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Thread: Dukkha and Shikantaza

  1. #1

    Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hi,

    Our recent discussion on "Just Sitting" Shikantaza as accepting life and this world (not two, by the way) "just-as-they-are" ... dropping "likes" "dislikes, thoughts of "good" and "bad", all resistance ... allowing all to be, like the stone Buddha in the garden ...

    viewtopic.php?p=24875#p24875

    ,,, made me want to repost this (for beginners especially, but we all can use a reminder from time to time). This is my explanation of the Buddha's "First Noble Truth", often phrased as "Life is Suffering" ... and a little explanation of why Shikantaza is a very powerful medicine for the dis-ease (notice the hyphen in "dis - ease")

    Hi,

    Here is my simple, yet totally effective and fulproof, teaching on "Dukkha" ...

    No one English word captures the full depth and range of the Pali term Dukkha. It is sometimes rendered as 'suffering', as in 'life is suffering'. But perhaps it's better expressed as 'dissatisfaction', 'anxiety', 'disappointment' 'unease at imperfection' or 'frustration', terms that wonderfully convey a subtlety of meaning.

    Your 'self' wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. The mental state that may result to the 'self' from this disparity is Dukkha.

    Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples ... sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life),loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments ... such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times ... can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, are attached to those things. Wishing and clingin to X when life will become Y.

    In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot's or potter's wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.

    In life, there's sickness, old age, death and loss ... other very hard times ...

    But that's not why 'Life is Suffering'. Not at all, said the Buddha.

    Instead, it's sickness, but only when we refuse the condition ...
    ...old age, if we long for youth ...
    ... death, because we cling to life ...

    ... loss , when we cannot let go ...
    ... violated expectations, because we wished otherwise ...


    In other words, when your "self" wants and clings to X, but life hands you Y.

    So, for example, we might imagine this world and our lives as a garden of flowers and weeds. "Suffering" arises when we cannot close the gap between the world "as-it-is" and the world we dream "should be" or "we wish to be" in order for us to be happy and content. Our Buddhist practice allows us to be at one with this garden, both its flowers and weeds just as they are ... no gap, no resistance (accepting and "merging with" the weeds even as we do not accept the weeds ... we can still go ahead and nurture the flowers, and pull the weeds. We can do both at once, it is not an either/or proposition).

    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/vi ... 826#p24826

    Our 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' ... Dukkha ... arises as a state of mind, as our demands and wishes for how things 'should be' or 'if only would be for life to be happy' differ from 'the way things are'. The gap is the source of Dukkha. Our Practice closes the gap

    What's more, even happiness can be a source of Dukkha if we cling to the happy state, demand that it stay, are attached to good news, material successes, pleasures and the like ... refusing the way life may otherwise go.

    Our Zen practice closes the gap between how things go and how we would wish them to go ...

    And how do we do that, in our Shikanataza practice? How do we weaken the grip of the "self" which is that source of the gap of judgments and views between "how things are" and "how the self selfishly wishes they would be" ?

    Why, "Just Sit", dropping all thought of "good" and "bad" , "right" , "wrong" , "just" and "unjust" , experiencing a world that just is-what-it-is without gap or separation. It goes-the-way-it-goes, even if that way is not the way we personally might desire. Letting aside both "cruel" and "gentle" , "ugly" and "kind" , we no longer resist, do not judge, and embrace it all ... even the most terrible.

    Then the "self" loses its fuel, is put out of a job ... Dukkha is extinguished in a flash.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Ps Rev. Nonin liked it! But I must not be attached to a little bit of praise! ops:

    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/vi ... 882#p24882

  2. #2

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Many thanks for the repost, Jundo.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    made me want to repost this (for beginners especially, but we all can use a reminder from time to time).
    I'll say I could use all the reminders you can dish out. You never get too good to practice your scales!!!

    Like so many other things in this world, reviewing the basics, the foundational actions/concepts of a thing, maybe the most critical aspect of devoting one's life to a pursuit. I appreciate the constant effort made by all Buddhist teachers (especially Jundo and Taigu) to continue to find ways to spell out the Noble Truth(s) as they know them. It helps us/me.

    I've been playing the piano for about 30 years now and sitting down and practicing basic stuff like scales, fingerings, posture/relaxation, and pre-hearing what I'm about to play are still the things that help me the most. Looking at it one way, there really isn't anything but basics.


    Gassho,
    Bill

  3. #3

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    We can't pin point it, but it happens. The closest one can get to it is by saying "don't hold on to anything". Then what?

    Argument is the best example that I can think of where two people are holding on to their idea of right and wrong so much. What would happen if they just let it go, or if one of them let it go and forgot about it or dropped it.

    Sometimes we have all these ideas about things and are so eager to say what is right and what is wrong refusing to just accept the fact that we don't know.

    There are so many things in this world and so many ways of doing things. There are millions of individuals who have hard earned wisdom. Who's to say that "our" way is the "only" way.

    Accepting is the best term. Instead of arguing with someone, accept them. Their faults and our faults. Look deep and see the resemblance there (not two).

    However, don't turn it into some idea. Just practice.

    Gassho

    W

  4. #4

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Argument is the best example that I can think of where two people are holding on to their idea of right and wrong so much. What would happen if they just let it go, or if one of them let it go and forgot about it or dropped it.

    Sometimes we have all these ideas about things and are so eager to say what is right and what is wrong refusing to just accept the fact that we don't know.

    There are so many things in this world and so many ways of doing things. There are millions of individuals who have hard earned wisdom. Who's to say that "our" way is the "only" way.

    Accepting is the best term. Instead of arguing with someone, accept them. Their faults and our faults. Look deep and see the resemblance there (not two).


    Gassho

    W
    Hi Will,

    Do you really think that there is nothing worth holding "right" and "wrong" about? Nothiing worth sometimes debating ... even arguing about and fighting for strongly in this world? Do you think that every "way" is a good way, and all the same? I notice you say that "our way is not the 'only' way", and that is true. We should be willing to admit "I don't know" most of the time. But some 'ways' are just plain harmful and wrong.

    I do not that we should always think "I don't know" or "all is the same". I think that there is good and bad, things to resist and change in this world. (I do agree, though, that the airwaves and internets are filled with people debating endless silly things ... things that they just want to pointlessly chew the fat about. But that is not true for all matters and subjects).

    Remember: We can hold and assert opinions of "right" and "wrong" ... so long as we simultaneously know how to drop "right" and "wrong".

    Someone wrote me this week to ask if I am bothered if they express a political view very far on the "Left". I said, "no ... not at all, so long as you simultaneously know to drop all thought of "left" or "right"".

    Gassho, Jundo

    Ps - Don't disagree with me ... because I am right about this. :wink:

  5. #5

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Sometimes we have all these ideas about things and are so eager to say what is right and what is wrong refusing to just accept the fact that we don't know.

  6. #6

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    There are so many things in this world and so many ways of doing things. There are millions of individuals who have hard earned wisdom. Who's to say that "our" way is the "only" way.
    Gassho

  7. #7

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hello all,

    First post!

    I spent a long time in the park today. I sat and watched people come and go. I moved from one bench to the other as the sun moved the shadows. I was there and things flowed. Just letting things be. It was very peaceful and relaxing.

    To me, this was Sukkha (not only this). And it is a happy coincidence to find this post today. I had one thought that returned to me a few times as I sat in the park. How should one handle goals? I have several goals in my life right know. I do not want to hold on to my goals too tightly because I know I will never really achieve what I had in mind... but I think it is important to stay focused and determined to achieve what I really didn't have in mind.

    Thanks,
    DB

  8. #8

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadbuddha
    Hello all,

    First post!

    I spent a long time in the park today. I sat and watched people come and go. I moved from one bench to the other as the sun moved the shadows. I was there and things flowed. Just letting things be. It was very peaceful and relaxing.

    To me, this was Sukkha (not only this). And it is a happy coincidence to find this post today. I had one thought that returned to me a few times as I sat in the park. How should one handle goals? I have several goals in my life right know. I do not want to hold on to my goals too tightly because I know I will never really achieve what I had in mind... but I think it is important to stay focused and determined to achieve what I really didn't have in mind.

    Thanks,
    DB
    Hi DB,

    Please post a short introduction to your "self" over here ...

    viewtopic.php?p=22843#p22843

    Thank you for the lovely image ... I felt like I was sitting next to you on that bench in the park.

    As we have been discussing, we can have goals AND drop all goals SIMULTANEOUSLY. Yes, it is a kind of Koan ... a very healthy way to live too!

    The result is something like moving forward, step by step, yet ever arriving home.

    Buddha, Bodhidharma, Dogen ... all had "goals". Otherwise, Bodhidharma would have never bother to "come from the West" to China, and would have stayed put. Most of these folks built Sangha, taught students, wrote books, built monasteries ... they were "go getters"

    The only thing special is knowing how to be a "go getter" while also knowing that there is no place in need of "getting" :shock:

    Oh, and when you do have goals ... do so with a lose grip, non-attachment, patience. Do not let you "self" hang its "self worth" on their achievement. Yet, be diligent in pursuing them if diligence is called for.

    Both stillness and action ... at once!

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Oh, and I should not forget to say that we had best reappraise many of our "goals" ... keeping life simple, and doing without much extra baggage.

    So, having the "goal" of having the best car in the drive-way in your neighborhood ... probably a goal we can do without. Keeping life simple, not dependent on many "things" is our way too.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Thanks Jundo, it was good to read that.

    Cam

  11. #11

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hi.

    I sometimes explain dukkha something like this.

    Samsara is when you put the knuckles of your hands together.
    Nirvana is when you put the palms of your hands together.
    Dukkha is when you move your hands, there is a slight "resistance"...

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  12. #12

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hello Fugen!

    May I dare to add just a little comment to your wonderful analogy?
    IMHO Dukkha is when knuckles move.

    Thank you for putting those inspiring pictures you put into my head.

    Gassho,

    Mongen

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Wonderful posts! Start to finish. I thought that I rarely need to be reminded the causes of dukkha but way to often I forget the solution. Jundo thank you for reposting this - definitely deserved of kind words.
    Fugen and Mongen - So very well put.
    Agreed Ekia - amazed, and very fortunate to be able to practice( i need plenty ) with such a wonderful group !!

    Gassho, Shohei

  14. #14

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Another analogy:

    For me, Dukkha is like too much friction. This implies too much heat (energy loss), restricted movement (loss of freedom), and greater deterioration over time (more sickness and disease).

    For me, Sukkha is like just enough friction. This implies less heat (conservation of energy), easier movement (more freedom), and less deterioration (better health).

    The friction is our self and its attachments. We need some friction (or how else could we move!?), but not too much. Zazen reduces the friction and we become healthier, freer and with more energy.

    DB

  15. #15

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Thanks for the refresher in Dukkha and impermanence. I think I needed it today. As I was reading the original post, I started thinking about what life would be like if most people just accepted things as they are; held that one idea was no better than another. Would we still have slavery? Would Hitler control the world? Would we ever find cures for disease? Clearly, as I'm glad Jundo pointed out, there are things that are harmful in this world, and things that need to be changed.

    I sometimes have a difficult time reconciling the words of Buddhism (esp. Zen Buddhism) with the reality of the world. For instance, many zen practitioners are involved in social action, peacemaking, environmental activism -- basically trying to change the world as it is rather than accept it as it is.

    This is a contradiction.

    But maybe that's zen? Learning to deal with more than one point of view at a time, no matter how opposing the views might be? Or is it more simple than that? Is it like that mantra that 12 steppers use?

    "... Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

  16. #16

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hello,


    I really am enjoying the posts. Thank you Jundo for the post about suffering. I recently have found that since I have started doing zazen on a daily basis there seems to be my "self" screaming at me. Maybe its languishing, but sometimes it can be a pit paralyzing when one listens to the teachings and really is confronted by the actual putting them into use. It is very shocking how much resistance one runs up against in your own mind. Sometimes it seems that one can get trapped between desire to recreate a supposed time of joy or serenity and trying to force your thoughts or mind to let go. There is the rub I guess. Not forcing but simply letting them flow. Its amazing how sometimes its easier said then done.

    Gassho,
    Dave

  17. #17

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Thanks for the refresher in Dukkha and impermanence. I think I needed it today. As I was reading the original post, I started thinking about what life would be like if most people just accepted things as they are; held that one idea was no better than another. Would we still have slavery? Would Hitler control the world? Would we ever find cures for disease? Clearly, as I'm glad Jundo pointed out, there are things that are harmful in this world, and things that need to be changed.

    I sometimes have a difficult time reconciling the words of Buddhism (esp. Zen Buddhism) with the reality of the world. For instance, many zen practitioners are involved in social action, peacemaking, environmental activism -- basically trying to change the world as it is rather than accept it as it is.

    This is a contradiction.

    But maybe that's zen? Learning to deal with more than one point of view at a time, no matter how opposing the views might be? Or is it more simple than that? Is it like that mantra that 12 steppers use?

    "... Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
    Hello doogie,

    I think what is meant by accepting things as they are is not the same as saying all things are correct as they are. Events in the past, good and bad, have caused the current situation, so the current situation, good or bad, could not be other than it is. So accept the good and the bad; don't lament the past or the present.

    If something is wrong, take action. Even better, if something will become wrong, act now to prevent it from becoming so. Those could be one and the same.

    DB

  18. #18

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Aren't 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' necessary for social change?

  19. #19

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Aren't 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' necessary for social change?
    Hi, Doogie.

    Those things often accompany social change, but they aren't necessary (my opinion only). All that's needed for social change is the willingness and action by a group of people to change something that needs to be changed. That can be done without being disappointed, etc. Doesn't really happen that way, of course, but we are human beings, not saints. Plus, we cannot change what happens in a group of people's minds (social group) only what happens in our own (an individual within a group) . . . a "good man/woman in a storm," so to speak. Our part of social change can be done, possibly most effectively done, by using our awareness of our personal biases, frustrations, failings, etc to prevent us from acting in a way that is against the common good. Awareness is powerful in that regard.

    My 2 cents,
    Bill

  20. #20

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    I suppose it is possible, Eika. I guess I was thinking about it more pragmatically than philosophically. Many of the really big social movements came about because an individual or group was outraged about an injustice or inequality, and rather than accept it, they tried to change it. Civil rights, anti-slavery, and the growing marriage equality movement come to mind. What I'm getting at is this: isn't a certain amount of suffering necessary? Without it, wouldn't the innovation train just stop?

    I agree that the work must begin with us, and we should be examples to the rest of the world. In essence, we should become the medicine we wish to practice. But I'm still having difficulty reconciling the notion that we can accept the world as it is, yet still be able to fight (and sometimes it is a fight) for the world we want to actualize.

    If we accept the weeds in our garden, why would we pull them? They are part of the garden. Not all weeds are bad. After all, parsley is a weed. We must distinguish between one weed and another. Call one good and one bad, or one tasty and another disgusting. We make distinctions, have preferences, attempt to make the garden into something we want to sit in, and not the overgrown rat's nest it currently is. Many social issues don't involve things that are necessarily wrong, or involve things that are obviously harmful, but rather a person might see that the world would work better if only...

    If only healthcare were universal, if only the death penalty were abolished, if only marijuana were legalized, if only abortion were illegalized...

    Can we cultivate our practice, yet still desire to change the world around us to fit the image in our heads?

  21. #21

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    I can't accept the world as it is. I will do my best to improve it. While I do my best to improve it, I will accept it as it is; moment by moment, zazen.

    Like Jundo said a few posts ago "The result is something like moving forward, step by step, yet ever arriving home."

    That's what I think. But I'd prefer not to.

    Cam

  22. #22

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Many social issues don't involve things that are necessarily wrong, or involve things that are obviously harmful, but rather a person might see that the world would work better if only...

    If only healthcare were universal, if only the death penalty were abolished, if only marijuana were legalized, if only abortion were illegalized...

    Can we cultivate our practice, yet still desire to change the world around us to fit the image in our heads?
    Joko Beck and Jundo do a better job explaining this than I can, but here goes:
    For us to truly change something, we must first accept it for what it is, otherwise the thing we are changing is an idealized image full of misperceptions and baggage. Before I can pull weeds, I have to face the reality that there are indeed weeds in my garden. In a sense, I must become OK with their place in the universe in which I live. Then, and only then, can I really make the correct decision as to whether pulling them is a good idea or not. Acceptance is not the same as resignation. I can accept that I'm impatient and too goal-oriented while simultaneously avoiding resigning myself to allow those traits to grow.

    I don't know if I'm explaining this well or not.

    Joko Beck says, "For these things to be OK doesn't mean that I'm happy about them." Those weeds are the circumstances of our life and we must face that reality before we can act with wisdom and compassion on our and others' behalf.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  23. #23

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    One other quick note:
    I think the Western idea of acceptance implies a negotiation with someone (God, Govt, etc). When I say, "I cannot accept this," I'm really saying, "The terms of this deal are not too my liking, therefore I will not forfeit my right to further negotiations or complaint."

    In Zen there is no one to negotiate with, there are only things-as-it-is as Suzuki Roshi might say.

    Too many words here,
    Bill

    PS: Right on, Cam:
    Quote Originally Posted by Deadbuddha
    I can't accept the world as it is. I will do my best to improve it. While I do my best to improve it, I will accept it as it is; moment by moment, zazen.

  24. #24

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Doogie
    But maybe that's zen? Learning to deal with more than one point of view at a time, no matter how opposing the views might be? Or is it more simple than that? Is it like that mantra that 12 steppers use?
    As has been mentioned before, Doogie's Zen is not Eika's Zen. We don't have to do what everyone else does. If we pick up say environmental work then that is what we do. It's a choice. The Dharma can be expressed in many ways.

    To save all sentient Beings, though beings are numberless.
    To transform delusion, though delusion immeasurable.
    To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
    To attain Enlightenment, a way non attainable.

    Gassho

    W

  25. #25

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    re: Doogie

    Sometimes we dive head first into things without knowing what we are getting our self into. If we have a building anger towards people who "don't care", then maybe it would be best if we took a break from that cause. I had a friend who did proactive stuff for years and then quit because he didn't see the point if "no one cares" and he felt he got too worked up about it. Maybe later he might go back to it. Who knows? The point is, can we do these things without making them something that "we" do. Having a grandiose idea of how the world should be is not going to help. We do what we can according to insight and wisdom.

    Gassho

  26. #26
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    If only healthcare were universal, if only the death penalty were abolished, if only marijuana were legalized, if only abortion were illegalized...

    Can we cultivate our practice, yet still desire to change the world around us to fit the image in our heads?
    It's the 'if only' part of this that's deluded. Things are as they are - but that also includes our active and creative role in these things. One can achieve many things and yet still not require that they be different than they are.

    Chet

  27. #27

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    A proactive Zen Buddhist teacher:

    http://www.upaya.org/roshi/

    W

  28. #28
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    I'm not sure how I feel about 'Engaged Buddhism'. Engaged as compared to what? Passivity is not expressly recommended by any Buddhist sect that I can think of.

    I think that here in America, we think of Buddhism as a decidedly 'progressive' religion, but this is not entirely the case..

    Chet

  29. #29

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Doogie
    But maybe that's zen? Learning to deal with more than one point of view at a time, no matter how opposing the views might be? Or is it more simple than that? Is it like that mantra that 12 steppers use?
    As has been mentioned before, Doogie's Zen is not Eika's Zen. We don't have to do what everyone else does. If we pick up say environmental work then that is what we do. It's a choice. The Dharma can be expressed in many ways.
    Will's absolutely right . . . the question of how to reconcile zen's call for our acceptance of our lives and our personal, deeply felt need to change the world for the better are a kind of koan. Accordingly, those must be figured out by each of us in our own way.

    Peace,
    Bill

  30. #30

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Doogie
    But maybe that's zen? Learning to deal with more than one point of view at a time, no matter how opposing the views might be? Or is it more simple than that? Is it like that mantra that 12 steppers use?
    As has been mentioned before, Doogie's Zen is not Eika's Zen. We don't have to do what everyone else does. If we pick up say environmental work then that is what we do. It's a choice. The Dharma can be expressed in many ways.
    Will's absolutely right . . . the question of how to reconcile zen's call for our acceptance of our lives and our personal, deeply felt need to change the world for the better are a kind of koan. Accordingly, those must be figured out by each of us in our own way.

    Peace,
    Bill
    You're right of course. But then Zen is a religion for many people, and as such the practitioners share many commonalities. And the way that most zen practitioners seek to engage the world (if they do engage the world) is through personal suffering. Upaya and her sister organizations deal mainly in suffering. They teach one to be with the dying. They ease the suffering of the destitute, the homeless, the ill, the grieving, the incarcerated. These are all good and noble things, but it shows that Buddhism has become about suffering in America. This is true even in Japan, I hear. I was talking to a woman who said that when she sees a zen monk walking down the street, she'll cross to avoid him. Why, because they represent death. They're only seen by most people at funerals, and by the side of the sick and dying. This was her saying this, so I have no idea if it's true. But she said this was a fairly common attitude.

    Maybe this is due to the fact that most people who turn to Buddhism, do so later in life (rather than be born into it), and do so because they are suffering in some way, and seek palliation from that suffering. But most Buddhists never move beyond their own suffering. Some that do begin to help other individuals suffering. But how many zen Buddhists lead a movement of social reform or political action (or try for a political office.) Achievement has almost become anathema to Buddhists.

  31. #31

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    But most Buddhists never move beyond their own suffering. Some that do begin to help other individuals suffering.
    Most? Sorry, but that's too broad for me to agree with. I agree that the call for acceptance can confuse people and lead them to disengage, but my understanding is that that is not what is advocated by Zen. Also, a call for a finite period of disengagement before moving back into the world to do good things is not the same as a lifelong call for disengagement. Just a period of disengagement to get one's sh*^ together.

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    But how many zen Buddhists lead a movement of social reform or political action (or try for a political office.) Achievement has almost become anathema to Buddhists.
    Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, the monks in Burma, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Prison Dharma Network, the Zen Peacemakers and their Zen Houses . . . and many more that I'm sure I'm ignorant of.

    Of course, my words mean very little. If you see Zen and Buddhism as being apathetic then there is little I can do to change your mind. Who am I to do that? And Zen (even though there really is no Zen separate from the myriad folks who practice it) has to stand on its merits and failings. I'm simply offering my two cents. We don't have to agree on this (or anything else) to be friends . . .

    Peace,
    Bill

    PS--I recognize that yours' is a legitimate criticism of some lineages, and that many others see this problem with Zen. You may be right.

  32. #32

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Hi All,

    I want to emphasize this as much as something can be emphasized ... it is a Koan ...

    Please do me the kindness of reading this (or rereading ... I keep digging it up) from a couple of years ago (in response to a tragedy in the news almost now forgotten ... in this case, a school shooting) ... In regard to what I wrote there, however, it is important to know that each of these several views on life, some seemingly contradictory, are held in Zazen AS ONE!

    We must lose our "self" as the world in this way ... and find our self in this way ... and I am not merely talking about some intellectual understanding. The "self" must be lost and found, simultaneously, in these ways of experiencing ... and being ... life and the world (not two).

    It is a Koan ... a radical revolution (not just of the world) but of how we experience us and the world (which is just the same thing really). Here is what I wrote ...

    Wednesday April 18, 2007
    (The following was written and spoken by me in response to the many sad stories currently in the news. Please pardon me for being dour and formal ... as it all breaks my heart) .

    Here are three ways to view tragedy in this world:

    First, this world can appear ugly - and is ugly - so many times. War and violence, poverty, hunger, disease and painful death ... If I had the power, if I were king, there's so much I would change. Abused children, lonely elders, the fearful and forsaken would be abused, lonely, fearful and forsaken no more.

    Of course, I do not have such power, I am not king. I can write a check, perhaps, or volunteer hours ... yet the problems remain. Many will never go away, appear the inevitable state of things, and it sometimes drives me toward frustration and despair. When viewed by human eyes, both nature and human society are so cruel.

    But, second, we can abandon all human judgments:

    For, when we drop all thought of "good" and "bad" , "right" , "wrong" , "just" and "unjust" , we experience a world that just is-what-it-is. It goes-the-way-it-goes, even if that way is not the way we personally might desire. Letting aside both "cruel" and "gentle" , "ugly" and "kind" , we no longer resist, do not judge, and embrace it all ... even the most terrible.

    By such perspective, sometimes there is war in the world, sometimes there is peace. Sometimes there is health, sometimes disease. Same for all the rest. In Zen Buddhism, we may embrace the world as-it-is, with all its seeming imperfections. The world is just the world. We are free of disappointment at a world, at its people or a society failing to meet our ideals and expectations. In this stance, our minds are still, our hearts tranquil, our attitude soft and yielding. We merely observe it all, accept it all ... war, peace or whatever comes.

    And dropping all divisions, we see this too: There is no separate person to be killed, no separate person to do the killing. There's nothing taken away and nothing to lose, as nothing is ever lacking. Without thought of birth and death, what birth and what death? It is like the water of a sea that is always wet, whole and complete, while waves go up and down. We can experience the world in that way too. More than a sad resignation to life (do not think that Zen practice is mere resignation), it is the subtle taste of no loss no gain.

    Yet. should we simply stop there? In that self-satisfied tranquility, ignoring the daily pain of others, are we not left uncaring, blind, apathetic, cold-hearted?

    Is there, perhaps, a third way to be? (I know there is)

    For ours can be a path of acceptance sans acceptance - precisely blending both views. It is much the same in the case of a man or woman who, facing an illness, perhaps some cancer, accepts the condition fully - yet fights the good fight for a cure. We need not feel anger within at the natural state which is the disease, we can accept within that all life is impermanent and that death and sickness are just the reality ... but still we might search for the healing medicine, struggling without for health and life. We can know that within and without are not two.

    War, fire, flood, death and disease, humanity and nature's most horrible turns can all be observed dispassionately and from an unshakable inner peace, fully accepted ... all while we choose to resist what we can, to extend comfort and compassion as we can, to make the world better when and where we can.
    Doog wrote ...

    Would Hitler control the world? Would we ever find cures for disease? .....For instance, many zen practitioners are involved in social action, peacemaking, environmental activism -- basically trying to change the world as it is rather than accept it as it is.

    This is a contradiction.
    It is a contradiction, but in our Zen way ... no contradiction at all, all contradictions resolved! We can embrace Hitler or the disease, we can drop all resistance to each ... they are what they are (they are just us too, when seen as our own reflection) ... yet not embrace them and strongly resist. We can accept even while not accepting, drop all resistance even as we resist (yes, it is a kind of schizophrenic viewpoint ... but a very healthy kind of schizophrenia :? :cry: )

    Aren't 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment', 'unease' and 'frustration' necessary for social change?
    I see nothing wrong with experiencing appropriate dissatisfaction' 'disappointment' and 'frustration', sadness, when one encounters some tragedy in life ... whether in one's own life, or in the newspaper to our fellow beings. We seek not to fall into excesses of such emotions, not to become prisoners of the emotions ... but there is nothing wrong with feeling such emotions when called for.

    It is the natural human condition to feel such things sometimes, and this practice (at least in the Zen traditions of Buddhism) is not about becoming some robot stripped of all human emotion.

    But what makes our Zen practice very special is that we can experience 'dissatisfaction' without the least 'dissatisfaction', 'disappointment' hand-in-hand with 'contentment', 'unease' without 'unease', and 'frustration' free of any & all frustration ... sadness while knowing a Peace beyond happiness/sadness too ... ALL AT ONCE! :cry: :? :|

    Doog wrote ...

    I'm still having difficulty reconciling the notion that we can accept the world as it is, yet still be able to fight (and sometimes it is a fight) for the world we want to actualize.

    If we accept the weeds in our garden, why would we pull them?
    Please trust me ... we can be one with the weeds (they are what they are, they are just us) ... yet pull them . (You should see the weeds in Treeleaf's garden! :shock: )

    Now that being said ... Chet offered an important reminder of something ...

    I think that here in America, we think of Buddhism as a decidedly 'progressive' religion, but this is not entirely the case..
    There is nothing about Zen Practice, or Buddhism, that means that all people have to suddenly be turned into "Engaged Buddhists" ... let alone social revolutionaries. A lot of Buddhists in the West tend to be people of "progressive" and rather lefty social views (I am one ... I do not hide that, and that is how I interpret many of the Precepts for my own life), so they think that all Buddhists need to be that way to be "good Buddhists".

    Far from it!

    In many countries, "Buddhism" is a very conservative tradition, and I have many good Buddhist friends whose political views are decidedly of a conservative bent. So long they each sincerely believes that they are acting in accord with the Precepts, they are sincere and good Buddhists. The Precepts do not tell us whom to vote for, or exactly how to feel about all social issues. In Asia and in the West, there are conservative Buddhists, liberal Buddhists and radical Buddhists. Since the Precepts fundamentally guide us to seek to avoid harm, and to act in ways healthful and helpful to ourselves and others (not two, by the way), different folks will see the best course differently. In America, I have Democrat Buddhist friends, Green Buddhist Friends, apolitical Buddhist friends and (although admittedly a much smaller number) Republican Buddhist friends, each of whom is acting from what they believe to be the best course for society (there are some things that, I think, do not go with the Precepts in any way ... no "Nazi Buddhists" or "KKK Buddhists" for example ... , but, short of that, Buddhism can fit many sincere political and social beliefs for how to make a good world.) .

    Anyway, I believe so.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Oh, and let me not forget Dave's observation ...

    I really am enjoying the posts. Thank you Jundo for the post about suffering. I recently have found that since I have started doing zazen on a daily basis there seems to be my "self" screaming at me. Maybe its languishing, but sometimes it can be a pit paralyzing when one listens to the teachings and really is confronted by the actual putting them into use. It is very shocking how much resistance one runs up against in your own mind.
    Yes, this practice involves taming the self. Like the bull in the famous pictures. The bullish self often puts up some very passionate and powerful resistance to being wrestled with ...


  33. #33

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Oh, I must agree with Bill.

    doogie wrote:But how many zen Buddhists lead a movement of social reform or political action (or try for a political office.) Achievement has almost become anathema to Buddhists.

    Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, the monks in Burma, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Prison Dharma Network, the Zen Peacemakers and their Zen Houses . . . and many more that I'm sure I'm ignorant of.
    Our practice can lead us to complacency on our Lotus Leaf, contemplating our navel ... or to go out and lead a march, a revolution, or to researching a cure for cancer ...

    It is up to us, and I happen to feel that it better practice when coupled with action & compassion than complacency and navel gazing.

  34. #34

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Deep bow.

    Thank you.

  35. #35

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Let me add add ... that coupling "action" with "stillness" does not mean we all have to go out and lead a revolution or win the Noble Prize ...

    One can practice "stillness in action" by taking care of children or a sick relative, helping someone in our local community with some simple volunteer activities, teaching a class of young minds, fixing a single broken window, just doing our regular job if it is helpful to others.

    It is not always a matter of BIG and SMALL, and all our volitional actions have effects. Each makes a tremendous difference in some way. Even small can be big.

    Gassho, J

  36. #36
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    It is not always a matter of BIG and SMALL, and all our volitional actions have effects. Each makes a tremendous difference in some way. Even small can be big.

    Gassho, J
    Reminded me of this:

    Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.
    Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good. -- Buddha

  37. #37

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    In Zen we look deep. It is not an intellectual experience.

    Zazen is action. Not action in the "TAKE ACTION!!" sense, but in the "do" sense. Dogen said: "This is a practice for those who learn by doing things."

    Gassho

  38. #38

    Re: Dukkha and Shikantaza

    I was looking for a quote from Sueng Shan but can't find it. Here's something from Suzuki Roshi:

    Big mind is something big, in contrast to the small mind. So it is not real big mind. No-mind is actually the great mind. Same thing will be true for our Tassajara institute or Zen Center. Why we have Zen Center is to develop our big mind—so that we can develop our big mind we have Zen Center. So that we can continue to practice our way and develop our way, we have Zen Center. But if you have the idea of Zen Center too much as an organization—institute, that is still [laughs] something wrong with it. This point should be, at the same time, carefully examined. We should know what we are doing here or in the city zendo.

    ....

    Purpose of Buddhism is not to establish Buddha's teaching, Buddha's groups, but to help people. And to help people going their own way. Just because they are not following their own way. So Buddha gives them some warning: "If you do not follow the right path, you will be lost." That is only reason why Buddha left his teaching for human being. So he doesn’t want to pick up anything. Or there is no need to pick up anything if all sentient beings follow right path. But most people or some Buddhist will make big mistake. They try to establish something for sake of Buddhism in its small, narrow sense. Then that is big mistake

    http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber%20Project/ ... cture.html
    We should also be careful, in a practice sense, about criticizing other people or speculate too much. That's part of the acceptance.

    It's not about "me" or "you"; it's about "practice". Too much criticism and speculation can leave us with our head in the clouds, missing the first step.

    Yeah. But...

    W

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