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Thread: Zen Cliché

  1. #1

    Zen Cliché

    "The self is illusion" "We are already Buddha" "All is perfect just as is" phrases such as these get used a lot in books videos and by Teachers. But how can the 'un-enlightened' distinguish between a person who is just repeating what they have heard or read in a book from someone who is saying the same phrases but are saying them from direct experience of the truth?

    Gassho


    Seiryu

  2. #2

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Anyone can spit phrases, vomit words. I think it takes seeing someone, seeing how they move, how they react to life. From there you can make your decision.

    But don't too much weight in your thoughts :P

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  3. #3

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    "The self is illusion" "We are already Buddha" "All is perfect just as is" phrases such as these get used a lot in books videos and by Teachers. But how can the 'un-enlightened' distinguish between a person who is just repeating what they have heard or read in a book from someone who is saying the same phrases but are saying them from direct experience of the truth?

    Gassho


    Seiryu
    I think Taylor said it very nicely. See if a person lives it, not just that they mouth the words. A football player can brag about his talents ... but the proof is on the field.

    Also recognize that ... just like the gifted footballer ... even a "Teacher" is a "an illusory self who is just a self" "a Buddha who is a human, sometimes deluded being" ... so even the most gifted footballer takes the match one play by one play, one step by one step, one shot by one shot. This shall be so until we are all perfect Buddhas who never miss a pass or shot. Just perfectly imperfect, imperfectly perfect. I wrote somewhere on mastery and "perfection" ...

    One can be a "master carpenter", yet not every corner will always be smooth. One can be a "master sailor" ... but had best watch out for the next storm. One can be a master lion tamer ... but it is just lion by lion by lion, step by step by step. A "master surgeon" cannot cure every patient, and even the most gifted may sometimes make a bad cut.

    Mastery does not mean that one will never fall down.

    On the other hand, turning most of one's woodwork to splinters and sawdust, sinking boat after boat, and abusing the lions or negligently butchering patients ... that is -not- mastery.

    In fact, in the martial arts, there is no "Wu Shu master" who never falls ... but endless masters who know to fall well, roll with the forces, recover their feet, move ahead. The true "mastery" is rolling with/as/though what is thrown at one ... stillness in motion (as in the martial arts ... there is no training offered on how to never fall, but endless training on how to fall well). Show me the man or woman who falls down sometimes ... but who demonstrates how to fall well and recover one's footing ... and I will show you a great Zen "Master".
    Last, just a word on one thing you said: I think it not so common to say "All is perfect just as is", though there may be some folks who teach that. I think it better said as "All is perfectly just as is" ... perfectly imperfect, imperfectly perfect ... a kind of Perfection that cares not a lick about human judgments of imperfection or perfection. Kind of like every football match is beautiful in its way, even the messy or frustrating ones we lose on a missed kick.

    Gassho, Jundo (not Pele by any means, but try to be a half-way decent forward :wink: )

  4. #4

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Seiryu,
    you might not be able to distinguish, but does it matter ? Personally i have learned from many
    teachers on my way (mainly by reading their books), some being zen teachers, some not, and
    I have no clue who of those was what kind of person. ButI have a natural feeling if the
    teaching is "helpful" or not, is "wise" or not, I believe you too.
    _()_
    Peter

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Zen Cliché

    Why are you concerned about and trying to see a teacher's seeing? All such phrases want to point you to is to see it for yourself. If you can verify something for yourself, does it matter from which source you originally picked it up from? As Peter says - trust yourself.

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    "The self is illusion" "We are already Buddha" "All is perfect just as is" phrases such as these get used a lot in books videos and by Teachers. But how can the 'un-enlightened' distinguish between a person who is just repeating what they have heard or read in a book from someone who is saying the same phrases but are saying them from direct experience of the truth?

    Gassho


    Seiryu
    Are you looking to test for a teacher or are you looking to test for a teaching? All of these phrases have double edges. They are tools used for a purpose, not pronunciations of a timeless or actual truth. "We are already Buddha" as a phrase used to dislodge an attitude of pursuing attainment is a useful tool. Used indiscriminately though, the tool becomes dull and worn. (Its all good practice ) Used inappropriately, it can justify lack of right effort or way-seeking mind. Whether the phrase has independent truth is not for me to determine - but is the right teaching used at the right time with the right intent? Teachers will flub it now and again and misjudge a situation or not be in proper communication with it, but are they generally connected and sincere? Are they capable of seeing clearly or do they stumble on using the right tools at the right times in the right situations mostly by blind chance?

  7. #7

    Re: Zen Cliché

    "We are already Buddha" as a phrase used to dislodge an attitude of pursuing attainment is a useful tool. Used indiscriminately though, the tool becomes dull and worn.
    How true of most things

  8. #8

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    "The self is illusion" "We are already Buddha" "All is perfect just as is" phrases such as these get used a lot in books videos and by Teachers. But how can the 'un-enlightened' distinguish between a person who is just repeating what they have heard or read in a book from someone who is saying the same phrases but are saying them from direct experience of the truth?

    Gassho


    Seiryu
    Greetings Seiryu,

    The Kalamas Sutta suggests:

    when you yourselves know
    these things are good
    these things are not blamable
    these things are praised by the wise
    undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness
    enter on and abide in them.
    ~Soma Thera translation
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el008.html
    Maybe these teachers do have a direct experience of truth, maybe they don't. In the end it doesn't really matter since it's not a good idea to rely on some "outside authority" as the sole validation of a truth claim. Consider it this way, the claim is a hypothesis, existence is the lab, and practice is the experiment. Your practice and your insight are the tools to falsify or reinforce any claims of spiritual truth. But, (and there always seems to be a "but" ) what is validated today may be falsified later and what proves to be false may be validated later.

    Truth in the relative world of concepts and words is subject to the mark of impermanence. Yet I would be bold enough to assert that Truth (yep with a capital T- that ultimate sense) is formless.

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    "The self is illusion" "We are already Buddha" "All is perfect just as is" phrases such as these get used a lot in books videos and by Teachers. But how can the 'un-enlightened' distinguish between a person who is just repeating what they have heard or read in a book from someone who is saying the same phrases but are saying them from direct experience of the truth?

    Gassho


    Seiryu
    Greetings Seiryu,

    The Kalamas Sutta suggests:

    when you yourselves know
    these things are good
    these things are not blamable
    these things are praised by the wise
    undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness
    enter on and abide in them.
    ~Soma Thera translation
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el008.html
    Maybe these teachers do have a direct experience of truth, maybe they don't. In the end it doesn't really matter since it's not a good idea to rely on some "outside authority" as the sole validation of a truth claim. Consider it this way, the claim is a hypothesis, existence is the lab, and practice is the experiment. Your practice and your insight are the tools to falsify or reinforce any claims of spiritual truth. But, (and there always seems to be a "but" ) what is validated today may be falsified later and what proves to be false may be validated later.

    Truth in the relative world of concepts and words is subject to the mark of impermanence. Yet I would be bold enough to assert that Truth (yep with a capital T- that ultimate sense) is formless.
    Also, IMHO - Zen is not a truth claim. It's not even 'truth' - as the quote above illustrates, truth is what is useful - not to the ego, but to what lies beneath, within, and through the ego. What is that? Better not to say it.

    Likely we're pointing at the same thing with different fingers. Your fingers have warts, so do mine.

    IMHO.

  10. #10

    Re: Zen Cliché

    I would say it depends on how you define 'truth claim'.
    Genjokoan = the realized law of the universe = the real universe itself = the Dharma = the Truth

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Phi ... d_Zen.html
    "Rather than explanatory interpretation, Zen is interested in descriptive interpretation. Rather than governing the transformation of nature, the Zen Buddhist tries to be the agent of nature. Rather than setting a moral standard to live up to, the Zen Buddhist achieves his humanity by letting go of external standards of value and by becoming more spontaneous. In the final analysis, therefore, the Western philosophers stipulate a tension between man and world: as Thomas put it, the mind must conform to things and things to the mind. Harmony is achieved through mutual adaptation. Zen philosophy, on the other hand, stipulates an essential unity: the tension between man and world is the result of egocentric delusion. If we destroy that delusion, man’s activity—his thinking and his doing— becomes just an expression of nature itself."

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  11. #11
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Zen Cliché

    I don't think Dogen would claim that he'd laid out the real truth of the universe. I think that in Zen there's a certain understanding that even the concept of a 'law of the universe' is just a placeholder.

  12. #12

    Re: Zen Cliché

    the "moon in a dewdrop" idiom DM?

  13. #13

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Genjokoan = the realized law of the universe = the real universe itself = the Dharma = the Truth
    I think the point is to live, and not have it reek of this "Zen" business. Then again, I never was a big fan of heavy math :wink: :P

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  14. #14

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    I would say it depends on how you define 'truth claim'.
    Genjokoan = the realized law of the universe = the real universe itself = the Dharma = the Truth



    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Genjokoan = The Matter at Hand

    Law of the Universe? I'm not so sure. Seems a bit too concrete for this world of ours.

  15. #15

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I don't think Dogen would claim that he'd laid out the real truth of the universe. I think that in Zen there's a certain understanding that even the concept of a 'law of the universe' is just a placeholder.
    Thank you for your comment (and by the way, I think you're doing great with the IMHO effort)!

    I'm not a Dogen scholar, so I can't tell, but you are probably right. Dogen was not a Buddha, and even though his realization/insight/wisdom/enlightenment was great, maybe a hundred or a thousand times greater than mine, it was probably miniscule compared to the 'real truth'. But wouldn't you say he considered Zen to be a way that, if practice is pure, could lead to the realization of the 'real truth of the universe', ie Buddhahood? That could be called a truth claim in a way, but I understand what you say about a placeholder.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  16. #16

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Genjokoan = The Matter at Hand
    Law of the Universe? I'm not so sure. Seems a bit too concrete for this world of ours.
    I too feel that nature, order, principle or something like that would be more suitable, but law is probably the most 'correct' translation. It may still be interpreted in different ways. I'm going to get 'Realizing Genjokoan' by Okumura Roshi and after reading that I hope I will have a better understanding.

    This is from the beginning of the Genjokoan chapter in the Cross/Nishijima translation of Shobogenzo:

    Translator’s Note: Genj? means “realized,” and k?an is an abbreviation of
    kofu-no-antoku, which was a notice board on which a new law was announced
    to the public in ancient China. So k?an expresses a law, or a universal principle.
    In the Sh?b?genz?, genj?-k?an means the realized law of the universe,
    that is, Dharma or the real universe itself. The fundamental basis of Buddhism
    is belief in this real universe, and in Genj?-k?an Master D?gen preaches to
    us the realized Dharma, or the real universe itself. When the seventy-five–chapter
    edition of the Sh?b?genz? was compiled, this chapter was placed first,
    and from this fact we can recognize its importance.


    Gassho,
    Pontus

  17. #17

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Hi Pontus,


    Somehow you write something that goes...


    (...)after reading that I hope I will have a better understanding.
    Genjokoan is but your very life, and as much as I like this book, it doesn't give anybody a better understanding. From an intellectual point of view, maybe. But you know very well we are not dealing with that kind of understanding. Why not going for another slice (is it a slice?!!!) of " I don't know"?

    But Your are right Pontus, it is a wonderful book...

    gassho


    Taigu

  18. #18

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Genjokoan is but your very life, and as much as I like this book, it doesn't give anybody a better understanding.
    So, respectfully, why do we study it then ?
    _()_
    Peter

  19. #19

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Ok, Peter. we may undesrtand with our head, or we may understand with our body-mind.
    Zen books are misleading sometimes, if they take you to life life and cushion, great! Most of them take us nowhere.
    The guy that wrote this book is one of the most amazingly simple Zen teacher living. I bow to him.
    I was challenging Pontus idea: you pick up a book and it might give you a better picture.

    Sorry guys, doesn't work like that.

    But thank you anyway. You know what I am talking about...And you are very patient too.

    gassho


    Taigu

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Pontus,

    I wasn't trying to pick nits - I'm reading Rorty and it's maybe influencing me more than Dogen. Correction is appreciated.

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: Zen Cliché

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    But thank you anyway. You know what I am talking about...And you are very patient too.
    Thank you Taigu Sensei,
    Yes, I know what you are talking about. And thank you for being patient with us! :lol:

    I was going to say that by reading the book, I meant I was going to get a better understanding of what the word or phrase 'Genjokoan' means, a better understanding of what Dogen meant by that title, a better understanding of whether or not Zen, according to Dogen, can provide any claim of truth. But was that what I meant when I wrote the post? Probably not... :shock: As you say, I wrote the way I did, because deep inside it was maybe a better understanding of the true nature of reality that I hoped for! :wink:

    Having said that, I believe Dogen Zenji was one of the greatest Zen teachers of all time, especially in our Soto Zen tradition, and that his teachings can be of great help in finding our own way. And I believe Okumura Roshi represents a very honest and pure (simple as you say) view of Soto Zen practice (in the tradition of Sawaki Roshi and Uchiyama Roshi) that really speaks to me, and that he has a thorough understanding of Dogen and the Shobogenzo after spending much of his life studying and translating it. So I believe Dogen may be of help in my practice and that Okumura may help me decipher Dogen's teachings, but I also understand that I, myself, must do the understanding, find my own truth (or realize I don't need a truth) and that Zazen is my most venerable teacher.

    But I know you know what I'm talking about... :wink:
    I'll try to remember to serve myself a large slice of "I don't know" whenever I can!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  22. #22

    Re: Zen Cliché

    That' s it, Pontus.
    Thanks for your kind post.
    Enjoy this great book.

    gassho

    Taigu

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