Tugas Gunadarma Gunadarma Tutorial VB.NET Download OST Anime Soundtrack Anime Opening Anime Ending Anime OST Anime Japan Download Lagu Anime Jepang

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 55

Thread: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

  1. #1

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    .
    I often feel that monastic practice is so "yesterday" ... so "13th Century".It's true, and in some very important ways, it may be time to knock down the monasteries, throwing their cloistered inhabitants into the streets! **

    For most of its history, lay practice has taken a back seat to the "real spiritual action" said to happen only among the ordained Sangha, usually behind monastery walls. However, this no longer need be the case.

    I in no way intend to deny the beauty and power of the monastic path for those called that way. There are depths and lessons to be encountered and awakened to and lived in that simple life, in the silence, in the sincere effort and routine. So much of that may not be easily perceived in the noise and distraction of an "in the world" practice. (Although, in my view, stillness is stillness, and the very same stillness can be encountered "out in the world" with a bit of diligence and attention to day-to-day life). I do not in any way intend to discount the importance of monastic practice for some folks ... and at appropriate times and doses for all of us.

    However, there is also a beauty and power in paths of practice outside monastery walls that may be unavailable to those within the walls, with lay practice having depths and opportunities for awakening all its own. There are aspects of an "in the world" practice that are denied to those following a monastic way. There are depths and lessons of practice that can be encountered and awakened to only out in the city streets, in our work places, families, raising kids. Where is the Dharma not present?

    Lay practice now is not the same as lay practice has been in centuries past.

    One vital reason for monasteries and the like ... from the earliest days of Buddhism ... was an absence of other chances for communication with teachers and fellow practitioners, and a lack of other means to encounter "live teachings". In other words, wandering ascetics walking hither and thither in the Buddha's time needed to gather during the rainy seasons to "touch base" and reconnect with the group after being on their own for weeks and months. In the middle ages in China and Japan, one could not easily encounter a Buddhist teacher, teachings and opportunities to practice without going to live full time in a monastery. This is just no longer the case. Members of our Treeleaf Sangha, for example, can have 24 hour contact, using modern means of communication, with teachers, teachings, sittings, robe sewing, Sutra and Text study, sharing with fellow practitioners times of sickness and health and smiles and tears, Samu, spiritual friendships, "sharp stones crashing into each other" ... much of which, until the current times, was denied to people outside monastery walls.

    In some important ways, sincere lay practitioners today may enjoy better surrounding circumstances for practice than did the average monk in, for example, Dogen's day. Things in the "Golden Age" were not so golden as we too easily romanticize. Most monks back then were half-educated (even in Buddhism), semi-literate (or what passed for literacy in those times), superstition driven, narrow folks who may have understood less about the traditions and teachings they were following ... their history and meaning and depth ... than we now know. The conditions for practice within old temples and monasteries might have been less than ideal, many teachers less than ideal, despite our idealization of the old timers. Studying Sutras by smoky oil lamp, living one's days out in Japan or Tibet while having no real information grasp on China and India and the customs of prior centuries, living in a world of rumor and magic and misunderstanding (in which all kinds of myths and stories and superstitions were taken as explanations for how the world works), unable to access a modern Buddhist library, or to "Google" a reliable source (emphasis on making sure it is reliable however!) to check some point, or to ask a real expert outside one's limited circle, being beholden to only one teacher at a time (no matter how poor a teacher), with no knowledge of the human brain and some very important discoveries of science ... and after all that effort ... getting sick and dying at the age of 40 from some ordinary fever. (Can you even imagine trying to listen to Dogen Zenji recite "live" a Shobogenzo teaching from way across the room ... without a modern microphone and PA system and "Youtube" to let one replay it all? I suppose many never heard a word!)

    The "Good Old Days" were not necessarily the "Good Old Days".

    In contrast, in many ways, the average lay person practicing today has very many better circumstances for practice than those monks in 13th century Eihei-ji. For that reason, it is time to re-evaluate the place and power of lay practice. What was true in the cultures and times of ages past need not be true today!

    Now, we need the monastic way ... and we need the "in the world way" ... supporting each other.

    Yesterday, a fellow posted to our Sangha a comment that:

    the austere training at Eihei-ji ... [may be] required in 'dropping off' body and mind. The effort required to ensure that this is complete, 'dropping off dropping off', is something I think we find difficult in our lives since we live in more comfortable times. Can it be truly 'realised' outside a monastic setting?

    I responded:


    I rather disagree.

    There are hard swimmers and runners, who push themselves to the limit ...

    There are swimmers or runners who go at an easy and balanced pace forward ...

    There are those who float along or stand perfectly still to admire the scenery ...

    ... and in all cases, it is the same ocean or road ... and no place to go.

    Some folks may benefit from a hard practice, getting the hell beat out of them ... pushed along by a tough coach like a marine in boot camp. They may need this for a bit of discipline or to tame the wild bull of the mind. And some may not, encountering the Dharma in silence and stillness.

    However, the answer really is not dependent on how hard we work for it, like a dog chasing its own tail.
    Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. It is a longer talk (about 30 minutes), part of our July Zazenkai. A short Zazen and Kinhin follow.

    [youtube] [/youtube]


    **(figuratively!)

    .
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-16-2014 at 12:45 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Listening to this talk now. But so far all my ego-driven jealousies have arisen! ops:

    I wish I could speak Japanese like that!!!

    I found this quote that relates to this I, although it seems kinda harsher on monastic practice, I think it is worth sharing.
    There is a Chinese saying “A low practitioner does retreat in the forest, a high practitioner does retreat in the cities”. A practitioner who moves away from the cities to do practice in the quiet and remote forest is only a low level practitioner; a high practitioner can do his practice amidst all the physical pollution and human complications of a city, he excels in that kind of environment, like a peacock who thrives on eating poisonous plants, He, is the REAL MASTER.
    Gassho

    Seiryu

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,901

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you Brother for these very necessary reminders...
    Indeed, we are extremely lucky to be able to do what we do now and the average sitter in the modern so called lay world cannot be compared to the bunch of very uneducated, rough and violent monks that use to be around monasteries in Old China and Japan.
    I would like to add that IMMO the actual walls of the monasteries should collapse for ever. Monasteries are a big part and main cause of the institutionalization of Zen throughout history. Erecting walls was a way keep the teachings inside accessible to a happy few (rather than offering ideal conditions of practice), reinforcing the idea of this is mine, my school, my territory, my possession and in the name of poverty it made part of the clerge very rich. Fights and wars took place, in Japan, Tibet and in most Buddhist countries between sects and schools. A terrible mess.
    The way training monasteries are treating people is not acceptable in my clouded eyes. All the boot camp and military treat is not part of Buddhism but very much a dark side of the Japanese heritage.
    From what I could gather, Sawaki Kodo disagreed with the system and left his post at Sojiji to live homeless and then become the abbot of the young Antaiji, a temple very open to lay people, with no kyosaku, very few useless rituals, focusing on sitting, sewing, working and the necessary takuhatsu.
    When officially asked if he wanted to become the abbot of Eiheiji, he laughed and said to the monks send by the Sotoshu: "even a dog would not take it".
    I don't know if I am a dog or not, but I don't buy this at all. Like Sawaki, I strongly refuse this system which basically takes young guys through a process from waraji (straw sandals) to BMW (temple priests).
    When one of my English sutends visited Eiheiji and did a retreat for lay people there, she was shocked by the attitude of these young monks, they were openly saying that they did not care about sitting and they would not sit again after going through the training. they had no respect for the nyohoe kesa, were obsessed by oryoki and propper rituals.

    I can see the point of having retreats and short intensive practice time but without the Japanese military twist.

    I don't see anything wrong with the army, nothing wrong with business,nothing wrong with Zen training, mixing those proves to be a real disaster.

    Just my very limited view.

    gassho


    Taigu

  4. #4

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you, Taigu. I agree. I even changed some of my words to make it a bitter stronger.

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    I soooo agree with both of you. I even found OBC's two tier lay sangha system a bit distasteful. It reminds me of my childhood, I was brought up as a catholic and in my younger days everything was in Latin, so you did'nt really know what was happening. When it changed to English (or whatever the local language) it made it all so musc more accessable. Thats when I realised I was a Buddhist (12 yo) and only caught up in the ceremonial aspect, the same thing got me interested in Tibetan Buddhism until I found people revering the Lamas not as enlightened men and women but as demi gods with powers.

    Thank you for this teaching.(excuse the short rant)

  6. #6

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hello Revs. Jundo and Taigu, Onshin and Seiryu and everyone else,

    Thank you for the talk. It is always heartening to see that the "wild spark" of Buddhadharma is still here, there, and anywhere.

    Deep Gassho, and with Metta,

    Saijun

  7. #7

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thanks for the talk Jundo and also for giving me a new perspective on my own practice.

    And thank you Taigu for your "limited view." It's encouraging when I hear an experienced teacher be willing to admit where tradition falls short so that those practicing today may move the wheel of the dharma forward.

    Now, I've got to go sit so that I might increase my strength for knocking down walls. :x

    gassho to my teachers and my sangha
    Greg

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    512

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    This is not an aspect of thinking that is limited by geography or religion. In the West, after the fantastic growth of religious life in the mid 40's and into the 50's of the last century, there was a drying up. The attraction of life in the world, "drugs, sex and rock 'n roll" took its toll. Now there seems to be another surge in monastic religious vocations to the very strict cloistered (military-type) monasteries that Taigu spoke of, that exhibit a very, very traditional practice and focus. That is really a minority experience. For the most of us in the Western monastic world we are experiencing an aging of our communities, with a few vocations appearing from time to time. Our greatest growth has been with the lay groups associated with us; the so-called "Third-Orders" or "Oblates", those laypersons who wish to participate in the spiritual charism of a particular Order and monastery, but because of their circumstances cannot become monastics themselves.

    Being an Oblate is considered a "vocation" in and of itself and is in no way thought of as "less-than" any monk or nun in the monastery. It is not uncommon to find a monastery which has 12-20 monastics with a gathering of 80-100 Oblates associated with it. They are vital parts of these monasteries. Long ago they were simply groups of people who wishes to practice certain "devotions", but now they are far more active and demanding of training and formation. Some European monastic communities have gone so far as to open majority sectionsof their monasteries to permanent oblate residents, both single and married; all living together almost like a small village. My own Abbot has often said that he sees the future of our Abbey in the hands of the Oblates. So there is definitely a movement in Western monasticism toward an new inclusion and inculturation of laypeople into the real and vital life of the monastery. It actually is a very old model that was well practiced in the early church in Palestine, in Ireland and many of the monastics establishments of the early medieval age.


    So perhaps in some cases there is not so much a need to "knck down the monastery walls" as there is to open the doors and leave them open to anyone to enter.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  9. #9

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hi Fr. K.

    I think it important to say that my criticism was directed exclusively toward attitudes regarding traditional Buddhist monasticism, not in any way Christian monasticism (a subject that I know little about, and which is really unrelated to the topic). My theme was the traditional idea in much (not all) of Asian Buddhism throughout the centuries that the "real action" could only happen in a monastic setting, not in "at home" and lay practice.

    I do not, in any way, mean to throw over the wall Christian monastics such as yourself, and don't want to be seen as talking about any subject beyond my limited scope!

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Posts
    1,763

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    "...Since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fears, I order you to be exposed before your peers! Tear down the wall!" --Roger Waters

  11. #11
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,901

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you so much Seishin Kyrill,

    Just like my brother Jundo I don't know about the Christian situation.
    Nevertheless, I truly find your direction inspiring. As walls are knocked down, communication, dance, meeting... can take place.
    It also works that way. Outside in.

    Thank you for this teaching, brother, it opened my clouded eye.


    gassho


    T.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Mexico
    Posts
    2,979

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Jundo and Taigu,

    First of all, thank you for this teaching. Deep in my heart I have always thought just the same about the closeness of Buddhism and Zen.

    Living here in Mexico is very difficult sometimes for a Buddhist. This is a 98% Catholic country and there is little mind about other religions or acceptance of diversity. There are very few Buddhist temples let alone Zendo.

    I have always been a Buddhist, even before I knew Buddhism existed. Thanks to Aikido and Karate-Do I came to learn more about our philosophy and started to come close to the Dharma. Eventually I tended to weekly practice to the Triratna chapter in Mexico City, but I moved to a smaller town and here there is just no Buddhism at all.

    So deep in my heart I have always wanted to practice zen and being able to study and become part of Treeleaf is exactly what I was looking for. Being in this wonderful Sangha has changed the way I see learning and practice. I couldn't be happier.

    Again, thank you for this teaching.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you for this gem of a teaching Jundo Sensei!

    I once fell into the trap of romanticizing monastic life as being somehow "better" than lay practice.
    Now through the many wise lessons I have learned from the teachers and members of Treeleaf my view has changed drastically! And not just on this issue alone!

    This talk is a definitive reminder of the beauty of a Dharma which cannot be confined by walls of any nature!

    Gassho,
    John

    PS. I loved having the talk in Japanese and English! Hopefully we can keep our Japanese sitters around long enough to all become fluent!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Plymouth, Devon, UK
    Posts
    1,224

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hello Jundo and Taigu
    In Jundo's teisho what struck me was the realisation that we now have such enormous access to literature...even more than in the past. It makes what you, we, I, are doing here at Treeleaf so powerful.
    However you mentioned sesshin as an important practice and this is a difficult practice for those of us with current time-spaced tied responsibilities. It in this aspect that perhaps we cannot find the depths of zazen as well as we could in the more intense practice of sesshin (or as a monastic!).
    Hopefully at some future point when responsibilities free up we may be able to join the Treeleaf roving sesshin wherever they may occur.

  15. #15

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    However you mentioned sesshin as an important practice and this is a difficult practice for those of us with current time-spaced tied responsibilities. It in this aspect that perhaps we cannot find the depths of zazen as well as we could in the more intense practice of sesshin (or as a monastic!).
    Oh, I rather disagree.

    We sit with what is, our life circumstances. If in a hospital bed, a wheelchair, on a golden throne or a cloud ... that is what is, practice there. If one truly cannot attend a retreat or Sesshin, then that is life ... just what is. Sesshin is important and not to be missed ... but also times of taking two weeks nursing a sick relative in the hospital can be our "Sesshin" ... practice that. Pierce that "just what is" to the depthless depths!

    Or, in more mundane words ... one does not need to go away to tennis camp to play tennis. 8)

    Now, retreats and Sesshin (sleep away tennis camp) are a very good environment. If you can swing it, ideally, at least one (1) longer Retreat or 'Sesshin' of a few days or a week in length, sitting from before dawn to late at night ... each year is greatly recommended.

    Now, someone might ask too, "if each moment is all time and space, what is the purpose of an intensive Sesshin?" Well, I often say that, sometimes, we need to practice a bit long and hard, morning to night ... sitting and wrestling with 'me, my self and I' ... all to achieve nothing to attain! Going to Retreats, Sesshin and such is a powerful facet of this Practice and not to be missed.

    So, saying that "I'm too busy and cannot find the time or money" is one thing ... if it is truly true. If truly true, then sit with that to the depthless depths. But if it is only a matter that "I am saving my money for a new ipod and prefer a vacation at the beachfront hotel" ... or is just plain lazy or intimidated ... get thy butt to Sesshin!

    Gassho, J

  16. #16
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Posts
    1,763

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    "Life is our temple" has been one of the most sticking bits of advice for me. Thank you, Jundo.

  17. #17
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,901

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Much like my Brother Jundo I strongly think there is a room for intensive practice, a few days a year, away from toys, distractions, habits...Intensive doesn't mean brutal, violent, abusive and so on...
    As to life as it is, it presents all of us with a lot to practice. From the frictions and clashes with your beloved ones to this annoying boss of yours, this thing that doesn't work, that thing you really wish to be different, from illness to death, all the downs, all the bumps...Plenty to practice. Priests and lay people sitting within the furnace of this world are often stronger than the guys in the hermitage playing with mountain clouds.
    And it is really time now to bring the real Dharma seal, the form and mind of Buddha, to everybody. And Treeleaf is doing that too with many other guys out there. Since yesterday I spoke to so many different people in dokusan skyping away.
    It is wonderful to communicate and share together this practice.

    gassho



    Taigu

  18. #18

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sesshin is important and not to be missed ... but also times of taking two weeks nursing a sick relative in the hospital can be our "Sesshin" ... practice that.
    Gassho Jundo. Gassho.

    Greg

  19. #19
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Plymouth, Devon, UK
    Posts
    1,224

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hi Jundo...That makes me feel better!
    All I do is what I truly can do, so I can stay with that! I guess I feel that I should do more, which is adding to something which doesn't need adding to.
    Like many people I spend my time 'looking after', 'thinking about' other people. It is not an onerous chore, but just something I do because I enjoy it and people on the whole benefit. It's nothing special it's just what I do. So what this 'exchange' of views has taught me is that what is currently happening in my life is just my practice, nothing to add (like more intensity) and nothing to take away....which makes me feel..good. And when the time is right I will get my butt to a sesshin somewhere..who knows maybe even in Japan

  20. #20
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,901

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    This is what I wrote in a thread of the International Zen Forum, a very heated place filled with furious and blood thirsty opiniated red dakinis...

    Much like many people that don't shout and scream here, I would say over and over again that there is room for the old ways but not exclusively..
    Much like many guys out there who are awake to the fact that the world has changed, I wish for this change to take place.
    Much like the 8 years of Nonin spend in monasteries, my very limited 35 years of practice and the countless kesas sewn ( and most of them offered) have taught me a lot about the value of serving, listening and the beauty of tradition (as things seem to boil down to numbers)
    Much like the many people that knocked on my door wounded and really in pain , I will say that a certain type of harsh training is not necessary.
    Much like people that don't just want to copy the Japanese style with its unbeatable rigidity, I would like a real dialogue to find our way.
    Much like many Japanese priests, often Dharma heirs and people in Sawaki Kodo's lineage I believe that our school is the school of the kesa and shikantaza, not the Sotoshu thing.

    There is a way for priests to be trained and live in this world s furnace and blossoms, a place to be a dad and a Zen dude. Treeleaf is just a beginning. Many more wil follow. I once discussed this issue with my teacher who was very much in favor of merging jukai and Shukke Tokudo nto a single ordination. We are not yet doing it but it might be the way forward in the years to come. For now, we re of course doing it the old way.


    Gassho


    Taigu

  21. #21

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Knocking down the walls, is not to force entry, is not to say the Monastery
    is outdated, is not to steal or force anybody in the monastery to change their
    style; its to led flow the dharma into the world. Its happening, right now.
    Thank you Jundo, thank you Taigu, you carefully direct that flowing stream
    into our daily lives,
    _()_
    Peter

  22. #22

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you for this. I've set aside those silly fantasies of running off to monastery, as though peace were a place to go instead of a way of being.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  23. #23

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    .
    Knocking Down Monastery Walls II - by Jundo



    Hello Everyone,

    I would like to begin a series of posts I call "POINTS FOR POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT" in the traditional monastic model. Before doing so, though, I want to emphasize a few things again:

    - I generally see monasteries as treasures, shining beacons of light, places of practice and learning which have helped preserve our traditions for thousands of years. As well, they are the right path for so many. My purpose IS NOT TO CRITICIZE ... AND ONLY TO CELEBRATE ... ANYONE WHO HAS A CALLING TOWARD MONASTIC TRAINING, EAST OR WEST. I just see a bit of bent brass in there too that could use a little polishing and fixing.

    - I will be talking about "monasteries" more as religious, political, social and economic institutions, and as the citadels maintaining a "church" or "sect", rather than as a place of retreat. However, sometimes I will be touching on the latter too.

    - I (and I think I speak for Taigu too) favor completely dropping the barriers between "lay Zen teachers" and "ordained Zen teachers", and just having Wise and Compassionate, Awakened and Awakening, Skilled and Ethical "Zen teachers" ... "Priests" who are neither layman nor monk. But I do not feel that "out in the world" priest training is in any way inferior or superior to the monastic model. Better said, each has its own strong points and weaknesses ... perhaps (in my view) some combination is best, or better suited to some individuals than others.

    - I, as much as any Zen Buddhist teacher, believe thoroughly in standards and training because (as a friend commented) being Zen clergy "is important work where lives are at stake". I also generally support monastic training for a period of time for those for whom life so permits, or who are the right flowers for that soil. I just disagree with some on the exclusivity of there only being one road to that training for all which must always lead through a monastery's door, while I support various paths depending on circumstances. I just happen to believe that "life is the uninterrupted monastery" when pierced as such.

    I believe that Enlightenment is not to be found in any one place, but can be found in all places when seen. We honor the right and ability of any priest to train in a monastery, we honor the right and ability of any priest to train in other ways too. Where possible, perhaps training both "within and without" is best ... even beyond all thought of "in vs. out".

    so, without further ado ...

    POINTS OF POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE MONASTIC INSTITUTION - No. I - : Have monasteries, throughout their history, been (not just necessarily exclusive in order to maintain levels of training, but) -too exclusive- in their availability to those who may wish to enter and undertake the Dharma? Although monasteries also have a function of training the next generation of gifted Teachers ... have they, in fact, excluded many more individuals who would be gifted Teachers but could not enter the monasteries for social, political or economic reasons? Rather than admitting those who should be there, have they tended to admit those with the political and social connections, and (even today) economic means to be there? Have they tended to admit, not just the many great talents and serious "seekers", but also a disproportionate number of folks who are there for the wrong reasons or should not be there?

    Throughout the history of Buddhist monasteries in North Asia, the institution functioned as a center of spiritual training. However, monasteries also served other functions. Sometimes, they served in places such as China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan as a method for the government to license and control the number of priests (so that not everyone ran from work in the rice fields to the relative comforts of the monasteries).

    Although there are many stories of true seekers "getting in", there were tremendous hurtles to doing so, and the monastery also frequently served as a place where those "already in" could keep what they had by keeping others out (like my old joke about how, when my family moved from New York to Florida many years ago, we wanted to close the doors on Florida so nobody else moved in!)

    Certainly, anyone familiar with the history of Buddhism sees a disproportionate number of teachers mentioned who came from elite backgrounds, the sons of aristocrats, samurai, wealthy farmers and other societal elites. The story of Hui-neng (the illiterate rice grinder) aside, most peasants and others were shooed away at the door ... assuming they made it to the door in the first place despite the many economic and social obstacles ... (and even Hui-neng was just put in the workhouse, grinding rice).

    Most of us are familiar with the countless complaints by Dogen, Hakuin and others about the generally low quality of the monks at many institutions that they were encountering in China, Japan and elsewhere. Does this possibly show that these institutions were better at admitting those, perhaps, not so well qualified to be there, or who were there for the wrong reasons, than folks there for the right reasons? Much of that could be due to the fact that, throughout their history, most monasteries have been places of refuge ... not for the spirit ... but also for bastard children of the elite, those who did not wish to work morning to night in the hot sun (compared to the peasant lifestyle), and the like ... as well as true spiritual seekers (I do not mean to say that ALL residents of monasteries were like that ... only lots and lots). Granted, ALL the great Teachers in Buddhist history have been the product of monasteries (Although, ya know, that is not true ... as the likes of Layman Pang and Vimalakirti and many others attest ... though even they had some bucks. Perhaps the old woman in the "rice cake" Koan besting Te-shan is a better example). How many excellent potential monks and Teachers never had a chance because they were peasants, working people, or decided to stay at home to nurse an aging relative or child without having the economic means (as the Buddha himself did) to leave one's family in the charge of the servants in the family palace?

    Oh, sure, ya could say that their "Karma" kept the poor as "the poor" and unwashed ... but has this not been an excuse at so many times in Buddhist history for Buddhists to do little about the poor?

    On the other hand, even today, it takes a certain social freedom and economic means to head to a monastery for months or years. There are many folks who might truly sell their houses and quit there jobs to do so ... and that is to be commended. But a disproportionate number of folks who head to monasteries, even today, will do so only after figuring out how to have "themselves covered", sufficient savings, a job to return to after (can that truly be called "home leaving", or only "home leasing"?). They are not really giving up their wealth and property to "leave home", so much as calculating how they can "swing it" for a few months.

    However, there are also a lot of folks who might be attracted to the monastery because they just got dumped by their wife, fired from their job ... and have nothing to lose. That is perhaps an excellent course in times of life's troubles. These may be people who are just meeting the twists of Karma or bad luck. However, I propose that one will also find a disproportionate number of people who cannot "make it" in the world, have troubles with relationships, holding down a steady job, folks with personality issues (e.g. OCD and other psychological issues) attracted to the protection of the monastery. For them (like the bastard sons of Samurai in Medieval times), monasteries are as much a "refuge for spiritual practice" as a refuge from the complexities and demands of life.

    On the other hand, countless folks who would make wise and compassionate Teachers are excluded precisely because they are functioning in life, maintaining healthy marriages, holding down jobs, maintaining a business. These people who may actually have something to say about swimming through life with Awakening, Wisdom and Compassion, are excluded by those very responsibilities. (Could this be a reason that we seem to be getting a high number of social misfits, nervous and shy folks, OCD types, the psychologically vulnerable, ne'er do wells, the sexually abusive and questionable personalities among our many many fine priests and teachers? Should we be instead encouraging participation by those who can combine Wisdom and Compassion with actually living and making it "in the world"? Or, is it just the same number of such folks as in the general population or any group?)

    This was summarized very nicely by a comment made to me by an advocate of the monastic path ...

    There are many life situations which make someone not a proper candidate for ordination. Parents of small children, people in deep financial debt or legal difficulty, pregnant women, people in the armed forces... they have other obligations and are not proper candidates for ordination. They are also not proper candidates for the space program, a traveling circus, etc. This is not about "who is good enough." ... It's called home leaving.
    But why need that be so? Why cannot a pregnant woman or mother be a Zen priest, teacher of Compassion? Why cannot a Soldier be a Zen Priest, Master of the Precepts? Might they not frequently be betters teachers than some fellow who, having graduated from the right institution, knows with which hand to hold the incense, how to tie his robes with the correct knot, and all the words to the Sandokai in phonetic Sino-Japanese? Why are the others excluded again?

    Certainly, the fees to get into a monastery can be prohibitive ... with all the expensive robes, bowls, hats, studybooks, donations, sect taxes, gifts, room and board, and such that are required. (This is well described on Muho's blog over at Antaiji in the case of Japan and the Soto-shu. http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/201011.shtml ) Daddy usually swings the expense because he wants sonny boy to take over the family temple/funeral service. But is it not also true in the West? Although most monastic facilities may claim that "we don't turn anyone away because of economic need" (do most claim this?), the fact of the matter is that training needs to be paid for somehow, by both the institution and the student. Is this one reason that we are still seeing a disproportionate number of white, middle-class or wealthy "monks" ... but not the working class African-America and Latino or other economically struggling groups in our priesthoods?

    Anyway, enough for now ...

    Gassho, J

    PS - I forgot to mention that monasteries traditionally kept women out, with a few minor exceptions. I wanted to say that, at least, we have fixed that part. However, someone wrote me to say that my description is not accurate, and that the exclusion remains in perhaps the vast majority of the Buddhist world ... and de facto in large parts of the Chan/Son/Zen world too (only lessened in some places after years of challenge).

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/becomingab ... sexism.htm

    http://www.shadowofbuddha.com/about/abo ... -synopsis/

    /-/newshome/6611791/monastery-rebuked-over-ordination-of-women/">http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/ne ... -of-women/

    "Sôtô Zen Nuns in Modern Japan: Keeping and Creating Tradition" by Paula K.R. Arai
    http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications ... J-Arai.pdf
    ,

  24. #24
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you Jundo Sensei,

    Same beautiful and inspiring lesson as before but with more explanation. Perhaps this time around the message will be clearer for those who either didn't understand or weren't able to read "in between the lines" with what you meant the first time around.

    Gassho,
    John

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ronchan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Leiderdorp, Holland
    Posts
    127

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you Jundo,
    it is almost a relief to hear and read your views on these matters. I do so understand what you mean, what you are trying to do.
    Pure joy for me, Sensei, pure joy.

    Deep gassho,
    Ronald.

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Mexico
    Posts
    2,979

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Well I can see why the very dogmatic core of Zen is in uproar for new ideas, but all I can say is that living in the 3rd World is just not easy for me to undertake on my Buddhist studies let alone to go to Japan to live in a monastery for a while.

    Having this new look at Zen and Buddhism, this look her at Treeleaf gives me the chance of studying, talking to awesome people and to learn a lot.

    So regardless of what people say, I think Jundo and Taigu have it right, and I thank you both with all my heart.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    Well I can see why the very dogmatic core of Zen is in uproar for new ideas, but all I can say is that living in the 3rd World is just not easy for me to undertake on my Buddhist studies let alone to go to Japan to live in a monastery for a while.

    Having this new look at Zen and Buddhism, this look her at Treeleaf gives me the chance of studying, talking to awesome people and to learn a lot.

    So regardless of what people say, I think Jundo and Taigu have it right, and I thank you both with all my heart.
    Hi Choco,
    What you have written here is perfect example of how it's all about bringing the Dharma out and making it available without exclusion. I strongly agree with the work which is being done here to further such a noble endeavor!

    Gassho,
    John

  28. #28

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Joining to the discussion a little bit late, but better than not joining at all

    I really enjoyed the talk, it was very educational, and keeps me thinking. Thank you so much, Jundo. I never paid attention before to our motto, and now I realized how powerful it is to view the whole life as a temple.
    Connected to that, I'm wondering about whether turning some of our daily activities into rituals can help our practice. Are there any websites or books on the subject that consider this idea of introducing rituals in our daily life? Is anyone experimenting with it? What are your results? So far I've tried gathas, and in the beginning they helped me to stay focused, but after repeating them for a couple of months, it just got merely mechanic and, for example, I forgot my initial impulse to be mindful while walking less than a minute after reciting the gatha.

    Gassho from the monastery of my mind

    Rimon

  29. #29

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    I forgot!

    I also enjoyed a lot the Buddhist version of the spam skit by Monty Python

  30. #30

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Rimon
    Connected to that, I'm wondering about whether turning some of our daily activities into rituals can help our practice. Are there any websites or books on the subject that consider this idea of introducing rituals in our daily life?
    Hi Rimon,

    The book by Daido Loori mentioned in our "At Home Liturgry" recommendations is very good.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3308

    Gassho, J

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,180

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Rimon
    Connected to that, I'm wondering about whether turning some of our daily activities into rituals can help our practice. Are there any websites or books on the subject that consider this idea of introducing rituals in our daily life? Is anyone experimenting with it? What are your results? So far I've tried gathas, and in the beginning they helped me to stay focused, but after repeating them for a couple of months, it just got merely mechanic and, for example, I forgot my initial impulse to be mindful while walking less than a minute after reciting the gatha.
    I'd definitely try the book Jundo suggested, but I rather think the point is to integrate ritual based on things we already do, beliefs we already hold, and to either rededicate oursleves to them or let them go accordingly. If you add a bit of mindfulness in random moments over the course of your day I think that will do a greater service to yourself, others, or even to the world than trying to integrate someone else's life rituals into your own.

    Be creative!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  32. #32

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Rimon
    Hi Rimon,

    The book by Daido Loori mentioned in our "At Home Liturgry" recommendations is very good.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3308

    Gassho, J
    Looks great Jundo. Thank you so much

    Rimon

  33. #33

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    I'd definitely try the book Jundo suggested, but I rather think the point is to integrate ritual based on things we already do, beliefs we already hold, and to either rededicate oursleves to them or let them go accordingly. If you add a bit of mindfulness in random moments over the course of your day I think that will do a greater service to yourself, others, or even to the world than trying to integrate someone else's life rituals into your own.

    Be creative!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Creative rituals! I like the sound of that!

    Thank you Dosho

    Rimon

  34. #34

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Knocking Down Monastery Walls III - by Jundo



    I would like to present the next installment of ... "POINTS FOR POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT" in the traditional monastic model.

    Before I do, however, I wish to emphasize again that one man's "magico-supersticio hocus pocus, baseless invented myths, and incantation and mumbo-jumbo filled rituals" is another man's "wondrous miracles, sacred wisdom stories and beautiful timeless traditions". To each his/her own, and no one has a monopoly on how to interpret these aspects of Buddhist practice. May all find their own road, and find the meaning thereof in their own heart and life.

    so, on to ...

    POINTS OF POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE MONASTIC INSTITUTION - No. II -: Have traditional monasteries become egregiously loaded down with superstition, hocus-pocus and folk beliefs, worship of bizarre or hyper-exaggerated images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas added on as Buddhism evolved through the centuries, coupled with quasi-magical rituals and arcane Sino-Japanese cultural customs which are not necessary and which need a real cleaning out?

    NO! Because to some folks, these things mean something, are a place to find and manifest the Teachings. If some fellow finds all Time and Space in a mote of dust ... while enough fellow just sees a "mote of dust" which might best be swept into the dust bin ... more power to the first fellow! Good for him or her!

    But ... YES!

    Because for some of us in the Buddhist and Zen worlds, monasteries and traditional practices are like an old, dusty attic filled with some real treasures (eye of the beholder for some, others truly manifesting the Buddha Eye for all sentient beings), but also stuffed to the rafters with piles of rotting junk, old newspapers, musty moth-eaten clothes and seemingly ridiculous souvenirs picked up as Buddhism traveled through the many exotic lands it did. For some of us, the monastic attic could use a pretty thorough Spring cleaning.

    Again, much of this is in the "eye of the beholder", and collectors will vary in their tastes and needs. To treasure hunters and pickers, one person's "ridiculous souvenir" may be a profound reminder of a visit to the Pure Land or Atlantic City!. To each his or her own, and his or her heart, and we celebrate and support each and all in keeping their own attic! Someone's silly or dusty magic-spell and mumbo-jumbo filled ceremony (like the ceremony asking for the kind benefaction of the Earth Protector Deity as I recently participated in during a brief stay at a Soto monastery in Japan) is a lovely dance filled with endless significance. (By the way, when at the monastery, I threw my "self" through and through into the ceremony with all my body and heart ... for when in Rome.)

    But for some of us, "Grandpa Buddha" is now dead, and we need to make room for the real, living Buddha which is still here in each of us. We might do without the "Earth Protector Deity", and perhaps 1000 other boxes of "gathered by Grandpa over the years" stuff.

    The question then becomes, if so ... if some of us do clean out "Grandpa Buddha's attic" ... doing away with perhaps a large portion of the elements of Buddhism, Zen, Soto or Rinzai or something else (while seeking our own vision of Buddhism, Zen, Soto or Rinzai or something else ... maybe even a "Truer to us and our times Buddhism, Zen, Soto or Rinzai or something else.") ...

    ... what might remain that need look like an Old Chinese Monastery at all? If we burn the Chinese robes, the Chinese furniture, the funky legends and funny beliefs ... replacing them with equally wonderful and durable clothing and tables from Sears, Ways and Teachings more suitable to the place and time ... would it resemble "an Old Chinese Monastery" ... or even "a Monastery" at all?

    I feel not.

    Oh, I am NOT AT ALL FOR TOSSING THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER! I often write this on that subject ...

    In making such changes in the West, perhaps we need to be very honest and say that we are really making a "new Zen", very different from the ways it was practiced traditionally in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea, in Buddha's time, Dogen's time, Hakuin's time or later. What many westerners think of as "Zen" or "returning to the heart of Zen" is a modern western fantasy, and unlike anything before.

    In doing away with things that have been part of the tradition for hundreds of years, thousands of years, we must realize that ... in many ways ... we are making a completely NEW tradition that is nothing like "Zen" as traditionally practiced.

    But ... remember that different folks have different needs. Also, do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Many completely "Japanese" or "Chinese" etc. practices which seem silly at first are worth keeping. ...

    ... other things, like some of the arcane incense, bell & drum filled rituals to the "Earth Protecting Deity", take them or leave them.
    viewtopic.php?p=55762#p55762
    To each his own, and I also know the great value and Teachings found in some practices such as extended times of silence and retreat, bowing, chanting, even Oryoki eating ... and, of course, lots and lots of Zazen! Some can be kept, some recycled, some put out with the trash. But would the vessel for such practices resemble anything like the Sino-Japanese image of what that institution is/was? I think it might be very different (precisely the same, but very very different). Some may not even be located as and when or where "traditionalists" might locate theirs.

    To each his own, but some of us make very new vessels to hold timeless flowers ... boundless vessels that barely resemble the containers of old.

    Gassho, Jundo

  35. #35
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    512

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Even after the attic is cleaned out, all the corners dusted and sprayed for hidden bugs, new insulation put in with clean dry-wall; Even after it is freshly painted and the central heat and air conditioning ducts are extended to the attic and it is made livable; Even after all the new Sears or IKEA furniture is moved in and a new environment is created; isn't there the same opportunity for this new minimalist, puritan environment to become the "sine qua non" for the "cleansing generation" and completely abhorent to the next generation, who wish to install all of their grandmother's furniture back in the attic?

    Let me explain by telling you what happened to the monasteries of the Western Church. After Vatican II in the 1960's, all the doors were thrown open, the windows washed, the old furniture literally thrown out on the garbage heap and a new era of openess with a simplification of order and ritual followed. Also following out the door were a vast number of the monks and nuns who had previously populated those monasteries. The monasteries were forced to close, the small communities forced to unite with other small communities in order to survive. Fewer and fewer new vocations arrived and the monasteries began aging until the average age has moved from 40 to 60, or more in some places.

    Now that generation of reformers is passing and the following generations have done something absolutely remarkable. :shock: They are opening new monasteries that are growing rapidly, so rapidly that many are unable to accomodate the many applicants. What is attracting this newer generation? The attraction is form and order.
    In almost every one of these new thriving monasteries the "original" Rule has been re-established, the old order of life, as it was for the years and centuries before Vatican II and the "cleansing" of the reformers began, is being observed in all its strictness. Believe me this is a great surprise to those of us who have lived through the past half century in religious life. :?

    What this says to me is that imposed "free-thinking" and reform does not last much past the generation that invokes it. What this says to me is that perhaps form and order are not bad things in themselves; but perhaps need to be tempered with compassion (something admitedly, form and order can sometimes overlook).

    Perhaps I'm just an old poop; one who remembers both the "old days" and the revision, and who upon weighing the two has a greater feeling for the prior. Personally I like form and order, rite and ritual, bells and incense, altars and robes. As for me, I've been through the reform and didn't quite care for it, but you young turks go ahead and do what you believe you need to do. I'll just sit here and wait for you, or the generation that follows to come around the bend as they inevitably will. It's just the tick-tock that we all hear from the cuckoo clock on the wall. The only thing I request is that a small corner may be left preserved :roll: , perhaps as a museum piece where I, and folks like me, can go to also feel comfortable in our spirituality.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  36. #36

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Now that generation of reformers is passing and the following generations have done something absolutely remarkable. :shock: They are opening new monasteries that are growing rapidly, so rapidly that many are unable to accomodate the many applicants. What is attracting this newer generation? The attraction is form and order.
    In almost every one of these new thriving monasteries the "original" Rule has been re-established, the old order of life, as it was for the years and centuries before Vatican II and the "cleansing" of the reformers began, is being observed in all its strictness. Believe me this is a great surprise to those of us who have lived through the past half century in religious life. :?

    What this says to me is that imposed "free-thinking" and reform does not last much past the generation that invokes it. What this says to me is that perhaps form and order are not bad things in themselves; but perhaps need to be tempered with compassion (something admitedly, form and order can sometimes overlook). ... Personally I like form and order, rite and ritual, bells and incense, altars and robes.
    Hi Fr. K.,

    I am, perhaps, a strange kind of "reformer", because I also believe in fully preserving the old for those who need that, are called there. For them, the "form and order, rite and ritual, bells and incense, altars and robes" may be fruitful and good, and I honor and encourage them on that path.

    I just feel that there should be other ways and roads too for those who are called different ways.

    No need to close all the monasteries, or change one thing within those places that do not wish to change. On the other hand, we must also recognize alternative paths which do not lead to a monastery door, rite and ritual, bells and incense, altars and robes.

    Gassho, J

  37. #37

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    No need to close all the monasteries, or change one thing within those places that do not wish to change. On the other hand, we must also recognize alternative paths which do not lead to a monastery door, rite and ritual, bells and incense, altars and robes.

    Gassho, J
    A tip of the hat and a deep bow for this teaching. An old worn phrase, " it's much harder to teach by example than by words," is sure fitting for the one who chooses to walk within society, unadorned by robes and titles, and teach by actions. Tearing down walls without anything other than personal choice of your actions, based in the precepts, is beautiful practice.

    Gassho, Shogen

  38. #38

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hello friends,

    I just found this:

    Quote Originally Posted by "Eihei D?gen

    Dogen's religion abolished the separation between monastics and laypersons. "Those who regard mundane life as an obstacle to the Buddha-Dharma know only that there is no Buddha-Dharma in the mundane life; they do not yet know that there is no mundane life in the Buddha-Dharma."



    Nevertheless, Dogen also stated:

    "Of all the Buddhas of the three periods and ten directions, not a single Buddha attained Buddhahood through the secular life. Because of those Buddhas of the past, monasticism and ordination have their merits. Sentient beings' attainment of the Way depends upon entering into the monastic's life and receiving the precepts. Indeed the monastic's life and the vow to preserve the precepts, being the unchanging law of Buddhas, are possessed of boundless merits.

    Source
    So, perhaps he's pointing to monasticism as more an entering of a state of mind or way of being than a physical place. At least, that's what I got out of this section. Not too different a stance from here, one would think. (However, I do understand that the physical monastery is a place specifically designed to be teach and be supportive of the monastic mind set, and that is a valuable place indeed.)

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  39. #39

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Hi Saijun,

    Dogen even goes on to say quite plainly: "[Enlightenment] depends solely upon whether you have a sincere desire to seek it, not upon whether you live in a monastery or the secular world."

    It may be more a matter of the time and circumstances in which Dogen wrote each of those passages, and the audience he was speaking to.

    The first was written early in Dogen's career, when he came back from China all eager to spread the Dharma to the whole world, ordained and lay alike. He was very much more open to sincere Zen practice any where, any time, by anyone. The passage was likely written to a lay follower, and was thus very positive on lay practice.

    The second was written a bit later, when Dogen had been kicked out of town with his small band of monks, his dreams a bit tarnished, all to have to take retreat in the lonely cold and snow of remote Echizen Province. Dogen was likely speaking these words to his monks. He turned into the "football coach" or army general, trying to keep the sometimes flagging morale up among his "men" who were probably sometimes wondering why they had left the comforts of home life and "civilization" to live and sit in the freezing cold. It was a "pep talk" to monks about the specialness of monk-iness.

    Dogen often spoke out of both sides of his no sided mouth, depending on the setting and his mood.

    Gassho, Jundo

  40. #40

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    What a fantastic talk and posts! This is why this Sangha feels like home for me. I do often fantasize about going to a monastery when things seem to get crazy. Well I fantasize less now, and I try to feel the craziness, or the anger, or whatever it is I want to run away from. For me, my life is the perfect practice ground. Thankfully we do have technology that allows this Sangha to exist in the way that it does. I'm just a lay practitioner to the core. I'm also an iconoclast, so when I hear things like "be a lamp unto yourself" or what Jundo sensei quoted in the teisho about being independent, that's exactly what I'm talking about!

    I feel very passionate from that perspective of practice. Again these are my personal opinions based on a mere year or so of practice, so I'm obviously no authority. But I strongly, strongly, strongly believe that although a teacher (or teachers in our case, giving a shout out to Taigu and Jundo. lol) is essential to our practice, and a sangha is essential to our practice, if we use those in the wrong way, as crutches rather than allowing us to bloom in our practice, it can be an issue.

    I remember when I first started here, I really wanted to Taigu and Jundo to like what I said. I was looking for approval. I wanted another authority figure to say, "yes that's good" or whatever. But the heart of practice should be completely other than that. The true way to honor Jundo and Taigu and our lineage is to practice it, not give lip service to it. That means doing what needs to be done even in difficulty or sitting with what is when what is seems to be chaos, or having to struggle to pay bills, or even overspending on things because you use purchasing to fill a void.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  41. #41
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thank you Jundo Sensei, this has been a wonderful series! I am forever grateful to Treeleaf. It has enabled the Dharma to enter my life in a way that otherwise would have been inaccessible, had it remained behind walls.

    Gassho,
    John

  42. #42

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    I just posted the following in a forum's discussion of these same issues ...


    Below, a "picture paints 1000 words" example of the magical, sooth-saying, esoteric elements found ... much more than perhaps most Western practitioners realize ... within the routines of traditional monastic life. While most folks might think that a monk's day is largely devoted to Zazen, work in the gardens, study and more Zazen, in fact hours upon hours of daily monk-time ...perhaps more than any other single activity ... are devoted to the learning and performance of esoteric elements such as seen here, in this short video.

    Now, to emphasize, I am not critical of esoteric elements for those who wish to practice in such way. More power to them (pun intended). When my own school of Soto Zen Buddhism seems too much to resemble the practices of Shingon or Tibetan Buddhism, I am a bit critical on my own behalf and for my own students ... but I still honor and respect the right of anyone to practice their own "Soto Zen Buddhism" as they wish. One man's hocus-pocus is another man's sacred dance. On the other hand, some of us might wish to criticize such elements of Zen practice as magic making, voodoo and spell casting from our perspective. That leads to this question: If such wizardly elements have been a central part of traditional Asian monastic practice ... and we are now trying to bring these traditional practices West ... should we leave the abracadabra behind? If so, and if it is such a central part of Zen monastic practice, what would remain? What should be cast away, and what should remain?

    There are places which have greatly reduced the hocus and the pocus (I believe that Antaiji is such a place that has reduced such elements, although not completely). However, one quick look through the 'table of contents' of the Gyoji Kihan (the manual of Standard Observances of the Soto Zen School) will show that, page after page, such esoteric and exoteric ceremonies and worship are perhaps timewise -- the central activity -- of the daily monastic routine rivaling or perhaps exceeding Zazen and Samu (i.e., more time and effort is spent on the performance of such rituals that any other single activity).

    http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/proj ... ntents.pdf

    By the way, I can also take and embrace all the elements of Mikkyo (Esoteric) ritual for their beauty, tradition, or on a symbolic or psychological level, or as a lovely dance. However, I think that some awareness of the origins of these practices (e.g., the Vajra, the hidden Mudra, the Dharani incantation seen in the below video), and how they came into Zen practice, would show that the description "abracadabra" fits more than "lovely symbolic dance". Some folks might be surprised that these rituals are so central to Zen practice in China and Japan ... arguably more central, more widely practiced by numbers of priests and time, than Zazen.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  43. #43
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Much gratitude for your efforts in this area, Jundo and Taigu.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  44. #44

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    .
    Time for another installment of ...


    ... "POINTS FOR POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT"...


    ... in the traditional monastic model.


    POINTS OF POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE MONASTIC INSTITUTION - No. III -: Does the system of Buddhist monasteries embody both the POSITIVE and NEGATIVE aspects of an economic "Guild"? Instead of serving primarily as places of good spiritual practice, or for the training of truly enlightened and gifted priests and teacher "apprentices", can the dominant purpose of the monastery as an institution come to be maintenance of the economic position or monopoly, territory, brand name and image exclusivity of the sponsoring religious sect?

    I believe so and that, although both "solid spiritual training and practice" and "maintenance of market share/exclusivity" can go hand in hand ... often the latter has come to dominate in Buddhist history then and now. We should be on our guard to avoid so.

    In medieval times in both Europe and Asia, craftmans' "guilds" served a variety of economic and social purposes. For example, this system of "masters" and "apprentices" served to pass down necessary skills, knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation. They also served to ensure in theory the achievement and maintenance of some level of "quality standards", working to assure that the apprentices were well trained, and were of sufficient knowledge, skill and character to serve in their trade. It is not by chance that medieval monasteries in Asia were often modeled on the "guild" structure prevalent in the traditional and medieval economies of the time, based on apprenticeship of master and disciple.

    (for some fascinating reading):
    http://eh.net/content/sacred-economies- ... al-china-0

    However, in addition (or in substitution) of its positive points, a guild can also encompass many 'negatives'. For example, as opposed to assuring the provision of effective and quality "goods and services" to the general population who might benefit from those services, the guild becomes primarily focused on the position and protection of the "service providers" (whether blacksmiths, stone masons, or priests offering "spiritual services" in this case) who are guild members ... making sure that their authority, income and/or social status is preserved as its central and primary goal. Further, although sometimes serving as a vehicle to pass down, generation to generation, certain time tested and proven skills and practices, the guild can also serve as a stubborn "Luddite" protector of its own prerogatives and authority by resisting ... without regard to their efficacy and the greater benefit to service receivers ... any "new fangled" or simply different way of doing things which, by being merely "new" or "other", is thus a threat to the authority and monopoly of the guild (as the Luddites fought modern textiles ... better that the few be protected instead of the greater population being cheaply clothed and kept warm). Guilds can also become "stuck in their ways" simply because they are based on a relatively frozen vision of "how things are done, have ever been done, and must be done".

    Guilds can serve to "keep out potential competitors" no matter the worth of the goods and services they may offer (much as, perhaps, Dogen was run out of Kyoto to the snowy mountains of Echizen because his "product" posed a threat to the established sects in the capital).

    Buddhist Sects, like any economic corporation, become distinguished in the marketplace of spirituality by their trademarks and "brand images" (special cuts of Kesa robe and other priestly gear, unique beliefs and practices exclusive to the Sect, legendary "founders" whose mythical image must be preserved). The monastery is a vehicle ... not much different from the training programs for new company employees conducted by Mitsubishi or Sony in Japan ... to pass on this "brand identity" to the next generation of staff who will serve to defend and preserve it against competing brand images (thus, for example, "WE SIT ZAZEN THIS WAY, CHANT THIS WAY, ETC." is defended ... not simply because it is necessarily the only or even best way to sit Zazen or chant ... but because it is "OUR WAY").

    The guild serves to preserve the rights and privileges of guilds members, e.g., "only priests can perform this ceremony, and lay people cannot" (presumably because the priests possess some sacred power or quality that the lay person lacks).

    Since the marketplace for temples is tight (especially in modern times), with parishioners being lost to age, death and disinterest, and temples are often desperately fighting to preserve the requisite quantity of "Danka" (temple parishioner families) in order to fund the temple (because someone has to pay the rent, and we can't just go out begging for it!), the "guiid" serves to keep additional potential competitors out of the market by not recognizing any but "official" temples. (At various times in Japan, the government and temples mutually benefited by the government's requiring each family to join a temple, a system which both served as a method of forced funding for temples and of close record keeping and social control for the government). The connections between "high" Zen/Chan and other Buddhist prelates and high government officials throughout Asia, right until today in many countries, are well known. At times, the fight for "territory" "property" and "government influence" became so heated that we have seen examples such as the "sect riots" of recent years in South Korea over control of various key Son/Zen temples:

    http://amarillo.com/stories/1998/12/31/bel_monks.shtml

    One proper role of a "guild" is to work to insure that "quality" is maintained in goods and services, and that the public is not presented with shoddy or defective work. At their best, the "medical society" or "bar associations" are fine modern "guilds" which serve the public in this way through their requirements for proper education and examination. In the Western Zen Buddhist world, organizations such as the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and American Zen Teachers Association are working very hard to play a like, positive role in order to prevent "quacks" and charlatans from deceiving the public, and to ensure that Zen clergy receive proper and necessary training in basic skills and traditions. It is a proper and necessary role, and they are to be saluted for their work and efforts.

    However, in Japan right now, it is questionable whether some sect organizations and their monasteries are serving primarily to "assure quality" or simply to assure the economic position of their members. For example, as is well known, becoming a Soto Zen priest (other sects in Japan have similar systems) requires ... not that the person be spiritually inclined or necessarily a quality clergyman or teacher ... but primarily that one's father be a priest and that one have a "family owned and operated" temple that the son (sometimes daughter) is bound to take over. Anyone who can spend the required number of months at the monastery/company training school ... learning the "brand image" of the sect such as "our chants, our ceremonies, our dogma" ... almost automatically (on payment, of course, of the requisite fees to the sect, with proper forms filled out and stamps affixed) ...

    http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/201007.shtml

    ... receives full ordination and "Transmission" as an "enlightened master". One is left to wonder whether the system is truly turning out so many "enlightened masters", or merely "newly minted managers" to take over local chain franchise stores of the Sect, familiar with "our spiritual products" ... primarily the funeral and memorial services (and little else, maybe the once a month or less Zazenkai) that the temples offer. Like a marine boot camp or college fraternity initiation, the "hazing" accompanying the months of new employee trainee at Camp Pendleton, Sony or Eiheiji serves effectively to build tremendous loyalty and dedication in the "young recruits" to their organization. Fortunately, in the process, Zazen and other spiritual study is required ... and some actual benefit may perhaps "rub off" on the new managers through the process (I am sure some does).

    Now, the Soto Shu and other sects are working to bring their "official certification" standards to the West. One is again left to wonder whether the purpose is mainly to certify the "best Zen teachers", or to preserve territory and influence from encroachment. Many many young Western priests are running for such certification, although one is left to wonder sometimes at the reasons and motives. For example, I was recently told that one of the most widely respected Ango for Western Soto Zen priests is running short of applicants because most young western priests wishing to sit Ango are running to the "official Soto-shu" Ango needed for their certification ...

    (a positive review of the positive aspects ... and there are many ... of the "corporate branding process" of the Official Sotoshu Ango is contained on pg 7 of the "company newsletter" here, describing what, perhaps, may be seen as a merger of the AZI lineage and the head office in Japan to allow corporate expansion into European territory. Notice the emphasis on inculcating the new recruits/mergees with "our chants, our ceremonies, our dogma"):
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/dharma/pdf/21e.pdf

    ... even though the "official Ango" does not necessarily have the strongest reputation for the nature and content of the training provided. However, getting "official recognition" (perhaps as some kind of "authorized distributor" of the brand) is too much a desired prize in the eyes of these young priests. Fortunately again, along the way, I am sure some actual spiritual benefit "rubs off" on the new managers through the process (I am sure some does).

    Now, please do not misunderstand. I am -NOT- saying that all religion, including Zen religion and the Soto-sect is driven exclusively for economic market share. No, even though there are important aspects of that, of churches thinking about money and other assets. I want to be clear on this point.

    Rather, what I am pointing to are the ways in which a religious institution, such as any church or large religious sect, can be driven to obtain or hold "religious market share" for itself as an institution, seeking that the religion's influence expands or is maintained as a religious sect. This is what religious institutions tend to do, to maintain there position much as a 'guild' or corporation will try to maintain market share and control. Money and property, of course, is sometimes very very much part of it ... but "religious influence and dominance" for the institution and its clergy is usually the main goal in these cases.

    Hopefully, in establishing a monastery or other alternative training methods in the West, we can stay focused on our main task: Providing places and opportunities for good and profound Zen practice, for the training of deeply enlightened and enlightening, ethical and gifted Zen priests.

    Gassho, Jundo
    .

  45. #45

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    All very enlightening. Perhaps en-frightening!

  46. #46

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    I have been reading some history of the Soto lineage by T. Griffith Foulk, and came across some interesting points he made regarding the devolving of the sotoshu into a largely funerary organization in Japan. He makes the case that, throughout history, one of the most important functions of religion is dealing with the dead, ushering them into the afterlife/whatever, helping the survivors to cope, and so on.

    However, Shakyamuni Buddha never covered this area, i.e. no elaborate instructions on funeral ceremonies, etc covering the above. Foulks argues that this alone may explain why Buddhism largely disappeared in India, or became mixed in with the native Hinduism, which of course did cover the handling of the dead elaborately.

    Now, he then argues that it may be the very "devolved" function of performing rites/funerals that has in fact kept Zen Buddhism alive and functioning in Japan, even if not in a way that the early ancestors/patriarchs might have liked. Might Zen disappear entirely from Japan without this service, and furthermore, should Western Zen involve itself more in such things to sustain longevity?

    Is there merit to this argument? (and sorry if this has been covered before...)

    Main source: http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/proj ... foulk.html

  47. #47

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Now, he then argues that it may be the very "devolved" function of performing rites/funerals that has in fact kept Zen Buddhism alive and functioning in Japan, even if not in a way that the early ancestors/patriarchs might have liked. Might Zen disappear entirely from Japan without this service, and furthermore, should Western Zen involve itself more in such things to sustain longevity?

    Is there merit to this argument? (and sorry if this has been covered before...)

    Main source: http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/proj ... foulk.html
    Hi M,

    I think this is an excellent point. Buddhism might disappear in Japan if it were not for funerals. Funeral help folks too, and that is what the demand is for. Most people in Japan only have contact with temples during funerals and memorial services for family. It is not all a negative thing. Funerals helps the living with their grief.

    Also, Buddhism survived by selling charms and ceremonies to bring good luck or a nice rebirth. Without that, people might be even less interested in Buddhism. Maybe that has a good side too, because it makes people feel better somehow. It also brings money into temples.

    That is fine.

    However, as was said, I do not think that that is what Buddhism was originally about, or should be about at its heart. It is not what I wish to emphasize in our Sangha.

    So, if people want funerals and lucky charms, there are plenty of temples to provide that. However, there should also be ... must be ... practice places like ours too, which emphasize Zazen and the real treasures of the Buddhist Way other than funerals and such. If Buddhism is reduced only to funerals and ceremonies (which it almost is in Japan), it will die too. There must be places that emphasize what we emphasize here.

    That's my view.

    Gassho, Jundo

  48. #48
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sarnia, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    2,102
    Blog Entries
    119

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Good points, I could argue with the handling of grief in Japan vs. elsewhere but that's another story.
    As for;
    So, if people want funerals and lucky charms, there are plenty of temples to provide
    I prefer CocoPuffs if I'm ever invited for breakfast :roll: :lol:

    And, if anyone happens to be taking a survey (without sounding to kiss ass-ey :twisted: :evil: , I would strongly agree with the policy at TreeLeaf

  49. #49
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Thanks for sharing this interesting article Matt.

    Jundo wrote:
    I think this is an excellent point. Buddhism might disappear in Japan if it were not for funerals. Funeral help folks too, and that is what the demand is for. Most people in Japan only have contact with temples during funerals and memorial services for family. It is not all a negative thing. Funerals helps the living with their grief.

    Also, Buddhism survived by selling charms and ceremonies to bring good luck or a nice rebirth. Without that, people might be even less interested in Buddhism. Maybe that has a good side too, because it makes people feel better somehow. It also brings money into temples.
    Very interesting. Thanks Matt for the link and Jundo for this reply. Now, from what I see Buddhism in the west does very little of these practices to sustain itself. As you say, selling charms and the like is fine, but contrasting it with Buddhism in the west, it seems like the western model(not funding themselves through charms and funerals) has more in common with the pre Keizan Zen as described in this article here:
    Dogen’s pure Zen, however, is said to have become diluted in the generations following Keizan Jokin (1264-1325) by extraneous elements of Japanese esoteric Buddhist (mikky?) ritual, folk religion, and various other concessions to popular demand, such as the performance of funerals and memorial services for lay patrons
    Gassho,
    John

  50. #50

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Knocking Down Monastery Walls

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson

    Dogen’s pure Zen, however, is said to have become diluted in the generations following Keizan Jokin (1264-1325) by extraneous elements of Japanese esoteric Buddhist (mikky?) ritual, folk religion, and various other concessions to popular demand, such as the performance of funerals and memorial services for lay patrons
    Gassho,
    John
    Hi John,

    People sometimes play up too much this "blame it all on Keizan" thing, attributing to him a popularizing of Soto-Zen by introducing more esoteric elements, popular ceremonies and the like. You know, much of that existed in Dogen's time too, and back in China. Keizan may just have emphasized it more.

    And, as I said, funerals are not a bad thing at all, and bring some small peace to the grieving. When I was back in the city (Ishinomaki) yesterday that suffered 10,000 dead (!!) in the recent Tsunami, I visited a Soto Zen temple there and met briefly the head priest. He had performed so many funerals for his parishioners who had died in the flooding. Of course, here at Treeleaf and at many places in the West, we emphasize "Zazen" ahead of "funeral Buddhism". However, just visiting that priest's temple Sunday, seeing all the families come to the graveyard and the chapel set up for the dead .... one can also say that the work there performing funerals brings some peace and comfort to those in need. Funerals are for the living perhaps more than the departed.

    Gassho, J

Similar Threads

  1. SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: WHAT's NEXT!?!
    By Jundo in forum TEACHER TALKS, TIPS and TOPICS
    Replies: 49
    Last Post: 09-06-2013, 09:17 PM
  2. Blank Walls and Potted Plants
    By bayamo in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 04-10-2010, 01:03 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •