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Thread: Tradition versus innovation

  1. #1
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Tradition versus innovation

    Incense, robes, bowing, chanting in Japanese: How much of the Japanese Zen tradition should we take on, and how much should we, as ‘Western Buddhists’, leave or redefine?
    Personally, I do not think tradition should be thrown away lightly. It deserves respect. Yet most of us are not, indeed, Japanese. So, our practice will find a new expression, as the Dharma did when it moved from country to country.
    There may be no northern or southern in the Dharma, but each culture does make its mark.
    Any thoughts on balancing tradition with western innovation?
    Deep bows all,
    Soen

  2. #2

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hello friends,

    Speaking as an American, I am unsure that this culture has homogenized enough to allow an establishment of any kind of cultural "tradition;" indeed it seems that the only "tradition" in America is one of tossing out things held dear by the previous generation. Or perhaps I'm a cynic. That's possible as well.

    I think that perhaps right now, it is more important to let the Dharma change us, rather than focusing on changing the Dharma's clothes; there will of course be give and take, communities experimenting with different classifications of practitioners (I've read of one group in California giving "Lay Entrustment"--Transmission for the unordained teacher). We are still, I think, riding the first large wave to sweep over the West; to use a metaphor, the Bhodi Tree needs to take root before we start trimming it!

    This is just my opinion, and not even a fully formed one at that.

    Much metta,

    Perry

  3. #3

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Interesting... earlier tonight I was reading "The Eight Gates of Zen" by the late John Daido Loori, Roshi. In it, he speaks about Zen in the West, particularly in America, and warns about dismissing too much tradition this way: "If this process continues, each successive generation will make further changes or omissions so that slowly even Zen Buddhism will begin to shift into something it was never intended to be, or it will possibly fall apart.
    The danger we face is that we will end up with an ersatz Zen with little or no relationship to its original."
    Keep in mind, he is not opposing change. Certainly the Zen Broought to Japan by Dogen underwent cultural, liturgical and stylistic changes, so to in the West. But the root and core must be maintained, and the traditions we observe help strengthen that continuity. When a tradition is altered, it is a very serious thing, something to be thought and rethought, tried, tested, and changed, and never entered into lightly or for the sake of ease or convenience.
    Change is good, when its good.

  4. #4

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hello,

    my current feeling is that , yes indeed, some changes might need to be made in the future due to cultural differences. However, I am under the general impression that the ratio between "in-depth study and practice" and "desire to change stuff" is not right in most cases of Westerners wanting to see more change NOW. It is one thing to have earned one's Karate 5th Dan black belt and to then come to the conclusion that certain traditional aspects might need to be changed, as opposed to just having passed the 4th Kyu test and then going on to set up a new "True Modern Advanced Karate" school. Which is what I see happening in some Buddhist circles. I could of course be wrong.

    Since I have only started my training as a novice priest, my suggestions and opinions are bound to change in the next couple of years...but right now I feel that in order to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we as practitioners have to make sure that we truly penetrate the core of what is offered for a fair few years, before coming up with even more opinions about how certain things should be. I certainly encounter so many new things about our tradition on a regular basis, that it makes me see my own latest opinions even more as...well... just opinions.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  5. #5
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hi All,

    We have to trade here very carefully. Two traps: turning Japanese (like the AZI in Europe) and throwing away everything in the name of: it is just cultural. My thoughts is that changes should be organic, coming out of practice and not our small or big heads. The study of tradition gives me an insight: kolomo and stuff are not essential to Zen, many of the countless chants can be dropped, ceremonies can be simplified: what cannot be changed is Zazen and kesa, at least in my lineage. And sorry guys, but this is not debatable. Sit with jeans, shorts, whatever. Sing in English or French or Italian. You can even not shave your head. Buddha's sitting and Buddha's kesa cannot be disposed of.

    Very good question Soen. There is room for a large range of styles. The funny thing is that my practice is so unJapanese and I live in Japan whereas guys in Europe are learning complicated rituals and Byzantine-like chants...

    One last thing, and it is not politically correct: I am less and less patient with deaf people, people that only following their thoughts about this and that. Everybody has to practice first, go through the full journey and then do as they like, or rather, do as they think they should do best to serve the Buddha-Dharma. Brad's style, Jundo's style, Glassman's style, Loori's style, this fool's style? ...Practice first. Everything else as Hans says is opinion.

    Final thing, this is my job and responsability to transmit as accuratly and deeply as possible.
    If you want to study the way it is your job too...

    You may now understand that I am not protective of my dirty-sacred rags. I am just doing my job.

    gassho

    Taigu

  6. #6
    Stephanie
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Taigu,

    Could you please clarify what you find indispensable about the kesa, or what about the kesa you find indispensable?

    Are you talking about a deeper symbolic value of the kesa, what it stands for, or the garment itself?

    I admit, in my "4th kyu" novice eyes, the kesa seems little more than a costume. And one that has been abused, because of the power and status that some people take it to symbolize. I find something a bit off-putting when Zen teachers wear the kesa in "naturalistic" settings where their role as teachers is not emphasized, such as shopping or hanging out. I think it does serve a good purpose within a zendo, at a lecture, etc. But I certainly don't see it as secondary to zazen in importance.

    I suppose I am "very traditional" in that I still adhere to the Tripod that, if one leg were to go missing, Buddhism would topple over, and no longer be Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. I see these in more practical terms as Buddhist practice, including zazen, other mind/awareness practices, compassion practices, relationship with a teacher, etc.; study of the Buddhist teachings, including sutras, koans, and "the koans of everyday life,"; and the community, a haven of support, mutual learning, and humility.

    Gassho,

    Stephanie

  7. #7

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hello Stephanie,

    I obviously cannot answer for Taigu, but I personally feel that Soto-Zen in particular intentionally offers a lesser number of means/methods when compared to other Buddhist traditions. Therefore IMHO, the means/methods we do traditionally have (kesa, oryoki...), become naturally invested with more importance. To strip us of even those few we do have, would mean to sacrifice the rigging of the particular sailing ship we're on....for what? Looking at emptiness deeply, we can see how it is precisely forms like the Kesa that express the reality ground as it is.

    Just the mumblings of a novice mind you


    Gassho,

    Hans

  8. #8

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    what cannot be changed is Zazen and kesa, at least in my lineage. And sorry guys, but this is not debatable. Sit with jeans, shorts, whatever. Sing in English or French or Italian. You can even not shave your head. Buddha's sitting and Buddha's kesa cannot be disposed of.

    Sitting is practice. In this sense, everything can be practice, yes? So... I'd have to ask what it is that makes sitting with a kesa superior or even different from sitting in my own clothes? I'm not even debating or arguing, I'm simply asking why it is different. Having heard teachers over the years often say, "more Zazen," I confes that I have never once heard one say, "Lose the jeans." Clothing can be deeply symbolic, it can be iintensely personal, but I think part of the whole point of Buddha putting together clothes made of scraps is apparent. Clothing shouldn't be a focal point, it is merely a covering. I don't think the appearance of that covering matters all that much... and at its hears what we are talking about is that: the appearance of one's clothing. Honoring tradition is fine... but that really is what it is, no?

  9. #9
    Stephanie
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    When I think about aspects of the Zen tradition I revere, though I respect oryoki and the kesa, what I think of is the lineage, the teachings (the koans, the Shobogenzo, the other writings and oral teachings), the student / teacher relationship, and the practice and retreat forms, such as zazenkai and sesshin. By no means do I think that Zen would lose its most vital aspects as a tradition were it to lose oryoki, or even the kesa, at least as far as the physical garment. To the extent the kesa means wearing the teachings, or keeping the teachings close to the skin... yes, I agree that is indispensable.

    Even though the lineage is not fully factual, and reflects certain patriarchal cultural aspects of China and Japan, I think it is a very important innovation of the Dharma's transmission to China. Though imperfect, I think Dharma transmission is a good quality control system, as good as any religion I've seen in determining who should have power to teach. And it is a rich, living history. The recorded stories and sayings of the ancestral teachers keeps their lives and teachings intimate and accessible. I hope Zen never does away with lineage charts or Dharma transmission.

    I also have a deep respect for the unique student/teacher relationship that developed in Zen. I think interviews with teacher(s) are very important, whether conducted traditionally or more casually. There is an intimacy in face-to-face contact with the teacher, and I think that there are elements of Zen that can be learned and experienced no other way.

    I think that the practice forms that have developed over the centuries function very well. Zazen intensives offer a way of engaging the mind that nothing else can mimic. I can easily dispense with kinhin (at home, I replace it with a flow of yoga postures), but the general format of 30 minute periods interspersed with a physical/body meditation practice, works well.

    And if anything is right up there next to zazen for me, it is the body of teachings, written, oral, and lived. It is easy, of course, to get lost in books and intellectual understanding, but without the teachings to point us in the right direction, to show us where and how to look, zazen would have no skeleton, and could easily turn into a relaxation practice, or be misunderstood or confused with other meditation practices. The body of teachings over the centuries elevate the drive to awaken that is at the heart of this practice. Zen without awakening is not Zen.

    In my humble beginner opinion of course :wink:

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    If you wish to undermine and destroy anything that has been established, especially religion, all you need to do is eliminate it's traditions. To say that one is able to continue the practice of religion without the benefits of its traditions is to say that all those practicing are already adepts and no longer have need of the traditions that support their practice. I have seen this first hand, as a result of some of the ill-fated revisions Relgious Orders went through after Vatican II in the Catholic Church. Everyone thought, "Oh boy, we are finally getting rid of all these outdated, meaningless thngs and can get down to the real meat of religious practice". But when they denuded the chuches and chapels, stripped down the praise and worship services, abbreviated the prayer cycles and tore up the religious habits what did they have left; a bunch of guys and gals living in great big houses who found they had very little in common and who also found they didn't like one another very much. So they left...in droves. Convents, abbeys and monasteries closed. Some which had populations of almost 100 now have about 8-12 Septegenarians, with very little prospect or continuation.

    The Orders that are growing are those which renewed their former traditions, especially their common prayer life and adherance to The Rule. Strict "traditional" monasteries are flourishing with young vocations. The aspirants are looking for a place wherein they will experience solid formation in religious and spiritual life and the forms of tradition come to express that these are the places that this is happening.

    I'm a rather "traditional" sort of guy. I went through the purging away of the ornate and opulant and tried to walk my own way, but it was both lonely and rather cold. I returned to the traditional ways for the fellowship, support and warmth of both a community moving in the same direction and a community that stood upon a vast history of those who had been doing the same for generations. Now as "particular practitioner" I have the choice of how and when I practice, how I live within the Rule on my own; but I am still irrevocably connected to the Tradition. I may be seen from the outside by one of my Abbey's novice's as rogue in some things (like my participation and practice in Zen), but he also doesn't see the base that has been built through living in the tradition that helps assure I will not "go round the bend". I think that too often we see the "frre spirit" in our Practice who acts somewhat the Fool and wish to adopt their freedom but without knowing the price they have paid in hard work to have achieved their freedom. We are impatient for the end; unwilling to walk the long road to get there, and so we think dismissing the "traditons" will hasten the end for us. Ha! Don't work that way! It all takes hard, wonderful work and for some of that time we need to bring along our books, oryoki bowls, kesas,
    koromos, rosaries, breviaries, altars, teachers, students, pains , labors and joys.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  11. #11

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    If you wish to undermine and destroy anything that has been established, especially religion, all you need to do is eliminate it's traditions.


    With great respect, I disagree. The elimination of some traditions need not signify the end of anything. With regard to Christianity, When Jesus allowed his followers to pick and eat heads of grain on the Sabbath, and when David permitted his men to eat the shewbread, were they destroying tradition, or broadening and clarifying it? More in the present, are there not Monks and Nuns in various faiths who wear an updated habit, or none at all? I don't think they're any "less monastic."
    Which is to say that if the buddha had lived in our age, would he have worn an archaic robe, or more likely, clothing from the local Goodwill? And I am convinced that what we are talking about is the appearance of clothing; the spirit and intent behind whats worn is, I believe, what matters.
    So, while I'm sure that there are those who simply think they "know better," regarding tradition, just as often, it isn't a matter of ego, or the novice trying to be what he's not. Conversely, I am certain there are people who put on a Kesa or a habit out of precisely the same sense of pride and ego, are there not? So... to paraphrase a smarter man than me, "let each be fully convinced in his own mind." Some things need not be a matter of argument.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I will certainly grant that when Jesus or the Prophet David allowed their followers, or even instructed their followers to do certain acts on the Sabbath or to eat the shewbread, they were teaching; but it was they who did or allowed that to be done. Without the authority of the Master or the General, the followers would not have done these things in those societies. And even later in the career of at least Jesus' disciples they had to have councils to decide whether to allow the Greeks into the community, and what duties and traditions they had to follow., they did not arbitrarily decide what to and what not to follow for themselves as individuals.

    Certainly traditions are things of men, things that we do, that we create around situations and people and ideas; but just because something has become traditional that is no reason for us in our "wisdom" to disallow or to not revere or practice them. There are quite a number of things that have become traditional even in secular society in the US, like; Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl, The Rose Bowl Parade, Halloween, Engagement rings. Do we really need them? Why not simplify our lives and cancel these things along with other such events that fill our calendars and for which Hallmark makes cards. No, we like these "traditions", these are comfortable traditions. So why do we get squeamish when it comes to someone else's tradition that happens to be embodied in something like the practice of Zen?

    I suppose that if Gautama Buddha was living today he may not assume the three robe garment we associate with him; he could be wearing jeans and a sweatshirt; but, he did live 2,500 years ago and he did wear a kesa and we wear it to reverence the idea of his teaching us. Now that is not to say we cannot sew our kesa out of jean or sweatshirt material, just to throw a little jab at tradition.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  13. #13
    Stephanie
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I am not sure that the comparison between traditions here is apt.

    Catholicism is a religious system based on accepting a set of beliefs.

    Zen Buddhism is a religious system based on questioning and examining all beliefs.

    Catholicism depends on tradition to survive, because questioning the tradition is tantamount to questioning the beliefs it is based upon. I think it is a very different situation in Zen Buddhism. The importance of preserving tradition in Zen is the importance of preserving the transmission of light from teacher to student throughout the generations. The form of the waterway can flux and flow as long as its shape still permits the flow of water. Because there is no teaching that the flow can only happen in a waterway of a particular shape. It can flow through an s-curve, a loop, a parabola, it can even pool a little bit before flowing back out the other side :lol:

    In my experience as a Zen practitioner, it is continued direct pointing at the mind that is important. There are many methods and means established in Zen to do so, and in my opinion, some of the traditional Zen practices--such as oryoki--are not as significant as zazen, dokusan, sesshin, and so forth. Not to say oryoki cannot be a very profound practice--it can be--but is it vital? I have my doubts.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not into doing away with tradition. There is a beauty and an intimacy to the traditional forms. I really enjoyed practicing at Zen Mountain Monastery, where the structure and forms are traditional and somewhat rigid. There is a power to the bowing and chants, the bells, oryoki. And it is intimate to know one is doing the same daily practice as Zen ancestors many generations ago.

    But it is also easy to get lost in the tradition, the mesmerizing magic of incense smoke and elaborate ritual. I find now that, while I still appreciate ancient traditions, to "stay honest" with myself and maintain a consistent practice, more stripped-down modern forms are more to the purpose. I admire people like Toni Packer who offer bare-bones mind-illuminating practice without the bells and robes.

  14. #14

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Catholicism depends on tradition to survive, because questioning the tradition is tantamount to questioning the beliefs it is based upon. I think it is a very different situation in Zen Buddhism.

    Not sure I agree, Stephanie. To be sure, there are Christian schools of thought in which questioning is practically denial in the eyes of the faithful. But we can see the same in Buddhism, even to some degree in Zen. I was raised a Christian, and was taught to ALWAYS seek and question. I think it depends on factors like denomination, culture and who the leader/Pastor/Priest may be ahd how secure he'she is in their faith and position... and i think the same holds true in any belief system.
    That being said, please don't think I'm suggesting tradition should be scrapped, or that it's unimportant with regard to our practice. That's not what I'm saying at all.

  15. #15

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hiyas

    *My resistance to these things was pretty big. However, I ALWAYS had resistance(still do to many things... its means busting down walls daily)...lol to everything. Seriously. this was my way for a long time. After years of bending out of the way to avoid, it made me very sore. I didn't rebel rather than grew chafed and angry. Still am by times, but When I started on this path I thought there is truth and then there is the the truth found in experiencing things so I stopped my guarded sarcasm for awhile and jumped in. A leap of faith really as, at that point i had to take anothers word for it as i had no experience.

    Incense, bells, chanting and all, well again, The approach is well known... try it...if it doesn't sit right after some time of honestly trying it and questioning then BOOT to the curb. That said, on the key practices, Dogen was pretty clear. Buddha sitting, Buddha robes This is not a Japanese tradition its Buddhas, well Ananda really! Buddha agreed it was fitting and said wear it. live it. done. Its funny when we ask what Buddha really said, how he really meant what ever teaching and when its said, meaning shared, we balk and ask again, as it doesn't seem fit for our agenda. Same goes here. If it doesn't fit... don't wear it but don't stick around to argue it.

    Zen grows but its not a buffet of likes and dislikes(another teaching I catch my self trying to skirt around). Sewing the robes has been an amazing part of my practice and its Zazen in motion, in stitches. Revere the thing as it is all the lessons, stitched right in there, in every patch. Its is not a status symbol and sewing it teaches you that. When its "complete" you see how its not and when yearning to complete it... leaning forward, neck knotted with anticipation, curses on yet another pricked finger, dismay at the fact that you just realized you were doing all this over a pile of nothing!!! its is quite amazing.

    This May not be right for everyone guess that is why there are many types of zen and zen practices, and really Buddhist practices.
    Buddha's sitting and Buddha's robes, in this practice, cannot be disposed of. Compassion, openness, sewing, wearing the robe, bowing(read humbleness if you would, please... bowing doesn't always start at Gassho or bending the waist!) precepts... these things are important practice here and to Master Dogen (based on his writings and sayings written down by others) Not a Japanese thing, Chinese thing, Indian thing, European thing, or other wise... just Buddhist practices.

    On street clothes...jeans and a hoodie are fine however Zazen tends to require loose fitting apparel. So long as its not intrusive on another practitioner in any way (aka having to do zazen staring down Buddhas luminous butt crack) or super over stuffed puffy jacket, bright yellow, that if you blink it swooshes, you know... same idea would apply for street clothes as did for kesa and robes, subdued colours etc. No wheres are people asked to give this up today. Well unless If you endup on the low road being a servant for all beings then its asked that you robe up, tone down ... but only when you are doing X. When practicing at home what you wear is up to you!! When practicing with others It would be best to follow that groups rules. There are alot of writings old and new advising what is appropriate for their practice place, for monks/nuns teachers/priests etc and mostly its pretty open.

    No one is forced to wear the kesa (heh the joke is you already are ) - be it rakusu, 5 stripe, 7 9 or 25! You do not have to sew the rakusu to take jukai (of course you must sew the robes when taking the jukai...but no one says you must take jukai to be a dedicated practitioner of the way)... they are important but if you resist them and have explored that resistance super! Then vow to keep the precepts, keep them them dear, sit zazen and be compassionate to others that choose to do things different! Then Tatagatha's teachings then will have already fallen over your shoulders.

    Guess im long windedly saying - Whole heartedly do or do not do...just do not half-ass do. If you are going to take jukai, be ready to wear what you sewn. Here they go together. It is as equally important as reading, studying and making yours these precepts that you will vow to uphold. If you think you cannot sew and wear the teachings, then reflect hard on why your want to take Jukai in the first place! (also if all your after is the rakusu then same applies )


    sorry if all this has been said (lol an much better) again just another cheap bit tossed in for what its worth!

    Bowing

    Dirk Shohei Lenentine

    *Disclaimer here -forgiveness if this comes across as anything more than my 2 cents or offends.

  16. #16

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hi.

    Sorry for this but i'd like to quote an old fool that always keep on saying "It's all good practice".
    And what does that mean in this case?
    It means that everything we do has an purpose, and a meaning.
    We do certain things because they're abled, we go to places because they're there.
    Now in some cases you can't take away an pillar because the whole place will come crumbling down, in others you're encouraged to and in some there are no pillars...
    What you make of it is up to you, but it's still all good practice, it's just that you don't always see it.

    And to quote another master, yoda...
    Do, or do not. There is no try.
    And now back to topic.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  17. #17

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Wow! That's an interesting thread! thank Soen and everyone!

    I'll add my two "eurocents" :lol:
    In fact what I want to say has already been said by everyone and especially by Taigu and Shohei (two very beautiful posts btw, thank you guys, really!).

    I'll make a link with what I said earlier in the precept study thread, in my little point of view, our practice is taking refuge in buddha, dharma, sangha, and receiving the precepts is an actualisation in our daily lifes of this refuge.
    I see Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as the living practice of Zazen - Kesa - and Gassho/Bowing(or Precepts pick the one you like :lol: ).

    So, in my little actual "understanding" if these three are "truly", faithfully practiced in a sangha... This Sangha is a Zen Sangha.
    The incense burning, fancy kolomos, chantings... are an important part of the japanese Zen heritage we received with this fundamental practice of Zazen-Kesa-Gassho/Precepts, but they are not the core of this practice.

    So, I don't see them as vital in our practice, but to be really sincere, I don't know what I'll think in the future!
    When I first sat zazen, I had the silly idea that a true zazen is only done in kimono, in a Zendo, with zen fellows... I know now that practicing like this is helpfull, it is a beautifull practice and we must try to practice like when it is possible, but this is not the only possible way to practice Zazen.
    So maybe, in a year my silly mind will "be sure" of something else, and in two years another silly thing will be add to the idea of "a good" Zen practice, a good Zen Sangha...
    As Taigu said: Lets practice first! Enough ideas about how things should or shoud not be will come to our silly minds....

    gassho to everyone,
    Jinyu
    ps: thank you for reading this because I really didn't add anything
    pps: I must say I'm glad that stephanie jumped in the discussion because the way she "practices doubt" (means something in English?) is sometimes difficult to me but never fruitless!

  18. #18

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hello friends,

    I've been thinking about this thread, and it occurs to me that perhaps the best course of action is to not consiously change anything; time and culture will most certainly re-create Zen in the same way that it has changed moving from India to China to Japan/Korea/Vietnam. Perhaps if we leave well enough alone, keep practicing our practice, living Buddha, Dharma, Sangha in every moment, "the Mind of the Great Sage of India [will be] intimately transmitted West and East." After all, the only way to ensure correct transmission is to practice correctly. After ten, fifty, one hundred years, what will emerge? I don't claim to know, but without deep, sincere practice, it will not be Buddha Dharma.

    Just another thought rambling through this deluded mind.

    Much metta,

    Perry

  19. #19

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Back when I first started posting here, there were debates and arguments often enough. Unlike this difference of opinion, they were sometimes harsh and bitter. I appreciate that we can discuss without fighting, differ without insult. And, as then, now: the solution is simply, "More Zazen." Lowering my head in defference to wiser minds, off to the Zafu...

  20. #20

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    What a wonderful circle this thread has taken. I am glad I sat on my hands and just enjoyed what could have become a very testy discussion. Kevon you expressed my feelings exactly, and Perry, you pulled it all together!

    Thanks to you all.

    Jim

  21. #21
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I’m with Taigu on this: organic change is the key. Just sitting is the core activity. Jeans and a Rakusu are enough. But life is punctuated with births, marriages and deaths. For such occasions, ceremony has a place. Incense, bowing and chanting all enrich our practice and they should not be cast aside. But they have a time and place.

    Personally, I sit with the Rakusu every day. I chant and bow. But on occasion, I wear the full Okesa and conduct my practice in a more formal fashion: the Heart Sutra in English, but sometimes in Japanese; full bows, with incense and ceremony. This is part of the expression of the practice and it deserves respect. But it is still extra to sitting Zazen, which is the heart of it all.

    The excesses of pretending to be Japanese shouldn’t be indulged in … but at the same time, the Japanese traditions of Zen shouldn’t, I feel, be thrown away. They have so much beauty and expression.

    What is needed is a little wisdom and skill in determining when ceremony has a place and when a T-shirt and jeans should be worn. But it is Zazen and the Kesa that Dogen put the emphasis on … so, as Zen people, let’s listen to Dogan. That is the essential heart of the practice. But beyond the heart are the lungs, spleen and kidneys … if you know what I mean.

    Deep bows and respect,

    Soen

  22. #22

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Jeans and a Rakusu are enough.

    I'd say just sitting is enough. My rakusu is in my heart, what I dress this skin bag I live in with is completely secondary.

  23. #23
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    True. Zazen is the only essential. I sit corrected.
    Gassho,
    Soen

  24. #24
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Thank you Stephanie for asking, the truth about the kesa can only be known through sewing or sitting. Countless books have been written about this cloth. Empty words.

    One day as I was begging in the streets of Kyoto an old man came in front of me and bowed. I could clearly see how detached, pure, totally selfless his bowing was, a simple gassho that brought tears to my eyes as I started to sob feeling completely unworthy of this respect. He dropped a 1000 Yen banknote in my bowl in a gracious and simple gesture and bowed again before vanishing. I was touched to the core, moved. And then I realized that he did not bow in front of ME: I was wearing a nine stripes kesa, he was bowing to the boundless reality it stands for, not to the poor puppet I can be. That little old man taught me more about the kesa that lectures and books. My clumsy sewing teaches me more about the nature of things than the wise words of preachers.

    Stephanie, it is an experience and a practice that cannot be described. I understand the resistance that it meets in the West. Shohei describes it very well and he also gives a very good picture of what sewing is like: an humbling experience where you face your shortcomings and problems.

    Even if I am only heard by a few of you, let me repeat here that as you look deeply into this practice and experience, the kesa, the begging bowl and just sitting are the three ways Buddhas manifest in this world. You may pick up an choose, take this and reject that in the name of your belief system, because you strongly feel that it doesn't work for you. You may want to bargain with the path, the teacher, dismiss these exotic stuff ...I am afraid you will just being doing spiritual window shopping.

    Zazen is sitting body-mind and kesa. Zazen without kesa is good therapy. Kesa in the heart is another illusion.

    I recorded this as an answer today:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwyq4NoKAKk[/video]]

  25. #25
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Taigu,
    Thank you for your teaching.
    Gassho,
    Soen

  26. #26

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Please understand, Taigu, that I'm not resisting the idea of the Kesa, and am humbly and joyfully sewing my Rakusu. I simply don't understand the idea of its being necessary. I don't mean that in a "but why do wer have to do this?" sense or anything, and it's hard to express what I'm getting at. I can see the benefit of the act of sewing, the observance of tradition, the meditative and humbling aspects of it, but symbolism and tradition aside, when I'm done, I'll still have a piece of cloth, and the meaning or attachment of it will be those I assign it myself. I don't mean this in some arrogant way... it's a sincere struggle. You say the Kesa is essential, but I have been taught and believe Zazen is the only essential, and I don't understand how the object itself fits in. I am not arguing or debating, just trying to be understood clearly, and to understand. Thanks for being patient.

  27. #27
    Stephanie
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Taigu,

    Thank you for your answer.

    I appreciate what you are saying about the practice of sewing, and look forward to beginning my rakusu.

    I wonder, though, in the case of your experience. For you, the reverence and generosity of the man who responded to your robe was humbling and deeply moving. But to a different mind, the power of the kesa to cause that kind of reaction in others could be treated very differently. As a way to make money, to gain respect and power. I do not ask this merely hypothetically; I have seen it happen. People use the power of tradition to gain and maintain power over others. People who do not respect or understand the tradition in the same way you do. How many monks and teachers have there been who have used their robes to seduce women, demand gestures of respect from others, or accumulate money for personal luxuries?

    Is the kesa what is sacred, or is it the mind of the person wearing it and seeing it that determines its value? Is the process of sewing sacred, or is it the experience of the person sewing? If a person sewed their own pair of blue jeans with the same attitude of mind and process of learning we are invited to experience in sewing the rakusu or kesa, would this be less sacred than sewing the rakusu or kesa?

    And in your talk... the only thing you said that met with resistance in me was the word "obedience." It is not that obedience in and of itself is a bad thing, but rather, how do we know who to trust with our obedience? Life is short; I am willing to obey and submit to learn from someone who can guide me along the path to awakening; but what if they are leading me to a dead end?

    Gassho,

    Stephanie

  28. #28
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Taigu

    I simply do not understand how realisation can depend on what we wear. I cannot understand why, or that, the universe should care.

    Taigu, Shohei, sewing the kesa is your practice, pricking your fingers time and time again, being confronted again and again with your impatience and inadequacies.

    Today, as I do all week, I helped two warring parties stitch together a settlement, pricking the bubbles of my ego time and time again on their hurt, being confronted again and again with my impatience and inadequacies. You work your work, I mine, and each of us, theirs. I’m not a good Mediator, and perhaps you’re not good sewers, (perhaps you are) but whatever, the kesa is sewed, and the case is settled, and the tea needs to be made. And next week there’s more to sew, and another five cases to be settled.

    The Buddha sewed a kesa, and sewing the kesa is the work of the Buddha. The Buddha helped to settle disputes, and helping to settle disputes is the work of the Buddha. I don’t know if it’s recorded that the Buddha made tea, but making tea, too, is the work of the Buddha.

    We all work our work, and I cannot understand how stitches in fabric, and stitches in a settlement, nor tea in the pot, if each is done with the mind of zazen, are different, nor how you can judge the mind with which others work their work.

    Gassho

    Martin

  29. #29

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    We all work our work, and I cannot understand how stitches in fabric, and stitches in a settlement, nor tea in the pot, if each is done with the mind of zazen, are different, nor how you can judge the mind with which others work their work.


    Beautifully said.

  30. #30

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    Taigu

    I simply do not understand how realisation can depend on what we wear. I cannot understand why, or that, the universe should care.

    Taigu, Shohei, sewing the kesa is your practice, pricking your fingers time and time again, being confronted again and again with your impatience and inadequacies.

    Today, as I do all week, I helped two warring parties stitch together a settlement, pricking the bubbles of my ego time and time again on their hurt, being confronted again and again with my impatience and inadequacies. You work your work, I mine, and each of us, theirs. I’m not a good Mediator, and perhaps you’re not good sewers, (perhaps you are) but whatever, the kesa is sewed, and the case is settled, and the tea needs to be made. And next week there’s more to sew, and another five cases to be settled.

    The Buddha sewed a kesa, and sewing the kesa is the work of the Buddha. The Buddha helped to settle disputes, and helping to settle disputes is the work of the Buddha. I don’t know if it’s recorded that the Buddha made tea, but making tea, too, is the work of the Buddha.

    We all work our work, and I cannot understand how stitches in fabric, and stitches in a settlement, nor tea in the pot, if each is done with the mind of zazen, are different, nor how you can judge the mind with which others work their work.

    Gassho

    Martin
    Hello brother Martin,

    While I am aware that your post is directed at the Reverend Taigu, I had a thought that may be helpful to share: the Kesa is, if nothing else, something to connect ourselves with generations past. I see it as the story of our own mind, as well as the story of the Dharma--stitch by stitch, we make it our own, slowly coming to understand its simple intricacies.

    Also, it is a constant reminder: a constant reminder the Ancestors who passed the Dharma down to us, a constant reminder to be humble and grateful, a constant reminder that all around us is ("a formless field of merit"), and a reminder of our refuge in the Triple Gem ("wrapping ourselves in the Buddha's teaching").

    Perhaps (probably) I'm completely incorrect and out of line, but going back to the "tradition vs. innovation" discussion, I think that traditions become traditions for a reason--perhaps one that isn't readily discernible at first glance.

    Just my thoughts, feel free to discard them.

    Much metta to all,

    Perry

  31. #31

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hiya
    When I first encountered a 'live' kesa at Throssel Hole I was quite moved, the simple cloth draping across the left shoulder reminded me so much of the Buddha rupas that had inspired me since teenage that it helped me to see the Buddha within the wearer. At the end of my Jukai where we all stood on top of the altar (slightly bigger than Trealeafs), and all the monks including Rev Master Daishin, the abbot, circled us bowing to the Buddha within us it did, because of the Kesa, feel to me like Buddha bowing to Buddha. It helped me to realise, in a brief way, my own Buddha nature was there, just waiting for me to wipe away the delusion and let it out, (sorry- a bit prosaic that, but I did say I was artistic).
    Perhaps there is something in my artistic nature that allows me to suspend suspicion and open to my heart, I don't know. But I do know that after sewing this second rakusu I look forward to sewing a Kesa, as I am sure it will help me greatly in my practise.


    Gassho

    Joe

  32. #32
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I have not sat zazen with a rakasu, so I will make one, put it on and see.

    Gassho Nigel.

  33. #33

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    As a newbie please take whatever I say with a grain of salt , but to me sewing the rakusa is akin to walking meditation or Samu ( i think that's the right term- work as meditation right ?) or something of the sort. I don't think just wearing it automatically enables the wearer to access the fast track to realization , but that being said I can appreciate the merits involved in taking the time to sew it , what it implies in the action of ''doing it ''not just culturally but in terms of practice. We are corporal , we are here physically and we cannot be in Zazen 24/7 so outside of Zazen it makes perfect sense to me that we aspire to or busy ourselves with tasks that serve a purpose in not serving a purpose from time to time.
    I for one look forward to being able to attempt this type of project. Still sewing my Zafu and Zabuton :roll: so once that's done perhaps on to the rakusa, but I don't expect a thunderclap and lightening bolt and instant realization after sewing my kimono into the rakusa :wink:

  34. #34
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Thank you all for contributing and sharing your thoughts,

    I would like to say that I understand the resistance some of you may have to sew and wear the robe. I said previously that in our tradition we practice first and understand later. Our Western education trains people to do exactly the opposite. What I invite you to do is to sit with the kesa and see what happens or refrain from turning your viewpoint into an universal truth. What I am also saying is that sitting Zen without the kesa is not Buddha's Zen. Zen and kesa have always been transmitted together. The reading of Den E or Kesa Kudoku in Shobogenzo might shed some light on this very important aspect of our tradition. The kesa is nothing but a piece of cloth and at the same time it is the whole universe, it is fabric and Tatagatha's body. It is a painted cake and a real cake. What brings some people to this understanding is years often years of experience and sometimes struggle.

    gassho

    Taigu

  35. #35

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I was recently listening to a podcast about Dogen's take on God, and it seems to me that some people come to Zen Buddhism because they view it as a religion ''sans Dieu", others to enhance their religious practice or have a genuine interest in just Zen and some just as a philosophy or way of life and I think the resistance in sewing or wearing robes strikes terror into the hearts of people who see that as dogma and rebel instinctively . My wife had some horrible experiences with the Catholic Church and sometimes places all religions in the same boat regardless if it is merited.( my interest in Zen is often derided as cultist)
    Preconceptions are sometimes very ingrained and hard to shake kinda like the concept of I ,me , mine. I think that if they enable to practitioner to achieve the proper mind frame , no harm no foul.
    Gassho

  36. #36

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Though I will say I was not judging the minds or merits of any ones work (what ever that maybe), my own is tough enough. The discussion about tradition vs innovation is more than just robes and sewing them... that topic has come up a few times and so it was on my mind.

    So, to all participating, I do humbly apologize for prompting it in that direction as these things do only apply to me, this moment and for the time being. On tradition, I'll be less specific on saying which traditions or innovations are right (or wrong) and instead I would like to say that regarding Innovation vs tradition, lets take the versus out. Tradition and innovation is our practice - welcome to Treeleaf

    Gassho
    Shohei

  37. #37

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    The kesa is nothing but a piece of cloth and at the same time it is the whole universe, it is fabric and Tatagatha's body. It is a painted cake and a real cake. What brings some people to this understanding is years often years of experience and sometimes struggle.

    gassho

    Taigu
    Thank you Taigu for posting this. It really brought this whole discussion into perspective for me.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    What I am also saying is that sitting Zen without the kesa is not Buddha's Zen.
    Well, if that is so, then Buddha's Zen is less, more limited, than I had thought it. And, since I do not sit with a kesa, it would follow that I would not be sitting zazen, nor would most here.

    I am saddened.

    Gassho

    Martin

  39. #39
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Dear Martin,

    We usually make the distinction between lay practice and priest practice.
    If you go in the direction of priest practice, then a kesa is needed. If you don't, you are already living in the whole kesa of the universe, as Sawaki Kodo says: there is no world outside the kesa. He means by that that everything as it is is already the kesa, and sentient and non sentient beings do all wear it.
    So you are already wearing the kesa, and you feel-think you don't need it. That is perfectly ok. I just would like to reflect that for some people here, there is a different story, another commitment and the light of that commitment, this sewn fabric is Buddha's body. You don't understand it. I tried to explain it. But of course, as you sit in this boundless reality, it is already covering your shoulders.
    I wish people would open their mind and accept that what they think is nonsense, can make perfect sense to other people.
    Jundo asked me to present this teaching which was Buddha's teaching, Dogen's and all the old guys. If people don't want to hear it, they can skip my posts, not read the kesa chapters in Shobogenzo...
    Thank you for your practice and I wish this clarifies what I have been saying all along.
    Frankly, I am also tired an a bit sad.

    Take care and thank you for the sewing you do in your work and your life

    gassho


    Taigu

  40. #40
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I would like to say that regarding Innovation vs tradition, lets take the versus out. Tradition and innovation is our practice
    Well said Shohei. Tradition AND Innovation would be better. It displays a more complex and accurate understanding. Thank you.

    As for what Taigu said on the Kesa. He is right: it is indispensible to this tradition we are all part of. The Kesa is part of the transmission from the beginning and will continue to be. It cannot be cut away from this practice. It is integral to it. The Kesa is zazen. So, let's not denigrate it as merely a piece of cloth and that's that.

    However, that doesn't mean that zazen without a Kesa/Rakusu is not zazen. In my experience, it is. It's just that the Kesa / Rakusu is a part of our practice that cannot be discarded. It is not something we can throw away in a move to 'modernize' and 'simplify' zazen practice. It is also not something that everyone will sew or wear (for various reasons). But it is the sacred body of the transmission. So, let us show it respect.

    And just as importantly, let us practice well and be kind to one another. The whole reason this way is so true is that it sets intellectual debate aside and encounters the living Dharma of reality beyond thought and as it is. I feel a little troubled for starting this thread and seeing conflict emerge. That was not the intention. Let us bow to one another in the true spirit of Zen: brothers and sisters on the path, our own foibles and character traits due a certain respect.

    Gassho,
    Soen

  41. #41
    Stephanie
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Taigu, people are respectfully asking questions you refuse to answer. Why?

    Personally, if in coming to the West, Buddhism loses an "obey first, understand later" mentality, I celebrate it. I do not believe such a mentality is in keeping with the Buddha's original teaching of awakening. Buddha's awakening required him to forgo all forms of obedience to others, and I believe that questioning, alive spirit is what he transmitted to Mahakasyapa and Ananda.

    Do I even need to raise the specter of Milgrim's experiments and what they showed about the "obey first, understand later" mentality?

    Most people here are not resisting sewing or wearing the robe or rakusu. They are just asking questions, even as they sew or prepare to sew, and especially about your statements that it is most essential next to zazen. There is no band of rebels here, overthrowing and refusing to engage with tradition, just people with alert minds that ask questions--a quality no agent of liberation should denigrate, in my opinion.

  42. #42
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Stephanie,

    The proof is in the pudding. I did answer.
    People want to practice? There is a price to pay. Not in dollars, euros or Yen.
    Much more than you can really fathom.

    gassho


    Taigu

  43. #43

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    What I am also saying is that sitting Zen without the kesa is not Buddha's Zen.




    I am having an extremely difficult time accepting that as truth. could you explain?

  44. #44

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    I wish people would open their mind and accept that what they think is nonsense, can make perfect sense to other people.
    Jundo asked me to present this teaching which was Buddha's teaching, Dogen's and all the old guys. If people don't want to hear it, they can skip my posts, not read the kesa chapters in Shobogenzo...



    With great respect, that's not the point at all, Taigu. I am not rejecting Kesa. I am asking questions about it, and why it is essential. I get that it is part of our tradition, and I get that it has an important place. But when you say that Zazen without Kesa is "not the Buddha's Zazen," it is coming across as if either Zazen with Kesa is somehow superior, or that Zaxzen without it is "less." Possibly even that Zezen without Kesa isn't "real" practice. Do you understand what I'm getting at? I'm not rejecting what you're saying, I'm trying to get a clear understanding of it. Up until now, "more Zazen" has always been the answer at Treeleaf. It seems to have suddenly become, "more Zazen... and a Rakusu." This is troubling to me. I make this point ands ask these questions with nothing in my heart but respect.

  45. #45

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hello fellow Treeleafers,

    I have nothing substantial to add to Shohei's and Taigu's answers, especially since my sewing is so shabby . I can fully understand why certain questions are being asked, however I think one has to remember that Taigu sensei has dedicated decades of his life to the practice and study of the Kesa and has not found it lacking in any way. One should therefore not expect him of all people to present a perspective that says something along the lines of "well, yeah, my view of our particular Soto-lineage is Whatever works best for you" and the kesa is optional in the long run. "

    It's like trying to get a Shingon priest to say that all those mantras are not really all that important.

    It is exactly "gates" like the kesa, that make one particular lineage distinct from one another. Nothing wrong with that.

    I wish the internet was not such a "cold" medium somehow, because the lack of a "voice" in a posting can get us all to interpret things too hastily.

    Gassho,

    Hans

    P.S. And may we pebbles polish each other's understanding.

  46. #46

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    One should therefore not expect him of all people to present a perspective that says something along the lines of "well, yeah, my view of our particular Soto-lineage is Whatever works best for you" and the kesa is optional in the long run. "



    Respectfully, that is neither my question nor my expectation.

  47. #47
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    One should therefore not expect him of all people to present a perspective that says something along the lines of "well, yeah, my view of our particular Soto-lineage is Whatever works best for you" and the kesa is optional in the long run. "



    Respectfully, that is neither my question nor my expectation.
    Mine either.

    I am a bit concerned that what I think are fair, and respectfully asked questions, are being ignored in favor of tearing down straw men.

    Once again, I have no issue with the kesa as it is traditionally designed, sewn, and worn. It is not a tradition I think should be done away with.

    But I am truly interested in Taigu's thoughts, as someone who reveres the kesa, on how it has been abused, and similarly, how authority has been abused in Zen and other traditions.

    I have no problem following and "obeying" someone I trust and respect. But my trust and respect is earned through experience, not given freely to someone just because they wear a particular garment. I may respect the tradition and values the garment represents, but I am also all too aware of human fallibility to assume the person wearing it embodies the values it stands for.

    So my question is, sincerely, where should questioning stop and trust and obedience begin? Should questioning ever stop? I am inspired by teachers--including Taigu, ironically--who have emphasized in talks that a question is an open state, a blooming to the present moment, and relaxing into questions and being with them, instead of seizing for answers, is a way to open the mind. To me, blind obedience is the ceasing of questions and the darkening of the mind. Blind obedience has been the cause of many horrific moments in human history, and has been at the center of abuses of religious traditions across time and culture.

    Having seen so many abuses of Zen authority already, in its infancy in America, I think the traditional attitude--if it is even such--of submitting to a teacher's direction without questioning would do well to be amended, if not dropped altogether.

  48. #48

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    It is exactly "gates" like the kesa, that make one particular lineage distinct from one another. Nothing wrong with that.


    No, there's nothing at ALL wrong with that, and I can accept it. What I'm having a hard time with, and not getting answers for, is the idea that "Zazen apart from Kesa is not the Buddha's Zazen," a statement which in both at surface and in depth appears to run quite counter to everything I've been taught by Jundo here since 2007. I'm looking for clarity, not rebellion.

  49. #49
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Dear Stephanie and and all,

    First of all, so everyone knows where I am sitting...there is certainly nothing "blind' in the manner or committed way in which I have decided to follow this Zen Path or this School or these particular Teachers. So what I say here is not anything of a hoodwinked zealot. My decision was thought out and prayed over before making it. Just wanted to clear the air about that.

    Next...I have always heard Taigu's teaching poetically. His words strike my heart rather than my head, and I believe that too often we are asking him to "simplify" his responses so we can figure out what he is saying. From what he has already said so far I get that he "sees" and "feels" the Kesa embodies both the Buddha and the Buddhas teaching, and all of us in the Sangha, and the whole world too. One does not happen without the other. The symbol "is" also the reality. I may be usung too much of my own theology in this, but I get an almost "sacramental" feeling about Kesa when Taigu speaks about it. I can feel where some of his sadness may be coming from about the questioning about Kesa, even though questions are proper for learners. Sometimes when one is so close to "joy" it is difficult to realize that others do not feel it too.

    Stephanie, I really would like to know what it is that continually steers many of your posts back to questions about abuse of authority. I've read it in several threads and it concerns me. Do you have a general concern that anyone in a position of authority is going to abuse it? Do you feel that there is a particular vein of such abuse here, or just generally in religious and spiritual organizations? Please understand that I am not challenging your right to ask such questions or open these sorts of discussions; I only ask because it comes up so often in your posts, it seems to me. Like in this present thread, I cannot help but feel by the way you are asking Taigu to respond, that you are equating his seeming failure to satisfy your query substantially that he is somehow "hiding" behind the Kesa and refusing to respond purposefully. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. As Hans said, email has no "voice". I really diodn't feel that from Taigu, but rather a disappointment that what he said was not understood. Please don't think I'm trying to hammer you Stephanie, I just would like to know what the underscore is that I "think" I am hearing.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  50. #50

    Re: Tradition versus innovation

    Hi Karl

    First thank you! Thank you for your patience and practice.
    You do not have to sew the rakusu to be the embody and be the living precepts (as you already know)
    Nor do you need to do the ceremony. Here, at Treeleaf, it is asked... as part of the Jukai ceremony, that you take up that practice (which you are) and wear it when you sit as a reminder.

    I will not speak for anyone else here as what I write Next is just my ramblings and humble... belly button (Read opinion as we all have em!) and say:
    Sew it or don't, wear it or don't. These are your choices and of course final decision.

    Not one teacher or any one, for that matter, really can make you wear it (Your a strong person, with a sharp mind), nor can they provide an answer to why its important to your practice.
    That is up to you. If you find, after a go at it, that it is not... great its not. done. Part of the struggle !

    This Does not mean it will be or should be a practice pulled from our lineage or that other folks taking the same commitments will be able to skip this gate
    (thank you Mongen, precisely what I was struggling to point to!).

    You have given yourself over for the benefit of others in ways that I can not begin to imagine, sitting here. Your kesa has been sewn and your wearing it. I really am bowing in your direction with gratitude(in my head and after I hit submit here). That is all this other cloth is about ...a simple reminder. If you find it other wise for what ever reason and choose not to put it on, then how could that be anything else but fine. Deep bows to you and to all Buddhas here, now, before and to come!

    Now on questions and questioning - Never stop questioning! Turn em right in on yourself! Now no wheres here, at Treeleaf, or privately, have we been asked to follow blindly in a harmful way or away that goes against the Buddhas teachings. In my mind, the only blind part is the fact that only you can know the answer to a question about somethings meaning or significance in your practice, only you via experience and wide eyed questioning oh... and using the Buddhas teaching as the cane, of course...and some common sense! Navigation then should be straight forward. A bit of Faith is needed and a willingness to let go. Sometimes the answer is only found by being letting it lay, lots of time and some experience...boom answer is right there. How can you pass that along to someone? And when its given will that person see it too or call you foolish, irrational and unbending?

    Sometimes the question is another question... no matter, they all point back to you. You know the answer.
    Some questions require a straight forward answer - why do we sit Zazen: because it is the gate of great ease and its what all the buddhas, even before buddha did. EZ...but then the questions that cannot be answered with out your own investigation and questioning of yourself enter.. Okay Master Dogen... why? Why? WHY? Exhaust yourself of these whys... and then you have your answer or maybe not...im still asking. Again just my rambling so please forgive!!


    Gassho
    Shohei

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