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Thread: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

  1. #1

    Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    The great voice of the teacher comes in many ways...

    Eika writes:

    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.
    Something I have to get off my chest...

    The sewing thread is a desert. How many of you are taking Jukai? How many?!!!

    Do you think you can do without this bib-rakusu-thing and do it YOUR way?

    How many guys out there getting ready for jukai and not doing what is requested?

    Well, Jukai means to surrender to BUDDHA's way.And the kesa is Buddha's body. And Buddha's body is wraped in the kesa. Kesa and Samadhi seen as one. Even today. Even now. It is not a Japanese thing, something cultural you can get rid of.

    If you want to practice as a lay person, it is OK, Perfect. You don't need a kesa because this boundless life is already it.

    If you want to take jukai, it is a different ballgame. It starts with needle and thread, not just wordy threads, and lots of work, struggle...and joy.Perry, Don the diligent, Cyril, Jikyo ( a sweet friend I have met without meeting countless times), Joe, Taylor ( wonderful Taylor, wonderful), Sylvie (great work, sweetheart), Richard the generous, Peter, Nigel, Dday, Chris are OUR teachers. Boddhisatvas. They just do it. No chat-talk, just the journey into a world that nobody can fathom.

    If you guys want me to do the calligraphy on the back of your rakusu, I'll do it, but you will have to send your rakusu to me. I will do it on the back of it. Making the ink , getting the seals ready and thinking of each of you, between a one or two cup of tea.

    As far as the other guys are concerned, well, I can only speak for myself...In my clouded eyes, they are doing it selfishly wrong where they could take the opportunity to surrender the self. The fact they resist and persist is an obvious sign. You can say it is tough, not fair, throw criticism at me ( instead of looking at your own issues...). Treeleaf is not a salon to discuss exciting issues, try to talk philosophically and give one's opinion about this and that. It is a practice place. Sitting and sewing.


    Please reflect. Sit and reflect. Backward step.

    gassho


    Taigu

  2. #2

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Thank you, Rev. Taigu.

    I realize that I haven't posted any pictures, but I promise that I've been working on the Rakusu. As soon as I can get over the technology gap, I will post some.

    And the reading and studying: I am a little slow to digest things, and it seems that by the time I have an insight worth sharing, it has already been discussed at length .

    I promise that I am doing the work, and apologize for my dullness.

    Metta,

    Perry

  3. #3

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    I never started (is there ever an end?) but with my wife expecting, two jobs, taking care of elder parents, I am more of a lurker than an active presence. Locally, there may arise an opportunity of taking Jukai tru Austin, Texas. It may (big MAY) include a sewing group here locally. So rather than commit then not follow up....best to you one and all in your Jukai. ...gassho....

  4. #4

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi,

    I am with Taigu.

    This 'sewing' is not sewing with needle and thread.

    Thus, if one has not sewn a Rakusu, every stitch, one may not (absent -very- special reasons, after consultation with the teachers) undertake Jukai here.

    Taigu asks folks undertaking Jukai through him to send their hand sewn Rakusu by post to him in Japan for inscription, and I usually just mail the back panel alone to each person undertaking Jukai through me (asking them to then sew it into their otherwise ready Rakusu without mailing me the whole Rakusu. Taigu and I both also request a charitable contribution be made, in a suggested amount, to a public charity as dana). Obviously, my way requires a bit of the "honor system" ... which I think is fine in light of "Jukai" being about the Precepts and honesty. However, I would consider that a back panel sent to anyone who has not hand sewn each stitch of a Rakusu (absent the aforesaid unusual circumstances precleared with Taigu and me) ... DOES NOT COUNT! :twisted:

    Toward the end of November, we will ask people to mail their Rakusu to Taigu or promise me that their Rakusu will be ready.

    If someone does not understand why all this is so ... you just do not understand.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Taigu,

    It goes both ways.

    I have discontinued my participation in this year's Jukai, as I notified Jundo via PM a couple of days ago, because I do not currently feel connected enough to the sangha, or committed enough to an intensive practice schedule, for it to be appropriate for me to continue with Jukai at this time. A lot of this is my own dramatically shifting life circumstances, but some of it is the sangha here too.

    Jundo comes and goes because he is busy, you pick and choose who you respond to and when. Whenever you make your lists of people that you like and whose practice you are supporting, I never seem to be on the list, no matter how intense my practice is or isn't. I know I'm not the only one who feels completely ignored by you.

    Jundo appealed to me to come up with a service project for the sangha and I put a lot of effort into developing and refining an idea, but when the next step was feedback from the rest of the sangha, the thread fell to the bottom of the forum, untouched and forgotten. There it still sits. For all the enthusiasm expressed about the idea, no one actually wanted to take action; so I understand your frustration.

    I give 100% when I feel supported and am encouraged. With this sangha over the last few weeks, I feel like I have been practicing alone. Your words rankle me because basically what you are saying is, "You should be making this incredible effort on your own." You don't have to humble yourself as an impartial servant of the sangha, you pick and choose who you like and who you pay attention to, and those of us who feel you've never been interested in our lives or practice aren't exactly inspired to drop what we are doing and salute when you berate us for our lack of effort (how would you even know what our effort is?). I constantly am working with my own resistance and facing my own issues; this is the heart of my own practice. If I did not have resistance, and everything came easy, then what would be the point of being a student?

    I'm not impressed by the old model of a student surrendering completely to a teacher and obeying without asking questions or challenging, which is the model you seem to like. There are too many so-called teachers unworthy of my deference that I refuse to submit and obey until a teacher has earned my trust. I find you almost completely inaccessible and unwilling to work with students who have a different style than you prefer. I don't find your effort to reach and engage all your students is equal to their effort to work with you, so color me unimpressed.

    Stephanie

  6. #6

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hello Stephanie,

    While I know that your response was directed at Taigu, I have a question (really, I'm not trying to stir something up, just curious as to how you see things): how can a teacher earn your trust if you are unwilling to submit to their teaching, if even for a little while?

    I've always viewed it as a question of faith: faith in the teacher, faith in the teachings, faith in the community; faith that what we're trying to do is both possible and worthwhile.

    I'm in the same boat sometimes, feeling that I'm practicing alone. But in the end, the responsibility for practice sits with each one of us, no?

    Again, I'm just curious as to how you see things. Not trying to take sides, since I obviously don't know the whole story.

    Metta to you, and everyone else.

    Perry

  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Perry,

    Your questions are fair, and I appreciate them.

    I do submit to the teaching; it's not as if I refuse to do anything asked of us. But, as I expect is the case with many, I struggle with it. I fall off or forget, life throws curve balls, and I struggle with a massive set of tasks and responsibilities for which I have no help. To come to my sangha, my safe space, and to have the same crap thrown in my face that the uncaring city I just left threw in my face daily, "Sink or swim, I'm not going to help you," doesn't make me want to run away, but it doesn't exactly elicit my sympathy or obedience. If you're not giving me anything to help me out, why would I be distressed at the threat it will be taken away?

    When I first started this practice, I was every bit as enthusiastic and apologetic for my failures to be perfect as Taylor, every bit as willing to submit to anyone in spiritual authority who said things that struck me as wise. But I've lived through some shit over the past few years and it's changed my attitude. I don't feel sorry for who I am, I don't feel guilty or ashamed about my imperfections, I marvel at the fact that I'm not more ornery than I am, and am not ready to apologize to anyone after struggling for years to help myself and others without anyone's help beyond that of a few select members of my immediate family.

    The one person who helped me the most spiritually in these last few years is Chet, who continues to be expelled from this sangha because he's got rough edges too, which doesn't exactly heighten my trust in the teachers here who have been less instrumental in my spiritual healing than the person they decided was unteachable. It makes me think that in the end here, I might be deemed unteachable as well, and if not banished (again), ghettoized and marginalized relative to the star students capable of perfect obedience.

    I'm not a wide-eyed 19 year old like I once was; life has knocked a lot of that naive idealism out of me and I know my demons a lot better. Sometimes demons dress up as angels, and people who seek to please often are haunted by demons of shame and neglect, of low self-esteem. And many of them come crawling into the halls of spiritual places, all too eager to submit to an authority who makes them feel as deficient as Mommy or Daddy or whoever else did. That was once me... but no longer. I acknowledge my failings, and work with them, but I no longer feel shame for them. It took a long time to heal to the point I don't daily feel sorry about my existence, and no one, no matter how impressive they seem to be, will ever take me back to that place.

    If I am to practice alone, I will practice alone, but I will not practice alone under the pretense that someone else is helping me, when they're not. If someone does not wish to teach me, that is fine, I can accept that, but I'm not going to play pretend that someone is teaching me when they are actually refusing to teach me.

    Stephanie

  8. #8

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Perry,

    Your questions are fair, and I appreciate them.

    I do submit to the teaching; it's not as if I refuse to do anything asked of us. But, as I expect is the case with many, I struggle with it. I fall off or forget, life throws curve balls, and I struggle with a massive set of tasks and responsibilities for which I have no help. To come to my sangha, my safe space, and to have the same crap thrown in my face that the uncaring city I just left threw in my face daily, "Sink or swim, I'm not going to help you," doesn't make me want to run away, but it doesn't exactly elicit my sympathy or obedience. If you're not giving me anything to help me out, why would I be distressed at the threat it will be taken away?

    When I first started this practice, I was every bit as enthusiastic and apologetic for my failures to be perfect as Taylor, every bit as willing to submit to anyone in spiritual authority who said things that struck me as wise. But I've lived through some shit over the past few years and it's changed my attitude. I don't feel sorry for who I am, I don't feel guilty or ashamed about my imperfections, I marvel at the fact that I'm not more ornery than I am, and am not ready to apologize to anyone after struggling for years to help myself and others without anyone's help beyond that of a few select members of my immediate family.

    The one person who helped me the most spiritually in these last few years is Chet, who continues to be expelled from this sangha because he's got rough edges too, which doesn't exactly heighten my trust in the teachers here who have been less instrumental in my spiritual healing than the person they decided was unteachable. It makes me think that in the end here, I might be deemed unteachable as well, and if not banished (again), ghettoized and marginalized relative to the star students capable of perfect obedience.

    I'm not a wide-eyed 19 year old like I once was; life has knocked a lot of that naive idealism out of me and I know my demons a lot better. Sometimes demons dress up as angels, and people who seek to please often are haunted by demons of shame and neglect, of low self-esteem. And many of them come crawling into the halls of spiritual places, all too eager to submit to an authority who makes them feel as deficient as Mommy or Daddy or whoever else did. That was once me... but no longer. I acknowledge my failings, and work with them, but I no longer feel shame for them. It took a long time to heal to the point I don't daily feel sorry about my existence, and no one, no matter how impressive they seem to be, will ever take me back to that place.

    If I am to practice alone, I will practice alone, but I will not practice alone under the pretense that someone else is helping me, when they're not. If someone does not wish to teach me, that is fine, I can accept that, but I'm not going to play pretend that someone is teaching me when they are actually refusing to teach me.

    Stephanie
    Hi Stephanie
    The begginning is always where enthusiasm runs its highest. Wide eyed with our perception and goals of attaining something in full bloom. When we start to remove what we "thought" was our practice and begin to realize some of the basic truths of it perhaps, some disallusionment occurs. The teachings of Jundo and Taigu may make specific mention of names in there responses but really the teachings in them are for any and everyone that is ready to really listen to their content. The Radiant Moon shines its light without discrimination
    see the teachings in the same light. A little less ego and silence may open a new view of reality. Just listen and learn in silence for a while and then make your decision to proceed as you wish, or not. We were not hogtied and dragged into Tree Leaf it was our choice and the same applies if we choose to leave. Please don't berate those who have given so much of their time and effort because they don't fit the bill of your likes and dislikes. Giving without anything in return except the growth of those they teach is a very noble effort.
    My very best wishes. gassho zak

  9. #9
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    I'm sorry if I'm being too harsh, in ways unintended or toward those at whom these sentiments are not directed. I am deeply appreciative of Jundo, who has been and continues to be a significant support and teaching figure in my practice, and have learned from Taigu.

    However, I am very wary of, and will actively fight against, a culture of automatic deference to authority. I believe that coaching and coaxing people into being obedient, apologetic and full of shame about their perceived failures to meet their authority figure's standards does a disservice to those people who, if they carry such a way of being into other contexts, will be easily exploited by others. I am irritated by the shaming tone that comes across to me in Taigu's words and refuse to honor or go along with it. If Taigu feels the need to teach in this way, I am happy to return the favor and respond in kind. If we do not want people to berate one another here, I think the standard should go across the board. There's ways to critique and spur students without turning things into a parade of shaming.

  10. #10

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi everyone!
    Important questions are asked here. Our dedication and the will to really share our practice is what makes us a Sangha. I trully understand Taigu's (and Jundo) point here! Even if that can seem a bit authoritarian, Jukai is a big step and we must respect it.
    Now, I'm not a member since a long time, and I believe that last year, and even the year before, most Leafers did share their sewing at the very end, just before (or a month maybe) Jukai (note that I can be wrong).
    All this to say that the medium we use to share (Internet) is a gift and a curse at the same time! It's so easy to "hide" behind our screens, or to take all the place and hide other's practices.

    Now, Stephanie, I think your are talking from a very different thing. The efforts you (and I believe Jundo but I can be wrong again) on your project is immense, and it is true that WE didn't give it the attention it needed. But that was not our teachers fault ( I may be wrong again but...). The project is huge and perfectly valuable, but maybe, in some case, it is redundant we the practice some may have (I know it is for some people including myself, or it is just difficult to adjust with every practice we do here at Treeleaf.

    I don't try to excuse just to understand, I mean that I can understand that someone new to Treeleaf made the choice to participate to the Ango (AND ALL THE COMMITMENTS IT INCLUDES) and maybe feel that he could also engage in Jukai (AND ALL THE COMMITMENTS INCLUDED) and want also to dedicate a bit of his time for reading other posts on the forum... and of course have a family and a job...
    I can understand they are sincerely lost and didn't thought at first that it will be so difficult...
    But this practice is not about being easy , AU CONTRAIRE! Maybe it is the best time for them/us to truly practice, when it is not easy at all.

    Again, I don't try to excuse anyone, just to understand... All we do here is experimental and based on the dedication of our teachers, ordained monks, and Sangha members... things are not evident... we are constructing something, and sometimes like when sewing a rakusu, we need to destroy and make again in order to understand what went wrong...

    For that thank you Taigu for remembering us, that this is not a "Dharma-shop" where we come to fill ourselves with spiritual materialism but that it is a place to practice and share as a Sangha!

    deep bows,
    humbly,
    Jinyu

  11. #11

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    There's ways to critique and spur students without turning things into a parade of shaming.
    Hi Stephanie,
    I perfectly understand what you say and I understand your opinion. As always it is a pain in the ass, I'm not you and generally your words are like eating knifes to me... but it is a good medicine for what I've got :lol: Thank you! But...

    Sincerely, I think you mix to very different things.

    One thing is to respect, listen and answer to a teacher in a kind way, respectful of the "frame of the practice and dialogue" that allow this relation. Even if sometimes that can be quite rude or difficult to both.
    And another thing is to say Amen to every thing someone seen as a mentor could say without any safe "frame of relation" that allow to understand and see in what situation the things are said.

    Otherwise you could say that most people in this Sangha, including me of course, is just a good old "ass licker" that spend is time around the teachers to inflate his own Ego...
    I understand the point... but sincerely, isn't that view a bit "childish"? We are not engaged in a crusade against liberty of thought that includes allegiance.
    But a relation of respect to everyone ( teachers too) suppose a common "frame of dialogue and practice". And that includes being there to say that we are happy about this or that ( it is so rare in our world to share our happiness sincerely with each other, here we do this with people from all over the world that we try to know and practice with!).
    And also accepting the words of people who want our good in this practice, and they may be teachers, ordained folks, or just other Leafers as our Ango-partners for example.

    Sometimes it is just good to respect our tradition and teachers because we decided it; and in return they are true to us even if that means "slapping our Ego faces". To me that proves the respect between each other.
    Saying what is true and accepting it is difficult, but that is in my opinion what makes a true relation.

    A guru saying that I'm always right and good might be something very different...
    That doesn't mean that we are sheep or anything...

    That doesn't mean that we don't interpret the words of others, that we "eat without looking" in our plate (I don't know if that means something in English sorry).

    All this to say that a good friend giving you a slap in the face for your good, is sometimes just a good friend... no matter how he express it... That doesn't change the dedication and sincerity that most of us give and receive in this wonderful adventure...

    Call me Buddhist romantic... or even namby pamby ... but that's truly how I feel.
    Now, I will stop talking about this because this is not a fight. I truly love your posts and that doesn't mean I know you... I just try to share my point of view... so please don't take it personal...

    Deep gassho,
    humbly,
    Jinyu

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    My dear colleagues,
    A few thoughts:

    - Surrender to the teachings and not the teacher?

    - The Kesa identified as the body of the Buddha reminds me of the Greek Orthodox / Catholic practices of communion, etc. where wine represents the body of Christ... whatever happened to "when you meet the Buddha, kill him?

    -I find the potential emergence of dogmatic guidelines to be intellectually arteriosclerotic and worthy of a reality (!) check.... reality is defined by some as contact with the immediacy of one's own experience. A lot is to be gained by the act and experience of sewing and the journey it entails. There are also folks out there who have sewn Kesa and have done a miserable job of their practice and adhering to their vows (I am foremost among them).

    Just my two cents....

    A deep bow to you all, and thank you for a lively discussion,

    Yugen

  13. #13

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    There are many music students who show up to college music programs who are largely self-taught. Many of them are very bright and talented. These students also, however, often have strange quirks in the actual technique of playing (using lots of pressure on the neck of a guitar, curving their spine at the piano, playing with too much pressure on the trumpet mouthpiece, etc.). These idiosyncrasies are often the first areas the professional music teacher wants to address because they are the foundation of every sound they will make on their instrument later. But, the students often resist because they have learned to compensate for their quirks. This works fine for them until they are required to start practicing 3-6 hours per day. Then, these quirks are no longer benign. They are carpal-tunnel inducing, lip-tearing nightmares and can spell the end to any real development as a professional musician. Accordingly, many of the best music teachers I know are ones who will tell a student that they have no desire to teach them if they will not address these critical areas, because the student can truly cause themselves permanent damage by doing things "their way." I won't be party to a student injuring their hands on my watch either. Creative work does not mean anything goes. Lastly, the students who do "fix" their technique as they learn are often amazed after a year or two at how much better they can play and remain injury free. Sometimes we don't know what is best for us. Sometimes the teacher does. Sometimes. Trust is the key. If we don't think a teacher has our best interest at heart or is incompetent in their teaching, we should not study with them.

    So, I'm cool with a grumpy Taigu saying that he is not comfortable giving folks Jukai who haven't done things in the way he would like. That's his judgement to make as a teacher. If he thinks it is unhealthy to do Jukai any other way, that's his choice. No one is forcing him to teach and no one is forcing us to study.

    I realize I'm old enough (42) to be moving away from my "authority issues" of youth.

    Gassho,
    Eika

    PS--A college diploma is not necessary for everyone.

  14. #14

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi Yugen,

    Many levels of understanding for killing the Buddha...

    The most superficial one, don't be attached to the Buddha.
    The second one, don't create, make a Buddha separate form this life and these beings.
    The third one, forget about the Buddha.
    The fourth one, as you become one with the Buddha, the Buddha is killed on the spot, instantly. No traces of Buddha left.

    Most people stay at the fisrt level of understanding and claim independance, the right to do this, to think that, criticize and question every inch of the path. Or they want to kill the teacher... :P


    and of course, these four understandings can be experienced all together, at once :wink:

  15. #15

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi Eika,

    Very relevant. The only thing is that it is not about what i like, but what the tradition requires us to do.

    gassho

    Taigu

  16. #16

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    is it to late to be apart of the jukai ceremony this january?i have never sewn a rakasu but i most certainly can in about a month i have some experice doing stiches in kesas and the like.thanks for your time-trevor

  17. #17

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi,

    Here's a very modern, western description of Zen Practice, Teachers and a Sangha ... but it was, I feel, as true in ancient China or Japan as it is in 21st century London or New Jersey. Don't let the humor detract from the serious point:

    A 'Zendo' is so much like a gym or 'health club' (a health club for dropping the whole body-mind, and not just dropping a few excess pounds around the middle). We provide the weight machines, we provide general guidance and instruction in how to use them, demonstrate how to do the stretches beforehand and tips on which muscle groups to focus on, offer talks and reading material on proper exercise. From that point on ...

    ... you're on your own, and ya have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself, for your 'self'.

    (we are always around the gym if there is a question ... or you need to share or a bit of moral support. Same for your gym mates. But that's about it).

    I cannot burn one calorie for you, all I can do is offer some advice on diet and nutrition. I can 'spot' you as you pick up the weights, but you have to move them up and down on your own ... every day. We can push you if you fail to show up for awhile, but we can't chase after you. It is a very lonesome activity ... practicing by yourself, with your 'self' (you cannot even wear an Ipod in this gym, or chat up the girl or guy next to you cause we must 'work out' in silence ... although you are free to hang around in the 'tea room' and joke and schmooze with your gym mates between sets).

    Of course, the point here is not just to get into a bikini for summer ... but to be "One with the Universe" and transcend life and death. But, basically, same idea (and lack thereof)! 8)



    Taigu and I are the two coaches and personal trainers who walk around, give pointers and offer criticism of bad technique. We also encourage and push ... sometimes with sugar, sometimes with a bit of vinegar (Taigu has a bit of the old drill sargent in him...



    I am more a giddy Richard Simmons type ... if you remember him).



    I'm here every day, almost without exception ... but I cannot do anything for anyone. We do not spoon feed "getting into shape" ... there is no "magic diet pill" ... and one has to get on the stairmaster and sweat for a certain number of minutes each day. We can't 'spoon feed' anyone ... this is a practice of "pull one-self up by one's own bootstraps" (THAT's a Koan! How does one do that?) and all we can do is point you in the general direction for you, your self, to head by your own "me myself and I." We don't expect any particular loyalty beyond the advice we give on diet and workout ... but ya have to have some trust in what we are saying and "work the program, stick to the diet plan" we hand out. You have to give it some time, stick with it too ... don't complain if, after two months, one does not have 'enlightenment' or 'six pack abs' yet.

    Rakusu sewing is a stairmaster to nowhere (Actually, more than a few similarities ... because, in both, we push push push forward sincerely ... step by step ... and there is no place to go! And that gets us where we need to go). One cannot stand by the side of the machine and say "that looks pointless" and then complain because your love handles don't vanish.



    Now, being a Yankee ... I have a very practical view of Rakusu sewing (I sometimes call myself a 'pragma-mystic'): (1) If one wishes to dedicate themself to Buddhist Practice via a Jukai, one should dedicate their 'self' enough to at least sew the little Rakusu as a symbol of dedication ... otherwise, for me, it is like dedicating yourself to gym program without being willing to show up and sweat that little bit (2) Rakusu sewing teaches vital lessons in "non-attaining", a life of impermanence and "imperfection", seeing the "sacred" in the most ordinary of things and activities, pouring the "self" into the action of the moment and dropping resistance to circumstances etc. etc. ... i.e. the "Buddhist Practice" that one is supposedly dedicating oneself to (3) rakusu sewing is our tradition and a vital link with tradition ... and should be honored for that reason ... just like one wears a wedding band when married, a silly custom by itself. Show some respect for traditions and commitment!

    Now, Taigu and I do not demand you to sacrifice all your independence, give us your wealth, hang our picture in your bedroom and worship at our feet (even the image makes me a little queasy) ... but we do demand enough trust and compliance with what we are saying that folks "get on the Zen Stairmaster"!



    Gassho and "Just Do It", ya bunch of wimps ... Jundo

    PS -

    Trevor wrote: is it to late to be apart of the jukai ceremony this january?

    Hi Trevor ... Hmmm, why don't you wait until next year, when we begin again. The funny thing about this "training" is that it is how one lives every day ... seeking to avoid harm to self and others (not two), learning the Buddha Way. The Jukai just represents that. If you are doing that, you are already "living by the Precepts and committed to this way." What is more, the Rakusu should not be rushed, even though there is nothing to attain. It is a slow stitch by stitch, like all of life. You should make sure that you are at home in this Sangha as well.

  18. #18

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    By the way ... I hope that my light hearted "Richard Simmons" like comment above does not take away from how serious the point is ...

    ... this practice is about life and death, truly.

  19. #19

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    By the way ... I hope that my light hearted "Richard Simmons" like comment above does not take away from how serious the point is ...
    ...and remember...even Richard Simmons made his students cry. So. He wasn't always sugar and spice. :P :mrgreen:

  20. #20
    Stephanie
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Now that my anger has settled, I just want to clarify where that anger came from, for what it's worth.

    The anger had nothing to do with Taigu being a "drill sergeant" or insisting on the rakusus being done a certain way.

    It had to do with the way Taigu communicated things. I am very wary of accusing others of being "selfish" as a way of shaming and putting them in their place. I am also wary of selecting the obedient members of a group as examples. These are psychological tactics I believe are emotionally harmful. I am "immune" because I know them so well, but to see them used at all makes me angry, especially in "my" sangha.

    I personally refuse to be talked to or treated in certain ways, and will not silently accept it.

    Taigu has apparently decided I am not worth his time to address, and perhaps we can agree the feeling is mutual and leave it at that.

    The other sangha members can decide what they are willing to accept, and I can submit to a group decision that it is OK for Taigu to speak to you all like that, but I cannot put myself in a group of people addressed in such a manner.

    I am willing to submit to authority figures but only if I respect that they are deserving of their authority, and my determination of such is based on how they deal with people. I respect authority figures who are just and impartial and who treat those with less power than them with dignity and respect, and consider their lives and situations.

    "You haven't yet sewn a rakusu because you're a selfish salon intellectual who comes here just to chit-chat and is not living this practice" is about as unfair a characterization as I think is possible of what people in this sangha are actually doing. I have been inspired this Ango by the sincerity and effort of the people in this sangha, the things we are all living and practicing with, and struggling and stumbling along the way, but always getting back up.

  21. #21

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    And just because I am a Pol Sci wonk and a bureaucrat........is there some kind of list posted here of those who DID sign up for Jukai??

  22. #22
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    By the way ... I hope that my light hearted "Richard Simmons" like comment above does not take away from how serious the point is ...
    As long as you don't put on the shorts. :P

    Nah, seriously, the whole gym metaphor is a pretty good one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Now, Taigu and I do not demand you to sacrifice all your independence, give us your wealth, hang our picture in your bedroom and worship at our feet (even the image makes me a little queasy) ... but we do demand enough trust and compliance with what we are saying that folks "get on the Zen Stairmaster"!
    And that's good too. I think I've seen and learned enough here to be comfortable enough to say that next year I'm going to sew a rakusu and participate in jukai. (So, Trevor, looks like we're going to be in the same "class of 2011"!)

  23. #23

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi Stephanie,

    So... I don't treat people with respect and dignity. I spend my time scolding and being the displine guy. In fact, I am a despicable person unworthy of my responsability and authority...

    I am not sure your anger has settled. Maybe could you apply to yourself the questions of Byron Katie? Just a thought, reallly...

    Is all this true? Do you think it is true? Give me a stress-free reason to believe it is true.Turn it around...
    As I do the work I can only see that I know this voice in you, I know it too well, and my job is not to identify with it. I also know my resistance to authority or my tendency to always challenge authority ( French Karma).

    But clearly, I don't see how I have dealt with people repeatedly the way you experience it. The job of the teacher is not always to give goody-goodies and sweets but to challenge the the voice of the ego and, guess what, the ego hates it...

    gassho to Buddha Stephanie

    Taigu

  24. #24

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi again,

    You are right about the fact that I could have spoken more directly to you in the past. Mea culpa.

    one more little thing...The space I am talking about is the space of sitting Zen, anymore Taigu this, Treeleaf that in there?

    gassho

    Taigu

  25. #25
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Stephanie, you like straight talk, so here is some. You need to step off your 100 foot ego pole.
    Everything you write is some form of an "I" statement, and you need to give it up. You did a whole thread insisting there is no self, so let your "self" go and do the work!
    Let it go.
    Repeat, LET IT GO!

    I hate to be dualistic, but at some point you need to either let it go or let us go. We are willing to help, have been trying to help, but you have to take the step off the 100 foot ego pole and let someone else catch you, and that requires some faith that WE will catch you. I don't rely on Jundo or Taigu. I don't communicate with just Jundo or Taigu. I rely on and communicate with this whole sangha, this group of people that have joined together in this unique way to support our practice, a practice that does not go the way we plan hardly ever. And that's the Whole Point! Because without Treeleaf my whole practice goes to shit, and that's where you sound like your going, all because it's not the way you want. You keep saying your not young and naive, but a true grown up knows there are times when they don't get what they want and just have to let it go.

    Stephanie, you have a terrific intellect, and you rely on it very strongly, but it's not enough, but how's all that intellect working out for you in your practice? Not so well from what I can see here lately. So you have to let it go. A little faith in Treeleaf and all of us that make up this sangha can conquer a lot of fear, so I wonder these two things:
    1) How long can you keep fighting your self like this? Because you're not fighting any of us.
    2) What are you afraid of? Your self?

    Gassho to the Kannon in you.....

  26. #26
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Just a little more, Stephanie...

    Taigu wrote a call to action:
    Treeleaf is not a salon to discuss exciting issues, try to talk philosophically and give one's opinion about this and that. It is a practice place. Sitting and sewing.
    And you wrote this:
    Jundo appealed to me to come up with a service project for the sangha and I put a lot of effort into developing and refining an idea, but when the next step was feedback from the rest of the sangha, the thread fell to the bottom of the forum, untouched and forgotten. There it still sits. For all the enthusiasm expressed about the idea, no one actually wanted to take action
    Sometimes we fight that image in the mirror. I ask again, who are you fighting?
    Gassho to the Kannon I hope you find in your mirror.

  27. #27

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hellos to all posting here
    Had some thoughts after reading the various posts
    bear with me:
    Zen practice, in my 28 years of exposure to zen buddhism, balances not only the autonomic nervous system in zazen as Gudo Nishijima Roshi explains it, but also the whole of one’s personality. If male, feminine aspects emerge and if female, masculine aspects emerge. Most people enjoy the sweetness and gentle natures many male zen masters display their ‘maleness’ hasn’t gone away, and I am not implying here that it is not masculine to be sweet or gentle (please also note I said many--not all I don't want a list of all the ornery tough guys of zen thrown at me)
    I am saying that in my experience I have observed that among long time practitioners their personalities/natures appear to ‘balance’ And I also am saying that this balancing (in my experience—which is anecdotal and not scientifically based) tends to bring out in women traits we typically associate with men, and when we see these traits in women we experience them as abrasive; whereas the feminine traits which are brought out in male practitioners are generally experienced as more ‘pleasant.’
    These are my experiences and my observations. I am making generalizations here for the illustration of a point. I am not seeking to cause disharmony.
    I am merely remarking upon my own personal observations.
    In zen there is no male and female. In our culture and our society there is.
    In sitting zazen over time I personally have observed--for lack of better words: a balancing of one’s nature: nothing is excluded, and those aspects and traits of one’s personality which have been quashed, curtailed, cropped, lopped, denied—they find their expression and the form of their expression.
    Women become quite formidable, there is power, strength, resilience---not that these aren’t traits found in what is deemed ‘feminine’ but these are aspects of the feminine our culture, our society don’t typically portray as feminine.
    The last thing I want to open up here is a male versus female discussion about what constitutes what.
    As far as practice goes the differences don’t make a difference.

    From where I sit, there is nothing wrong with Stephanie, or any aspect of Stephanie, never has been. The longer she sits the more all aspects of her nature will just naturally balance. They are doing that right now, and not just for her, but for us all.
    Zen turns men into sweetie pies and women into iron mountains: that’s my experience in sitting with White Plum Asangha (Maezumi Roshi lineage), One Drop Zendo (now Tanden Zendo), Shodo Harada Roshi (rinzai); I have encountered women in my own Soto lineage who sit on a regular basis but not many—most of the time I’ve been the only one, or one of two present, one of a scant handful in a roomful of menfolks.
    My comments here are offered to help in developing an understanding, an understanding of subtle aspects of long term practice.
    Above comments in this thread include remarks about ego and such: well that isn’t the sense I have at all. To label something one doesn't understand is irresponsible.
    Understanding means refraining from premature conjectures, it means observing.
    As I write this I realize I may have stumbled upon the answer (to a long held question of mine) as to why so few women are drawn to zen buddhism, yet Tibetan buddhism (so I hear) is very popular among the ladies. Could it be all those fierce warrioresses?

    Maybe someday someone will do a study and research on this stuff and get a thesis out of it!

    My purpose is not to make factions or create disharmony. Often I don’t say anything. My posts are more often on the succinct side.
    Now and again I do go on a bit as I have here.

    I appreciate your kindness and patience in reading through my hairbrained hypothesis based on my informal observations.
    And I am going to ask for yet another kindness and additional patience:
    Just don’t.
    Just don’t get the kneejerk response out: “How can you say that about women not being strong, why my mother used to …..and my grandmother….if you kept your apron on….
    Buddha didn’t want women in this practice…”
    and what all and what not. Just don't.
    As I said above, but it bears saying again:
    My intention is not to open up a male vs. female discussion, my intention is not to create disharmony.
    My intention, my intention is to share SOMETHING I HAVE OBSERVED DURING 21+ YEARS OF SITTING. I think it is of interest to note as a phenomena and I think it may be worthy to consider as the tentative generalization it is AND THEN LET IT PASS THROUGH CONSCIOUSNESS UNOBSTRUCTED—as with other thoughts: mere brain farts. If useful, good, then apply in the correct place and time, if not, then pouf!gone and nothing to trouble anyone or anything about.

    Nothing is ‘wrong’ with Stephanie. Nothing at all. At all. Teachers and students usually work things out, they wouldn't be teachers or students for long if they didn't.

    Again, thank you all again for your kindness and your patience.

  28. #28
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Thank you Keishin for that very interesting and quite possibly correct perspective.

    Stephanie, I fully concede to your feminist arguments in general about power and oppression and I fully support your struggle against such forces. I just believe that you have wrapped yourself so tightly in those arguments that you have created a highly intellectualized egoistic (100 foot pole) "self" that is counterproductive in this situation here at Treeleaf, thus the calls to let it go. Do even buddhist teachers like Jundo and Taigu have power? Yes. But are they oppressive? I don't think so, but if you do then you need to either find some way to work it out with them, as Keishin mentions, or find new teachers that will give you what you want. In either case, my bet is teachers will tell you to let it go, because that's the Zen Path we're on.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    How odd it is that I think I agree with both AlanLa and Keishin (whose observations are quite interesting!)

    I'm a good ten years past having anything useful to say about feminism or "the feminine." I'm also reluctant to jump in here, as I see this teacher/student conflict as being between Taigu and Stephanie and only Taigu and Stephanie. However, here it is in this thread.

    I agree there is "nothing wrong with Stephanie." But I also see an ego issue, and it's one I've experienced myself from time to time. This business of nursing wounds, of lamenting yet cherishing the antiauthoritarian, outsider image while denigrating other sangha members--perceived as favorites--as "obedient" (yes, I know you're really calling them spineless sheep) troubles me. It's the kind of thinking that, for me anyway, has led to much unhappiness and loneliness in the past. Let it go, as others have said. Or maybe "sit with that," as Jundo would say. The more you try to explain it, the more defensive you get, the worse it sounds.

    Stephanie, I hope this is helpful, as it is my intention to be. We've never communicated directly or anything but I've seen your posts around and I've found some of them to be quite challenging and thought-provoking (one way or another :wink: ) and helpful to my own practice, for which I thank you. I believe many of us here have tried to give you good advice with the best of intentions . . . even Taigu with his cutting words.

    And, at this point, I'm just going to stop and take my nose back out of this. Hope the teacher/student rift can be amended.

    Gassho.

  30. #30

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Jundo,Taigu,Eika,Perry,Erik,Jinyu,Yugen,Jennifer,A lanLA,Keishin Deep appreciation to you all for the time and thoughtfulness of your posts. It makes one realize the true "GEM" Tree Leaf.
    Stephanie,
    Please take the time to read each post carefully without thought of responding but absorbing their content. if you don't feel the warm embrace of the Sangha it will be a point truly missed. My best wishes for your journey and practice. gassho shogen/zak

  31. #31

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi Taigu,
    I am not ignoring you. I sewed a rakusu (different pattern) just before joining Treeleaf, I showed this to Jundo on Skype, he approved. As I told him though, I am now sewing-alonga-Taigu the Trealeaf Myoho version to fully immerse myself in the sangha. It is perfectly imperfect. The first one was all blind stitching so the mistakes are mostly hidden, but this version is more honest, every bad stitch is on show, even as there are no bad stitches.Photos will come probably next week as that is when I should get my camera back from the menders ( I dropped it ops: ).
    I enjoyed my Skype talk with Jundo and look forward to meeting you on skype. Perhaps we can set up a time, I am available anytime (unless I get a job :lol: ) and have a few things to discuss.

    Much Gassho

    Joe

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Taigu,
    Thank you for your reply - I agree with your levels of understanding for killing the Buddha - I see a bit of each in my own practice. And you are very responsible ( and doing the job of a good teacher ) to not only encourage, but challenge our practice. Often that entails putting oneself in the "line of fire" as a teacher. You and Jundo have every right to set out expectations for practice and the path and we are free to choose to accept or not accept. As students, fellow members of the community, and teachers in our own right we test our understanding (where we are "right now")... thanks for your remarks, encouragement, and provocations ( I had a Professor of ancient greek in university who used to challenge us in contextual translations - he would issue a "provocation" to unsettle our thinking or shake us loose from previously held notions - I have adopted this terminology and tactic in the classroom myself - it can be as gentle or direct as one wishes - but compassionate throughout).

    Gassho,
    Yugen

  33. #33
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    I had to give myself a few days to "cool off" before being able to return and comment on this thread.

    I am aware that when I get heated, my abrasive mode of expression means that my original message doesn't get communicated, because people react to the sharpness of it instead of what was being said. I certainly don't think I expressed my points skillfully. So I take responsibility for the fact that the points I was trying to make didn't seem to come across.

    I know that for centuries, Zen has been transmitted through a purely patriarchal / hierarchical social and political system. And I find much to admire, actually, in this and all other aspects of the Zen tradition. But I also find it to be the most ripe for change.

    I don't believe that a Zen community should be a pure democracy. That would be incoherent. But I think a culture should be fostered in which teachers are consistently held responsible for their words and actions, and not given carte blanche to communicate with sangha members in any way they see fit. I think we should all be equally beholden to the same Dharma and the same standards of speech and behavior.

    I find that Jundo has gone above and beyond to promote this kind of atmosphere at Treeleaf. I don't see Jundo, or Taigu, as evil abusers of their authority. What I do see them as, however, is ordinary, flawed human beings, just like the rest of us. And I think it's dangerous when everything a teacher does is justified by his/her authority rather than the apparent virtue of the action itself. I don't ever want that to become the norm here at Treeleaf; I think that would go against so much of what Jundo put in to founding this place of practice.

    I think scolding and sharp words not only have a place in a zendo, but have an important place. My issue was not with Taigu issuing a "scold" or a reminder. It was the way it was done. Had Taigu said, flat out, "People who do not send a rakusu to me will not get the lineage chart and will not complete jukai" this wouldn't have elicited a single drop of concern from me. I would have supported that statement.

    However, the 1-2 punch of naming the "good boys/girls" and by implication, also the "bad boys/girls," and following that up with an accusation that rather than being, say, conflicted, busy, or even lazy, the people who had not yet started a rakusu were being selfish, trying to take without giving or doing, and not sincerely practicing, was and remains unacceptable to me.

    I'm very wary of the use of terms like "egotistical" and "selfish" as scold words in a spiritual context. Not that they're never appropriate; goodness knows I can be selfish and egotistical, this is why I practice, and I need reminders sometimes. But they are often abused. I find that on average, there are far more "givers" than "takers" drawn to spiritual practice. And "givers" often have experiences of being emotionally manipulated with guilt and shame for not setting aside self-concern 100% of the time. The result is that the "givers" try harder to achieve their ideal, saintly level of selflessness while takers coast by on what they give. It's a tried and true manipulation tactic that abusers and takers know how to use to their full advantage. Now, I'm not saying Taigu is an abuser or a taker, but I find the word "selfishly" was similarly abused in this instance.

    I imagine a lot of people who intended to do jukai who had not yet started a rakusu had not done so because of overwhelming emotional and time/energy demands of their lives. I know many Europeans have it much better, living in saner cultures with more reasonable balance in work and "free" time, but most Americans I know are constantly beating themselves up for not being able to do more with the scant time and energy left over from working and commuting, not to even mention family and home care demands. And no doubt people living in many countries face challenges that make the American lifestyle look like a cakewalk. Add in daily zazen--many people committing to two periods or even more a day--and regular intensive sittings, precept study, and other practices, and it's clear that even the most dedicated practitioner might have a hard time fitting in learning something that is most likely completely foreign to them--sewing a garment. Now, I'm not saying these things shouldn't be done, or that people shouldn't have to find a way to get a rakusu done to complete Jukai. But to give overburdened people a guilt trip, and say shaming things about them, was and remains inappropriate and unnecessary in my book.

    And Taigu, I would ask you the same: did you do the Work on the thoughts/beliefs you expressed in this thread? Do you absolutely know it's true that people who have not yet completed or started a rakusu have not done so because they want to selfishly plunder the teachings and/or engage in casual intellectual discourse rather than practice? Where did you get this idea from? Why did you feel it was necessary to put things in this way?

    I want to make it clear. I do not need, or even desire, to be in continual conflict with sangha teachers and leaders. I do not refuse to submit to a teacher. But I do refuse to accept certain speech and behavior, and I don't care whether it's my boss or my coworker, my Zen teacher or Dharma sister or brother, my family member, my friend, my neighbor or a stranger doing it. It's when I stop speaking up or challenging what I see as injustice that I really know I'm spiritually dead. I came dangerously close to that apathy while living in New York.

    I stick by my principles and cannot say I won't challenge the teachers again. But I do respect the will of the sangha and if the sangha considers my not infrequent challenges to teachers a threat to the harmony of the sangha, I will leave. And I appreciate the excellent points made by AlanLa and Keishin, gassho to you both. And I apologize for unnecessary harshness in my words, and especially apologize to Taylor, who is dramatically undeserving of some of the things I've directed at him.

    Taylor, you remind me so much of myself when I was 19 it's not even funny, and so my responses to you are filtered through the "things my 27 year old self would have said to my 19 year old self" filter. I still mourn the lost innocence of my 19 year old self, and the lightness of spirit I carried a mere 8 years ago. And illogically, this comes out as resentment or scorn for people who express the open, gentle, and sunny nature I had during one shimmering period of my life. I don't know what your experience is or was and I shouldn't automatically dismiss things you say or do because I once said or did them and was later proven wrong by life. Maybe you won't be proven wrong. Maybe you don't have the disillusionment ahead of you that I faced.

    But I also think that those of us who have a bit harder struggle of it--with the demands of our lives, and/or our own inner demons, and/or aspects of the practice we find difficult--should not be dressed down for these imperfections and compared negatively to people who find it easier to "just do it." As a clinical social worker, I know that a client's resistance is the richest source of material for us to work with to help address the client's needs, issues, and challenges. This is another reason I'm not a fan of an authoritarian / patriarchal hierarchy model of learning. Many of us learn through expressing and working with our resistance. A sharp verbal slap from a teacher can be part of that process, but emotional manipulation of the sort I saw going on here is directly antithetical to that.

    I'm tender to the "difficult" people of this world, perhaps because I am one of them in some ways. One of my passions is finding a way to keep difficult people in the community, even if it is difficult for the less difficult among us. This is why one of my big issues is prison reform and alternatives to incarceration. And why I continue to be sad about Chet's absence from the sangha. And why I keep forgiving and trying to work with my own father. I think the "enlightened" approach is to always try to listen, and understand one another better. Everyone's mistakes and failures have a reason. I hope our community can continue to be a welcoming place for all and a space where we can safely work with and through our resistances and flaws. And I hope you all can forgive my own trespasses against the harmony of the community.

    I hope I have expressed myself better this time. I again apologize for the unnecessary roughness in my words and for calling out innocent bystanders :wink: And Taigu, I appreciate you finally addressing me directly and being willing to work with a challenging student, instead of just dismissing or writing me off as it seemed you were doing before.

    I also apologize for the length of this post.

    Gassho.

  34. #34

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    This thread made me feel a bit uneasy.

    Philosophically, you and me Stephanie are miles apart judging from our discussions in other threads, but on this issue I must say that I agree with you completely. The things you said in your responses was exactly how I felt. And I didn't even feel like I was the intended target of the original post. Sometimes words are that powerful. It has nothing to do with authority. It has nothing to do with being self-absorbed. It has everything to do with the way things are said, and what it connotes.

    Just sayin'.




    Walking away ...

  35. #35

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Shunryu Suzuki, August 14, 1967. Emphasis is my addition.

    Our study will be concentrated for a while on the statement: “The mind itself is Buddha.”[1] It is pretty difficult to study, to listen to our lectures or our teachings. Usually when you study something, and even when you are listening to our lecture, I think that what you understand will be an echo of yourself. You think you are listening to me, but actually you are listening to yourself, so no progress will result. You always understand our lecture in your own way. Your understanding is always based on your way of thinking. So I think that you hear my voice and see my face, but actually you see yourself, and what you hear is nothing but an echo of yourself.

    My study was like that for a long time. I think this is often the case when we study Buddhism. If you want to study Bud*dhism, you have to clear your mind. You should not have any prejudice. You should forget all you have learned before.

    Excerpt from http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/dharma-talk ... 0#more-650
    I found this talk today, and this part seemed to speak to this very topic. Not posting it to side with one group or the other (although, for full disclosure, I do have a more traditional-ish stance)--I just wanted to add a third perspective that seemed, to me, to address the two factions.

    I've said before, we're a sangha. A group of people. Any time there is a group of people (even two, in a marriage!) there are bound to be disagreements, misunderstandings, lapses in judgment. But there is always common ground, always a place to sit and talk with cool heads and calm hearts. I stand by that sentiment.

    Please remember this. The we take refuge in the sangha. The sangha protects and guides us, even as we protect and guide it.

    Metta and Gassho to both factions.

    Perry

  36. #36
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Well said Perry and a poignant message from Suzuki Roshi at any time!

    Many gassho's Nigel

  37. #37

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Hi all, Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for taking the time. And Stephanie, thank you for your words.

    I went through what I said, and would say it again. You can question the teacher ( I am so glad you don't have to put up with the control freaks I had as teachers), Stephanie, and you are also invited to surrender to the tradition. If something resists tradition in you, that has to be challenged too. We live in a society where it is not good to be a teacher, teacher are not respected anymore, taken for granted and accused of all sorts of flaws and bad deeds. I know what I am talking about because because it happens to be my job too. And I am very popular with my language students, known as fair and kind, but very unpopular with the guys messing in the corridor. I don't like the politicaly correct, and I like to be honnest and say what I mean and mean what I say. I honnestly don't see why my words can be perceived as offending, hurting. If I have ro dress up every single word and be absolutely sure not to offend anybody...It would all be very blunt. But it is true that when students are told they are wrong today, they cannot generally take it. In classrooms, corridors or life.

    I also sometimes feel a lot weary, for all this energy, these hours on skype, this work on the teaching when I don't even have time for myself, 11, sometimes 12 hours of teaching a day, 4 hours of commuting...any teacher would tell you it is insane. I accepted the responsability of passing on the teachings and in particular, the teaching about the robe...Almost (if not) all the relunctant people that gave it a go now undertsand...Not only they can see it was not overwhelming or just plain stupid or cultural, but they are now very dedicated and commited to the kesa.

    I am glad we can have this conversation. And I don't ask you to kiss my feet. If you don't like my style, fair enough, Jundo is a great teacher, full of flaws like any of us. Teachers come in many flavours. It is all about ice cream, just a different taste.And as teachers, we have a responsability, Stephanie, it is to make sure the Dharma is properly given, taught and experienced. As students you also have a duty, to practice the teachings and bring them to life.

    We do all this not for money or fame. We do it for you.

    We don't even expect thank you ( although, i tell you, people would certainly feel and be better if thay could cultivate gratitude)...The best way to thank us is to practice.

    And yes, I did the Work with a fair conclusion, my real mistake is not to have written directly to you. I do apologize.

    gassho


    Taigu

  38. #38
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    To avoid offense is pretty much impossible. For those that cannot avoid being offended, however, to let go of offense can be good practice. But it can also be good to try and help others in a constructive way so they do not create offense again, no matter how unintended. Such a balance this messy practice is.

  39. #39

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    It is indeed much easier to not confront that which is difficult.
    Much easier if we are all friends.
    Much more enjoyable.
    Everything is bliss.
    Everyone is sleeping.

    Tea, anyone?
    Just water, and leaves.
    No fuss.
    No nothing.
    But the water is too hot.

    Ah, but that is what we all want, isn't it? Emptiness?

    I grow weary.
    Maybe this is a poem.
    Maybe it isn't.

    Still waters. But there's a storm a-coming.
    Forget about the boat.
    It is easier to drown,
    and be reborn as crickets.
    But there's no such thing as rebirth
    it is only hallucinations
    of the Buddhas past.
    At least the crickets make good music.

    I salute the Buddhas of the past
    their robes are made of expensive silk,
    separating them from the common man,
    and yet
    they are no more than you or me.

    May all beings be from from suffering,
    cries the crickets.

  40. #40

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Nothing more.

  41. #41

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    The Buddha's robe is not made of silk.
    Expensive or cheap.
    Not made of silk
    Neither silk nor cotton.
    It is only in the imagination of modern men that a robe separates Buddhas from common men.
    Whoever takes the time it takes to study and practice the kesa will tell you:
    it is humbling, very humbling.
    It is only in the imagination of modern men that Buddhas of the past can manifest.
    Three times swallowed.
    One precious bright pearl.
    By the way, crickets don't make music.
    Where does this music come from?
    A good old koan for all of us.


    Thank you for your poem, Anista.

    gassho

    Taigu

  42. #42

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Well, Jukai means to surrender to BUDDHA's way.And the kesa is Buddha's body. And Buddha's body is wraped in the kesa. Kesa and Samadhi seen as one. Even today. Even now. It is not a Japanese thing, something cultural you can get rid of.


    And Buddha's way was to bathe, take what little he already had, accept gifts of food and grass, and go sit under a tree. Nothing else. Just sit. I'm following. Respectfully and with no malice or confrontation, I'm going to have to sit this one out. Buddha was not a monk at the time of his enlightenment, nor was he following "rules" imposed by anyone else in the hope of attaining something. If I were to sew this rakusu, I'd be doing so with the goal of Jundo/Taigu's approval and making Jukai in mind. That cannot be right.

  43. #43

    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    And Buddha's way was to bathe, take what little he already had, accept gifts of food and grass, and go sit under a tree. Nothing else. Just sit. I'm following. Respectfully and with no malice or confrontation, I'm going to have to sit this one out. Buddha was not a monk at the time of his enlightenment, nor was he following "rules" imposed by anyone else in the hope of attaining something. If I were to sew this rakusu, I'd be doing so with the goal of Jundo/Taigu's approval and making Jukai in mind. That cannot be right.
    (RAMBLING POST WARNING)

    Hello Kvon,

    Respectfully, he was not a monk, but he was a mendicant. He may not have belonged to an order, chanted, subscribed to an established philosophy or religion at the time of Anuttara Samma-Sambodhi, but I think the heart of the matter is the same.

    To throw oneself in fully, no trace left.

    Who cares if you call it "monk," "priest," "layman" or "hermit." All are labels.

    This is a practice of going beyond labels, no?

    And as to the sewing, and doing it with goals in mind--

    This is just what's happened to me, but I started out wanting to make a perfect Rakusu, do Taigu and Jundo proud, have a beautiful robe for Jukai. But it didn't end up like that. Lose a stitch here, iron in a wrinkle there, fabric stretching, blood getting on it.

    It's impossible to do perfectly. And I think that's freeing.

    I find that now, I sew for sewing. There may be a goal somewhere in the back of my mind, but it's not all that important. Gradually, I think that the disappointing nature of sewing-practice seeps in, and gradually you realize that you're sewing. No reason for sewing, no obsessive motivation. Just stitch after stitch after stitch.

    And I think that Jukai, like (I suspect) all of the other ceremonies, is just making public what already is. Does wearing the Rakusu make you submit to the Buddha-Way? I don't think so, any more than I think that wearing a wedding-ring makes you love your wife. (HOPEFULLY) You loved your partner before marrying.

    And I think that the Dharma is the same.

    Just my thoughts,

    Perry

  44. #44
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    In the words of Kind Edward III of England;
    "Honi soit qui mal y pense"
    Each of us takes thee precepts in our own way. As Buddha intimated, Don't take my words as truth, go, search for yourself. The danger in that may be taking things too literally.

    gassho,

  45. #45
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Where are all the guys gone?...Rakusu blues

    GROUP HUG!!!!!!!!!!

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