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Thread: Questions to the unsui

  1. #1

    Questions to the unsui

    Hello samgha,

    Since the news of our new unsui, I feel the time is right for some Q&A. These questions are directed at the unsui, so please, refrain from commenting if you are not unsui, if that is possible (meaning that the questions are directed at the unsui, but everyone can of course comment on their answers).

    I feel that it is important to know the different views of the unsui, since they somewhat represent this samgha (of course, we all do) and are seen quite a lot in the forum. It is interesting to see where our unsui are coming from regarding different Buddhist concepts. I realize that some have been unsui longer, and others have just started, but nonetheless, you probably have views in either way.

    This thread may be intellectualizing. If this is not your cup of tea, I am sure there are other threads to your liking. If nobody wants to answer, no problem. Even no answer is an answer!

    Questions:

    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?

    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?

    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?

    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?

    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicaple to your own practice?


    Please note that this is not about my own understanding; I'm not asking these questions in relation to myself. I'm genuinely interested in your views (I am thinking the answers may vary from unsui to unsui, hence the answers can be of great assistance to other people in this samgha). If a question is not applicable, please ignore it. Also please note that I am not looking for a discussion. Others may feel free to discuss, but I am not going to come up with counter-arguments just for the sake of discussing.

    May we all realize the buddha land.

    /anista

  2. #2

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Perhaps some of these questions are best answered ... or left alone ... or answered silently ... later down the road, not at the very start of the trip.

    However, all good questions. I am curious too! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Perhaps some of these questions are best answered ... or left alone ... or answered silently ... later down the road, not at the very start of the trip.

    However, all good questions. I am curious too! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo
    Well, start of the trip or not, I am sure they still have views, and there is still the title of 'unsui'.

    But nobody is of course forced to answer! There is no virtual gun pointing at our illusory existence!

    Be well,

    /Anista

  4. #4

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Anista,

    I think these are awesome questions for all of us to clarify our practice. Thank you for these !

    Gassho,

    Risho

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Anista wrote:
    Well, start of the trip or not, I am sure they still have views, and there is still the title of 'unsui'.
    So do you believe there is a certian set of views one should poses to have this title?

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Anista wrote:
    Well, start of the trip or not, I am sure they still have views, and there is still the title of 'unsui'.
    So do you believe there is a certian set of views one should poses to have this title?

    Gassho,
    John
    No. The title unsui does signify something though (perhaps someone serving the samgha)? As unsui, they are set apart, otherwise all samgha members would be called unsui. Since they are already set apart, their views (unrelated to their title) are interesting in that context. I assume that they have views, as most humans tend to have.

    Take great care, John!

    /anista

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    What does Mind-only mean? I have no idea.

    And it's sangha by the way, with an N.

  8. #8

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    What does Mind-only mean? I have no idea.

    And it's sangha by the way, with an N.
    Hello Nindo.

    No, it's most definitely correct with samgha, with the letter M. In Sanskrit, the word is ???, not ????. The dot over the 'sa' is of course an anusvara, which is to be transliterated as the letter M (see Michael Coulson's Sanskrit for example for a short description of the anusvara and the use of M vs. N.), although the nasalized sound could be leaning more towards N. Or so I have been told. Both could perhaps be OK though to use, If I remember my grammar correctly, but I tend to use M more often in translations. But I am definitely interested in your use of N instead of M! Why do you prefer to transliterate the anusvara as N? Because of the sound? Or is there another reason that I have overlooked?

    Mind-only, or consciousness-only (cittamatra) is a school of thought on which the early zen buddhism was based (see Yogacara), and perhaps even modern zen buddhism (if we see those as separate).

    (Sorry for the lack of diacritics. I'm a bit lazy nowadays . Perhaps that adds to the confusion).

    /anista

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Anista wrote:
    Well, start of the trip or not, I am sure they still have views, and there is still the title of 'unsui'.
    So do you believe there is a certian set of views one should poses to have this title?

    Gassho,
    John
    No.
    Hi Anista,

    Given your answer I see you must have changed your previous opinions on such matters then. Thank you for the response.

    Gassho,
    John

  10. #10

  11. #11

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi Anista,

    Given your answer I see you must have changed your previous opinions on such matters then. Thank you for the response.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi John!

    Everything changes!

    (Although I am not sure where I have stated otherwise, and where my opinions have changed. Please, if you can, point me to where I have stated that there must be a "certian set of views one should poses to have this title [unsui]". But if I have changed opinions, which is likely, I am glad. It means I am not stubborn enough to never value another point more than the one I am currently having. Or something like that . I thought I was pretty clear though what this thread was supposed to cover, but obviously I have not been able to convey my meaning very well. For that I sincerely apologize. If there is anything unclear, please point it out so I can learn how to better phrase myself. I blame my somewhat lacking skillz in English ).

    /anista

  12. #12

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hello Matt!

    I am sorry, but YouTube said that that clip was not available in my country. But I think I get the picture, anyway ...

    All the best,

    /anista

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    :lol:
    Thanks Matt. Cosby can lighten any mood. The best thing to do would be to take off the tap shoes!

    Gassho,
    John

  14. #14

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    No. The title unsui does signify something though (perhaps someone serving the samgha)? As unsui, they are set apart, otherwise all samgha members would be called unsui.
    NEVER set apart, not in the least.

    If anything ...

    It is to volunteer and offer oneself as the lowest ‘sailor on the ship’ at the beck and call of the passengers' well-being and needs, a nurse to help clean soiled linens, a brother or sister to sacrifice oneself for a family, a friend offering to help carry a burden. One must be committed sincerely to serve and benefit others, and one must not undertake such a road for one’s own benefit, praise or reward.

    Gassho, J

  15. #15
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    The best thing to do isn't always the easiest!

    Anista wrote:
    Although I am not sure where I have stated otherwise, and where my opinions have changed. Please, if you can, point me to where I have stated that there must be a "certian set of views one should poses to have this title [unsui]"
    Well it's not that you've mentioned a certain set of views one should have to be unsui but rather another stance you have previously taken. Which then relates to your questions here.
    You once questioned how a person could even be a Buddhist if they didn't believe in certian parts like reincarnation etc. So then, with this manner of thinking I figured you must take a similar stance towards those who choose to become unsui and later priests. As in, how can one even choose to travel this path should they not believe in some things or have different views from the entirety of these concepts.

    Gassho,
    John

  16. #16

    Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    The best thing to do isn't always the easiest!

    Anista wrote:
    Although I am not sure where I have stated otherwise, and where my opinions have changed. Please, if you can, point me to where I have stated that there must be a "certian set of views one should poses to have this title [unsui]"
    Well it's not that you've mentioned a certain set of views one should have to be unsui but rather another stance you have previously taken. Which then relates to your questions here.
    You once questioned how a person could even be a Buddhist if they didn't believe in certian parts like reincarnation etc. So then, with this manner of thinking I figured you must take a similar stance towards those who choose to become unsui and later priests. As in, how can one even choose to travel this path should they not believe in some things or have different views from the entirety of these concepts.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hello John,

    Thank you for your response!

    Hm ... I am not sure I follow. This thread is about questions to the unsui. I do not feel that the unsui must have certain views, in order to be called unsui. The questions to the unsui are what this thread is about.

    As buddhists though, sure, there are certain views that are right and certain views that can be considered wrong. It is basic buddhist thought, really. Hence, "right view". Why have precepts, eightfold path, and so on otherwise. How is this "right" understood, then? Well, simply that this path will lead to certain consequences. If we do not follow this path, other consequences will follow, which will not be beneficial to all sentient beings. It is nothing mystical, it is that simple (although hard to put into practice). Do you mean that it doesn't matter what view you hold, and they will all lead to similar consequences? Is that why you posted what you did? If so, better to start a different thread altogether, don't you think?

    John, if I may be frank, you seem to still be carrying resentment to what we discussed earlier (or to me). If you are angry about this, I will be happy to discuss it in a PM or another thread. Here, it is kind of off topic.

    If you want to have a go at the questions though, go ahead).

    Have a good day!

    /anista

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    John wrote:
    The best thing to do would be to take off the tap shoes!
    Or.......switch to a quieter pair. Which is what I should probably do from here on out :wink:

    Gassho,
    John

    P.S. Anger and resentment are such strong words to bring into this. I have not(in the past), nor do(now), have such feelings towards you at all Anista! Sorry if my questions made you feel like I did _/_

  18. #18

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    No. The title unsui does signify something though (perhaps someone serving the samgha)? As unsui, they are set apart, otherwise all samgha members would be called unsui.
    NEVER set apart, not in the least.

    If anything ...

    It is to volunteer and offer oneself as the lowest ‘sailor on the ship’ at the beck and call of the passengers' well-being and needs, a nurse to help clean soiled linens, a brother or sister to sacrifice oneself for a family, a friend offering to help carry a burden. One must be committed sincerely to serve and benefit others, and one must not undertake such a road for one’s own benefit, praise or reward.

    Gassho, J
    Of course. I agree. But I meant set apart in title.

    /anista

  19. #19

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hello Anista,


    excellent questions you posted there. I won't have time to do them justice before the middle of next week though, because of work and other commitments....but rest assured that I will give you a snapshot of my current situation regarding the topics raised.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  20. #20

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hi Anista
    Good questions, for all really.

    Questions:

    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?

    I'll let you know in our next lives. To be honest- I do not know. I do not subscribe to the literal rebirth, and lean more towards moment to moment death and rebirth as you say it.
    More to the point the karmic repercussion of our actions now reborn.


    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?




    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?

    Do not know this reference sorry.

    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?

    The precepts are not strict, not the ten commandments as such. Yet we, each individually, need to explore them in our lives, and how they apply to our current existence. Follow them. Do not... Either way you get what you give. I can try like mad to keep them, and still, inadvertently break one (thus all) so .... You renew the vows each moment, when you break them, AT-ONE-MENT (thank you Jundo for this )and move on.

    This is not an excuse to continue break or continue breaking them. Middle way is what er follow.

    Some folks right here in the sangha whose lives and livelihoods may seem to differ in accordance with the precepts, however they accept, take the vows and do what they can as they can with out attachment, doing what needs to be done the best way they can where many of us falter.

    Plenty of stories come around when discussing the precepts highlighting the fluid and encompassing nature of the precepts..they are able to cover the butcher, the solider, the lawyer the veterinarian and over zealous practitioner too. Truth is story or not...these are living precepts and those living this life upholding them can attest to times they felt they did their very best yet had to break on...other times we break them with out knowledge...thats when we look to right intention etc.

    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicaple to your own practice?

    Wisdom. This part of my practice requires attention at the moment. Balance is not sitting in the middle its doing what needs to be done at that moment. For myself, I need to, and currently I am working on prajna.

    Sorry there is nothing juicy here to chew on. It really does not matter what I write here as this may change as we go continually go through this change together. The key to all this is to find out for yourself while keeping your eye on the teaching of all those who have gone before us and taking this no-wheres trip with us now!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  21. #21

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hi.

    Answers below...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Questions:

    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?
    Don't know, and it doesn't really concern me in my daily life activities, i just do as best i can.

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?
    Awakening or enlightenment are good ananlogies, one is like drudgingly waking up from sleep in the morning the other like flicking on the light in a pitchblack room, both are usable analogies when talking about an realizingmoment, and it sometimes differ sometimes not, although it is all the same...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?
    Yes, and no. It is an good way to view how things are, ie mapping of things, three natures eight consciousnesses, emptiness and such, but in the end it's up to me to get through the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?
    The precepts are not commandments, and they're up to intention and Upaya (skillful means), if they are "broken" or not. And there are several stories, i believe, attributed to the Buddha, and later ones, where people do those and not end up "breaking them", and not getting an "bad" result of the action (karma vipaka).

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicaple to your own practice?
    Wisdom or understanding of things, or rather the understanding and wisdom of things and how to use that well. Yes, it's applicable.


    Thank you for you practice and the questions.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  22. #22

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    OK, I’ll give this a go….


    Questions:

    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?

    Answer: Yes. I mean this in that I believe we are reborn moment by moment and can choose to take advantage of that rebirth by being of benefit to all beings and be fully “In” the moment – grocking the moment some might say – and thereby remove ourselves from the prison of karma. As to the other, well, I can’t discount that we are reborn in a life and body like the one we are in now – just as I can’t discount that when I die, I disappear into a puff of smoke. Indeed, what would that knowledge do for me, or how would it help me to be of benefit to those sentient beings in need?

    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?
    Answer: See the Genjokoan for my viewpoint on that. As to how my view jives with Mahayana sutra, Hiniyana or Theravada sutta, or anything else…I try not to discriminate too much here. Rather, I simply try to ‘be’ with the everyday and let others make the distinction on which sect that most closely ties to. That being said, at the same time, I most heartfeltly identify with Soto Zen and the teachings of Dogen’s line.

    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?

    Answer: Yes it is, in as much as I follow any specific teaching or doctrine when it just fits with my understanding of the Way as it naturally progresses through the practice of shikantaza and my reading of the teachings of the great masters of many lineages. As I see our Way, it is a pathless path to shedding layer upon layer of misconception and delusion to reach a clear view of “suchness”. In that light, all things are my teacher, and I follow a Way of All Ways and No Ways, with a flavor specific to Soto Zen.

    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?

    Answer: As strict as they need to be. A man who kills a deer so that his family does not starve to death, does not in my mind violate the precepts. When a person does something with ill intent, specifically against the precepts, especially in situations where an alternative is present that is in keeping with the precepts; that is a violation. We all know the heart of the precepts, and to break that heart willingly is to violate our vows.

    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicable to your own practice?

    Answer: Prajna. To me it is wisdom, the type of wisdom gained (by degrees usually) through practice and determination to see through the veil of delusion in this saha world. Prajna to me is the gradual progression to that place of “suchness” where the clarity of things is made apparent, and we can act, feel, and think from that clear blue sky without having to be slaves to our preconceived notions, delusions, or attachments. Prajna is the heart of our practice; and we realize it by bringing it forth in our daily lives, as best we can.

  23. #23

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Maybe this is better asked in a different thread, but what does it mean that we die from one moment and are reborn the next? Is that just another way to posit the idea of change, i.e. We are different from what we were so in that sense we died? Language can get tricky and it's easy to get lost in metaphor.

  24. #24

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Maybe this is better asked in a different thread, but what does it mean that we die from one moment and are reborn the next? Is that just another way to posit the idea of change, i.e. We are different from what we were so in that sense we died? Language can get tricky and it's easy to get lost in metaphor.
    I would say that is right. You are not the same "Risho" who was around at age 7, or age 17 ... let alone 1 hour ago and 1 breath ago. While the mind gives some sense of continuity by remembering images of the past ... from another perspective all things are constantly changing. and a "Risho" dies and a "Risho" is born in every moment. Thus, an aspect of our Zen Practice is to "go with the flow" as things constantly change.

    Remember that, in its most radical perspectives, one can really run with this and see that "Risho" is just a kind of movie, an illusion, whereby Risho thinks there is a "Risho". In fact, the sequence of birth and death is so constant and ongoing that, in fact, it arose long before Risho thinks he was born as a baby ... will continue onward long after Risho thinks he dies as a man. What is more, "Risho" thinks himself a separate self independent of the rest of the people and stuff of the world ... but that is not the only way to see things.

    It is much as waves rise and fall endlessly on the sea. One wave rises for a time (a self-aware wave named "Risho"), but in fact that wave is constantly changing as it moves across the surface of the sea (in a sense, becoming new every second and inch as it moves along). It came from forces long before its arising, and its effects will continue on long after it fades back into the sea ... its effects moving on ... perhaps re-arising in other waves down the line. Even though the Risho wave thinks it dies and disappears at some time in the future ... the sea goes on and on. The "Risho" wave thinks itself separate somehow from the sea ... but it is just the swirling, living sea itself all along.

    Thus, we say that "life and death" are happening in every moment ... and also "life and death" are something of a dream.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  25. #25

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Anista
    Would you be so kind as to offer your accepted definition of unsui? The meaning is varied and could be misunderstood.
    Gassho Shogen

  26. #26
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Excellent words of my brother Jundo.

    Actually, Anista, I have an issue with the way the questions are put...i hope you don't mind if i put it down this way:
    Your questions are very sharp, as sharp as Monju's sword. Lots of Prjana here.Great stuff. And, at the same time, are they taking an exam? Does it have answered now and in words? You know that answers change and vary in the course of a lifetime. You also know that the ultimate answer is not doctrinal but real. Manisfested just now. Words or no words. Whatever.

    Now I am going to bring a shift of pespective, a kind of different take to the all process:
    Rather than asking them to provide answers, why not looking at life as it is , their lifes as answers seeking for their questions.

    You see, that's it. The way I measure the depth of a student is looking at his questions and where they spring-leap from.

    A complete different way of looking at it.

    This is Zen, no scholar work.

    gassho


    Taigu

  27. #27

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Thank you Jundo sensei. These are big questions and my ego took them as a personal challenge even though they weren't addressed to me because deep down I want to be validated on some level although it angers me to admit that. Lol.

    But your and Taigu sensei's answers remind me to just continue practicing. Instead of rushing to grasp for an answer right this instant this practice does not end. On one hand these questions are useful but in the end the practice is life and death itself, not words in a book or on a monitor.

    Thank you Jundo sensei and Taigu sensei

    // although I still want to know it all now. Lol

    Gassho

    Risho

  28. #28

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Shogen
    Anista
    Would you be so kind as to offer your accepted definition of unsui? The meaning is varied and could be misunderstood.
    Gassho Shogen
    Hello Shogen,

    I do not know what you mean by "accepted definition of unsui"? Jundo and Taigu are the ones who choose the unsui. They have given the definition. I guess the question would be better addressed to them.

    /anista

  29. #29

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Actually, Anista, I have an issue with the way the questions are put...
    Who is the one having the issue?

    With respect,

    /anista

  30. #30

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by Shogen
    Anista
    Would you be so kind as to offer your accepted definition of unsui? The meaning is varied and could be misunderstood.
    Gassho Shogen
    Hello Shogen,

    I do not know what you mean by "accepted definition of unsui"? Jundo and Taigu are the ones who choose the unsui. They have given the definition. I guess the question would be better addressed to them.

    /anista
    Anista

    Thanks for your reply it answers my question. Gassho Shogen

  31. #31

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Thank you to all who have answered the questions! Much obliged.

    /anista

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Anista,

    When I came to Treeleaf over 3 years ago I was so filled with opinions on this and that! I wanted to know how to do everything correctly! I wanted to know how to answer every question! I wanted, I wanted! I needed, I needed! PLEASE SOMEBODY...ANYBODY...TELL ME THE ANSWERS!!!! :cry:

    As a result, I have primarily spent those 3+ years emptying my head of so much useless garbage and while I'm quite sure somewhere along the way Jundo will ask me to fill it again (or maybe he won't...I try not to speculate!), for now I will simply thank you for your questions and offer a promise to reply someday when I have something of interest to say.

    That said, you may be waiting a long time, so please don't hold your breath.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  33. #33

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    I would say that is right. You are not the same "Risho" who was around at age 7, or age 17 ... let alone 1 hour ago and 1 breath ago. While the mind gives some sense of continuity by remembering images of the past ... from another perspective all things are constantly changing. and a "Risho" dies and a "Risho" is born in every moment. Thus, an aspect of our Zen Practice is to "go with the flow" as things constantly change.
    No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man- Heraclitus

  34. #34

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho

    When I came to Treeleaf over 3 years ago I was so filled with opinions on this and that! I wanted to know how to do everything correctly! I wanted to know how to answer every question! I wanted, I wanted! I needed, I needed! PLEASE SOMEBODY...ANYBODY...TELL ME THE ANSWERS!!!! :cry:
    I had a similar issue, but mine was not knowing what the questions to be asked. Sitting back and observing sometimes answers questions you never thought of.

  35. #35

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by mcurtiss
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    I would say that is right. You are not the same "Risho" who was around at age 7, or age 17 ... let alone 1 hour ago and 1 breath ago. While the mind gives some sense of continuity by remembering images of the past ... from another perspective all things are constantly changing. and a "Risho" dies and a "Risho" is born in every moment. Thus, an aspect of our Zen Practice is to "go with the flow" as things constantly change.
    No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man- Heraclitus
    Yes and no. I think this statement needs to be qualified. If things were always changing, which I agree they are to some extent, and they never maintained any qualities of what they were, it would be impossible to identify things. Oh wow, the stop sign changed... what does it mean now? Oh you changed, who are you?

  36. #36

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Quote Originally Posted by mcurtiss
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    I would say that is right. You are not the same "Risho" who was around at age 7, or age 17 ... let alone 1 hour ago and 1 breath ago. While the mind gives some sense of continuity by remembering images of the past ... from another perspective all things are constantly changing. and a "Risho" dies and a "Risho" is born in every moment. Thus, an aspect of our Zen Practice is to "go with the flow" as things constantly change.
    No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man- Heraclitus
    Yes and no. I think this statement needs to be qualified. If things were always changing, which I agree they are to some extent, and they never maintained any qualities of what they were, it would be impossible to identify things. Oh wow, the stop sign changed... what does it mean now? Oh you changed, who are you?
    not all things change so much they lose or alter identity. not all change has to be significant to be seen or realized. rust, decay, aging, growing rarely happens to the sight or touch. Our emotional growth and understanding constantly is in flux despite outward or even inward observation.

  37. #37

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hello Anista,

    let me briefly say that I own (and have actually read) far too many good books on Buddhadharma for my own good...so I could just give you wonderfully and academically correct answers through browsing through my bookshelf, but that surely wouldn't be in the interest of this exercise. Instead I'd rather tell you what the questions mean to me personally in the light of my own limited life experience.


    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?

    It took me too long to dis-attach myself from culturally force-fed Christian assumptions regarding the existence of a soul for me to be eager to embrace another belief...in the sense of blindly believing without proper evidence or personal experience....and even personal experience is not all that precious sometimes. On an intellectual level I deny re-birth in the sense of one individual's actions and death leading to the birth of another particular individual through invisible means. Strangely enough, on a heart level it makes more and more sense as time goes by In my free time I work as a hospice volunteer so I do know what death and dying looks like. Let me use a quote from an anonymous AIDS patient from the 1980s US in order to get my position across: "In the face of death, philosophies and religions melt like ice cubes in the fire."



    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?
    Clearly seeing things for what they are - beyond attraction or aversion.

    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?
    I do not "blindly" follow any teaching, but have decided for Soto-Zen to be my basic road map on the everlasting trip called awakening. Yogacara/Hua-Yen Buddhism has a lot of very important points to make, but they are but components of the wider tapestry that has developed into the Zen tradition I am now a part of. I value certain Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings (minus the cultural bias) very highly too, if they happen to cross my way...the same can be said of Rumi and people like him...but at the end of the day the great and secret show in my case is called Shikantaza and Dogen is my homeboy (though I don't like his personality very much).

    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?

    I am a rather othdox fellow in some ways and would have made a great inquisitor in the late Middle Ages. You reap what you sow. Ignore the precepts at your own peril. I am of the strong opinion that people (and especially westerners) should eat 80% less or no meat at all, should drink 80% less liquor and sell no guns. The dharma (and that includes the precepts) is an option. Nobody is forced to follow into the footsteps of the awakened one. On a relative level we have a choice. Most persons however are kidding themselves when they still eat all the meat they can get their hands on, still drink the same amount of alcohol and still vent their violent anger more or less the same way they always have - and then think they are properly practising only because they can get their asses on a cushion regularly. Deeply and truthfully looking at the reluctance to follow certain precepts is a first step towards truly applying them.


    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicaple to your own practice?

    Prajna is our innate ability to see through our own BS in a way that goes beyond mere intellectualisation and cuts right to the chase - the marrow of the great matter of life and death.



    Hope this exhibitionist list of answers helps


    Gassho,


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  38. #38
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Anista, you totally miss my point... and how different could it be ?

    take care

    gassho


    Taigu

  39. #39

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Jundo and Taigu are the ones who choose the unsui. They have given the definition. I guess the question would be better addressed to them.

    /anista
    Oh, now here's a question simple to answer!

    The term "unsui" means a novice monk undertaking Zen training, and is said to come from a Chinese poem ... "To drift like clouds and flow like water." Kyogen Carlson writes:

    It comes, originally, from the phrase "gyoun-ryusyu", or

    "drifting clouds, flowing water." Neither clouds nor water insist upon

    any particular form, for they take shape according to conditions. Clouds

    attach to nothing, and so drift freely across the sky. Water twists and

    turns on its way down hill in complete accord with the path it must

    follow. The flowing of the water has the strength to move mountains,

    while the drifting of the clouds is utterly free. In these qualities we

    have a perfect description of the Zen mind. Just as clouds cling to

    nothing, floating free and changing with the wind, acceptance of change

    is the essence of nonattachment and expresses the perfect freedom of

    meditation. Flowing water follows its course naturally, without

    resistance or hesitation. This lack of resistance describes the

    willingness at the heart of a true commitment to Zen practice, which

    like water, has the strength to move mountains. To become a monk, an

    Unsui, requires ordination. By its very nature, ordination means a deep

    commitment to the form of practice we call Zen Buddhism. It also means a

    commitment to a teacher, and to a Sangha, or community of fellow

    trainees. Ordination means a commitment to a life of training in

    nonattachment, so right from the very beginning, the concepts of

    nonattachment and commitment are present together in Zen teaching.
    That, right there, may be the best attitude toward some of these BIG questions.

    The rest of Kyogen's essay is pretty good too.

    http://www.universalquest.com/driftingcloud.htm

    Gassho, J

  40. #40
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    At the beginning of Bendowa, Dogen says of himself that after returning from China

    I drifted the while like a cloud, finding lodging as a floating reed does...
    (Mt. Shasta translation)

    Is this referring to the same idea as unsui?

  41. #41

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    At the beginning of Bendowa, Dogen says of himself that after returning from China

    I drifted the while like a cloud, finding lodging as a floating reed does...
    (Mt. Shasta translation)

    Is this referring to the same idea as unsui?

    Hah! Well, one doesn't want to just drift aimlessly and lost either, failing to find one's True Home.


    Gassho, J

  42. #42

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Enven though this thred was susposed to be between Anista and our new novist monks, like other members
    Treeleaf, I can not just sit and not express my perceptions and feelings on the subject.

    When Anista first proposed specific questions of practice and beliefs to our new novist monks I felt unsettled. The tone of the questions, his response to one of our Sangha’s members when she noted a spelling difference in the word Shangha or Samgha” all noted years of studious endeavor in learning Buddhist traditions and practice. That is to be commended, however I still was uncomfortable. Why was a learned student of the Buddha’s teaching causing this discomfort? Then I recalled a much repeated story from the Amitabha Sutra about a monk named Suddhipanthaka. I always felt close to this story due to my life long struggles with a learning disability. Like Suddhipanthaka, I understood concepts but could not relate them in test situations or in confrontations. I had to develop by other methods. Like Suddhipanthaka, I learned from life. I learned by sweeping floors.

    I believe this is why Anista's questions disturbed me. He has asked our new novist monks to respond to specific questions, framed by his intellectual understanding. I personally do not know all of our new novists but I do feel they each approach their learning of the dharma and developing their practice in their own way. Some perhaps by study and some perhaps by their life experiences. We each follow our own path, even under the Soto Zen traditions and may not be able to articulate our understanding and practice by some precise standard or to some specificly crafted questions.

    I think we must step back and if there is a need to evaluate our new novist monk's practice lets us do as I belive Taigu stated by simply observing their lives. At least for me, my practice is my life. With the help of Jundo, even the most gulling events are simply sweeping the floor.

    Jim

  43. #43

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Anista, you totally miss my point... and how different could it be ?

    take care

    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, I got your point just fine. You seemed to miss mine, though.

    Not much to worry about.

    Take care,

    /anista

  44. #44

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hm, I really don't see what the problem is with this thread. The questions were directed at the unsui, because I was curious.

    This wasn't an exam. This wasn't part of a test. This wasn't supposed to be the subject of discussion (although feel free to discuss anyway!). This wasn't supposed to be about formal, scholarly answers. I already know those. I was interested in the views of the unsui, and how they felt about these subjects (which are quite common in Mahayana buddhism I might add: they are nothing mystical, nothing special). But to me, these are interesting questions. These are interesting answers. No matter if you choose to answer formally, or just answer "don't know". It doesn't matter if the unsui choose to not answer, that too, is interesting. It's a friendly Q&A, also quite common in the Buddhist community. Some have chosen to answer, and for that I am thankful. Some, chose to not answer, for that I am thankful. Thank you all for your practice.

    And, I might add, for those who aren't inclined to the odd intellectual discussion, there were no need to post here in the first place. There are several threads that may be more to your liking. Please do not see all threads here as mandatory. Please do not see enemies where there are none. Please do not see these questions as thinly veiled criticism.

    Sorry for the inconvenience. Obviously, this is not the samgha in which it is OK to ask these kind of questions. And that's OK. I will stick to the poetry section for a while, while all the negative effects of this thread plays out, not contributing in this thread anymore. Hopefully, that will help.

    May we all realize the Buddha land!

    /anista

  45. #45

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Questions:

    1. What is your take on rebirth? To simplify in absurdum: only moment-to-moment, or previous lives?
    2. What does awakening mean? How do you view that concept? How is that view comparable to the wider Mahayana corpus (does it differ or not for example)?
    3. Mind-only. Is this a teaching you follow, or not? That is, is it applicable to your practice?
    4. How strict are the precepts? Can they be altered to fit different conditions? Can you be part of a trade, for example by selling meat, liquor, guns, and still follow the precepts? Can you drink, kill or abuse, and still follow the precepts? How does this tie into the concept of karma-vipaka?
    5. What is your definition of prajna? Is this concept applicaple to your own practice?
    here are my answers :
    1. I life now (i try to do so) and dont look back nor forward
    2. eat when you eat, sleep when you sleep, sit when you sit, nothing more nothing less.
    3. who's mind? what is in the mind?
    4. very strict. you will be punished if you make errors...
    5. i'm to stupid to understand the true meaning of it.

    i'm not very clear in my answers,
    to protect others who don't fully understand it,
    and i'm a beginner,
    so they will be all wrong.

  46. #46

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    A wise person once said, (don't remember who at the moment)

    "Intellectual understanding without direct experience is like having one's eyes open in the dark.
    Direct experience without Intellectual understanding is like having one's eyes close in broad daylight."
    Both intellectual understanding and direct experience; your eyes are open in the midst of the day.

    Sometimes it is good to just sit with the questions, other times it is good to think them out.

    Zen is not oppose to scholarly work. Zen is not opposed to anything.

    Any way...

    Happy Thanksgiving

  47. #47

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    And, I might add, for those who aren't inclined to the odd intellectual discussion, there were no need to post here in the first place. There are several threads that may be more to your liking. Please do not see all threads here as mandatory. Please do not see enemies where there are none. Please do not see these questions as thinly veiled criticism.
    Hey Anista, everyone ...

    ... for what it's worth, I liked the questions. There are times just to be silent, moving like clouds and water ... time to take a stab at some good Buddhist philosophy.

    Actually, I thought all our 'unsui' did quite well in responding, each in their own way.

    Gassho, J

  48. #48

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Hi.

    I once heard a story about an fellow who kept asking questions about everything when the sangha was meeting, so much that eventually the headmonk asked him why he did so, to which he replied:
    - You know i know these matters, i know you know these matters, but there are people here that don't know these matters, and are to afraid to ask, and i'm asking for their sake...

    Anista and anyone interested, i would like to see more of these sorts of questions, and more questioning and answering from everyone, not just the priests, but i would like it to be in the right time and in the right way if they are asked, and what that way is...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  49. #49
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Yes Anista, I missed your point if your point is to invite unsui (priests in training) to express their views about fine doctrinal points of Mahayana Buddhism and so we can get a clearer picture of what the people actively involved in Treeleaf think at this stage of their life-practice.

    In the first post, you wrote :

    I feel that it is important to know the different views of the unsui, since they somewhat represent this samgha (of course, we all do) and are seen quite a lot in the forum. It is interesting to see where our unsui are coming from regarding different Buddhist concepts. I realize that some have been unsui longer, and others have just started, but nonetheless, you probably have views in either way.

    This thread may be intellectualizing. If this is not your cup of tea, I am sure there are other threads to your liking. If nobody wants to answer, no problem. Even no answer is an answer!
    The questions are great but it is altogether a matter of timing as Jundo originally pointed out, of tone and style too.Fugen senses there is something weird or awckward about this process. You see, brother Anista, these questions are generally found in the mouth of a teacher, and your public and polite request, even if it is clearly not your intention, sounds like a kind of test and a challenge. The initiative of asking them to do so is not yours in my modest opinion.

    As to really understanding where I come from ( I used to be a scholar and lecturer and drunk with it) and understanding in your-flesh-mind what my rambling about questions echoing answers already given... well... You are joining my club of the "miss the point guys". A warm welcome sweetie :P :wink:


    May I suggest just bowing as a wonderful form of dropping the body-mind?
    It is an excellent remedy for people like me, filled with pride and arrogance.
    Could be a good thing to do, don't you think?




    On the other hand, it is good to ask questions like that and give people the opportunity to think about their practice-experience.

    a warm thank for this, anyway.


    gassho


    Taigu

  50. #50

    Re: Questions to the unsui

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu

    The questions are great but it is altogether a matter of timing as Jundo originally pointed out, of tone and style too.Fugen senses there is something weird or awckward about this process. You see, brother Anista, these questions are generally found in the mouth of a teacher, and your public and polite request, even if it is clearly not your intention, sounds like a kind of test and a challenge. The initiative of asking them to do so is not yours in my modest opinion.
    Hi,

    This will be one of the few times when my opinion is a little, tiny bit different from Taigu on such matters.

    I think it important that new priests, even from the start, get used to responding to difficult doctrinal questions from people about our Traditions and Buddhist ways. That is so even though these "unsui" may never ever become teachers, or only become teachers several years down the road if then ... and even if the answers are just for who they are now ... and even if supposedly of little weight (a bit like asking a 1st year law student in the first semester of constitutional law about your death penalty case!). 8) Heck, if they ever become a "teacher" they may have even less opinion on these matters, or less willingness to share them!

    What is more, anyone in this Sangha can ask anything at any time if a sincere question about Practice. Anista's questions were perfectly sound, basic and reasonable, I felt really. I would be curious about what these same (though then different, as we all change) folks respond to such questions a few years down the road. I know for a fact that they will not be the same people then as now.

    By the way, silence also counts as a "response" to such things ... and is often the wisest response.

    Gassho, J

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