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  1. #1

    Special reading - once born twice born zen (part not 2)


    I'd like to continue this special series of "readings that will help in understanding Zen readings" with a bit more of ...

    Once-Born, Twice-Born Zen by Conrad Hyers

    I agree with those folks who think the "Once-Born Twice-Born" categories are a bit black/white and broad brush. I do think the book helpful, though, in appreciating these contrasting, but complementary flavors of Zen practice. The descriptions are pretty accurate portraits of these two "not-two schools" of approach, I find.

    As always, I emphasize that it is not a question of insisting that one way or the other is the "only way" or even "right way".

    This week's reading can be downloaded here (PDF) ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-06-2015 at 02:26 AM.

  2. #2
    From the text:
    It should be acknowledged, however, that if Rinzai meditation has it’s pitfalls, so does Soto. Rinzai tends to turn Zen practice into a means to an end, to be interminably goal-oriented. And the end that is emphasized (satori) may be the ecstasy involved in the experience rather than the insight (kensho) which issues from the experience. Soto, on the other hand, may play only in the shallow waters of mental control (joriki) instead of moving more deeply and fully into a realization and expression of one’s Buddha nature. Instead of living more and more out of the immediacy of original enlightenment and allowing that to pervade more and more of one’s life, one may be satisfied to merely enjoy the momentary therapeutic benefits of “sitting quietly, doing nothing,” and to use faith in one’s original nature to rationalize the status quo. Rather than being the highest level of Zen practice (saijojo), the practice of Buddhas, Soto is in danger of reducing itself to the lowest level, bompu zen. If Rinzai can become artificial in it’s method, Soto can become superficial in it’s realization.
    Ahh, the momentary therapeutic benefits of sitting quietly, doing nothing. So easy, so relaxing! Ok, the author is doing his best to describe the practices as a scholar, not as one who does the practice. So I’ll give him some slack. His description of the difference between the log jam and the muddly pond is quite good. However, I think there is little danger that any enlightened being would use his enlightenment to “rationalize the status quo”. I think here he is indulging the popular misconception of Buddhists as blissed-out slackers. Lucky for us, I think Jundo and Taigu do emphasize “living more and more out of the immediacy of original enlightenment and allowing that to pervade more and more of one’s life.” If nothing else, this reading has made me more sure than ever that the muddly pond is the place for me.

    Like a duck bobbing naturally in water

    Last edited by Byokan; 06-16-2014 at 05:44 AM.

  3. #3
    Hi Lisa,

    Yes, that is his broad brush. In fact, almost all the Rinzai AND Soto Teachers I know are actually Teaching that there is Attainment and endless attainments and depths along the way, one should never be complacent and Practice never ends (not so long as our hearts are beating anyway).

    This is the old debate about whether Soto or Rinzai is about "Sudden" or "Gradual" enlightenment. In fact, almost all good Zen Teachers I know of all flavors will say the each is Both! In Soto too, Realization happens again and again and again Suddenly in each moment and gesture when can see, yet the Path of truly getting such in one's bones is step by step. It is much like saying that, at some point we suddenly realize that we have been on the Buddha Mountain all along ... the bottom and the top and every scene and step along the way, all the Buddha Mountain with no place to get away from it ... yet we continue, step by gradual step, continuing our walk up Buddha Mountain.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-16-2014 at 06:18 AM.


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