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Thread: Right Effort - How Is It Understood in Zen?

  1. #1

    Right Effort - How Is It Understood in Zen?

    I have been reading the book Opening the Hand of Thought and found myself wondering how Soto Zen envisions the factors of the Eightfold Path with an especial regard to Right Effort. In brief, it is understood in the Pali Canon as follows:

    The nature of the mental process effects a division of right effort into four "great endeavours":

    (1) to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states;

    (2) to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen;

    (3) to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen;

    (4) to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.
    Source: http://www.vipassana.com/resources/8fp5.php

    Does Zen use the same understanding, if not is there another formulation of the 8FP and Right Effort?

    Gassho,

    Mike

  2. #2

    Re: Right Effort - How Is It Understood in Zen?

    Hi KB,

    Well, the Eightfold Path including Right Effort is vital in all corners of Buddhism, including Zen. Interpretations of the contents of the Path vary quite a bit though. Here is my too simple explanation of the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path and some other "Buddha Basics" for folks new to Buddhist Practice ...

    viewforum.php?f=21

    However, the closest I know to what you have on that list is the Three Pure Precepts, which we undertake as part of Jukai. They are usually phrased as something close to ...

    "Renounce all evil, Practice all good, Keep the mind pure, Thus have all Buddhas taught." (more commonly, the third part is something close to "work for the salvation of all sentient beings")

    Here is our recent Jukai reflection on these ....

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4240&p=61384#p61384

    Zen Teacher Josho Pat Phelan has a good essay on the topic which we look at as part of that, and may address your question best ...

    http://www.chzc.org/pat09.htm

    Dogen and some other Zen folks also remind us that, as we seek to do good and avoid evil, there also is no "doer" to "do good or evil" too! All at once! For example, in Shobogenzo Shoaku Makusa, he writes ...


    Ancient buddhas say:

    Not doing evils,
    devoutly practicing every good,
    purifying one's own mind:
    this is the teachings of all buddhas.

    ...

    In the above quotation the term "evils" refers to [what is called] morally evil among the categories of morally good, morally evil, and morally undefined. Its moral nature, however, is uncreated. The natures of morally good and morally undefined likewise are uncreated. They are untainted, they are the real aspects, which is to say that these three categories of moral nature encompass manifold varieties of dharmas ...

    ...

    It is not that evils do not exist, but that there is only "not doing." It is not that evils do exist, but that there is only "not doing." Evils are not emptiness; it is "not doing." Evils are not form; it is "not doing." Evils are not "not doing," for there is only "not doing." For example, spring pines are neither non-existent nor existent; they just are not done. Autumn chrysanthemums are neither existent nor are they non-existent; they just are not done. The buddhas are neither existent nor non-existent; they are "not doing." Pillars, lamps, candles, whisks, staffs, and so forth, are neither existent nor non-existent; they are "not doing." One's own self is neither existent nor non-existent; it is "not doing."

    ...

    Because this is so, to act on the assumption that "if [evil already] is 'not doing,' then I can just do as I please" would be exactly as [mistaken as] walking north while expecting to arrive in [the south].

    ...

    Every good is not existent, is not non-existent, is not form, is not emptiness, nor anything else; it only is devoutly practicing. Wherever it fully appears, whenever it fully appears, it must be devoutly practicing. In this devoutly practicing, every good will certainly fully appear. The full appearance of devoutly practicing is itself the kan, but it is not production and destruction, it is not casual conditions.

    The same is true regarding the entering, abiding, and departing of devoutly practicing. Devoutly practicing even one good among the every good causes the entirety of dharmas, the whole body, and reality itself to devoutly practice together.

    http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/translat ... ation.html
    Gassho, J

    Ps - I saw the answer that Rev. Nonin wrote to you elsewhere, and I don't fully agree with what he said there. My view is above.

  3. #3

    Re: Right Effort - How Is It Understood in Zen?

    Rev. Jundo,

    Thank you so much for that. All the more reason to participate in Jukai this year if I may.

    Gassho,

    KB (Mike)

  4. #4

    Re: Right Effort - How Is It Understood in Zen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Rev. Jundo,

    Thank you so much for that. All the more reason to participate in Jukai this year if I may.

    Gassho,

    KB (Mike)
    Of course. Gassho, J

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