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Thread: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

  1. #1

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    This week, Japanese Lineages of Soto Zen celebrate the 811th BIRTHDAY OF MASTER DOGEN! YEA! YIPPEE!

    But in some ways, MASTER DOGEN IS VERY OLD AND OUT OF DATE!

    Oh, don't misunderstand! So many of Dogen's Teachings are FOR ALL TIMES AND ALL PLACES. In fact, his vision of Time and Timelessness, BEING-TIME, is ALL TIME IN EVERY TIME, THIS TIME AS TOTALLY THIS TIME AND THAT TIME, ITS OWN TIMELY TIME, EACH TIME OR HALF TIME JUST A WHOLE TIME, A WORMHOLE-TIME, A RABBIT HOLE TIME ...THE WHOLE HOLY TIME. Dogen once-upon-a-time wrote this ...


    Do not think that time merely flies away. Do not see flying away as the only function of time. If time merely flies away, you would be separated from time. The reason you do not clearly understand the time-being is that you think of time only as passing. In essence, all things in the entire world are linked with one another as moments. Because all moments are the time-being, they are your time-being. The time-being has the quality of flowing. So-called today flows into tomorrow, today flows into yesterday, yesterday flows into today. And today flows into today, tomorrow flows into tomorrow.


    In my way of reading the old boy, DOGEN IS A RIFFING JHANA JAZZ MAN-POET, free expressing-bending-unbinding-reexpressing-releasing the 'standard tunes' of the Sutras and Koans, making time and keeping time in syncopation of time ...


    Zen master Guixing of She Prefecture ... taught the assembly:

    For the time being mind arrives, but words do not.
    For the time being words arrive, but mind does not.
    For the time being both mind and words arrive.
    For the time being neither mind nor words arrive.

    Both mind and words are the time-being. Both arriving and not-arriving
    are the time-being. When the moment of arriving has not appeared, the moment
    of not-arriving is here. Mind is a donkey, words are a horse.
    Having-already-arrived is words and not-having-left is mind. Arriving is not
    "coming," not-arriving is not "not yet."



    That's Dogen-Time, Man! Digg It!


    But sometimes Dogen is JUST A MAN OF HIS CULTURE AND TIMES, preaching about things with limited relevance today. You can take Dogen out of ancient samurai Japan, but you cannot take the ancient Japanese samurai out of Dogen. I find him sometimes obsessive, sometimes grumpy, sometimes naive and ill informed, sometimes perhaps downright wrong in his advice then and now (as in this guidance to a prospective monk on leaving his old infirm mother to fend for herself)



    A monk inquired,

    “My aged mother is still alive. I am her only son. She lives solely by my support. Her love for me is especially deep and my desire to fulfill my filial duties is also deep. ... If I leave the world and live alone in a hermitage, my mother cannot expect to live for even one day.

    Dogen instructed,

    If you abandon your present life and enter the Buddha-Way, even if your mother dies of starvation, wouldn’t it be better for you to form a connection with the Way and for her to permit her only son to enter the Way? Although it is most difficult to cast aside filial love even over aeons and many lifetimes, if, having being born in a human body you give it up in this lifetime, when you encounter the Buddha’s teachings you will be truly fulfilling your debt of gratitude. Why wouldn’t this be in accordance with the Buddha’s will? It is said that if one child leaves home to become a monk, seven generations of parents will attain the Way.


    4.html">http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 03-14.html



    Hmmm.

    (Also, to the mention of "many lifetimes" I offer another agnostic 'Hmmm'.)


    At other times, Dogen spoke out of Both Sides of His No-Sided Mouth, for example, sometimes saying this about the practice of lay folks (usually when writing to lay folks, as here in Bendowa)



    Q: Can a layman practice this zazen or is it limited to priests?

    A: The patriarchs have said that to understand Buddhism there should be no distinction between man and woman and between rich and poor. ... It has nothing to do with being either a priest or a lay man. Those who can discern excellence and inferiority will believe Buddhism naturally. Those who think that worldly tasks hinder Buddhism know only that there is no Buddhism in the world; they do not know that there is nothing that can be set apart as worldly tasks in Buddhism. ... All this tells us that worldly tasks do not hinder Buddhism. ... In the age of the Buddha, even misguided criminals were enlightened through his teachings. Under the patriarchs, even hunters and woodcutters were enlightened. And others will gain enlightenment. All you have to do is to receive instructions from a real teacher.



    At other times, later times in his life, Dogen changed his tune. When speaking to his band of "all boy" monks in a 13th century monastery in the snowy boondocks, you can often hear him, in talks from this period, dealing with real "human to human" issues in the monastery. A lack of donors and hard economic times, rough food and no money to fix the roof. From what we know of the Eiheiji monks, a hodgepodge of refugees with various spiritual and personal backgrounds, Dogen's work was sometimes like herding cantankerous cats. You can hear in his voice the coach or commander, trying to keep up the sometimes flagging morale among his "men" ... men probably sometimes wondering why they'd left the comforts of home life and town to live and sit through the hard, cold, long, lonely winter days in a monastery in the middle of nowhere. No easy task, unless you preach a little "fire and brimstone". He would say such things as (in Shobogenzo Shukke)


    Clearly know that the attainment of the way by all Buddhas and ancestors is only accomplished by leaving the household and receiving the precepts. ... None of those who have not left the household are Buddha ancestors
    ...

    Breaking the precepts as a home leaver is better than keeping them as a layperson. You cannot experience emancipation by keeping the precepts as a layperon."




    Hmmm.

    If Dogen had not been driven out of town with his small band of monks, his ecumenical dreams a bit tarnished, forced to take retreat in the lonely cold and snow of remote Echizen Province ... would he have later become so seemingly closed to lay practice? I wonder. But, no matter ... for Dogen was a man of many moods and visions, and even Dogen is not the "final word" on what Soto Zen is or is not, and who can practice and who cannot, on what "home leaving" is or is not.

    Dogen was a genius, beyond doubt. He was also a man with strong, personal views and opinions. Although someone may be truly gifted in some aspects, and have All the Answers ... be it spiritual or otherwise ... he/she need not have all the answers in every part of their life, having every answer to every life question. Mozart, a genius, was nonetheless not so on all matters and all music for all times. It is enough for me that Dogen, or any of the Buddhas and Ancestors, pierced to the heart of how this mind-self-universe works ... even if their particular social or scientific views, or views on daily conduct or how to treat one's mother ... can be taken with a grain of salt. One need not live in a 13th century Japanese monastery to find the heart of these Teachings!


    Master Dogen was sometimes just a man of his place and time, with views not necessarily always right for our times.


    (OH, AND PLEASE WELCOME OUR NEW BABY DAUGHTER, WHO JOINED ME FOR PART OF TODAY'S TALK! DOGEN DIDN'T PRACTICE 'PAPA ZEN' EITHER!)


    Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  2. #2
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    A talk supreme.
    Gassho
    Myozan

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  3. #3

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo
    A talk supreme.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Indeed
    Also great to see we have a new Zen teacher in the sangha, in charge of the bells.
    Gonna try to switch my watch to Dogen time. I really enjoyed the first paragraph of the written text on the nature of time. Thank you Jun(do) Coltrane

    Gassho

    Rimon

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    gassssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssssssssssssho





    T.

  5. #5
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Wonderful talk. Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

    PS - Posted to podcast.

  6. #6

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you.



    Gassho, Kojip.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!



    Gassho

    Jen

  8. #8

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    To truly understand Dogen, the Shobogenzo, once should simply put down trying to understand it in the head and go out for a nice walk in the park. With each step, with each breath, with each sound, with each sight, you will begin to see what this whole practice is about.

  9. #9

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Wait, you're saying Dogen is dead!? :shock: :shock: :shock: And HUMAN? :shock: :shock: :shock: I'm chocked!



    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    gassssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssssssssssssho
    Bless you!

    /Pontus

  10. #10

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    To truly understand Dogen, the Shobogenzo, once should simply put down trying to understand it in the head and go out for a nice walk in the park. With each step, with each breath, with each sound, with each sight, you will begin to see what this whole practice is about.
    Is that also true for playing the Puerto Rican 'cuartro' guitar which you play so well, and learning to appreciate jibara music? Simple walk in the park.

    viewtopic.php?p=49658#p49658

    El sonido del viento. That and a daily Practice! Ten strings in five courses, tuned in fourths from low to high B-e-a-d'-g',54321, with B and E in octaves and A, D and G in unisons.

    The untrained ear can't make head or tail of it, complex rhythms, notes flying, wild tempo ... Dogen in San Juan.

    Gassho, J

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Marvelous, Thank you!

    Gassho,
    Yugen

  12. #12

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Great talk! Thank you.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you for this teaching.

    Indeed, we carry the dharma into everyday life

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you Jundo, I put this one on my favorites list

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    The best part of this teaching was seeing you with your daughter. She is so cute!

    Gassho,
    Ekai/Jodi

  16. #16

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you so much for this talk. Very timely, as lately I have wondering to myself, "is Soto not a cult of Dogen? Was Dogen not also a man? Has nothing more been said in 800 years?"

    I think you've laid it all to bare here, wonderfully. Your honest assessment of our ancestors is just one more reason this Sangha is so relevant to me.

    And congrats again on the wonderful little life you've welcomed home!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ekai
    The best part of this teaching was seeing you with your daughter. She is so cute!

    Gassho,
    Ekai/Jodi
    I agree!!

  18. #18

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Do they have angels in Buddhism?

    They do now. :wink:

    I probably won't remember anything you said after 8:20. My wife and I are avaiable for baby sitting btw :lol:

    gassho
    Greg

  19. #19
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Da vinci code... LOL.
    Best bell ringer ever! :lol:

  20. #20

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you for this teaching Jundo!
    Always so fresh and direct :mrgreen:

    deep gassho,
    Jinyu

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoyu
    Quote Originally Posted by Ekai
    The best part of this teaching was seeing you with your daughter. She is so cute!

    Gassho,
    Ekai/Jodi
    I agree!!

    You're getting upstaged! :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Jen

  22. #22

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Gassho Jundo,
    Myoku

  23. #23

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Ok, that is officially the cutest girl in this sangha My special spider sense tells me that perhaps she's daddy's little girl. :mrgreen:

    Dogen really, really confuses me. For the parts of the Shobogenzo I've read, I understand some of it. Then there's parts that go way, way over my head. I have no idea what he's getting at. So it's hard for me to tell if he's genius for those things that I don't understand because I don't assume someone is genius just because I don't understand what they are saying.

    I'm not saying he's not genius though because the things that I do understand are really special. But I think I probably don't understand a lot of what he's saying because I haven't sat for long enough. I can't relate to the Dharma as deeply as he can because obviously I'm no Zen master. That's like asking a sophomore in college (or preschooler in my case. lol ) to understand a paper written by one of the world's foremost brain surgeons.

    But there's also the barrier of the idioms used in his culture and our own. (You've touched upon this before ; I can't remember the post, but I believe rapping was involved ) In any case, the idioms of his language are so foreign to our own that that presents a barrier let alone when he starts getting crazy. For example, and I'm totally going to destroy this story, but just to exaggerate my confusion. hahahaha

    He writes about when the cart won't move do you whip the ox or the cart? You need to whip the cart and the ox. the cart precedes the ox... It's like he takes every permutation of a sentence and expresses it on paper. And it loses me. I don't know the point.

    Maybe that is the point. I wonder if he did that to prove a point that the Dharma is not to be found by someone else's answers? You're not going to find the Davinci code or any key here. Perhaps he did that to instill the sense of constant questioning and wonder in his students. I'm just speculating.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  24. #24

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho

    Dogen really, really confuses me. For the parts of the Shobogenzo I've read, I understand some of it. Then there's parts that go way, way over my head. I have no idea what he's getting at. So it's hard for me to tell if he's genius for those things that I don't understand because I don't assume someone is genius just because I don't understand what they are saying.
    Hi,

    The following is my "Guide to Getting Dogen", and please have a look and let me know if it helps. When I started hearing Dogen in such way the Shobogenzo and other works became clearer to the ear ... and really is very much like someone at first not "getting Coltrane's Jazz", but then later developing an ear for it and coming to appreciate the taste of the sound.

    How to Read Dogen
    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2999

    Here is what John Coltrane did and undid, for example, with "MY FAVORITE THINGS", that really "squaresville" (though lovely in its own way) tune that you may recall from THE SOUND OF MUSIC ... give a listen to a few minutes of this ...

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    One has to realize that Dogen was engaging in a kind of word play ... playing with the words and Buddhist teachings. I have included a few examples at the above link from some scholars working on the Soto-shu sponsored "Soto Zen Text Project" which show how Dogen took original stories and Koans, terms and images from Buddhist sutras and the like and playfully "played around." A couple of years ago, someone (Richard, I recall) pointed out the modern master of "word jazz", Ken Nardine, sometimes heard on the public radio. Give a little listen there too.

    http://www.wordjazz.com/podcast/index.php?id=5

    From bending, straightening and rebending the "classics" and "standard tunes", new Facets of the One Jewel emerge.

    Let us know if any of that helps.

    Gassho, 'Chao Chao' and Leon's Dad

  25. #25

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Hi all,

    First of all thank you Jundo for giving your fresh perspective on Dogen.

    On the subject of understanding Dogen. 10 years ago, when I tried to start my Zen practice I tried (of course) to read Dogen's Shobogenzo, but utterly failed to understand much. Then I bought this book "Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji" by Thomas Cleary. There he takes a passage from Dogen and rewrites it in his own language, with commentaries and references, so that we can understand it. I really like reading it.

    Fast forward 10 years and my second attempt at Zen practice. I found this book again in one of the still unpacked moving boxes full with books. I started reading it again. This time I find it that mere intellectual understanding of Dogen just doesn't do it for me anymore. I think that without underlying practice it is impossible to really understand what Dogen meant.

    When I'm in the shower, sometimes this passage from Dogen comes to mind, I don't fully understand everything he says but what I understand is when you're really intimate with things, "water practices and verifies water" just somehow makes a lot of sense.

    Water is neither strong nor weak, neither wet nor dry, neither moving nor still, neither cold nor hot, neither being nor nonbeing, neither delusion nor enlightenment. Frozen, it harder than diamond; who could break it? Melted, it is softer than milk; who could break it?

    This being the case, we cannot doubt the many virtues realized [by water]. We should study the occasion when the water of the ten directions is seen in the ten directions. This is not a study only of the time when humans or gods see water: there is a study of water seeing water. Water practices and verifies water; hence, there is a study of water telling of water. We must bring to realization the road on which the self encounters the self; we must move back and forth along, and spring off from, the vital path on which the other studies and fully comprehends the other.

  26. #26

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thank you Jundo; the links are great. I'm going to read the books you suggest to get my feet wet then head into the Shobogenzo.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  27. #27

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Jundo - thanks for this - though it's a formidable reading list.

    Should keep me busy for the next few years by which time I'll be old !


    Gassho

    Willow

  28. #28

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Rev Jundo, do you think it's better to read sutras and the different commentaries on the sutras first, and then Shobogenzo, or dig into Dogen first without prior sutra study?

  29. #29

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Rev Jundo, do you think it's better to read sutras and the different commentaries on the sutras first, and then Shobogenzo, or dig into Dogen first without prior sutra study?

    Hmmmm. Ours is a "Way Beyond Words & Letters" ... but most of those old monks (Dogen certainly, coming out of years of training with the Tendai tradition) were already highly conversant with the main body of Mahayana Sutra literature (plus commentaries, the South Asian Suttas via the Agamas) and the like. Their Zen talks & writings ... especially in Dogen's case ... were so often playing off/bouncing with/a reaction to all that.

    So, I will take a Middle Way here.

    What I recommend in our "How to Read Dogen" thread is this ...

    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2999

    Before reading and really 'digging Dogen', the best intro is to read Okumura Roshi's look at Genjo Koan ...

    viewtopic.php?p=43761#p43761

    Much denser, but worth the effort, are the two Dr. Kim books (He wrote them a few years apart, and changed interpretation slightly over the years just a drop ) ... Each can be rather heavy going at points, but worth it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Eihei-Dogen-Mysti ... 011&sr=8-3

    http://www.amazon.com/Dogen-Meditation- ... gy_b_img_b

    Also ... I VERY strongly recommend... Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra (Paperback) by Taigen Dan Leighton (Author) ... about how Dogen wild-ed and bent the already wild and bent Lotus Sutra into something even more bent and wild ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Lotus-Sutra-Conte ... gy_b_img_b

    You probably want to read a good translation of the Lotus Sutra first, to see the "tune" that Dogen was working with. This by Reeves is very readable and a fantastic tale, right up there with "Alice in Wonderland" and such ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Lotus-Sutra-Conte ... 0861715713

    In fact, you might start with Taigen and the Lotus Sutra --before-- reading Dr. Kim, as Taigen is short and easier going to read.

    Here is an essay available online, a part of Taigen's book. It will give you a taste ...

    http://www.mtsource.org/articles/dogen_lotsutra.html
    Some familiarity with the Koan Stories that Dogen often relied on is helpful. The "Book of Equanimity" which we will soon be reading, and the Blue Cliff Record, are the source (and Source 8) ) for most of those.

    I also always read two (or more) translations of a Shobogenzo section at once, for example, Tanahashi, Nishijima-Cross and (if possible, because it is not yet complete) Soto Zen Text Project ... The reason is that different translators phrase things in their own way, and (because Dogen was often working with double or triple entendres in his word-jazz) any translator struggles to capture that. Reading two at once helps to "triangulate" a bit what the original might be expressing in its classical Japanese (very different from modern Japanese, by the way). The Soto Zen Text Project is best (and Nishijima-Cross too) for its wonderful footnotes which trace down so many of the Sutra quotes, Koans, poems and the like that Dogen was playing as his "old standards". Nishijima-Cross is probably best for its "leave nothing out" precision. Tanahashi is best for his excellent poet's sensibility in writing style (very important in the case of Dogen, who was a true poet-wordsmith too).

    Then ... just jump in, don't get lost in the head ... and let the music sink into the bones.

    Gassho, J

  30. #30

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thanks!
    Still reading Mysterious Realist by dr Kim! And Genjo Koan is great. Until now I have only read pieces of the Shobogenzo and I will get a little more grounding before I read through it all.

  31. #31

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hmmmm. Ours is a "Way Beyond Words & Letters"
    Hold on, you can't fool us; you've showed us your library :mrgreen:

  32. #32

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Rev Jundo, do you think it's better to read sutras and the different commentaries on the sutras first, and then Shobogenzo, or dig into Dogen first without prior sutra study?
    Also check out the "Beginner's Sutra Studies" thread which kind of distills the HUGE recommended reading list into a few core works to start with:

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3968&p=58389&hilit=beginner%27 s+sutra+studies#p58213

  33. #33

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Rev Jundo, do you think it's better to read sutras and the different commentaries on the sutras first, and then Shobogenzo, or dig into Dogen first without prior sutra study?
    Also check out the "Beginner's Sutra Studies" thread which kind of distills the HUGE recommended reading list into a few core works to start with:

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3968&p=58389&hilit=beginner%27 s+sutra+studies#p58213
    Hi,

    Hmmm. I actually would say not, as that is quiet a hodge-podge of folks' Sutra and other reading in that thread. I would not recommend that to new people.

    I would recommend that new people to Shikantaza read the starred ** items in this thread, even just go down the list of ** from the top.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=889&p=12001#p12001

    I hope this year to expand that list, by the way, to include internet and magazine articles of merit. Ours is A Way Beyond Words and Letters, but Zen folks sure do write a lot! :shock: As long as one can see through and shining through the words ... and appreciate the wordless moments too ... then words themselves are not the problem.

    Gassho, Jundo

  34. #34

    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Thanks very much for such a practical teaching.

    Gassho

    Ray

  35. #35
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Dogen swings and shimmies!
    Thanks Jundo.

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Dogen is SO OLD!

    Jundo and Sada,

    Thank you for your teachings. Much wisdom and a needed smile.

    She's so cute!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

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