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Thread: Beginner's Sutra Studies

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  1. #1

    Beginner's Sutra Studies

    Hello all,

    So I have been 'formalizing' my practice, all the while trying to keep it free from attachments and rigidity. I've been taking a modified MRO approach (Daido Loori's 8 Gates of Zen) and expanding my practice in various areas. Body has been picking back up Tai Chi, art is my recent foray into suizen with the shakuhachi, and my next focus was academic study.

    For this area, I've thought about doing some studies into the original Buddhist texts. Much of my reading over the years have been of Zen teachers expounding on Zen practice. However, I've never put forth a concerted effort to study the sutras myself. I've read through some commentaries, like Red Pine's on the Heart Sutra, but I guess I'm thinking something more formal and a 'deeper dive'.

    So I'm turning to my friends at the sangha. I know that many times in the past I've seen our PITs, Saijun and others provide much detail and am hoping that you all could give me some guidance as to where is a good place to start. I had been thinking about maybe starting some more intensive studies on Dogen, but maybe he could be an entire separate category of focus as his work is so voluminous.

    Thanks in advance.



  2. #2
    So many treasures hidden in this forum! Thank you for uncovering this one!

  3. #3
    Thank you for the additional info, Jundo!!!
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  4. #4
    Excellent thread. Precisely the guidance I have been seeking.




  5. #5

    After trying to ride through the heart and diamond sutras alone in different translations and commentaries, the only conclusion i glimpsed is a interdependent everchanging whole that my person is just a weave in that can and should benefically act on the world as I best understand it since it is all me by extension, i just don't have control over it all like my immediate body.

    It's a rosy conclusion that changed nothing other then the blind walking in life because others were walking. I never found some exotic all knowing bodhisattva mind that always knows exactly what to do. I found many dilemas in life that I acted on merely in best intention unsure if what I did was definately right. I just found a rational reasoning of why it is definately the best to do things that are best for myself and the whole. It's a bittersweet truth having the rationale knowing you don't know what's often best anyway but must act on your best gut instinct knowing full well that you have no way to know what's best or not.

    Sitting has helped me be more 'collected' and less hesitant on my choices but the choices are rarely clear cut as to what is best.

    This has definately been sitting in my mind for a long time and I'm thankful for treeleafs existence to outlet into.

    Metta(even if it isn't the finest),


    Sent from my SCH-R530M using Tapatalk
    A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope. - Dean Koontz

  6. #6
    Member Geika's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    San Diego County, California
    Nice, Greg! I have also often seen life as a big ocean and we are all waves waving...


    Sat today
    迎 Geika

  7. #7

    Lots of metaphors for this saying the same story. It's just strange why this is not only not self evident, but requires going out of ones way to find it and internalize it to applicable utility.

    I try not to bring this up in public too much. Sparingly bring up interdependent existence when the popular theme of 'being independent' comes up and I point out the most immediate realities of their employment being dependent on work coming in and so forth. I don't bother with morality since most are too burned by the conversation to consider a compassionate effect of interbeing and hope they will be able to tie it together themselves.

    This is where I doubt the quality of my practice and wonder if I am doing a good enough job of bringing to light something so obvious that would legitimately resolve many conflicts should it ever be recognized in large enough numbers.

    It's a constant balancing act of not being 'that spiritual nut' and also talking about from where my actions stem from by default so there will be more enduring harmony and less need to take piecemeal measures to help issues that come from unadressed ignorance only to return in another form because the ignorance remains.

    Biggest issue I faced is people look for some proverbial 'form' of a buddhist and how they behave because they don't know that in function of being a buddhist, you don't have a linear set of rules you follow to benefit self and others as a whole. self and others themselves not always coming in that order, depends on the situation.

    Bodhidharma once said one of his students only had the skin of zen, I understand that as buddhist appearence/form and one had zens bone, what I see as buddhisms function, to save all sentient beings from suffering be it dharma or physical and mental aid.

    I'm only hoping I understand the bones here, thought I did before only to my better understanding seeing I didn't. Hence Treeleaf, hence redigesting what I think I get since I completely missed it when I thought I really got it.

    Right now I don't even what principle qualifies a zen master or any other teacher of different traditions to be one in principle outside of a teaching role, a lineage chart, and a ceramony of dharma transmission.

    I honestly don't think there even is a 'last word of zen', you don't hit a final cutscene, stop buddhisming, and go and I don't know, start a destructive corporation harming interbeing and just not do the sitting thing anymore? Nope.

    The whole climbing the mountain, filling a bucket with snow, decending the mountain to dump said snow in a well indefinately seems what it really is and supposed to be about if you 'get' it.

    I think sutras are fine but they can be very disjointed since so many topics are effectively covered at the same time in the diamond sutra for example, each topic in itself requiring a lot of learning and contimplation to understand.

    I know a lot of people are spinning their wheels trying to get it all together so it gells, this place definately helps me gell it and it one day might fully click if it didn't yet.

    The sutra topic and how offbeat sutras can be definately remind me of what kind of unsturdiness my understanding was at in the early days and where the holes may or may not be now. It's absolutely important to me to get it right considering the butterfly effect magnitude of getting it horribly wrong.

    'Beginners sutras' is what I see the actual state of practice. The constant beginning since new things are always happening and 'experts' have nodded out thinking there is nothing further to see here and potentially stop trying to practice correctly all together. Todays lunch won't fill you tomorrow nor is yesterdays sitting todays.



    Sent from my SCH-R530M using Tapatalk
    A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope. - Dean Koontz

  8. #8
    Reeeeeally late to the party here, but can I put in a good word for the Samvegaparikittanapatha sutta (Reflections on detachment from worldly miseries) from the Pali canon, chanted daily in Theravada communities? Apart from the fact that it's got a really good, pacy, fun-to-chant rhythm (at least in the Thai tradition where I learnt it), it's just a great, unfrilly, straightforward reminder of how misunderstanding the impermanence/no-self nature of things causes suffering. What's not to like - it's one of my all-time favourites There's a version of it here: https://dharmafolk.wordpress.com/200...ng-on-sudafed/


  9. #9
    Thank you Libby! I would like to hear it chanted sometime.


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