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Thread: What did Dogen do?

  1. #1

    What did Dogen do?

    Hi.

    We're having a bit of an argument on the swedish forum.
    Did dogen say not to study or to practice zen without a good teacher?
    (Who can find the text the fastest? :twisted: )

    (The argument is about whether Dogen encouraged people not practice Buddhism without a good teacher... and I'm stepping in to moderate things a bit before people tear each other apart...)

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  2. #2

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    I've read that Dogen said people shouldn't study Buddhism without a good teacher. That is not to say he advised against doing zazen without a good teacher. I don't have a direct quote or link but I think this makes sense. The theory taught and advice given must be good to avoid confusion, but zazen is just zazen. My take.

    I'd look it up, but I have to go. Good luck!

  3. #3

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    hmmmm . . .

    I agree with DeadBuddha (sorry man don't know your real name).

    In Dogen's day people did not have access to the amount and quality of information we have today, and even now I think it's easy to be misled. So I understand his warnings about finding/picking a good teacher before digging in to the study of the Dharma.

    But Zazen and meditation practice itself is probably the best teacher out there.

    Of course this is coming from a practice challenged guy like myself so don't take my word for it.

  4. #4

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Where could we possibly know to go without a teacher? They are the ones who teach us how to bow, chant, sit, and work.

    This is related to the Bookclub 1-1, 2, 4, 5

    If we rely too much on a teacher's words and don't find out through Shikintaza, then the practice is useless. That 's what a teacher is good for "pointing the way".

    Yes. It can be argued that because we have access to thousands of text today, that a teacher might not be useful. However, that can also become confusion. It's best to study one thing.

    Anyway, Dogen says "sit". Without arguing the point. The teacher is more than just a box of words.

    Yes. Dogen recommended it, but he also wrote the Fukanzazengi.

    Gassho

  5. #5

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Hi,

    This could be the quote you are looking for:

    When you don't meet a right teacher, it is better not to study Buddhism at all.

    Dogen, Gakudo yojinshu, 5. (Quoted in Hee Jin Kim's book Eihei Dogen, Mystical Realist).

    Whether or not it will quiet your forum debate is another question. Good luck!

    gassho,

    JohnH

  6. #6

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    For many years, I did not have a teacher but I still studied Buddhist theory on my own. Am I worse off? I have no doubt it would have been much better having a good teacher. I confused myself quite a bit at times and for long periods of time... learning about "emptiness" is an example that comes to mind (yikes!). I'm sure I made most of the mistakes one does along the way. I would have wasted much less time with a good teacher. However, I am sure that it was a great benefit to do this DYI Buddhism(I am not recommending it!). I did manage to understand some things. I've lived my life according to Buddhist philosophies as best I could and I know that I benefited by this. I was always sure that Buddhism was the right path to follow and I always hung on to that belief.

    Much more recently, I stumbled onto Treeleaf having seen a comment by Jundo on "some other Zen guy"'s blog. I'm really glad I did. I've been able to get a handle on sitting correctly. I find the discussions here are very helpful and it's a really positive atmosphere. I find my past studies on Buddhism have been a great help and that I'm not starting from scratch, so to speak. That's been a very positive affirmation.

    So, I think being your own teacher is to have a poor teacher. But I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to DYI (I am not recommending it!). Personally, I don't believe that any effort is ever wasted. That said, if you can find a teacher get one. If they aren't good (if putting their teachings into practice has poor results), find another. If you can't find a teacher... uhm... welcome to Treeleaf? :lol: It would have been great to have Treeleaf back when I was in college. Hurray for the modern age!

    Cam

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    What they never seem to tell you is that a bad teacher is worse than no teacher.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Greetings,

    I have lived my life with, depending on your definition, no teacher or many teachers. To clarify, I don't have one particular teacher, but go here and there and do quite well. And while I certainly could use the support and encouragement (rather desperately, frankly), there is no end to the lessons to be learned in the words of the old Chan/Zen teachers. Really, it is all there.

    Most of them I only know through books. But these books are very clear. The writings of the medieval Chan buddhists are truly amazing. Also little pearls I have heard and read here and there. One can spend one's life penetrating Jundo's "not two" (and I intend to spend my life doing so).

    What has helped me is the second vow, (delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to cut through them all). This keeps me looking into everything.

    As for what Dogen said, one should do a complete review of the Shobogenzo, because Dogen said different things at different times. But it is building one's house on quicksand to say something is correct because X person said it.

    In regards to any teacher's teaching, it is important to remember that it is only, exactly that particular person's experience and understanding, which will and will not be useful to another person. Even Shakyamuni Buddha's understanding is limited (for example, he had no understanding of what it is to be destitute because he never truly was, he always had the choice to go back to a materially comfortable life, also, there were always people feeding him, clothing him, somebody was providing necessities) however, that does not negate the usefulness of the understanding he did have.

    And to paraphrase Ejo McMullen, Sensei - where is there not teacher?

    gassho,
    Jinho
    who is very grateful for Treeleaf

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    What has helped me is the second vow, (delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to cut through them all). This keeps me looking into everything.
    Yes! Thank you! Without this integrity and self-honesty, there is no hope even with the best of situations and the most enlightened of teachers.

    *gassho*

    Chet

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,905

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Dear all, dear Jinho,

    I really love your...

    To paraphrase Ejo McMullen, Sensei - where is there not teacher?
    To teach is not to paraphrase but to tap into the source. And you do, right there.

    and again,this is so true:

    So I just do my best with everything I encounter.
    I do my worst, question of style. But anyway, you are doing really well.

    This keeps me looking into everything.
    This is an inspiration for EVERYBODY.

    Jinho, Thank you so much.

    No need to penetrate Jundo's not two or to sit in Taigu's hut.

    It is done already. Jinho is Jinho. And it is not f...... poetry, sweetheart.


    To your splendid teaching, may I add this:


    Just sit, bow and leave
    and in this, It will manifest.

    Listen to Jinho... Guys and girls acting like teachers show the way where EVERYTHING is your teacher.


    Taigu

  11. #11

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    (jinho deleted duplicate message)

  12. #12

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Hi All,

    I am going to scream the following because I think it is sooooooooooo important!!!!!!!!!

    BEFORE YOU TAKE A TEACHER, ANALYZE YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPLICIT DEFINITION OF WHAT A TEACHER IS!!!!!!!!! LOOK AT THIS VERY CAREFULLY! THINK, INTIMATELY ABOUT EACH POINT, EACH ASSUMPTION, EACH EXPECTATION! THEN THROW IT ALL OUT! If you hold on to these assumptions and expectations, these delusions will hurt both you and your chosen teacher. They will block your practice. (however, on the other hand, when expectation crashes up against reality, there is a big chance for new understanding............ so ignore the above message............) But more important, it is unethical to burden this teacher-being with your expectations. And don't just think about it, make lists, write essays on what "teacher" is. Dig up every conscious and subconscious idea you have about what a teacher is, will do for you, etc. and get it out on paper so it is right there in your face.

    Ok, enough screaming now...........thank you for listening..........

    If I may lecture a bit more.....please remember, teachers are sentient beings too. They deserve kindness, appreciation, tolerance, support, forgiveness just like everybody else. Nowhere did they promise you they would be perfection. They just do the best they can when they can, which, like all things is never perfect, but sometimes is damn wonderful.

    thank you for your time,
    jinho

  13. #13

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    What they never seem to tell you is that a bad teacher is worse than no teacher.

    Chet
    I think a teacher is only bad if I uncritically accept everything the teacher says (as I understand it). Again the second vow, "delusions are inexhaustible", so everything must be examined. And also, of course, sometimes I have to just try what a teacher-being recommends and see what happens. There are no guarantees.

    But there does very definitely exist this MYTH that teachers are all-knowing, all-seeing, they are , CORRECT and that if they turn out not to be so, they must be EVIL CON ARTISTS! But, of course, the reality is that they do the best they can from their personal, intimate experience and understanding.

    as usual,
    jinho

  14. #14

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    To paraphrase Ejo McMullen, Sensei - where is there not teacher?
    Dear Taigu,

    FYI, the orgininal sentence by Ejo was:

    "Where is there not koan?"

    which is equally beautiful.

    cheers,
    j

  15. #15

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Hi All,

    I am going to scream the following because I think it is sooooooooooo important!!!!!!!!!

    BEFORE YOU TAKE A TEACHER, ANALYZE YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPLICIT DEFINITION OF WHAT A TEACHER IS!!!!!!!!! LOOK AT THIS VERY CAREFULLY! THINK, INTIMATELY ABOUT EACH POINT, EACH ASSUMPTION, EACH EXPECTATION! THEN THROW IT ALL OUT! If you hold on to these assumptions and expectations, these delusions will hurt both you and your chosen teacher. They will block your practice. (however, on the other hand, when expectation crashes up against reality, there is a big chance for new understanding............ so ignore the above message............) But more important, it is unethical to burden this teacher-being with your expectations. And don't just think about it, make lists, write essays on what "teacher" is. Dig up every conscious and subconscious idea you have about what a teacher is, will do for you, etc. and get it out on paper so it is right there in your face.

    Ok, enough screaming now...........thank you for listening..........

    If I may lecture a bit more.....please remember, teachers are sentient beings too. They deserve kindness, appreciation, tolerance, support, forgiveness just like everybody else. Nowhere did they promise you they would be perfection. They just do the best they can when they can, which, like all things is never perfect, but sometimes is damn wonderful.

    thank you for your time,
    jinho
    Hi.

    Just a comment on this teachersubject who apparently hijacked the thread...

    I often get the question "What is a teacher?"

    A teacher is "something that teaches something to something".

    It can be a teacher teaching a student how to read or sit.
    It can be a stone teaching you not to kick it because it will hurt if you do.
    It can be nothing teaching nothing to nothing.
    It can even be me teaching you what a teacher is.
    http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/w ... acher.html

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  16. #16

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadbuddha

    If you can't find a teacher... uhm... welcome to Treeleaf?

    Cam
    Greetings Cam,

    Um, we have two official teachers here (and there is the rest of us). One at least, Jundo, is available for sanzen by phone, webcam, email and in person (if one can travel to Japan). I assume Taigu is also available for sanzen? Is there some other thing missing from this teacher thing?

    rowan/jinho

  17. #17

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Hi,
    ... Whether or not it will quiet your forum debate is another question. Good luck!
    JohnH
    Hi all,

    Fugen simply asked for a quote... The reason I added the above sentence is that the quote (like all quotes) has a context and without reading the context it's difficult to fully understand the meaning.

    I wonder how the Swedish forum debate panned out.

    JohnH

  18. #18

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    I wonder how the Swedish forum debate panned out.
    Hi.

    Still working on that one.
    Will keep you posted.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  19. #19

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    does something need to be learned?

  20. #20

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    does something need to be learned?
    No.

    As depicted in the charlie brown strip where the answer is " i said i taught him to whistle, not that he learned".
    (strip coming up... if no one gets there first...)

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  21. #21

    Re: What did Dogen do?

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Hi,
    ... Whether or not it will quiet your forum debate is another question. Good luck!
    JohnH
    Hi all,

    Fugen simply asked for a quote... The reason I added the above sentence is that the quote (like all quotes) has a context and without reading the context it's difficult to fully understand the meaning.

    I wonder how the Swedish forum debate panned out.

    JohnH
    Hi.

    The matter was more or less resolved, then the trolls took over (somewhat)...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

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