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Thread: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Hi all,

    I was thinking that a thread for the most general of questions at Treeleaf, the kind of thing you'd ask about at the reference desk at the library, might be a good idea. Even someone who's been here for just a few weeks might be able to answer such a question and it would be an excellent place for newbies (myself included) to find some common answers. I'll admit that if it's a question about the "Series of Talks For New Folks", I would probably take longer to find something than someone who watched a few of them last week! Of course there will be questions of a deeper and more profound nature that this thread would not be intended to address, but even those I would say can often be asked in a thread of their own.

    I'll just say that when I first came to Treeleaf I would often send a PM to Jundo when in most instances I could have asked it on the forum and others probably would have benefited from seeing the response. It's just one of those ideas that may be of use, could be found to be redundant, or anything inbetween. But, in taking my own advice, I thought I'd post my idea and see if it bears any fruit.

    So, if you've got a "Where do I find..." or a "How would I go about..." type of question, I'm sure the entire sangha would be happy to help! And I'm off to rewatch the "Series..." videos, having reminded myself how long it's been since I watched them!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  2. #2

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Hello Dosho!

    Actually I have found it to be beneficial to just let a question like other thoughts arise and pass.
    Of course it depends.
    If a newbie or veteran explorer wishes to take the time to wander the archives I reckon the answers are there.
    I'm a child of the 60's so 'question authority' was for the longest time my approach, and still is a default mode of sorts.
    I have to say, in my experience (of zen practice) it isn't always helpful to have questions answered
    This thought I am trying to convey is somewhat similar to the view expressed in the thread which arose awhile back for sewing rakusus (a lot of folks had a lot of questions)
    One can offer an explanation, sure. But knowledge is direct and sometimes explanation gets in the way of direct knowledge and just becomes more underbrush to clear away
    It is good to experience oneself as one's own resource, a life raft of one's self
    This is not the same as good 'ol pioneer spirit, rugged individualism, it is more the singularity of the cosmos
    making it's way unfolding infinitely.
    In some strange and fitting way living (the question) is the unasked for answer
    I recently put a poem up on the poetry thread about questions--well about asking them...

    here's that poem:


    if you have to ask
    you'll never know
    if you have to
    ask
    you'll never know
    if you don't
    ask
    and you'll know
    the question
    holds it's very own answer
    within
    the questioner

  3. #3

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Hello Dosho!

    Actually I have found it to be beneficial to just let a question like other thoughts arise and pass.
    Of course it depends.
    If a newbie or veteran explorer wishes to take the time to wander the archives I reckon the answers are there.
    I'm a child of the 60's so 'question authority' was for the longest time my approach, and still is a default mode of sorts.
    Sometimes we let questions drift away, and that is a kind of answer. Things naturally resolve themselves, or the whole thing evaporates into the air.

    Other times we ask a question, and someone provides a helpful tip or answer. (Of course, sometimes we ask a question and there is no easy answer!)

    In this practice, we each need to do our own sailing or mountain climbing ... but I think it dangerous, and very much a problem in Buddhism these days, to do it completely cut off from the helpful guidance of a Sangha and teachers. Sometimes we need to ask advise from those who have experience on the sea or mountain. I just wrote about this on another thread ...

    Ahoy!

    Can one learn sailing a sailboat on the open, often stormy sea by oneself, teaching oneself? YES!

    But is it best, especially in the early days, to 'learn the ropes' from an experienced teacher, and perhaps to have some experienced mates to show one how to know the wind? YES!

    Otherwise, good chance you will misread the weather at some point because of naivete, end up washed up on a beach or smashed against rocks and reef.

    Sure, each sailor must truly do most of the hard work by herself with "her self" ... just the "me myself and I" alone on the open ocean. Nobody can do your sailing for you, nobody can tie and untie the knots for you ... all they can be is a wise voice to point out a good way and show ya a couple of tricks.

    And maybe, eventually, the teacher just becomes a good compass, and the words of Buddhist Teachings are good charts ... something that any good sailor, even the most independent, will keep close by on the whole trip to show where the channel is, the hidden icebergs in the fog, the strong currents ...

    Zen Practice is like a sailing trip with no particular destination or, better said, the sea is ever all around us and the voyage happens in each moment, and in each salty drop. There is no destination, no right or wrong way to sail. Yet, there are perils out there, ropes can become tangled, sails torn and masts broken, storms (both outside and within us) can spin us around, one can go mad in the darkness and loneliness at night as the mind plays tricks, monsters can spring out of the deep. There is no place ultimately in need of going, but we can end up going around and around in circles before we get there. There is nothing to attain, but never leave the wheelhouse unguarded. There is no place to fall, but DON'T FALL OVERBOARD!

    Thus, it is good to have a teacher, an experienced voice, an arrow pointing to whom one can always turn about which way to turn ... getting one's bearings.

    Something like that.

    Gassho and Good Sailing, Capt' Jundo

  4. #4

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Hi.

    Thx.
    If you would like to post some further thoughts in what would be needed in a 'introduction of Treeleaf' (thats what i think Dosho is referring to also), it would be nice.

    And as for questions, there are no bad ones, just ones you leave behind... :roll:

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Keishin,

    I couldn't agree more that some questions we have will pass or answer themselves in time, even though they seem so important that one must have an answer RIGHT NOW! And I'll be the first person to say, "Just go sit." However, the questions are still asked and so I thought it best to encourage folks to ask them out in the open for all to see and benefit from. And I'm not talking about questions of practice per se or great existential queries...if we were a zen center, I would have suggested someone sit outside the zen hall to answer questions as routine as, "Where's the bathroom?" But if someone asked me, "What is the purpose of life?" I'd just smile and point to a zafu.

    I often think of someone coming to Treeleaf, who would benefit from practice, but that doesn't stay merely because of the multiple forums and abundance of information to process. When I joined Treeleaf over 3 years ago there was one forum and the sit alongs. Now there are several forums with so many threads, documents, and videos to explore. So, I ask myself now and again if I think I'd have stayed this long had I only recently found Treeleaf. And when my answer leans towards , "No."...that's when I think to start a thread like this.

    So, by all means...drop questions and even questioning for a time. But for help wading through all that Treeleaf has to offer, I just wanted to let new folks know that we're here to help.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  6. #6

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Hellos to Jundo and Dosho!

    No one is saying there shouldn't be teachers or sanghas..., certainly I am not saying that.
    In fact, it is through teachers in sanghas I have been a member of where I have seen, and experienced first hand the benefit of not-answering-questions.

    When I first started sitting, I didn't know anything, I didn't even know enough to begin to formulate a question, let alone ask one. I just showed up, sat, and left. There was a sign in the hallway of the zendo: no discussion, no lingering.
    I did neither.
    I did not know Soto from Rinzai, I did not know Tibetan from Ch'an. I didn't know anything.
    As far as starting out goes, it was perfect: perfect for me.
    I don't know much more now than then. I have my experiences.
    I share what I have to share.
    It is free and it is well worth the price!

    Sure, for those who want to ask questions: ask away! Get a FAQs thread going!

    Without question I propose another 'take': it is one I have experienced first hand and can recommend!

  7. #7

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Keishin,

    I couldn't agree more that some questions we have will pass or answer themselves in time, even though they seem so important that one must have an answer RIGHT NOW! And I'll be the first person to say, "Just go sit." However, the questions are still asked and so I thought it best to encourage folks to ask them out in the open for all to see and benefit from. And I'm not talking about questions of practice per se or great existential queries...if we were a zen center, I would have suggested someone sit outside the zen hall to answer questions as routine as, "Where's the bathroom?" But if someone asked me, "What is the purpose of life?" I'd just smile and point to a zafu.

    I often think of someone coming to Treeleaf, who would benefit from practice, but that doesn't stay merely because of the multiple forums and abundance of information to process. When I joined Treeleaf over 3 years ago there was one forum and the sit alongs. Now there are several forums with so many threads, documents, and videos to explore. So, I ask myself now and again if I think I'd have stayed this long had I only recently found Treeleaf. And when my answer leans towards , "No."...that's when I think to start a thread like this.

    So, by all means...drop questions and even questioning for a time. But for help wading through all that Treeleaf has to offer, I just wanted to let new folks know that we're here to help.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Thank you, Dosho, for your efforts. They are very very much appreciated.

    Yes, it has been mentioned to me a few times by folks that it is easy to get lost in the tangled hallways of this place! For that reason, we will be taking a few steps to make things easier, and perhaps a major reorganization of the place. There may be a whole new Original (inter)Face. We would certainly ask for your input and guidance in that, Dosho, and from our many other folks too.

    The hosts want to make Treeleaf "visiter friendly".

    Gassho, J

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Well, when I got here I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of knowledge everyone shares and I was a little lost.

    So yes, I think think it could be a little help to newbies to have a little guide on where to start. Even though I am not new to Buddhism, every sangha has it's rules and knowledge base. In that sense, Jundo Sensei was kind enough of writing a little guide for me and not to get lost.

    Let me share that post with you. If you are new to Treeleaf, I'm sure you'll find it useful.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3465

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Thank you Dosho for this thread and Thank you all for sharing, especially Chocobuda for the lead to the starter.

    Brenda Shoshanna in her book "Zen Miracles" states zen miracle 3 as being;
    "You find both your questions and your answers right where you are."

    Just as life itself presents impossible situations that require solutions we cannot think of, koans push us
    beyond our usual obsessive rumination into a wide, open place.
    We have but one life. Live IT

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Sure, for those who want to ask questions: ask away! Get a FAQs thread going!
    That's a great idea Keishin! Someone really should do that.

    I kid.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  11. #11

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    So, if you've got a "Where do I find..." or a "How would I go about..." type of question, I'm sure the entire sangha would be happy to help! And I'm off to rewatch the "Series..." videos, having reminded myself how long it's been since I watched them!
    I do -- thanks for asking!

    Where on Treeleaf can I find a post or topic that discusses what how one can "sit with that" -- a phrase you, Jundo, use often in the Sit-Along videos -- as part of shikantaza? I usually try to let "that" fall away, whatever "that" may be, so I'm interested to get some guidance.

    Thanks in advance!

  12. #12

    Re: Questions? Confused? The Sangha Is Here To Help!

    Ha! Moments after asking I found a post by Jundo on the topic (emphasis mine):

    Here is what I consider "sitting with" something:

    If you have a big question or a dilemma you are facing, you just "drop it" during Zazen ... drop it ... then see what it looks like on the "other side" after Zazen.

    Or, if you want to hold it in mind during Zazen for a few minutes, you just let it rest there like a cloud that drifts into mind, and "nonthink" it. That basically means to just "let it be" with nonjudgement and equinimity. It would mean holding the thought at the balanced centerpoint that I describe here.
    There's a broken link after "here," which I'd love to be able to read.

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