Can it be explained any clearer than that?
First of all, great post! It really was, and it actually helped me visualize buddhadhatu. In a yummy way.Originally Posted by Jundo
Second of all, I apologize, but my response wasn't meant for you, Jundo (or, well, all my posts are meant for anyone who wants them) but was meant as a response to what I'm often seeing here, that is: somebody starts talking about intellectual stuff, and then, sooner or later, someone comes in and says "Hey guys, stop talking about this, go practice instead". Like intellectual debates aren't supposed to exist in a zen samgha, or that they are stealing time from sitting practice. Maybe for some folks, they are. In my case, no, not at all. There is a time and place for everything. Well, anyway, it gets tiresome after a while, and lately I've been starting to react badly when I'm constantly seeing this attitude (not just here though, in any zen buddhist forum). But that is, of course, my own problem. I should strive to correct this.
Also, as I said, I have no problem with cryptical answers, or short answers, or poetic answers for that matter. But I also have no problem with intellectual answers. Each to his own, right?
Understood. I am a lawyer by training (long ago), with a library of about 500 books on Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist history ... and I consider myself a pretty philosophical fellow. I also -do not- appreciate the folks who just yell "MU" or "GO SIT" in the face of any question.
YES, our way is both SITTING/PRACTICE and AN UNDERSTANDING OF BUDDHIST TEACHINGS/PHILOSOPHY/HISTORY to mold and guide the SITTING/PRACTICE. I have spoken about that MANY TIMES (you can see some of my library in this one) ...
http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with ... right.html
HOWEVER. we in the Zen corner of Buddhism tend to have a QUICK THRESHOLD and SHORT FUSE for what constitutes "angels on the head of a pin" "chicken and egg" debates and discussions. Such discussions can sometimes aid practice, but often they detract from our way ... BECAUSE WE ARE SO MUCH ABOUT LETTING QUESTIONS BE, LETTING QUESTIONS FADE AWAY AND BECOME THUS "NON-QUESTIONS" ... DROPPING "THE CHICKEN" AND DROPPING "THE EGG".
I do not mean "ignorance", FAR FROM IT! But dropping some questions is often an answer! For example, if you saw two fellows debating the question "Which fly higher and with more grace? green flying elephants or pink flying elephants" ... you might tell them to drop the flying elephants! (maybe drop the bottle of scotch too! 8) )
I wrote the following ...
So, when I find folks trying to "discover Buddha Nature" by discussing "what is Buddha Nature" ... I use the example I mentioned ...[Someone wrote me to ask] "Does Satori provide the answer to the ‘big questions’?"
Our Practice provides some very specific (and wonderful) answers to some 'big questions'. For example, Buddhism provides very clear guidance for and understanding of the origins of human suffering in this life. The "Four Noble Truths". for example, provide a formula that effectively describes the sickness and provides the medicine for its treatment or cure.
Our Practice provides some very wonderful answers to other 'big questions' by instructing us to drop the questions as meaningless. Some questions are as pointless as our asking 'how many angels can gather on the head of a pin' or 'what color are the rabbits that live on the moon'. An example of such a question may be "where do we 'go' when we die, and where did we 'come from' before we were born" (I will talk about that in another posting later this week).
Hand in hand with the above, many questions we regularly ask may just be phrased poorly, biased by our narrow, anthropocentric human understanding. An example of that may be "why do 'bad things' happen in the world". When we change the way the question is asked, answers begin to present themselves (I will talk about that too in the coming days). Hitting the "reset button' on so many of our misguided questions are what most of those old Koans are on about, by the way.
And sometimes, Buddhism provides no answer to some 'big questions' (although that may be a kind of 'answer' too!). One such question may be whether or not there is actually a 'God' in the Judeo-Christian sense (and whether, for example, Jesus was 'His Son'). To such questions, our Zen Practice allows us to believe what we wish, or to take no stand at all. I often say:
Is there a "God named 'Jehovah'"? .......... If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.
Is there not some "God named 'Jehovah'"? .......... If not, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.
I will also examine that, and related matters, in future postings.
Oh, and I will also talk about what that word 'Satori' means in the coming days.
So, my response for today: Sometimes YES! Sometimes NO! Sometimes WHAT QUESTION?!?!
It is much like debating and discussing "what is Chocolate?" One should not overly philosophize about chocolate, its chemical make-up, whether "chocolate is a "thing" or a "color" or a "taste" or a "mental state", whether chocolate exists everywhere in the dish or only on the tongue or in the eye which sees it, whether the chocolate comes before the cocoa bean or after the bean, or the shoe size of the President of the Chocolate Company.
One just sits down and TASTES THE CHOCOLATE! 8)
Something like that. We have a quick threshold for "angel on heads of pins."
Will you please stop with the chocolate metaphors? It causes unecessary suffering to those of us who are not allowed it. And NO! it not all good practice, chocolate pravation is horrible.
Back to banana ketchup it is!Originally Posted by Onshin
ugh no Chocolate?
Now another way of understanding the pudding metaphor could lead some to believe that ours is a practice of cannibalism; if you all were made of pudding, I'm sorry but I think my hunger would take over. hahahaahah :mrgreen:
Someone said this recently; I completely forget (I'm sorry :roll: ). But that's the rub with our practice. We could just sit back and say all is pudding, but we have to realize it and to realize it we have to do the work and the search.
By the way, if you guys would like to have a serious discussion of the nature of "Buddha Nature", please do and I do not mean to discourage you. Just start a new thread and go ahead. It is actually an interesting topic, although also a bit "eye of the beholder".
Same for anyone who wants to debate "green flying elephants"! :wink:
I cannot guaranty that either discussion will "take off", but let's see,
I think perhaps this question indicates a misunderstanding of the experience of satori. Satori is an intense experiential experience of understanding some aspect of that great understanding we call enlightenment. Satori IS understanding. Satori doesn't "provide" anything, in perhaps the same way that music doesn't provide sound, music IS sound (of what ever sort of sound(s) the particular music is). People seem to think satori is some exotic experience, actually if you can think of some moment when some aspect of your life or reality or whatever was unclear and suddenly you Got It! Suddenly everything about a particular situation was suddenly absolutely clear and vivid and In Your Face (in a wonderful way)(and in your whole being). This is similar to satori only a satori is a much more intense version of this. Perhaps this is useful. For some zennies (or anyone) this happens at some random moment. For some zennies, the experience of understanding is like the dew of many years gently soaking into ones being. And for many people it is both sudden and gradual.Originally Posted by Jundo
For everyone, sudden or gradual, understanding comes over and over throughout one's life. This reflects the second vow "Delusions are inexhaustible - I vow to end them". And in my experience, if I don't understand, reality will keep slamming into my face until I do understand, stop being in denial or whatever.
I hope this was useful to someone
Thank you, Rowan. This above said it very nicely. Like diving into the sea, or walking through a mist as one's sleeves become damp.Originally Posted by Jinho
Very very fine answer, Jinho. Very fine look on the processs from a Rinzai viewpoint. Perfectly right.
Now, in Dogen teachings, the ultimate cannot be known for when it is, it is not outside of itself. You can only see something if you separate yourself from it, the experience of non-duality leaves no trace whatsoever. That's why a statement like : I have satori is a very crooked statement. One of my first teachers used to say: naturally, automatically, spontaneously... in this, no feed back, just action and awakening as one. People endlessly mentionning their maha kensho ( you certainly know who I am talking about...) are doing a good job bragging about a very limited and crooked experience. Another way to put it is that there is no enlightenment outside activity. Enlightened activity is the blossoming-blooming-unfolding of as-it-isness and in it, no room for navel gazing and once crossed no anniversary celebrations either.
The Dharma is the invitation for everybody to naturally unfold their true nature. Quite ordinary and yet very very wonderful.
A last word: the day you don't mind anymore about being enlightened and stop chasing smokes and mirrors, the day you just taste water as water and wine as wine, is the day the gate of activity is wide open.
I wonder if the conversation might not be abetted by losing some of the more cliched terms like 'unfolding the Buddha nature', etc. Not because they're wrong, but because they've been repeated so many times that they start to lose their effectiveness - it's not the fault of the terms, if we could just come to them with a fresh mind it would be no problem. Maybe it's just me.
That's why Jundo's pudding metaphor, as cheesy as it may be perceived, at least makes you approach the things he's talking about without automatically thinking you understand because you've heard it so much. Or it did for me...
So yeah - Zen is useless so why do you sit? I think zazen being actually useless is not the same as the story 'zen is useless'. My ex-girlfriend used to ask me why I meditated and I'd say 'there is no reason'. She'd say, 'if there is no reason, why do it?'. If I felt like being enigmatic, I'd say, 'Yes.'. If I felt more compassionate, I'd say, 'you'd have to do it to understand - I can't explain it very well.'.
When I sit, zazen becomes useless just by 'engaging the clutch' and not being driven by thoughts. The gears aren't turning, and without anything to push against, the engine drops to a low idle - very occasionally it sputters to a timeless stop before percolating again. Often the gears get engaged in trying to describe what just happened before the clutch is re-engaged.
'Zazen is useless' as an idea is a useless idea that can keep you from sitting zazen or it can be an admonition to stop chasing some peak experience like a dog chasing a car.
'Zazen is useless' in actuality is just zazen - if it moves through your mind without getting stuck anywhere.
Lots of things get stuck in my mind, hitting landmines, causing a lot of heat and light and urgency. Maybe more for me than others. Zazen though, lets things be open so mental objects can pass through.
Thanks, really gave "zazen is useless" a different flavour for me,Originally Posted by disastermouse
Chet, this is not a supermarket. Feel welcome to ignore my pointless posts and I will be happy not to have to worry about customer satisfaction ( such are the ways of spiritual materialism: teach me what I want to hear).
A fresh mind indeed. Ten thousand times you may repeat and read the same sentence until...You see, Chet, just a suggestion: take the fukanzazengi, repeat it until your very bones are soaked with it. That's the Soto way, same old-new-always-old-but-so-very fresh zazen. Repeat it until you die and beyond.
Pop art and excitement and all the thrills of concepts and empty chats and philosophy...Not my cup of tea.
Meanwhile, carried away by your grudge or whatever you may call it, you miss the very core of what I try to say.
Your post is interesting, and you play the same old songs of clouds passing...turning clouds into "mental objects"
Good old song that, unlike you, when found in somebody else's mouth, I like very much.
I really didn't mean to set you off or even really criticize you - I think I latched on to your particular phrase just because it was the most recent similar one I'd heard. My apologies for any unintended offense. I probably should have been more careful seeing as I've said some very critical and reactive things to you frequently AND recently and I could have used more thought in the possible meaning that might have been read into it. For what it's worth, I did admit in the original post that the problem could very well be mine. I think that the reason I brought it up is because it actually did take two readings of your post for me to realize that I hadn't at first let the words sink in - because of their well-worn familiarity. I didn't intend to imply that their familiarity was the same as insincerity.
I'm sorry you didn't appreciate my post and that you find my intentions or expression suspect. Much of this is my fault and to be expected considering my frequent antagonism and criticism of your teaching style.
I'll strive to do better. Gassho.
Thank you, Chet. I also tend to read things far too quickly (an old accademic habit).
Agreed. Any chocolate references will grab my attention. I enjoyed his metaphor so much I shared it with my wife who also thought it was great...and gave us a good laugh.Originally Posted by disastermouse
Also really liked this analogy a lot! Can you explain a bit more on what you mean by the last line? Are you then saying that in the absence of thought (disengaged gears) zazen exists and any attempt at descriptions we lose the essence of what zazen is?Originally Posted by disastermouse
I don't think that a disengaged clutch is absence of thought, just absence of being 'pushed' by it. When the clutch is pressed, you can still rev the engine pretty loud - it's just that the whole apparatus of an identity isn't activated by it, or it's minimally activated.Originally Posted by shards
And then sometimes, very rarely for my ADHD mind, the noise itself putters out and everything just seems 'just thus' - sensation is not producing any commentary at all. This lack of commentary is usually so startling that some aspect of comsciousness notices it and then begins a very loud commentary and then often a sense of identity arises. Then in a bit, the clutch is re-engaged, the excitement dropped, and the mumbling, often incoherent commentary rambles in the background like a snapped string - it's only very minimally giving rise to identity if at all.
Often in my non-zazen thinking and life, the commentary is like a very tight string or like a sharp tool - and everything it touches rattles and creates noise and drags or creates a sense of 'me' along with it. What's most ironically funny is when this very noisy, sharp 'commentary dragging a me' actually thinks that it represents 'lack of engaged commentary'.
Also, Steve Hagen's books and talks are some of my favorite.
I agree with Adam that Johnson's post was well-put. It dovetails with my experience in beginning with Zen. At first, I did it to "learn to mediate" and to "calm my mind", and when I expressed this, I was abruptly browbeaten by someone that was trying to get me to realize the pointlessness of it.
This upset me (sensitive person that I am) and kind of drove me away for a while. However, after some time, I understand that this is a normal point to go to -- how do we get to exploring some spiritual ideas, or any ideas, anyway? We are looking for some benefit.
What is important is, as Johnson says in his post, that you'll get to the pointless point of pointlessness no matter what idea you start from if you are open to it (i.e., you aren't a spiritual materialist to begin with). The point you carried in grows further and further away as you sit.
I would have liked to discover this on my own rather than having it thrown at me, but either way, it happened.
I listen to Norman Fischer's talks, and in one of them, he mentions that people come to Zen invariably looking for some kind of benefit like that...nirvana, relaxation, calm, clarity...and while he knows we won't find that, he affirms that it doesn't matter why we come looking, it just matters that we come, and end up sitting. The pointlessness will be (not-)there when we get around to that non-place.
Um, many people have found nirvana, relaxation, calm and/or clarity as a result of doing zazen. All the people I have ever talked to in fact.Originally Posted by murasaki
(Lady M - love the new picture but the old one was great too!)
The dishes are dirty. Wash them!
I really love that post on "How to Attain Enlightenment". Thank you Jundo-sensei!
It really hits the Middle Path non-nail on its non-head. hahahah
I saved that to a text file so I can read it regularly.
I didn't mean for my previous post to sound so definitively dismissive of various states of calm and/or kensho.
I was trying to express my experience as one of coming to Zen with the idea of having that as THE goal of meditation, and right away being told that that's not what zazen is "for" -- these are difficult things to grasp for a newbie, and it had me confused and conflicted for a long time.
Jinho, if everyone you've ever talked to has attained these states from their zazen, then I congratulate them! It doesn't seem to come as easily for me. I am still learning, please bear with me.
I don't believe that anyone is perfectly enlightened. We are totally imperfect. So we keep practicing and trying to do the best we can. Its more of a process and paying attention to it is sometimes difficult. The calm is in the eye of the storm and its pointless because its always moving.
I think what Julia meant is that there is a big difference between what you expect to find-realize-get and what you end up with in the process. Sawaki Kodo used to decribe Zazen as a way to loose everything.
Yes, you lose everything. We are acquisitive by ego-nature, but zen is (IMHO) a path of letting so much go. Maybe all of us are still a bit heavy with the unnecessary (me especially).Originally Posted by Taigu
Thank you, Taigu!
(Also, sorry to Julia for being so difficult with you in the past)
Hagen is good at communicating that zazen is not just a bigger, prettier chain to carry. When we sit together, we invite one another to put down our chains - not put on prettier chains. I'm very resistant to Dharma names, rituals, and suspicious of teachers. This is also a heavy egoic chain.
after loosing everything for a moment or even if 'still a bit heavy with the unnecessary (me especially)' this is a good songOriginally Posted by disastermouse