Results 1 to 45 of 45

Thread: the will to study and listen

  1. #1

    the will to study and listen

    An interesting post from Ron as a reaction to Jundo's video about sewing raised an interesting issue.
    Ron writes the following:

    Aren't we doing 'our own little thingy' here? If the form can make you live the essence, fine. But let's not mistake anachronistic Japanese practices for the heart of our zen/religious way.
    After another 25 years of chewing, have come to see that sewing a rakusu in itself has little to do with purity or impurity of practice. One is not better than the other. I do see the danger of it becoming an incrowd thing, or the new clothes of the emperor rather than the Buddha's robes, mistaking the form for the essence. For me, playing soccer with my kids is a thousand times more important.
    Well, in our tradition, form and essence cannot be separated. The problem comes from this arrogant space that would think soccer is good Dharma practice and that we can ditch everything and do it our way. Soccer is soccer and Zen is Zen. Beginners, even after 30 years of pratice, should reflect and develop an humble mind. What we teach here is what we teach, not an ersatz of the real thing, but the real thing itself. It is not to be confused with New Age vibes, made up and redesigned practice. If you boil Zen to the bare bones, you end up with zazen and kesa. Whether people like it or not, it is the way it is. Everybody joining here is invited to sit and study and sew. Not willing to do so is fine, but it's a very different ball game.

    gassho

    Taigu

  2. #2
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio Area (Northern Kentucky)
    Posts
    1,623

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Not this Ron by the way.

    Ron (the other)

  3. #3

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hi to all the Rons,

    I echo what Taigu said. The following is my usual response on this subject ...

    This practice is not limited to any place or time ... we drop all thought of place and time. It certainly is not Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French or American. But, of course, we live in place and time, so as Buddhism traveled over the centuries from India to China, Japan, Korea etc. it naturally became very Indian/Chinese/Japanese?Korean etc.

    But what of the cultural trappings?

    Must we bow, ring bells, chant (in Japanese, no less), wear traditional robes, have Buddha Statues, burn incense? ... All that stuff besides Zazen. Are they necessary to our Practice?


    No, not at all!


    We don't need anything other than Zazen, any of those trappings. In fact, they are no big deal, of no importance, when we drop all viewpoints in sitting Zazen.

    On the other hand, we have to do something, to greet each other somehow, read some words, dress some way. Why not do such things? As I often say, for example, we have to do something with our hands when practicing walking Zazen ... why not hold them in Shashu (I mean, better than sticking 'em in your pockets)?

    viewtopic.php?p=24626#p24626

    As well, there are parts of our practice which we do BECAUSE we resist (for example, when visiting a temple for Retreat, I usually put my heart fully into ceremonies and arcane rituals BECAUSE I resist and think some of it silly or old fashioned). Ask yourself where that kind of resistance is to be found (here's a clue, and it is right behind your own eyes).

    What is more, there is method to the madness, and many (not all) customs have centuries of time tested benefits ... embody subtle perspectives ... that support and nurture Zazen Practice at the core. Many parts of our Practice, though "exotic", are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, rigid decorum in the Zen Hall and, yes, weird talks about Koans all fit in that category. They may seem like unnecessary "Japanese" or "Esoteric" elements at first, until you understand the role they serve. I have given talks on all these things recently, for example ...

    Bowing ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/arch ... owing.html

    Many aspects of tradition can be seen in new ways when the barriers of the mind are knocked down. Thus, for example, the Kesa, the Buddha's Robes ... though just cloth ... can be seen to cover and enfold the whole universe, laughter, cries of pain, old age, becoming and fading away ... life ...

    On the other hand again, it is okay to abandon or reject many practices. However, KNOW very well what you are rejecting before you reject it. For example, I wrote this to someone awhile back about which of the "Japanese trappings" are worth keeping and which can be discarded. I wrote him:

    Absorb what is useful and discard the rest. For example, I think Oryoki [formal meal ritual] is a great practice, and worth keeping.. Same for bowing.

    Some things I keep out of respect for TRADITION [the robes, the ways of doing some ceremonies]. It is important to keep ties to where we come from. Some things also have a special symbolic meaning if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu]

    But other stuff, no need to keep: For example, I usually avoid to chant in Japanese or Chinese [except once in awhile, out of respect for tradition]. Tatami mats and Paper screens have nothing to do with Zen practice particularly [but I happen to live in an old Japanese building, so ... well, tatami and paper screens!} Some things I think are just dumb (except symbolically), like the Kyosaku stick. Incense is great, until it was recently shown to cause cancer. Many beliefs of Buddhism are rather superstitious things that were picked up here and there. I abandon many of those.
    The outer wrap of Zen Buddhism is changing greatly as it moves West. The greater emphasis on lay practice over monastics, the greater democracy in what was a feudal institution (arising in societies where the teacher's word was law ... oh, those were the days! :wink: ), giving the boot to a lot of magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum, the equal place of women ... heck, the use of the internet to bring teachings that were once the preserve of an elite few into everyone's living room.Those are good and great changes to the outer wrapping (you can read about them in books like this one (author interview here: http://atheism.about.com/library/books/ ... anChat.htm ). The coreless core, however, remains unchanged.

    Do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Many completely "Japanese" practices which seem silly at first are worth keeping. ...

    ... other things, like some of the arcane incense, bell & drum filled rituals, take them or leave them.

    Gassho (an Asian custom), Jundo (a Dharma name)

  4. #4

    Re: the will to study and listen

    One day Dogen instructed:

    Many people in this world would say: " I hear the words of the teacher, but they do not agree with what I think." This view is mistaken. I do not know what is in their minds. Can they be thinking that the principles of the sacred teachings are wrong because they do not agree with what they themselves imagine? This is sheer idiocy. Or are the words spoken by the teacher unsuited to their own minds? If so, why do they ask the teacher in the first place?
    Dogen may have been a little more harsh than I would have, but there it is. We come to our teachers to be taught, and it should be with great respect and reverence that we accept what has been handed down from the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. That does not mean we need to accept everything the roshi says as scripture, and we should always educate ourselves enough to be able to tell where the Dharma ends and the roshi's personal opinion begins. But that is why we try to choose teachers who are steeped in the Way to the point that their personal opinions echo the Dharma, no oppose it.

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,690

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    Not this Ron by the way.

    Ron (the other)
    Thank you for posting this clarification as it didn't sound like you, but of course we are all entitled to change our opinions!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  6. #6

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hi, and thank you for bringing this up, and Jundo for bringing light in the matter.

    To be truly honest, with you and the sangha, I for one feel some resistance in participating with the sewing of the rakusu, and also with the chanting part of the zazenkai, (I usually sit and listen), I donīt feel comfortable with doing it myself. On the other hand (besides zazen and kinhin) I like the gentle bows, reading books, ringing bells etc. itīs all a beautiful part of the whole practice. I have not tried oryoki, but I would like to. These are ways to extend the practice of zazen to be part of all of oneīs life.

    BUT I will humbly look for deepening my understanding about the rakusu, and consider to participate in the sewing. Your post Jundo, really gave me a new shed of light and understanding in the purpose of doing it, thank you.

    And about the chanting, iīm still a bit lost there... . I (my mind) would still prefer simply reading texts, reflecting upon them as part of the sittings. Any advice would be appreciated.

    An honest gassho, Janne

  7. #7
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio Area (Northern Kentucky)
    Posts
    1,623

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne H
    Hi, and thank you for bringing this up, and Jundo for bringing light in the matter.

    To be truly honest, with you and the sangha, I for one feel some resistance in participating with the sewing of the rakusu, and also with the chanting part of the zazenkai, (I usually sit and listen), I donīt feel comfortable with doing it myself. On the other hand (besides zazen and kinhin) I like the gentle bows, reading books, ringing bells etc. itīs all a beautiful part of the whole practice. I have not tried oryoki, but I would like to. These are ways to extend the practice of zazen to be part of all of oneīs life.

    BUT I will humbly look for deepening my understanding about the rakusu, and consider to participate in the sewing. Your post Jundo, really gave me a new shed of light and understanding in the purpose of doing it, thank you.

    And about the chanting, iīm still a bit lost there... . I (my mind) would still prefer simply reading texts, reflecting upon them as part of the sittings. Any advice would be appreciated.

    An honest gassho, Janne
    I have a hard time with the chanting as well. It seems so weird when you are doing it by yourself in front of the computer. I usually do it anyway and what was really helpful, was doing it with other people. I know it seems like the opposite would be true but when you aren't doing it alone, it is really something else. Don't worry about getting it wrong or screwing up, that's all part of it. Besides, if you are paying attention, you'll notice that you're not the only one messing up and it still comes out sounding pretty impressive.

    Ron

  8. #8

    Re: the will to study and listen

    If you boil Zen to the bare bones, you end up with zazen and kesa. Whether people like it or not, it is the way it is.

    I still feel strongly that if you boil it further, Zazen is sufficient.

  9. #9

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Jundo mentions something about resistance, and I think he is right. Why should we resist doing something like sewing? or bowing? or chanting? ....If we resist it is it not a great teaching to do it?...and try to drop the judgments that separate us from the pure activity, I mean that is our effort...is it not?

  10. #10

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by nadia_estm
    Jundo mentions something about resistance, and I think he is right. Why should we resist doing something like sewing? or bowing? or chanting? ....If we resist it is it not a great teaching to do it?...and try to drop the judgments that separate us from the pure activity, I mean that is our effort...is it not?

    Well, that's the thing I'm getting at. I have no resistance whatsoever to sewing or wearing a Rakusu or full Kesa. What I'm resisting is the idea that either is somehow essential.

  11. #11

    Re: the will to study and listen

    This thread I have found incrediably useful.

    A big thanks and deep Gassho ("an asian custom" :lol: ) to all who have posted.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,690

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Well, that's the thing I'm getting at. I have no resistance whatsoever to sewing or wearing a Rakusu or full Kesa. What I'm resisting is the idea that either is somehow essential.
    So, stop resisting. Embrace it fully, then reject it if you so choose. But truly, wholly, and fully embrace it. Then we'll talk.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    513

    Re: the will to study and listen

    My apologies to all the free-thinkers and egalitarians of the world, but when one enters a school one ascribes to and adheres to its rules or if one disagrees with those rules finds another school which one feels better being in. If I enrolled at a state college and told the dean of my department that I didn't think any of the electives and only some of the required courses were germaine to me I think I would be invited to find another department or another college. Why do we think it is okay to cafeteria shop the spiritual school?

    If we come into a school that has a teacher and ask to be taught...then we ought to open ourselves to be taught. I could only believe that in such a situation the teacher is there and is the teacher because he or she knows more than me. I don't understand the challenging of what is being taught that has been going on here lately. I know it is part if our Western independent thinking, but since we are treading in a different idiom here shouldn't we at least attempt to follow its rules first before dismissing it as hooey.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  14. #14

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Nice one Kyrill.
    Gassho

    Joe

  15. #15

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hellos to all posting here

    Please forgive me, I have just hopped, skipped and jumped reading through.
    I have not studied each person's comment with thoroughness.
    I have a few thoughts regarding the 'theme' of this thread as it resonates with my own understanding: someone correct me please if I have got things wrong:

    the kesa as sewn by the ancestors wasn't something worn for sitting, it was their clothing, period.
    They didn't go to the store to buy the fabric, the fabric was garnered from rags no one would see fit to use for anything.

    We don't even begin to make the kesa worn by ancestors.

    However, the time put in, the labor with one's own hands, the zazen following off the cushion and the practice of zazen now continued while sewing: philsophy in action

    I now wear my efforts (or someone else's efforts if I buy or am given a rakusu made by someone else), I wear
    my weariness, my perserverance, I wear my mistakes, I wear my satisfaction, my hours spent with myself and these pieces I put together like a puzzle
    The rakusu is not only a miniature of the kesa, it is a miniature of me, of my whole life: how I approach sewing the rakusu/the kesa is how I approach anything and everything I have never done before:

    This is no small thing, this small thing.

    As far as what to keep and what to let fall away, well that's a perennial issue.
    Maybe rakusu eventually will fall away, human life itself may eventually fall away
    The sun, I understand, will burn out, but until then it shines and shines and continuously shines while we spin in space, experiencing darkness and light.

    Even if you have only seen a picture of someone wearing a rakusu and you don't even know what that thing is around that person's neck: you have seen the rakusu 'shine.'

    I understand at one zen center, where kitchen duty would be served by different people, (and when doing kitchen work as in going to the bathroom, the rakusu is hung up so as not to become soiled); well there were folks who would steal them--take those rakusus!

    Sanghas offer opportunities for all kinds of teaching and all kinds of learning....such as not being attached to one's sewing.


    But back to what to keep, what to shelve or throw away: it's a teacher's job, and it is never ending.
    If you study under a teacher, it is true: you learn it their way. After you master their way and they say you 'got it' you can then do it your way.

    Teachers can get up and open a window or shut a door during zazen: students do not do these things.
    A teacher may open a window because it is hot, but a teacher may have another reason: to let the sounds of birds or the water fountain in.
    A teacher may shut a door not to shut out the sound of traffic outside, but for students sitting to experience the change: just like chatter in the mind: chatter gone: quiet there, always there, ever there.

    A teacher may add chants, subtract chants, keep three, keep only one.
    A teacher may do chants in only one language, in two languages: do a chant in Japanese and then in English in succession.
    A teacher may have tatami mats, may have tan (raised platforms) for sitting, but most places I have sat do not have tatami mats or tan.

    I remember a story about a woman who would do what her mother had done: she would take a roast and cut a piece from each end before baking it. Her mother came to visit and saw her doing this and asked 'why are you cutting off the ends?' Daughter said: 'That's the way I've always seen you prepare it!' Mom said 'I used to trim the ends because my pot was too small for the roast.'

    Tradition has layers beyond 'just because.'

    'Just because' isn't much of a tradition; however 'just because' can keep a tradition which has lost itself around long enough sometimes to find itself again.
    It's all good practice: observing the self hating the stupid chant; observing the self loving the beauty of the chant; observing the self wanting things to be different; or wanting things to stay the same.


    My grandmother would set her breakfast table before she went to sleep. The plates, the cups and saucers, the spoons and napkins. She put butter out on a plate and covered it.
    This was her beautiful ritual, her tradition; I have not made it mine, but because I experienced her ritual, her tradition: because I experienced that butter left out to soften overnight; I intimately know that tradition's impact on fresh toast.
    I do not consider my grandmother's actions as any different from a zen priest's bowing and lighting incense as gongs are rung at precise points during a chant.

    (and I didn't necessarily 'like' this business of setting everything out at night--my grandmother attended to each step with thoroughness of each action--I was tired and bored and wanted to go to bed) (and similarly a priest has moved about the butsudan taking their kneeling cloth from their arm and setting it correctly for full bows--attending fully to throughness of each action--and I have been tired and bored and want to be finished with the service so I can leave the zendo!)

    likes and dislikes having nothing to do with traditions (obviously)

    so, thank you all for your patience with my mind's meandering

  16. #16

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hi Keishin,

    These are viewpoints, ways to look at these things. Thanks for sharing yours through your thoughts and values.

    Gassho, Jundo

  17. #17
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    My apologies to all the free-thinkers and egalitarians of the world, but when one enters a school one ascribes to and adheres to its rules or if one disagrees with those rules finds another school which one feels better being in. If I enrolled at a state college and told the dean of my department that I didn't think any of the electives and only some of the required courses were germaine to me I think I would be invited to find another department or another college. Why do we think it is okay to cafeteria shop the spiritual school?

    If we come into a school that has a teacher and ask to be taught...then we ought to open ourselves to be taught. I could only believe that in such a situation the teacher is there and is the teacher because he or she knows more than me. I don't understand the challenging of what is being taught that has been going on here lately. I know it is part if our Western indepent thinking, but since we are treading in a different idiom here shouldn't we at least attempt to follow its rules first before dismissing it as hooey.
    Seishin,

    Those of us that challenge and question are not refusing to be taught, we are asking to be taught. There are different learning styles...

    One of my favorite things to do with friends is get into a vigorous debate, for each of us to defend our positions fiercely, but listen and respond to the points one another is making. I almost always leave such debates with a transformed perspective, sometimes an entire change of opinion. And a friendly feeling, and shared sense of enjoyment from the experience. Of course, not all friends are good candidates for this practice :wink:

    I am not a passive learner; if I want to learn, I will ask questions, I will argue, I will pick at things, I will point out contradictions, I will look for the hidden lies. Not because I intend to reject or completely tear apart what I am learning, but because I want to see how it stands up. If it stands up to my "attack," it is worthy. Similar with teachers; I respect and grow to like teachers that can handle a challenge. I have a lot more respect, trust, and affinity for Jundo because we have clashed and sorted it out.

    It's sort of like wanting to learn a martial art, and respecting and wanting to learn from a teacher that thoroughly beat you in a fight. If I go into a zendo and up to a teacher and she or he cannot withstand my questions, my challenges, or make a place for my rough edges, I know it is not a place I can learn. Especially since Zen is a study of all of life. This isn't a hobby that need only fit into one protected corner of life.

    I am willing to learn from anyone who can teach me, and the way I learn is by asking questions, including difficult questions, honestly, as they arise for me. If I am in an environment where certain things cannot be said to certain people, certain things never questioned... to me, that is a stagnant environment where true learning cannot happen.

    Stephanie

  18. #18

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Buddha said (paraphrasing) believe nothing that you have not tested and proved to be true for yourself....that being said he wholeheartedly threw himself into every practice he did. He lived as a rich person thoroughly, he was a thorough ascetic and only when he lived this way, fully lived did he see it was not right for his questions....I think that is a big point, never stop questioning, or challenging, but neither dismiss something until you have really tested itīs full value. Also knowing that questions can be answered in more ways than one. i see it in the koans....a student questions, a teacher answers, and the answer seems kinda crazy, the student does not get it until he makes it his own, and lives the koan.....maybe some traditions are like koans, not to be understood in their full value until fully lived

  19. #19
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: the will to study and listen

    One of the best, if not the very best, lessons I have learned from Buddhism practice here at Treeleaf is to lean into whatever it is in this practice that is being resisted. There is something important on the other side of that resistance, I have found, something worthwhile, something so very valuable yet in an incalculable way. There is nothing wrong with resistance, I don't think, unless you let it keep you from finding that valuable lesson it provides an opportunity to learn. In other words, I think the only thing wrong with resistance is giving in to it. Don't let resistance to what is on this Path keep you from progressing on this Path.

    Words will never suffice for why you sew a rakusu or chant or do oryoki or whatever. The only thing that will really explain that "why" is the experience of doing it. Each person needs to find that "why" in their own life. And the answer/experience may not come right away, so be patient with the (non)task and yourself and your teachers and the world as it supports you in the act of discovery.

    Deep bows (which I used to find really silly, but I "get" them now in a really profound way)

  20. #20

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Isn't it arrogant to say that sewing is necessary. It may be part of one tradition, but its an activity just like any other. Sure, if you follow Taigu's tradition, then using sewing as a tool is a skilful means and you should follow that for the lessons it will teach...but is it the bare bones of Zen? No!
    In fact as Zen is purely about awakening then whatever skilful means that are used are as valid as any other. Your relationship to the skilful means used in the tradition you choose to follow are whats important...is your "I" fighting and resisting or whatever else?
    People have awakened in other traditions than Zen too..or no tradition at all.
    I think we should hold lightly these opinions and not fall into arrogance of having one true way. We follow Zen because of its skilful means, we shouldn't mistake it for a thing to be solidified, neither should we disrespect its methods or the different methods of its schools.
    Rich

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

    Re: the will to study and listen

    I've been thinking about this some more. The original post talked about playing soccer with his kids being much more important than sewing a rakusu, or other Buddhist activities, if I got that right. Part of this practice is dropping ideas of more and less and to find the value in all the activities we do. So that is fine if soccer with your kids is so valuable, but there can also be great, yet different, value in things like sewing a rakusu, etc. Just because one feels more valuable should not mean that there is no value to be found in that which is resisted.

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    513

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Thanks Stephanie, I get a better understanding of how you approach things now. Personally I don't mind a spirited conversation, but " vigorous...fierce debate" would just not be my cup of chai. In those situations I am usually the reed that bends and blows before the wind, remaining unbruised and unbroken. My way is more a way of the heart, but I can certainly understand an intellectual argumentative approach. Some folks have to have those juices flowing, enlivening their intellects; I never have and so it sometimes confuses me when I see or hear people doing that. It makes be think they are unhappy or angry. It really does get confusing from this side of the aisle; but I do understand what you are saying about how you approach things. Thank you for graciously explaining it .

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  23. #23
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    488

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Seishin, I echo your views exactly.

    It is very difficult and uncomfortable for me to watch/experience the process of "rough edges" manifesting and horns locking in order to be sorted out. I know that's my own personal issue but it doesn't go away easily. I feel like learning can take place without locking horns, but again, it's just me. I acknowledge I am delicate.

    I'm not trying to pick on anyone specifically when I say that. I am just indicating an effect that can be brought about. Ideally, there is a way to honour both the rough edges and the delicateness. Lessons...

    gassho to everyone, it's an informative thread for me.

    Julia, trying to lurk a little less.

  24. #24

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    My apologies to all the free-thinkers and egalitarians of the world, but when one enters a school one ascribes to and adheres to its rules or if one disagrees with those rules finds another school which one feels better being in
    So true Seishin! But it seems very difficult for us, so difficult in our daily lives where we have the habit to choose and question everything!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    One of my favorite things to do with friends is get into a vigorous debate, for each of us to defend our positions fiercely, but listen and respond to the points one another is making
    And that is one of the things I really like about you! Even if sometimes it is difficult :lol:

    Thanks to both of you!

    gassho,
    Jinyu

  25. #25

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by nadia_estm
    Buddha said (paraphrasing) believe nothing that you have not tested and proved to be true for yourself....that being said he wholeheartedly threw himself into every practice he did. He lived as a rich person thoroughly, he was a thorough ascetic and only when he lived this way, fully lived did he see it was not right for his questions....I think that is a big point, never stop questioning, or challenging, but neither dismiss something until you have really tested itīs full value. Also knowing that questions can be answered in more ways than one. i see it in the koans....a student questions, a teacher answers, and the answer seems kinda crazy, the student does not get it until he makes it his own, and lives the koan.....maybe some traditions are like koans, not to be understood in their full value until fully lived
    Thank you Nadia! This bell is still ringing. Gassho zak

  26. #26

    Re: the will to study and listen

    I have been reading this thread very carefully, and thank you all for your comments.

    I feel that Kyrillos is right. If you come to a school that no one forces you into, you have to follow the teachings of that school, or at least honestly try. If you find that you cannot, and the teachers insist it is essential you do (instead of telling you it does not matter), you should not remain there, as it would not be honest and respectful.

    Unfortunately for me, while I can understand the value of making a thing mindfully with your own hands, and especially making something that has a tradition behind it, and probably might be interested to try that in the long run too, the idea itself that a kesa is an essential part of practice the same way as zazen is an essential part is an idea that I cannot in honesty and respect accept.

    There is a local live group I can consider "mine" that does not think robes essential nor does seem very interested in claiming they know what is essential beyond zazen. I think, emotionally, I am switching over there now, after some consideration, for as much as I need a sangha (though currently to be honest I simply need a better zazen routine :P). Call it cafeteria shopping or whatever, but that's what I feel is the right thing for me to do.

    I hope you will not mind me lurking and occasionally taking part in debates, despite all this. I am very new to this and I would still like to hear varying viewpoints.

    J

  27. #27

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaana
    I have been reading this thread very carefully, and thank you all for your comments.

    I feel that Kyrillos is right. If you come to a school that no one forces you into, you have to follow the teachings of that school, or at least honestly try. If you find that you cannot, and the teachers insist it is essential you do (instead of telling you it does not matter), you should not remain there, as it would not be honest and respectful.

    Unfortunately for me, while I can understand the value of making a thing mindfully with your own hands, and especially making something that has a tradition behind it, and probably might be interested to try that in the long run too, the idea itself that a kesa is an essential part of practice the same way as zazen is an essential part is an idea that I cannot in honesty and respect accept.

    There is a local live group I can consider "mine" that does not think robes essential nor does seem very interested in claiming they know what is essential beyond zazen. I think, emotionally, I am switching over there now, after some consideration, for as much as I need a sangha (though currently to be honest I simply need a better zazen routine :P). Call it cafeteria shopping or whatever, but that's what I feel is the right thing for me to do.

    I hope you will not mind me lurking and occasionally taking part in debates, despite all this. I am very new to this and I would still like to hear varying viewpoints.

    J
    Hi Jaana,

    Sit there, sit here ... ultimately no here or there. Sit at both and all. Just sit.

    Wear a Kesa, don't wear a Kesa ... ultimately nothing not covered by the Kesa.

    Gassho, J

  28. #28

    Re: the will to study and listen

    I find when I am resisting something, there is a rigidity in my thinking that I need to deal with.

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,049
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Thank you for this sharing of insights and experiences; if I may, I'd like to add mine in hope that I don't bore you all:

    My introduction to Zen Buddhism was in a Japanese Temple. It was all very fascinating but awkward; difficult to make those three deep bows, to enter with the right(proper) unshod foot, to hold hands a certain way, to sit with legs cramped (it was the only way, there were no chairs) in an unheated building , to be still for such a long period, to listen to the droning voice of the priest go on and on in a foreign language, :? to join in the chanting of such unintelligible verse. And yet, it moves one to the core; the warm delicious feeling of finally belonging, the acceptance of your fellow beings, the sights and smells that well up memories from so many eons before. i am left with so many Japanese friends that I have never communicated with verbally. And yet, we HAVE communicated. If you postpone judgement and be patient in the research, every thing is fascinating and the awkwardness falls away. The only way I know how to chant is in Japanese (although I had adored Gregorian Chants for many years); my bows and mudras are instinctive; they give meaning to my relationship with the universe.
    I wrote a poem a few years back that I think fits here:

    Beauty abounds

    It is the acceptance of goodness over the rejection of evil
    It is the quality that stirs or comforts the soul
    It is the soulful song of a lone wolf or the piercing cry of an eagle
    It is the radiance of a sunrise or the tranquility of a rainbow
    It is the gracefulness of balance or the irony of buffoonery
    It is the softness of a kitten or the ruggedness of a mountain path
    It is the stillness of a meadow pond or the clamour of a babbling brook
    It is the sweetness of honey or the tartness of a berry
    It is the mellowness of sweetgrass or the acrid aroma of vinegar
    It is a love of this planet; it is the zest for living
    If one reserves judgement beauty happens everywhere

    gassho,

  30. #30
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,049
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: the will to study and listen

    And now for something on a slightly lighter side:
    or should i say, "Shall we end this meeting on a high note!" :roll:
    http://j.mp/8XeVLs

  31. #31

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Thank you richard, for the insightful post, the poem and of course the cartoon.

    Gassho

    Joe

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,049
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Thanks Joe, I trust you feel enlightened

    gassho, Richard

  33. #33

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by richard409
    Thank you for this sharing of insights and experiences; if I may, I'd like to add mine in hope that I don't bore you all:

    My introduction to Zen Buddhism was in a Japanese Temple. It was all very fascinating but awkward; difficult to make those three deep bows, to enter with the right(proper) unshod foot, to hold hands a certain way, to sit with legs cramped (it was the only way, there were no chairs) in an unheated building , to be still for such a long period, to listen to the droning voice of the priest go on and on in a foreign language, :? to join in the chanting of such unintelligible verse. And yet, it moves one to the core; the warm delicious feeling of finally belonging, the acceptance of your fellow beings, the sights and smells that well up memories from so many eons before. i am left with so many Japanese friends that I have never communicated with verbally. And yet, we HAVE communicated. If you postpone judgement and be patient in the research, every thing is fascinating and the awkwardness falls away. The only way I know how to chant is in Japanese (although I had adored Gregorian Chants for many years); my bows and mudras are instinctive; they give meaning to my relationship with the universe.
    I wrote a poem a few years back that I think fits here:

    Beauty abounds

    It is the acceptance of goodness over the rejection of evil
    It is the quality that stirs or comforts the soul
    It is the soulful song of a lone wolf or the piercing cry of an eagle
    It is the radiance of a sunrise or the tranquility of a rainbow
    It is the gracefulness of balance or the irony of buffoonery
    It is the softness of a kitten or the ruggedness of a mountain path
    It is the stillness of a meadow pond or the clamour of a babbling brook
    It is the sweetness of honey or the tartness of a berry
    It is the mellowness of sweetgrass or the acrid aroma of vinegar
    It is a love of this planet; it is the zest for living
    If one reserves judgement beauty happens everywhere

    gassho,
    Richard,
    I never knew boredom could be such a gem. Thank you very much for sharing it. Gassho zak

  34. #34

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sit there, sit here ... ultimately no here or there. Sit at both and all. Just sit.
    That, I can buy.

    I am not personally convinced by the "do that which you resist" argument here, though. I get the point that sometimes we need to explore the directions that do not seem immediately appealing, to overcome certain personal limitations and rigidities in thinking, and I think that it is occasionally good to do things in a way other than the one that immediately suggests itself and feels appealing.

    However, as a basis for accepting a religious or philosophical or moral concept, I don't think it works. If I chose my religion based on what I resist most, I'd be a fundamentalist Christian... :shock: :twisted:

  35. #35

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaana
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sit there, sit here ... ultimately no here or there. Sit at both and all. Just sit.
    That, I can buy.

    I am not personally convinced by the "do that which you resist" argument here, though. I get the point that sometimes we need to explore the directions that do not seem immediately appealing, to overcome certain personal limitations and rigidities in thinking, and I think that it is occasionally good to do things in a way other than the one that immediately suggests itself and feels appealing.

    However, as a basis for accepting a religious or philosophical or moral concept, I don't think it works. If I chose my religion based on what I resist most, I'd be a fundamentalist Christian... :shock: :twisted:
    It is just that there is a vital element of this practice of dropping "likes and dislikes", dropping the self's constant "aversions and attractions". In order to do that, it is important to throw ourselves wholeheartedly sometimes (not all the time) into activities we resist, do not like, which repel us ... all while dropping that resistance and such. In a monastery, there are many activities for the Buddhist priests which more would rather not be doing ... from getting up at 4am on a cold morning to pulling weeds.

    It's Practice.

    Do that, and one has a somewhat different experience of life the next time it pulls you out of your sleep or tosses weeds at ya.

    I did not mean that one had to lead one's whole life doing things one finds ugly or wrong, holding religious or political views in which one does not believe.

    Gassho, J

  36. #36

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It is just that there is a vital element of this practice of dropping "likes and dislikes", dropping the self's constant "aversions and attractions". In order to do that, it is important to throw ourselves wholeheartedly sometimes (not all the time) into activities we resist, do not like, which repel us ... all while dropping that resistance and such. In a monastery, there are many activities for the Buddhist priests which more would rather not be doing ... from getting up at 4am on a cold morning to pulling weeds.

    It's Practice.
    I understand this and I tend to agree. It might be a good idea to sew a kesa (or get up early or pull weeds) as part of practice because you think it is boring, or stupid, or unpleasant, or waste of time, or whatever. For myself, I detest sitting when tired, or sleep deprived, but I still try and do it if my current routine says to. Because sitting only when I feel like it would be sort of contrary to the point of "just sitting", no?

    However, I think that this is different from "you should accept that sewing a kesa is essential, because it is important that you do things that you resist". I do not believe that the sewing is any more essential than getting up at 4 or pulling weeds. They can all be seen as essential or non-essential or you can just drop the whole distinction between the two.

    I accept that it might be good practice to sew. Maybe I will one day. I accept that things we experience as unpleasant are part of life, and I try to not resist them more than comes naturally (that is to say, I also try to not resist the resisting, if you see what I mean ).

    But I do not believe that sewing a particular garment is the one activity (as opposed to pulling weeds or getting up at 4 AM) that is necessary in addition to the sitting itself, and I do not think trying to convince me to think so by appealing to the fact that we should do that which we resist makes much sense.

    No offense meant. If it works for you, it works for you. It is just not something I can in all honesty subscribe to, and I feel it would be wrong of me to pretend that I do.

  37. #37

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaana
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sit there, sit here ... ultimately no here or there. Sit at both and all. Just sit.
    That, I can buy.

    I am not personally convinced by the "do that which you resist" argument here, though. I get the point that sometimes we need to explore the directions that do not seem immediately appealing, to overcome certain personal limitations and rigidities in thinking, and I think that it is occasionally good to do things in a way other than the one that immediately suggests itself and feels appealing.

    However, as a basis for accepting a religious or philosophical or moral concept, I don't think it works. If I chose my religion based on what I resist most, I'd be a fundamentalist Christian... :shock: :twisted:
    Oh this is religous fundamentalism !

    All they need is bumper stickers that say BUDDHA SAYS IT I BELIEVE IT AND THAT SETTLES IT

    So sit down shut up and sew your kesa.

  38. #38

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Zen. Soccer.
    Soccer. Zen.
    Don't know.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2jhYo3iAGQ[/video]]

  39. #39

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Keishin and Stephanie.....thanks for your comments.

  40. #40

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hi, folks.

    Some teachers say that the 4 Noble Truths are the essence of Buddhism. Some say compassion is the essence. I was drawn to Zen because it stressed that doing meditation was the essence. Not thinking of rules or philosophies, but doing. Thinking about sewing or wearing the kesa is just that, thinking (in itself a form of doing, but trickier), but doing the rakusu or kesa is a different matter entirely. When the rakusu or kesa is practiced, it is not a thing or an idea (as some of the comments above suggest) but a form of doing that is unique to Zen. That is why I do it. Not to be more "authentic" or Japanese (as if that is possible for a Tennessean). And the more I do this, the more it reveals itself to be the same as sitting. As Jiyu Kennet Roshi stressed, "one cannot split enlightenment."

    It is a bit like Nishijima Roshi's views on the 4 philosophies. We can err by idealizing Zen practices, that is, thinking about them as abstract concepts and philosophies. We can err by taking a materialist approach that says that Zen practices are meaninglessly empty of anything we don't bring to them. We can find a middle path between these that avoids conceptualizing these practices without abandoning them, or at least giving them a fair shake before moving on.

    So, my take is that abandoning something before even doing it is a bit like my kids saying they don't like asparagus before they even taste it. But, if after trying it a while you don't perceive it as being important to your practice, drop it and move on. I would also add that by "fair shake" I mean something a bit more long-term than most people might think. A year is maybe what I'm thinking. What's the hurry anyway?

    Gassho to everyone,
    Eika

    PS--I have to remind myself too that we gain nothing from any of these things and to not evaluate practices by whether or not I get something out of it.

  41. #41
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
    Posts
    220

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Zen. Soccer.
    Soccer. Zen.
    Don't know.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2jhYo3iAGQ[/video]]
    Totally OT, but Nakamura was a free kick monster. Gave Celtic a Cup and all.

  42. #42

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Thank you for your teaching, Eika.

    gassho

    Taigu

  43. #43

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Hello Eika,

    let me thank you for your posting as well.

    Two days ago i was too tired to sit in the evening....however our black cat WAS sitting (not lying) on my blanket....he can surely do Full Lotus if only he wanted do. His living example made me stop my thought trains (too tired...don't want to etc.)...and I just sat down on my zafu and did it.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  44. #44
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Well said, Elka. It made me wonder how many people that dismiss it ever tried it (sewing a rakusu), or how many that have done it then dismissed it. My guess is most that do it find the meaning and value in the process and thus don't dismiss the non-outcome. I know this is true for me. Sometimes you have to BE there to get it, sometimes you have to DO it to get it, or else we end up talking past each other because we come from different experiences. I think I see that in this thread.

  45. #45

    Re: the will to study and listen

    Just giving a little back to all you all who teach me so much all the time.

    Gassho,
    Eika

Similar Threads

  1. For Bendowa study
    By Taigu in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 06-15-2012, 07:10 PM
  2. Meditation study
    By JohnsonCM in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-26-2010, 08:29 AM
  3. Zazen -- Training to Shut up and Listen to the World?
    By Mushin in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-21-2008, 11:55 AM
  4. What music do you listen to?
    By will in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 12-04-2007, 06:08 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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