "Great Doubt" and such in order to attain a blasting "Kensho" ... Dogen was quite clear, and that was not his method. As Steve Heine, one of the best Dogenologists out there, wrote in his classic "Dogen and the Koan Tradition":

    In several passages of his writings Dogen explicitly refutes the use of koans ... When Dogen does deal in his writings with the issue of the meaning and importance of the koan, he seems to prefer the doctrine of genjokoan (spontaneous manifestation of the koan in concrete activities) to the Rinzai approach known as kanna-zen (introspecting the koan), which involves examining and contemplating kosoku- koan (old sayings or paradigmatic cases) included in koan collections


    and

    [quote] the terms Dogen refers to as the object of his critique are koan-wato in connection with kosoku-koan, which suggests that he specifically refutes the wato technique of interpreting koans, and not necessarily the koan in and of itself.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ZmIOZQ

    TO EMPHASIZE AGAIN: Both "Soto" and "Rinzai" love Koans. We approach Koans in the same way, with the "non-thinking" mind, to pierce through the words and behind the words and illuminate the words and no words. But, in Soto practice, we simply do not hold a Koan, or a phrase from a Koan, in mind during seated Zazen in order to reach an experience of Kensho. Soto tends to drop away all thoughts, Koans or not, and see the action of sitting as the ultimate Koan realized ... Our approach to Koans is very different from the flavor described in the article on Sanbokyodan above, and any attempt to revise history on that regard is, I feel, not proper.

    Anyway, the difference are differences, yet all is the same.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-19-2013 at 01:26 AM.

  20. #20

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi.

    I agree with OJ on the part of people too strongly trying to hit other perople in the head with their opinions.
    Instead of trying to prove others wrong it's better to help them along the path (wherever it leads them).
    (although it is interesting/educational to read comments from both sides on the subject).
    And using written text to prove your point isn't so hard, (I would know as i'm currently doing a master thesis on the pedagogy of buddhism...), the hard part is seeing if it so.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  21. #21

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Hi Fugen,

    Yes, we do not need to bash one or the other, and all can respect our sameness and difference. There is soccer, there is American football ... both lovely games, same while different ... different while the same. No need to say which is "better" or "worse", and we should respect the difference and the sameness. It may be that some people are better suited for one than the other.

    I think there is as much peril in trying to say they are "exactly the same", as saying that they are "extremely different". Why do that? Appreciate and honor each for what each is, as well as their common heart.

    Getting back to my posting on Sanbokyodan, and as someone who sat and taught at a Sangha in that Lineage (White Plum) for quite a few years ... I would say that most of the North American teachers I know in that lineage have come to a much more gentle, less "Kensho or Bust" approach to practice than Harada Roshi and Yasutani Roshi, their source. In that way, they are much more "easy & gentle", much more "Soto, Once Born" their the original "Twice Born" spirit of Sanbokyodan. So, for example, one might often feel none of that hot flavor in a book by Joko Beck, for example, who has come much closer to a return to "Just Sitting".

    However, it remains true that Daido and some others do have a tendency to emphasize Shikantaza as a preliminary practice, or to teach that it is pretty much just "following the breath" (not a very sophisticated view of Shikantaza). And also to teach that Dogen actually wanted everyone really to pursue Koan Zazen, so that is still there. I do not believe that is right or historically justified.

    Gassho, Jundo

  22. #22
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    thank you Jundo for helping me to move through that one and to see the issues a bit more clearly

    gassho
    Brian

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Thanks for posting this bit of reading
    and for the posts that followed.
    Gassho Shohei

  24. #24

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    No need to say which is "better" or "worse", and we should respect the difference and the sameness. It may be that some people are better suited for one than the other.
    Gassho, Jundo
    Amen. These differences are about the temperament of the student more than the truth of the teaching (even though not all teachings/teachers are equally effective).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I think there is as much peril in trying to say they are "exactly the same", as saying that they are "extremely different". Why do that? Appreciate and honor each for what each is, as well as their common heart.
    A very pomo and valid view of many things related to people and their baggage, beliefs, etc. All music is not the same. Some music seeks to do very different things than other forms of music . . . that's a good thing. For centuries it has been the Western mindset to try to define beauty and value in a clear and universal manner. This effort has always been frustrated by the variety of valuable musical approaches that human beings create. So, they are not all the same, that's what makes them so valuable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    And using written text to prove your point isn't so hard, (I would know as i'm currently doing a master thesis on the pedagogy of buddhism...), the hard part is seeing if it so.
    Thanks, Fugen. The Force is strong in you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    The distinctions he drew seemed too simple and sharp since everything in life is more shades of grey than academic papers would have you believe.
    I agree. One of the problems with a taxonomic approach to anything is that each stage requires a simple yes or no answer as to whether the object in question shares trait X with others or deviates.

    Peace and gassho,
    Bill

  25. #25

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen
    What I find more interesting is the first born / twice born discussion deriving from William James. I have found characteristics of both in my own life! Must we choose?
    As I was reading that section, I, too, kept thinking, "Man, the descriptions of the Rinzai people (depression, numbness, tension, conflict) sound way more like me than the descriptions of the blissful, well-adjusted Soto folks (emotionally stable, live life enthusiastically, only brief periods of doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, with the source mainly external)."

    However, though I've never tried Rinzai-style, I find Shikantaza to feel right to me. Should I head off to Kanzeon Zen Center in downtown Salt Lake City to give Genpo Roshi a try? He's got the Big Mind deal going that guarantees kensho in one weekend workshop for the low, low price of $297 (for the early-bird special) or $397 (for the depressed, doubtful, confused, emotionally unstable slacker who can't commit until the last minute). I'd like to experience other techniques to see how the work for me, but I'm pretty comfortable with Soto already and I don't think I can afford (financially) the experimentation.

    I dunno. In the end, does it really matter what path one takes if they all lead essentially to the same place?

    Should I look into Rinzai schools (not a rhetorical question)? Koan study and regular dokusan do sound kinda nice, sometimes... Or should I just buy Nishijima's translation of Shinji Shobogenzo :wink: ?

    Gassho,
    Kevin

  26. #26

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    low price of $297 (for the early-bird special) or $397 (for the depressed, doubtful, confused, emotionally unstable slacker who can't commit until the last minute)
    I wonder how much Dogen got paid to write the Shobogenzo.

    Gassho

    W

  27. #27

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    the Rinzai people (depression, numbness, tension, conflict) sound way more like me than the descriptions of the blissful, well-adjusted Soto folks (emotionally stable, live life enthusiastically, only brief periods of doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, with the source mainly external)."

    However, though I've never tried Rinzai-style, I find Shikantaza to feel right to me.
    Yes, both are wonderful paths. The description in the book (about Rinzai practice being associated with "depression, numbness, tension, conflict") is not only very broad brush, but also not really true (many folks come to Soto practice, and truly benefit from "just sitting", because of depression, neurosis and the like. I was depressed for many years, and rather neurotic and "burned out" personally, before coming to this practice 25 years ago). In any case, the book's description is supposed to be talking about the person -before- Zen practice, not after the fruits have been realized.

    So, I think the description in the book of the two practices is generally accurate (at least with regard to Rinzai practice in a "hard" Japanese style), but the labeling of the "type of person" who would be attracted to/benefit from each is not so accurate.

    As a matter of fact, let me tell you the reason I think "Just Sitting" might be better for many or most depressives, neurotic individuals, etc.

    I sometimes say that the hard "Kensho" style blasts a tunnel through the rocks of the mountain with dynamite, carving out a new tunnel ... and our "Just Sitting" style takes the slow, winding, unhurried, road 'round the outside of the mountain. But, in both cases, the point is the mountain is enlightenment and ever underfoot, so both are instantaneously arriving at the same place (and, anyway, what mountain?)

    Or, I sometimes say that the Rinzai folks like to punch a hole through the wall separating "self" and "other" by using dynamite, while Dogen's way is like the air itself ... gently filling all the cracks in the bricks, both this side and the other, and even the bricks themselves until all 'tis just the one beyond one. Thus, self and other are just as gone gone gone.

    Now, both have there dangers too ...

    I believe in Rinzai, sometimes, the danger is that the powerful dynamite blast will often explode in one's face or bring the whole pile of stones tumbling down on the person's head! You are playing with dynamite there, which can open a road or cause an avalanche. Takes work with a good teacher, like a good explosives expert, to bring about a good result.

    On the other hand, Soto Practice should never be allowed to become apathy. Someone's "just sitting around" doing nothing, going no where, complacent or resigned, giving up, eating one's fill, is not in any way the same as "Just Sitting" practice wherein nothing need be done, with no where that we can go or need go, for all is faced 'head on' and energetically as already whole and complete.

    But to the extent depression is caused by "overthinking" or "falling into negative thoughts and emotions" ... and to the extent neurosis involves being tied up in inner cognitive and emotional conflicts, excess fears, regrets ... and to the extent that the practice of "Just Sitting" Shikantaza involves dropping and seeing through such thoughts, excess emotions, fears and regrets ... then I believe "Just Sitting" Shikantaza is naturally an excellent medicine for such forms of depression and neurotic self-entrapment. At least, I found it so in my life over the years.

    Gassho, Jundo

  28. #28

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    dropping and seeing through such thoughts, excess emotions, fears and regrets
    Also, we should not forget. It is the dropping or seeing through to what? Openess, and both Body and Mind (not two right? )plays a part as well. So seeing through and dropping to allow a wider picture.


    Gassho

    W

  29. #29

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    dropping and seeing through such thoughts, excess emotions, fears and regrets
    Also, we should not forget. It is the dropping or seeing through to what? Openess, and both Body and Mind (not two right? )plays a part as well. So seeing through and dropping to allow a wider picture.


    Gassho

    W
    Yes, yes, yes.

  30. #30

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    It is probably a bit too late to comment this chapter, but with my exams... I'm always late these days!

    Of course a lot has been said an digging again the same pit won't be interesting...

    I've found the book very well written and documented, however, from the first paragraphs, I felt a bit strange because of a certain flavour of "partiality". Maybe because Rinzai is "most known" as he says in the book. And he wanted Soto Zen to be known too. However, it's hard to judge with just the first chapter

    On the other hand, Well I'm an historian, and I can't hide my historical point of view when I'm reading an article.
    Even if sometimes, It would be greath! :P

    And I just wanted to had some general historical thoughts about schools or traditions who came to me during the reading.

    History of religions and philosophy is fluid. A religion always try to adapt, being integrist or traditionalist is also a step in this adaptation. But only a step, it don't represent the all tradition or school.
    Then, the Idea of "purity in a lineage", is something a bit unrealistic. In fact, traditional schools are often redefined and the notion of purity is a part of this redefinition.

    There also, the fact that a man, by himself, could change the face of a tradition (or lineage or school).
    Often, the tradition, being more and more secularised, lost is true link with society. And, in this case, a single man who's aware of things as they are, could bring to the scene, new forms of practices. And, those practices, beliefs,... could stay and grow because they are in accord with people needs and thoughts. (Bouddha, Nestorius, Francois d'Assise, St Benoit, Dogen,...and these are just a few!)

    Religions are fluid then the interpretations, of the same texts or beliefs, are very different across the ages. We must keep in mind religions aren't monolithic, and we must keep our minds from generalizing too much on religions.

    Well, I hope I'm not too 'out of subject', And I apologies again with my english!

    Gassho to all !

    Luis

  31. #31

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Luis- one of the neat things about a discussion forum is the ability to keep a thread alive by posting on it after it has been forgotten! I'm glad you chimed-in- you made a good point about a man being able to change the face of a whole tradition- but it goes further: when transplanted to a new country, the new culture changes the tradition also, regardless of the efforts of any one person.

    gassho
    tobiishi

  32. #32

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiishi
    when transplanted to a new country, the new culture changes the tradition also, regardless of the efforts of any one person.
    :idea: I was going to add it :roll:

    Gassho

    Luis

  33. #33

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiishi
    when transplanted to a new country, the new culture changes the tradition also, regardless of the efforts of any one person.
    :idea: I was going to add it :roll:

    Gassho

    Luis
    well, since you and I are (geographically separated) branches of the same tree, you can go ahead and take credit

  34. #34

    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Greetings,

    My internet access is presently rather sporadic and thus my posting will be a bit hit or miss. Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on this chapter.

    In my opinion, I find it useful to get a historical background to contextualize the Soto Zen tradition. In terms of practice, I would only add that it is tempting to see aspects of other Buddhist schools and want to pick and choose bits and pieces from various traditions. Although innovation can be a result of integration, itĺs probably best for the average practitioner to focus on one school and specialize. I guess my disposition just seems be a good fit with Soto.

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  35. #35
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi All,

    I thought to post some special reading topics. The theme is "readings that will help in understanding Zen readings". 8)

    For years and years, after first starting Zen practice, I would read many "Zen Books" but not quite understand why so many seemed to be saying rather different things (or the same things, but seemingly with very different emphasis). In other words, it too me a long time to realize that "Zen Books" (not to mention "Buddhist Books" in general) come in several flavors, often by different teachers within even the same school. Buddhism has evolved over the centuries, and various teachers do emphasize teachings in ways employing particular perspectives. My attempts to "harmonize" in my mind all these differences, and resolve how everyone was really "saying the same thing somehow" often worked, but sometimes also left me quite confused. It was only when I had some historical background, and understood better where these various approaches were coming (and coming not coming) from, did I see that not all "Zen Books" were of one kind ... not one, not two.

    (it is early in the morning ... I hope the above makes sense too!)


    My point is, not at all, to say which approach is better than any other (although, of course, I have my own approach and way of presenting the practice too). My intent is merely to help people understand the context of all these different teachings, teachers and teachers' books. All are just slightly varied paths up the same mountain (and, anyway, ultimately "what mountain"?).

    Our first reading is from a book (that, unfortunately, goes in and out of print) called "Once Born Twice Born Zen" ... about the two most common "different flavors" of Zen one will most likely encounter in the West today: the "Just Sitting" Shikantaza flavor most usually associated with Soto Sangha such as Treeleaf, and the "Kanhua" Zazen flavor most often associated with Rinzai (or mixed Soto-Rinzai) lineages (PDF).

    https://sites.google.com/site/jundot...edirects=0&d=1

    Gassho, Jundo

    Thank you for this down load, Jundo. Much of this I had understood from the 3PZ, and for me, it was not selling brand so to speak, but history, much like this down load, but that was after one reading of it. You seem to feel it sways towards Rinzai, and maybe so, but i did not get that take from it. It was just very interesting and was very glad i have read it and may again.
    Nothing Special

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