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Thread: Zen Equivilant to "God's Will"

  1. #1

    Zen Equivilant to "God's Will"

    Just to quell, I understand that we in Zen do not refer to any God.

    It is in my experience that a dedicated practitioner of most faiths end up with the same awareness; only the language or approach is different. If we can agree in that then allow me to continue...

    How the mystic Christians talk of dropping the will or ego, and acting through the will of God. I get it, I dig it, and I can relate to it in my Zen practice. My question comes from having had the word "God" tainted in my own mind; upon hearing it I immediately associate Him with the first Catholic Father I had ever seen.... ie. IDing Him with an external thing.

    As I come close to being free of 'myself' from time to time I feel as though my body and mind are in accord with whatever is in front of me. Every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done, and there is giddiness, joy, and absolutely no need to be certain of anything. I equate this to the Christian's "God's will."

    My question is: how would a Zen practitioner refer to the God that Christians, fellow walkers in the Way, speak of? What is it that they/we are giving our wills up to? How, in relation to Zen verbiage, is a true Christian perceiving God?

    It it not my intention to get metaphysical here, nor am I asking advice on my practice. This is, more or less, simply a question about the difference of language between the two practices. Purely theoretical and academic.
    My name is: Jordan.

  2. #2
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    If your first father was Catholic it will never change a s long as you think about it
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  3. #3
    Hello SyntaxJO,

    I really appreciate your thorough questioning...but since there is no one single authority in Zen Buddhism, there's no one answer. Personally I stopped caring about questions that don't relate to practise directly a while ago....but I know how important it feels at times to chew on certain thoughts.....just be sure not to choke on those questions but to drop them at some point. Better sooner than later actually.

    With regards to your question: The two extremes would be for some teachers to stress the universal nature of true opening to what is...basically saying they are really seeing the same, doing the same just using different words (Sanbo Kyodan comes to mind)....and the other extreme would be to have teachers who would point out to you that whatever the Christians are seeing ultimately has to still be delusion (though a subtle form), since they do not have the e.g. Madhyamaka and/or Prajnaparamita teachings to help them to really cut through the delusion of atman. They still see an essential something, which contradicts the teachings of emptiness (depending on how you interpret them) and also anatta...at the same time when one looks at the Mahaparinirvana-Sutra it's a whole different story again.

    Kodo Sawaki once remarked that we cannot even exchange farts.

    How could I ever know with certainty what another being's individual experience is like, let alone judge it intimately?

    Do not waste too much time with questions like these, we will all die some day and no theory or academic answer will help us then.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  4. #4
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    Just to quell, I understand that we in Zen do not refer to any God.

    It is in my experience that a dedicated practitioner of most faiths end up with the same awareness; only the language or approach is different. If we can agree in that then allow me to continue...
    We can't agree.

    So....how 'bout the weather lately? Pretty crazy, huh?

    Chet

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    We can't agree.
    We, ehh? Maybe there is a single authority in Zen Buddhism *wank wank!* I love the smell of online forums in the morning.

    But yes, I'm glad my conditional worked. Don't agree? Don't answer the question. Please, though, don't get off topic about the weather. OHHH MAN, I've got a bag full of them! Metta, and oh so much more metta.
    My name is: Jordan.

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    We, ehh? Maybe there is a single authority in Zen Buddhism *wank wank!* I love the smell of online forums in the morning.

    But yes, I'm glad my conditional worked. Don't agree? Don't answer the question. Please, though, don't get off topic about the weather. OHHH MAN, I've got a bag full of them! Metta, and oh so much more metta.
    I meant you and I. I'm only an authority on my own dogma.

    I should have put a winky emoticon in or something - my post was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

  7. #7
    It's probably my ignorance speaks here, but for me Zen practice is about loosing notions such as God or anything of similar grandeur. If you look at the 10 oxherding pictures, at some point the bull disappears altogether from the picture. So you're really left on your own - there's nobody/nothing to call "God". But I'm not entirely sure if the same thing happens/suppose to happen in Christianity. (but again I may be totally ignorant here). There's a saying by master Rinzai - "Don't put another head on top of your own". To me using concepts such as God or Buddha nature is exactly that - putting another head on top of my own, useful at some point but very heavy to carry both all the time
    Gassho,
    Andy

  8. #8
    JUNDO NOTE: I WROTE AN APOLOGY FOR MISREADING HERE, AND BOBBLING THE RESPONSE TO IT IN THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS HERE, SOME OF THE WRITER'S ORIGINAL POST. THE APOLOGY CAN BE FOUND ABOUT 10 POSTS DOWN

    Hi Jordan,

    First things first ...

    As I come close to being free of 'myself' from time to time I feel as though my body and mind are in accord with whatever is in front of me. Every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done, and there is giddiness, joy, and absolutely no need to be certain of anything. I equate this to the Christian's "God's will."
    Your self assessment of what seems to be some kind of high or "peak experience" is dangerous for you to make, and it is also dangerous for me or anyone to try to assess what you are experiencing from a distance. You must find a teacher you can work with in person and regularly. Since you are in Japan, I do not think it hard for you to find one ... although a good Teacher might also hesitate to assess you unless they had observed you over the long term. Also, most Zen Teachers might tell you to get past the giddiness and the "acting without intent" and come back down to Earth. Frankly, looking at what you have written here in past postings on other threads, and at ZFI, I do not feel there is a stability, clarity and solid insight in how you are expressing things ... sounds very scattered, jacked up and unfocused. So, be careful in jumping to conclusions about what you are experiencing.

    May I boldly ask you (and you can write me privately if you wish, as an open forum is not the best place to discuss such things), if there has been any use of mind altering substances or any psychological or medical condition you have been diagnosed with that may be contributing to this experience? If so, that has to be pointed to first and ruled out.

    Now, on your general question ...

    As some here have pointed out ... Zen Buddhists generally learn to yield to life, and merge into how things are. We see and experience clearly the deep interconnection of all phenomena of this world, and express deep gratitude, trust and a willingness to allow all to be ... without necessarily defining clearly or caring who or what (if anybody or anything) we are expressing that gratitude to! I sometimes compare our attitude to that of innocent babes with a deep trust in this source and world that birthed us, that feeds us and which somehow allows us air to breathe, and we are "one" with that. Perhaps what we have is a deep faith in "god" ... but without the need or demand to know her name, her story or all that she wishes of us. We place no demands upon her, even the demand that she be a "god". (That's not to say that we can't if we wish believe in God, and one can be a Zen Buddhist or Zennist while a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist or Agnostic or the like. We can. We neither require a "god", nor push any god away.).

    But one thing to emphasize is this ...

    "Yielding to life" and "thy will be done" does not mean that we necessary start acting where (in your words) "every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done." I mean, there are moments when we act so ... but most of life is pretty normal.

    I am reminded of a story (perhaps made up) told to me by a friend who used to live in Saudi Arabia. He says that the Saudi highways are filled with wrecks because people do not drive carefully, or honor traffic lights well, believing that "All Is In Gods Hands".

    So, for me, to "yield to God's will" means to do the following each day: Get up, eat breakfast, go to work (obeying normal driving care), go to the toilet, laugh, cry, play with my kids, read a book or watch a movie, go to bed ... lead a pretty ordinary life. I think that, if there is a God, that's probably why He bothered to give us these miraculous-oh so ordinary lives.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I sometimes say ...

    If there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.

    If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-18-2012 at 03:13 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    This reminded me of one of my favorite jokes of all time ...

    A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The religous man replies, " no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle. I will follow God's will."

    Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause "God will grant me a miracle. I will follow God's will."

    With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down." St. Peter chuckles and responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter."
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    I'm on a week long retreat and I'm using this as my questions come up.

    I respect everyone trying to help me out, but I did not mean to get into a psycho analysis such as this. Personally, Jundo, I think you have a lot of balls asking me that on a public forum. So, for all the world to see:

    Gave up mind altering substances 10+ years ago (sans a nip of the bottle from time to time). No prolonged medical condition, ever. Love my Mom and Dad. I can still get an erection. Messed up in the head? I guess, so. Workin on it! And here we are:

    These giddy experiences come to me from prolonged meditation, and they do not contrast a dark morose I have otherwise, as I don't. They are the times when it all makes sense to me and all is clear, and that always comes from sitting on my zafu. It's hard to write in the forums. Evey single word used is a booby trap - I say the word giddy, joy, intent, and I'm caught in the "don't go there-snare" It seems to make these boards kind of pointless. The internet is like reading a book. Nothing you read in a book will teach you anything, you must have already experienced it. Books are for confirming. Internet words included. You can't experience things for me. I think we all get too caught up in the rhetoric of our own memories of experience that we latched onto Zen, and maybe we're missing out on the discussion. If you're beyond discussion, you shouldn't come on the boards. You're already there!

    Specifically, my question arose from reading Meister Eckhart, shit's right on the nose. Even Jesus himself is considered a Buddha and he won't shut up about God. Everyone telling me to "don't go there", or "I stopped asking these questions..." I think it's great that you're there! There's this problem I have, though, I haven't stopped asking those silly questions and have not had the experience to bother stopping (except when I'm giddy). Essentially, I am on my own with my experiences, just like disastermouse. Anything less than a teacher isn't going to do much. That's the only place my real deep inquiries get to anyway on these boards, "find a teacher." That's why I just asked the question from a purely academic standpoint. I'm sure we can learn from all enlightened beings, yea?

    Are we to simply ignore non-Zen works? There must be some relation, in fact I'm certain! If one goes through a certain path, has some experience, and then stops themselves because it is contrary to Zen language... idk, seems kinda limiting. My freedom comes from when my opinions, language, etc. do not occur to me and it makes me feel giddy; giddy when I consider what's happening and how silly I've been. Giddy is an option, and it's an option that is fleeting.

    If someone comes to me and hits me upside the head with some real communication, I'm on board! Until then, it's all good, I am practicing without a teacher. As I don't take advice, I know that last thing one should do is give advice. But don't take my advice.

    In regard to ignoring traffic lights, because it's in God's hands, I appreciate this point, and I believe that's where most are getting hung up when regarding "God's Will." I'm in the middle of editing a Radio documentary I recorded during a month stay at an American Zen temple. The closest moment I had with the master was when we tried to out-fart each other while I was interviewing him, but that's just for giggles (he won god damnit). Anyway, I asked most of the practitioners if they think they can just "hand it over to God" or the Universe or blah blah blah and they mostly said no but some said yes. Their explanations did show an interesting coin with two sides. Most looked at is as: like saying that Jesus forgives you no matter what so just go do what you want. Obviously, that's not His point. That is ego serving. I also believe that, in this same way, the people who ignore traffic lights don't really understand the notion of "handing it over to God." In that I agree with you, Jundo. I think this is MASSIVE delusion and extremely dangerous. But I also think that it's not Meister Eckhart's idea of "handing it over to God" either. In my mind, when the light turns red, "God's" talking to you, or whatever you wanna call it. It's just awareness. I think most people are tied up in the traffic-light-ignoring/Jesus-forgives-you-no-matter-what example of "God's will." In my experiences, the ones that cause me to be giddy, I see the red lights, I have no desire to "sin," so I stop.

    Don't you remember? When you got so sick of all the rules, all the advice, all the guidance? When you sat there in red hot frustration trying to hold all of these warnings, and cautionary tales, and wise insight that you were about to explode, punch the ino in the balls, kick down the door, and dive into a 2 inch thick 10 second seared slab of beef? Let's hope you didn't; I actually love my ino. But then, upon sitting in that fire, maybe, you realized it was the attachment to the rules, the rhetoric, the advice, and BOOM! they are dropped. Empty space, full of potential, is all that's left. Remember? And then all the rules, advice, and rhetoric are confirmed?! All the crap Jesus said, anyone else for that matter, suddenly makes sense? Almost better not to take advice. Many people scowl at that, but it's been my way. Advice is a tricky business, que no? I always have to drop it before I can take it.

    Not my will but thy will. I feel like it's a reminder. It's like bowing. Meh, if we can't find the Zen equivalent, so be it. However, anyone else have an idea of a Zen equivalent to "God's will?" The Three Treasures, maybe? Zen Master Rinzai's "That One Shinning Alone" or "the puppet master?" (as another suggested)
    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-18-2012 at 06:34 AM. Reason: Typos Typos (see any others?)
    My name is: Jordan.

  11. #11
    Hi Jordan,

    You should be practicing with a Teacher. Playing with a lot of fire there, which may burn up Ignorance ... or just burn. Up to you, but always best to have a "coach" and companions when pushing the limits in some intense activity.

    You say you are on a week long retreat. I gather that it is by yourself, not with anyone else?

    If God (or Whatever) is talking to you or shining within, and the message/feeling seems pretty wholesome and good and peaceful ... then best to listen. Simple as that. If the when is not wholesome, good and peaceful ... then best not to listen. Nothing much more anyone could say about it.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-18-2012 at 06:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    So... when "God" says to kill the barking dog right outside the wall, don't do it? Ok, gimme a mulligan on that one.

    Yea, by myself. Silence, bout 4 hours meditation a day, no TV, booze, no extra fun stuff, only Zen Reading (including other 'spiritual' stuffs), and I allowed myself this forum for questions.

    Finding a teacher is a bitch, and I can always sit. Teachers can tell me how I'm playing with fire, but I rarely relate to it. What fire? Am I burning? If I am, it's been so long I haven't noticed. Having a teacher takes time, and in a lot of cases $$. Even the Zen temple I was at in CA charges roughly $350 per year for membership, which that allows you dokusan on Sundays. And trust me, these guys are not cashing in, they're one of the good ones. Otherwise you have to be a resident and/or in session. Yes, there are exceptions, but I believe we are primarily on our own.

    I have been practicing for many, many years; since before the days of my mind altering substances. This is probably the biggest debate there is–teacher vs. no teacher–and, of course, sexual scandals in the Americas *yawn*. Personally I don't think there are enough teachers to go around. You think the American public school system is over crowded? I'm not against teachers, but I am a lay practitioner through and through; just doesn't seem to work very well in my case. A teacher, spiritual friend? Bring it, please! But a teacher and student relationship goes both ways. There has to be a relationship. I'll know if I find it. If, when I find a teacher, knowing is not a necessary step, then everyone and everything is my teacher; let the games begin!

    Buddha had no teacher. Jesus had no teacher. I'm not against teachers, for all intensive purposes I have a teacher (I have the receipt back in America), a teacher I'm so close with we try to out fart each other. Any huge breakthroughs with him? Naw, not really. You just get the "this is your life" deal and "that's what's happening." Not saying all teachers are like this, but a lot of people are. I guess I just want a little discussion with the hopes of some sort of relationship forming. I'm against the road block when I get the "find a teacher" bit. Let's talk for a change, you all be my teacher! If you see my faults, and you see how I'm tripping over myself, you wanna tell me I've lost my way, if you're out there, PM me and let's dance!!! I'm serious, I would love it!
    My name is: Jordan.

  13. #13
    disastermouse
    Guest
    I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with what you're doing, Syntax. Just as bankers tell you that you need a loan, Doctors tell you that you need a surgery or a pill, and alcoholics tell you that you look like you need a drink - teachers will tell you that you need a teacher. It doesn't make them wrong, of course, but to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You're not the first person Jundo has subtly told to see a shrink, but then again - it hasn't always been bad advice. Maybe I'm just one of those weird people who doesn't think that meditation on your own is necessarily dangerous. Back when I did that the first time, it went sour....but I'm starting to wonder if it was just something I needed to go through.

    So...I'm curious about why you're on retreat and for how long.

    As to your original question:

    No, I don't personally think all roads lead up the mountain. I think the vastly overwhelming majority of what we do on any spiritual path is mainly just ego-maintenance. It's the status quo putting on a different face. So yeah, that's the score. I think it's always been like that and it may always be like that.

    Mind you're reactions....don't try to change them, just pay attention to them. If you're getting free of yourself, then why would it upset you whether people believe that or not? If it does, how are you free? Suffering is a bad habit, but it's really hard to kick. 'I' is a bad habit too.

    All just IMHO. I'm certainly not an authority - and even if I was, what good would that be?

    Chet

  14. #14
    Chet.

    There is an essential side to the Buddha Dharma that many people would prefer to forget. It is the “devotional” side. Without it we never take off our suit of armored intelligence. Opening to a teacher is not easy. It is literally heartbreaking..... but it is an essential part of “the unshakable liberation of the heart”. There has been only one teacher up until now who I opened up to unconditionally, and it was completely life changing.. and opening up, being naked with teachers, is an ongoing process for me, and still not easy. A lot of people remain too clever and cheat themselves, and remain suited up in armor. Don't be so sure...
    大山

  15. #15
    Thank you Kojip.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  16. #16
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip View Post
    Chet.

    There is an essential side to the Buddha Dharma that many people would prefer to forget. It is the “devotional” side. Without it we never take off our suit of armored intelligence. Opening to a teacher is not easy. It is literally heartbreaking..... but it is an essential part of “the unshakable liberation of the heart”. There has been only one teacher up until now who I opened up to unconditionally, and it was completely life changing.. and opening up, being naked with teachers, is an ongoing process for me, and still not easy. A lot of people remain too clever and cheat themselves, and remain suited up in armor. Don't be so sure...
    I wasn't trying to argue my point forcefully, Kojip. Perhaps I failed at that. I don't want to hold 'teacher' or 'no teacher' too forcefully. Your gentle admonition has been heard. This practice is such a weird and delicate dance, isn't it? There's not very much like it. I do tend to err on the side of independence, myself.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    Buddha had no teacher.
    Actually Buddha had many teachers. After he left home he studied and practiced with some of the greatest teachers in northern India. There are also some that say he may have studied at the university at Taxila because that's where most nobles' sons went during that period.

    In a sense everyone and everything is our teacher. Deep gratitude to all the teachers here.

    Let go and let God. Ultimately I don't think the syntax matters.

    Just curious, what is your practice?
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  18. #18
    There is a memory I have, this freedom that I find, of course, is forgotten, and is mostly a memory. A memory of knowing all is right. A memory of knowing that I'd forget it. A memory of knowing I need to sit my ass down on the cushion. Thank God for these memories. Even in the midst of complacency, doubt, and boredom it's these memories that remind me to keep going. It's just the memory of pure experience. Yea, it's fucking giddy awesome! So, remembering that zazen is paramount, I had my computer in the shop for 7 days, I'm in Bali, alone, and I thought "Hey, it's time for that retreat." 7 day retreat, very lite schedule, but a schedule none the less. Lots of noise around: dogs, kids, motorbikes, bassy music, temple drums. That annoyance is slowly passing (a big one too, noise is a pet peeve). The people I'm renting the house from have stopped sending the cleaning crew, they do still come in to give the offerings, but I'm usually sitting when they come so it's awe good. The same people also have me write what I need from the store on a piece of paper, so when they come to give the offerings they grab the sheet and a bag of stuff arrives a few hours later. How did I get so lucky?

    So, I may be on edge. This is my first sesshin on my own and one longer than a couple days. For what it's worth, I am now turning my attention to what it is that gets me going on these boards. Who is it that is riled up?

    It's a great point you make, Chet, pick-pocket sees only your pockets. And on to your point, Kojip, finding the right teacher is hard. I think it is a trust thing. It's a shame that when I hear "Zen stuff," I immediately turn off. I've been told so many things, by so many different people, in so many different ways, in so many different contradictions. Yes outside of Zen, but within Zen also. I always distrust someone who just starts giving you sage advice or cryptic warning. I've bought into it too many times. Actually, the problem is, I can be too trusting.

    I also am focusing on why people on the boards can't make a translation of my God question into Zen as easily as I'd thought they'd be able to. It has slightly taken me out of my current fixation on what Zen is. This is a good thing.

    Jundo subtly told me to see a shrink? I'm kind of laughing right now; do you mean he was saying I should see one even if I don't have a medical condition? Is it that effing bad? I actually chortled there (I'm serious). Funny enough, I've had a couple teachers in school that would suggest therapy. I've been to actual shrinks twice; once in grade school, once in high school. On both occasions they "set me free" in a month or so because I was dubbed "healthy." Personally, I enjoyed it very much. You can talk about what you want and sometimes they are genuinely into what you're saying! If Jundo wants to pay for it, I'm game! And I'm not a psychopath, I cried at E.T.

    Rich, my man, my name is Jordan, and my practice is shikantaza! And with Buddha, there was some point when he said "enough with the teachers!", and sat his ass down.
    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-18-2012 at 03:00 PM. Reason: Saw rich posted betwixt my post and the post I was working on.
    My name is: Jordan.

  19. #19
    Hi,

    I want to apologize to Jordan for two things due to misreading his postings here, and at ZFI, late last night with tired eyes.

    First, I originally read this simply as someone describing a peak experience, or that God was "speaking to them" ... and rereading it today I see that it was not that at all. Your question was much more subtle and any "peak" sensations secondary. The descriptions my eyes saw were not quite there the next morning.

    Second, I said that we have to be cautious because "hearing God" or a "giddy" religious experience can sometimes be due to smoking the wacky tobaccy, or some medical or psychological condition, and we need to rule that out in all such cases first. I was only speaking in general terms, for anyone who is "hearing voices" or the like, and I did not mean it to sound like I was referring specifically to Jordan. I was not, and meant that it is the first thing to rule out in any such case. Valid point, but I said it badly.

    However, I think that the rest of the post I wrote is pretty good advice, and I will stick with it.

    At least since William James wrote the "Varieties of Religious Experience" in the 19th century, folks have argued for a common mystical ground in all religions, a feeling of being close to God or the Godhead. That is true for many flavors of Buddhism ... and of Zen Buddhism ... too. Some folks call it God or Allah, or Brahma or Amida Buddha ... and encounter that mystical sensation of "Let Thy Will Be Done". That is fine. Folks can practice Zen Buddhism and believe in God, Amida, etc.,

    But many other flavors of Buddhism ... and Zen Buddhism ... allow a kind of "Let Thy Will Be Done" without any insistence on who/what/whatever "Thy" is. It is almost as if we Trust and Yield to reality so much, we simply do not insist on any name, image, location or description for what's what ... happily keeping "Don't Know Mind". It may seem counter-intuitive, but the result is not ignorance ... but rather the deep love, trust and knowing of a child looking out at the world without needing to fit it into any boxes, the willingness to yield and "knowing" of a lover who does not need to know every molecule or historical fact about her lover to feel deeply in love and to "know" the beloved. Something like that. Sentient Beings ... even enlightened ones who might catch a glimpse of the Great Unity and Interplay of All Things ... cannot know all there is to know about Buddha, God, Stanley, the Universe, What's Beyond the Universe, Reality, Whatever ... but we do not need to know, not even what to call "it". We know "all" by just seeing what is in front of our eyes ... fetching watch, chopping wood. It is a bit like one can know the sea ... not by knowing every wave or ounce of water or every turn of the map of coastline ... but simply by knowing thoroughly the taste of salty brine of the single tiny drop on one's tongue right now.

    Does that make sense?

    So, feel God and yield to Her Will ... or just live in Peace and Allowing. Same Difference.

    And if you are asking just about that "mystical feeling" of "feeling close to God or hearing that small small voice inside" ... many a Zen Teacher will yawn, fart, and tell you to get back to chopping wood and paying the bills! I am one of those. Life is so much more than just than "seeing God" or "feeling Buddha", even if many religions preach that that's the Golden Ring. Farts are much more tangible and immediate, and if there is a god ... farts are god too.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Yes, I still think anyone sitting long isolated retreats, and having very strong sensations or experiences as a result, should work with a good Teacher and community. It is playing with fire, and it is good to have a fire crew standing by.
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-18-2012 at 03:28 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    Rich, my man, my name is Jordan, and my practice is shikantaza! And with Buddha, there was some point when he said "enough with the teachers!", and sat his ass down.
    Actually he was sitting with ascetics and teachers for a long time before he went off on his own. So using the Buddhas teachings that have been transmitted to this very day here we are just sitting half a world apart. I have never done a solo retreat but some traditions encourage it. Usually they are silent. Do you think communicating here is just a way to escape the retreat?
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  21. #21
    disastermouse
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    This thread is very heartening. It could have been a confrontational, conflict-oriented thread but it has turned more into a conversation. Because of it, I now feel like I understand Jordan, Kojip, Jundo, and my own thoughts about these topics a bit better than I did...better than I expected.

    Teachers and trust....I think that if you just hang around and interact here, a sort of trust will develop - both with the teachers and the sangha. In my case, it is a matter of being open to correction. My resistance and skepticism was hard-lost...but that's how the trust was born. I still don't really always toe the company line, but Jundo and Taigu stuck with me and I appreciate that.

    So maybe your path is difficult and angular too, Jordan. There's room here for that too.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Jordan,
    Many of the dogmatic questions here - particularly the enquiry into the mystical and the relationship of God to the individual (the idea of God,the relationship of the individual to God, and the interaction of Eastern and Western philosophical systems) was the subject of much work in the first half of the twentieth century by the Kyoto School of philosophers. Kitaro Nishida and Keiji Nishitani looked quite a bit at Meister Eckhart and others.... I would recommend "An Enquiry Into the Good" and "Religion and Nothingness."

    It's easy to say "focus on your practice" or respond "what has God got to do with it - go back to your cushion." In certain face-to-face practice situations a teacher may determine such a statement or provocation to be appropriate - in this forum I'll just say some pretty serious Zen people and philosophers have done some substantial and interesting work in the areas you describe.

    In talking with Thomas Merton, Kitaro Nishida described God "as the spirit of unity at the center of the universe." now that we mention it, I'd recommend "Zen and the Birds of Appetite" by Thomas Merton.

    Everyone we meet is a Buddha, a teacher to us.

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 07-19-2012 at 12:09 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    Jordan,
    Many of the dogmatic questions here - particularly the enquiry into the mystical and the relationship of God to the individual (the idea of God,the relationship of the individual to God, and the interaction of Eastern and Western philosophical systems) was the subject of much work in the first half of the twentieth century by the Kyoto School of philosophers. Kitaro Nishida and Keiji Nishitani looked quite a bit at Meister Eckhart and others.... I would recommend "An Enquiry Into the Good" and "Religion and Nothingness."

    It's easy to say "focus on your practice" or respond "what has God got to do with it - go back to your cushion." In certain face-to-face practice situations a teacher may determine such a statement or provocation to be appropriate - in this forum I'll just say some pretty serious Zen people and philosophers have done some substantial and interesting work in the areas you describe.

    In talking with Thomas Merton, Kitaro Nishida described God "as the spirit of unity at the center of the universe." now that we mention it, I'd recommend "Zen and the Birds of Appetite" by Thomas Merton.

    Everyone we meet is a Buddha, a teacher to us.

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Yugen - for this.

    I feel like you have just given me yet another piece of the jigsaw puzzle - of course the picture that is emerging is in part of my
    subjective making - but to blow the dust of my philosophy books that had seemed to lead to so many dead ends is invigorating.


    I had no idea that Japanese philosophers had made such a vigorous study of Western philosophy and made their own imprint. Really looking forward to reading Nishida and Nishitani.


    Thank you

    Willow

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    "I had no idea that Japanese philosophers had made such a vigorous study of Western philosophy and made their own imprint. Really looking forward to reading Nishida and Nishitani."

    Hi Willow,
    I don't want to wander too far from the topic of this thread, but the Kyoto School is fascinating. Centered around Kyoto University faculty, its work can be traced back to 1913 or so and its descendants are still prolific. This group of scholars have faced the "where were you during WW2?" questions as the relationship between Japanese militarism and Buddhist doctrine/individuals is examined by historians. That is a whole separate topic, and one that is complex (far more complex than Brian Victoria would have us believe). A few Kyoto scholars of interest are Hisamatsu Shinichi (Critical Sermons in the Zen Tradition - his work culminated in the "Fundamental Koan" -none of that will do - now what? -), a Rinzai practitioner/professor and Masao Abe, author of Zen and Western Thought, are prominent figures in addition to Nishida and Nishitani. The two latter scholars did a lot to not only assimilate western philosophy with eastern culture and ideas, but to explicate a set of ideas describing the uniqueness of Asian and Buddhist thought in the face of encroaching western culture and politics. In this sense, they were responsible for framing an anti-western and anti-colonial perspective during World War 2, while attempting to encourage dialogue in their own country in the face of increasing militarism and suppression of free enquiry and anti establishment political activity. From a philosophical and hermaneutic perspective, fascinating stuff.

    Back to Jordan's initial post and question -

    "how would a Zen practitioner refer to the God that Christians, fellow walkers in the Way, speak of? What is it that they/we are giving our wills up to? How, in relation to Zen verbiage, is a true Christian perceiving God?"

    Kyoto scholar Ueda Shizateru uses the statement by Nishida "I see a flower - at that moment the flower is me and I am the flower..." to demonstrate both subject-object duality (I see a flower) and "reborn rationality" or the recognition of sunyata (I am the flower)... from that basic comparison of Western and Eastern philosophical perspectives comes a whole body of scholarship on existentialism, relationship to the divine and God ( I see or I am? - is the "divine" within or without the individual... is there something or someone to surrender our will to? etc.), and the role of reason in solving (or creating?) the world's afflictions..... there is also a recognition of the central role of mysticism in all the world's religious and faith traditions....

    I am not going to attempt to answer these questions, but hope some of this material may point in an interesting direction.

    I better stop.... my brain is overheating and I am probably much better off doing some zazen...!

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 07-19-2012 at 12:13 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Actually he was sitting with ascetics and teachers for a long time before he went off on his own.
    That is correct. He had many teachers. Then at some point he said "enough with the teachers!", and sat his ass down. Yea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Do you think communicating here is just a way to escape the retreat?
    Uhhh... could be. I'm not really worried about it. I certainly is more fun to talk on here every now and again - I only allow an hour per day.

    Most important is that I follow the rules I set before the retreat: zazen, and no real entertainment. The decision to come on here was very good for me, as it turns out, having some of my balls busted. I remember the first time I did a retreat. I had so many wonderful ideas about everything in life. I work in the creative fields, and there were just so many great gems. The next day, after the retreat, I forgot nearly all of them. Just philosophical brain candy I like to share with the world and incorporate into my work. So, now, I allow myself to record my ideas quickly into a lightning fast sound recorder. I also allow myself to read about Zen and related works, and to discourse on here. It certainly keeps, if all else, my mind on Zen. It has really opened everything up for me in terms of the nuts and bolts. Nothing but Zen, even if it's books, etc. I just make sure that I do my zazen without fail (fell asleep in the middle of a three block in the beginning).
    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-19-2012 at 03:14 AM.
    My name is: Jordan.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    [..]In talking with Thomas Merton[..]
    Poor, poor Thomas Merton. Is it true that his own peoples had him rubbed out, and right before he was heading to Japan???

    ..and you lost me on your follow up post. Everything except the do more zazen part. Opp! Just read it again. Not bad. Yes, this is certainly interesting stuff. I guess I just wanted to know if there's a word for the Zen equivalent it. There are certainly words for many of the other things. Something like, "Oh! yea, that's what we call that the "bartell" experience (batero in Japanese[completely made up Zen term, everyone])." It's actually kinda fun how disjoined all the other faiths tend to be. You'd think there was someone or some faction that could clearly see the relationships between the faiths. Of course, you'd piss off a billion people by being so blasphemous, but that happens anyway! The world and mind become very fun to explore and unfold.

    Funny how the longer I inquire about it the original question, I'm reminded of a quote:

    It doesn't matter.
    - Homer J. Simpson
    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-19-2012 at 03:36 AM.
    My name is: Jordan.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi,
    Hey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I want to apologize to Jordan for two things due to misreading his postings here, and at ZFI, late last night with tired eyes.
    Very unexpected but not unbelievable. I was so confused! I big, heart felt thank you. Now, I don't feel crazy or like I'm having a flashback (heh).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    However, I think that the rest of the post I wrote is pretty good advice, and I will stick with it.
    This I can work with.

    And I can tell you for a fact that Stanley does exist. I met him 2 or three times in a number of questionable occasions. He's nice enough, I just wouldn't get an apartment with the guy, is all.
    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-19-2012 at 03:30 AM.
    My name is: Jordan.

  28. #28
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    ...As I come close to being free of 'myself' from time to time I feel as though my body and mind are in accord with whatever is in front of me. Every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done, and there is giddiness, joy, and absolutely no need to be certain of anything.

    ...What is it that they/we are giving our wills up to? How, in relation to Zen verbiage, is a true Christian perceiving God?
    Personally, (and I'm really new to Zen, so what do I know?) I don't see that I am giving my will up to anyone or anything. I am simply opening my mind to the Truth, clearing the mud from my eyes so that I may See and filling my heart with Compassion. Nobody can give that to me, nor am I going to get that as a reward for giving up my Self (aka as my Ego). It is my birthright, it is what I was born with, and I'm simply making my way back Home.

    Quote Originally Posted by SyntaxJO View Post
    ...These giddy experiences come to me from prolonged meditation, and they do not contrast a dark morose I have otherwise, as I don't. They are the times when it all makes sense to me and all is clear, and that always comes from sitting on my zafu...
    I can't wait to experience that giddiness! Thank you for your expression of it, Jordan!



    Lisa

    PS - If some think they have a right to judge me, to discount my words because of how they perceive what I've said, with my clumsiness in expressing myself, then I may as well be back worshipping with the rest of the hypocrites thrashing around and pretending to speak in tongues for as much good as it's going to do me!

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