Tugas Gunadarma Gunadarma Tutorial VB.NET Download OST Anime Soundtrack Anime Opening Anime Ending Anime OST Anime Japan Download Lagu Anime Jepang

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 104

Thread: On rituals

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Near Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    Posts
    897

    On rituals

    I've been having an e-mail exchange with Jundo over the past few days, and one of the things I commented on was my discomfort with the rituals that are practiced in Zen. I thought it would be a good idea to post my thoughts here, and see what you all think. Here's what I said first:

    I've been hanging around Treeleaf pretty much since the beginning, but I'm constantly torn between my immense appreciation for your teachings and for the sangha that you have built, and my distaste for all the ritualistic trappings that are part of zen. I come and go as my feelings shift. At times, I want to make a stronger commitment to zen practice. But at other times, I can't help thinking that a more secular Buddhism, without the ritualistic baggage, suits my views better. But the ideas that zen brought to Buddhism resonate very strongly within me. In the past few months, I’ve been reading a lot of Pali canon texts. They are very grounded, very deep, but they don’t have that touch of the ineffable that zen has.

    Then, in reply to Jundo's reply (which I won't post, unless he says it's okay to do so):

    In some ways, I guess what bothers me is that these ritual - not just the chanting, but the robes, the rakusu and the rest - are transplanted, and don’t resonate with me.

    I wonder if any of you have similar thoughts, and, if so, how you deal with them.

  2. #2
    You might have not seen this vid:



    Now, I am very happy that you don't like it. It is not meant to be liked by you. This ego of yours that has been a pain in the a... for so many years doesn't like it? GOOD! the ego doesn't like what that old fool of Taigu writes? GOOD!
    A person too keen on rituals should be told to give it a rest.
    A person disliking them should question where does the dislike arise from and practice them.

    What suits you views better as you write is the obstacle to your freedom.
    Your views are the obstacle.

    It is not about rituals, kesa, guru, Zen, Pali Canon...it is about you.

    Take great care

    Written with strong language beecause of my deep respect for you.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Near Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    Posts
    897
    Taigu,

    Thank you. I hadn't seen that video.

    You certainly wield your words like a Kyosaku. :-)

    Kirk

  4. #4
    Well my kyosaku is worn out. But kind words are sweet for a great bloke like you. Take care, Kirk, Glad you saw it. I can certainly understand where you come from. I am myself taking a kind of distance with rituals, the point is to really ask yourself where does that resistance come from. Question, question. It is worth it.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  5. #5
    Boy! It cannot be expressed any finer than by Taigu in that AMAZING talk, and here ...


    A person too keen on rituals should be told to give it a rest.
    A person disliking them should question where does the dislike arise from and practice them.

    What suits you views better as you write is the obstacle to your freedom.
    Your views are the obstacle.

    It is not about rituals, kesa, guru, Zen, Pali Canon...it is about you.



    What I originally wrote to Kirk is that part of my heart would put away the robes and incense and fancy dance in a second, and Just Sit. I'm with you! In fact, many days I do just so ... no incense, no robes, no Kesa/Rakusu, no Buddha statues ... no "Buddhism" no "Buddha" ... and Just Sit.

    But part of me sees that a Ritual can mark something, convey something to and from the heart like a wedding or a funeral or a baptism (I just "created" a new fangled ceremony, but with traditional content and roots, to express gratitude to the hardware and software that is a bridge for all of us in this Sangha) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-COMPUTER-KUYO

    ... or be a dance we loose and lose and find our self in ... like a ballet! Here is a film of the Morning Service at Sojiji Monastery (watch for a few minutes from about the 9:00 to the 14:00 mark) ...



    It is just the same as Hoyu looses and loses and finds himself again in the Tea Ceremony he demonstrated this week for us ... a freedom within what seems like confining rules and restrictions ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post82307

    At Treeleaf, we have a time for being free in Ritual & Tradition and and a time for being free without. I am as apt to be found in the Zendo in a t-shirt as in funky Chinese robes. We do not insist that every ritual must speak to everyone. Some of my other "practical reasons" (one does not always need a "practical reason" however) for honoring Rituals and Traditions are stated here ... It's something I have posted several times, and most folks may have read:


    This practice is not limited to any place or time ... we drop all thought of place and time. It certainly is not Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French or American. But, of course, we live in place and time, so as Buddhism traveled over the centuries from India to China, Japan, Korea and other places, it naturally became very Indian/Chinese/Japanese/Korean etc.

    But what of the cultural trappings?

    Must we bow, ring bells, chant (in Japanese, no less), wear traditional robes, have Buddha Statues, burn incense? ... All that stuff besides Zazen. Are they necessary to our Practice?


    No, not at all!


    We don't need anything other than Zazen, any of those trappings. In fact, they are no big deal, of no importance, when we drop all viewpoints in sitting Zazen.

    On the other hand, we have to do something, to greet each other somehow, read some words, dress some way. Why not do such things? As I often say, for example, we have to do something with our hands when practicing walking Zazen ... why not hold them in Shashu (I mean, better than sticking 'em in your pockets)?

    As well, there are parts of our practice which we do BECAUSE we resist (for example, when visiting a temple for Retreat, I usually put my heart fully into ceremonies and arcane rituals BECAUSE I resist and think some of it silly or old fashioned). Ask yourself where that kind of resistance is to be found (here's a clue, and it is right behind your own eyes).

    What is more, there is method to the madness, and many (not all) customs have centuries of time tested benefits ... embody subtle perspectives ... that support and nurture Zazen Practice at the core. Many parts of our Practice, though "exotic", are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, rigid decorum in the Zen Hall and, yes, weird talks about Koans and arcane ceremonies all fit in that category. They may seem like unnecessary "Japanese" or "Esoteric" elements at first, until you understand the role they serve. I have given talks on all these things recently, for example ... the humility and wholeness of Bowing.

    Many aspects of tradition can be seen in new ways when the barriers of the mind are knocked down. Thus, for example, the Kesa, the Buddha's Robes ... though just cloth ... can be seen to cover and enfold the whole universe, laughter, cries of pain, old age, becoming and fading away ... life ...

    On the other hand again, it is okay to abandon or reject many practices. However, KNOW very well what you are rejecting before you reject it.

    Absorb what is useful and discard the rest. For example, I think Oryoki [formal meal ritual] is a great practice, and worth keeping.. Same for bowing.

    When tasted as such ... every action and gesture in this life is Sacred and Magical when experienced as such, from changing a babies diaper to cooking dinner to chanting the Heart Sutra. So, why not Chant as well as the rest?

    Some things I keep out of respect for TRADITION [the robes, the ways of doing some ceremonies]. It is important to keep ties to where we come from. Some things also have a special symbolic meaning if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu]

    But other stuff, no need to keep: For example, I usually avoid to chant in Japanese or Chinese [except once in awhile, out of respect for tradition]. Tatami mats and Paper screens have nothing to do with Zen practice particularly [but I happen to live in an old Japanese building, so ... well, tatami and paper screens!} Some things I think are just dumb (except symbolically), like the Kyosaku stick. Incense is great, until it was recently shown to cause cancer. Many beliefs of Buddhism are rather superstitious things that were picked up here and there. I abandon many of those.
    The outer wrap of Zen Buddhism is changing greatly as it moves West. The greater emphasis on lay practice over monastics, the greater democracy in what was a feudal institution (arising in societies where the teacher's word was law ... oh, those were the days! :wink: ), giving the boot to a lot of magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum, the equal place of women ... heck, the use of the internet to bring teachings that were once the preserve of an elite few into everyone's living room.Those are good and great changes to the outer wrapping (you can read about them in books like this one (author interview here: http://atheism.about.com/library/books/ ... anChat.htm ). The coreless core, however, remains unchanged.

    Do not throw out the Baby Buddha with the bath water. Many completely "Japanese" practices which seem silly at first are worth keeping. ...

    ... other things, like some of the arcane incense, bell & drum filled rituals, take them or leave them.

    Daido Loori has a lovely book on how to live, and be lived through, rituals in his book mentioned in our "Recommended 'At Home' Liturgy" thread ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...t-home-liturgy

    So, as Taigu so wisely said ... a person who hates rituals should be told to drop the hate and engage in a ritual ... and a person too attached to ritual might be told to stop ritualizing and attaching. I throw myself into some "silly" rituals precisely because I resist and find them "silly" ... all in order to drop the resistance and judgment.

    In about a day, I will ANNOUNCE OUR UPCOMING JUKAI, RAKUSU SEWING CIRCLE and ANGO ... and I suggest, Kirk, that you find a way to drop the judgments and aversions, and throw your self into those.

    Gassho (an Asian custom), Jundo (a Dharma name)
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-31-2012 at 07:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    A person too keen on rituals should be told to give it a rest.
    A person disliking them should question where does the dislike arise from and practice them.

    What suits you views better as you write is the obstacle to your freedom.
    Your views are the obstacle.

    It is not about rituals, kesa, guru, Zen, Pali Canon...it is about you.
    Beautiful and so well put, thank you Taigu! As always your direct approach is still soft because it is clear.

    I also feel that sometimes it is good to do something we don't like ... I find it helps to be more tolerant and open-minded.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  7. #7
    Work is ritual at the temple too.... When folks show up at the temple they need to be given a job... or else there is mischief.

    For me the chanting and bowing is just as important as sitting... The first time really just chanting, just bowing,.. was somehow more impactful than the first time just sitting. Just bowing... it's beautiful.

    Gassho. kojip.
    大山

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    Posts
    570
    For me, the problem is not that I don't enjoy the rituals but creating time for the rituals. That's the biggest challenge for me right now. There are times where I feel that I am not dedicated enough when I fall behind on Zen rituals even though I sit Zazen on most days.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ekai View Post
    For me, the problem is not that I don't enjoy the rituals but creating time for the rituals. That's the biggest challenge for me right now. There are times where I feel that I am not dedicated enough when I fall behind on Zen rituals even though I sit Zazen on most days.

    Gassho,
    Ekai
    Hi Ekai,

    As you know about this place ... Sitting Zazen is Vital!

    However, as far as "Rituals" are concerned ... changing the baby, doing the laundry, making copies in the office, washing the car, driving to work, dealing with a difficult co-worker, tending the garden are Sacred Rituals when Perceived as such. Daido's book speaks about that quite a bit.

    In fact, why not Chant the Heart Sutra while doing the laundry!?!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-30-2012 at 03:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Hello Kojip,

    thank you for raising this topic.

    I'd just like to make a general point about the fact that the pendulum of outer trappings can swing both ways. The well known danger of becoming entangled in the vines of empty movements/sayings/rituals etc. has been highlighted in this exchange already.


    The radiant intimacy that one experiences in Zazen however, drinking the water of life from one's own source, which is the source of all and within all....that aspect can sometimes bring forth the will to express itself in ritualitisc terms in the same way that one might spontaneously burst out singing. Call it body poetry, call it an atavistic urge.....all just dead stones, those words....but then again e.g. lighting a candle can be so vitally important, because the "inner" wishes to express itself through the "outer"...at that right moment the candle one lights is none other than the radiant clarity of Buddha nature that makes visible the sacredness of all that is.

    One's inner hunger should lead one to the table of timeless and endless nourishment. Stuffing one's mouth with food, chewing, swallowing....indeed these are traps when they preceed the hunger to meet that which never left.

    We are all different in our appreciation of these things, but often it turns out that one's dislike for certain outer forms has to do with entering the building upside down, or from the inside out.

    Gassho,


    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 07-30-2012 at 03:24 PM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    Posts
    570
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Ekai,

    As you know about this place ... Sitting Zazen is Vital!

    However, as far as "Rituals" are concerned ... changing the baby, doing the laundry, making copies in the office, washing the car, driving to work, dealing with a difficult co-worker, tending the garden are Sacred Rituals when Perceived as such. Daido's book speaks about that quite a bit.

    In fact, why not Chant the Heart Sutra while doing the laundry!?!

    Gassho, J
    I like the idea of chanting the Heart Sutra during household activities! Sometimes I recite the meal gatha with Hunter.

    hunter_gatha_02.jpg

    Gassho,
    Ekai
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-30-2012 at 03:14 PM.

  12. #12
    I sing the Hannya shingyo inwardly when I run at the gym club...and in many other circumstances.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    2,102
    Hi,
    This is a great thread.

    I think-feel the individual and the tradition should merge and be in balance. That means entering the ritual fully. That means the ritual has to reckon with you and you with it. From this the rituial may be changed in its new blood-body (you), just as you will become the timeless ritual by giving youself over to it.

    It's too early for me to know what is happening in this slow process. And so I just practice.

    Thank you all for your insights.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  14. #14
    wow, this thread seriously resonates with me. I've been thinking the same thing. I get hot and cold with it. I understand ritual plays an important part in zen, but I'm really not much for it. At the same time, I recite the Bodhisattva vows, the verse of atonement after sitting, and the short meal gatha before every meal because this isn't about me, even though it is my practice.

    At the same time, I'm not all giddy about robes and incense and the rakusu. I typically sit in my pajamas. I often wonder if the Buddha wore jeans would there be 1000's of acolytes wearing jeans to become enlightened. Now, this is strictly my opinion, but at times I wonder if some people get caught up in the superficialities of it all. I am not Japanese, and for me to practice Zen doesn't mean I need to embrace the Japanese culture.

    I know the Japanese culture added a lot to the practice, as did many other cultures through which Zen has evolved, but for me to try to parrot that culture, by wearing things from it would be insincere. I really feel it is an insincere form of practice, but that is my humble opinion. I guess I'm sort of like Bruce Lee like that; Gi's are really cool, but at the same time, they are a vestige of a different culture and really don't have much to do with solid martial arts. At the same time, I really liked my Gi when I wore it, and those cultures can be honored by following some of those things.

    But again, this is a personal thing for me, and I don't really feel a resonance within the cultural trappings of Japanese or Chinese Zen. I just want to practice.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  15. #15
    Thank you Risho.

    Okay, once again...
    The kesa is not a trapping, it is form and formless-universe-being itself, not just a symbol. Not a pair of jeans.
    We may throw the kolomo, the white kimono, the bells and all of the rest of it in our will to make it our own ( Zen is not our own by the way, it has nothing to do with our stincky agendas), we may negate the whole history, do a tabula rasa, and practice with shorts or Tshirs ( very comfortable, I quite like it).

    and when you sit in your pans or pijama these also become the kesa.

    Would you take the time to study a bit the kesa and practice a bit more before dismissing it?

    What really puzzles me is the arrogance behind it all: Don't parrot. don't parrot anybody or anything...This is not us, we can do it all, we don't need to follow other forms, we can make our own... this is a byproduct of a hubris that is ridiculous: the old ways in the East and the West are based on copying, parroting and then, only when forms are understood, breaking free and exploring. It was true in Rembrandt workshop, it is true in Zen. After 35 years of practice I can start to change things for myself and with care and respect.


    By the way, people that know me, in the market place and practice place, know I am not a Japanese. I don't embrace Japanese culture. There is a point where the ideas of this is Japanese and this is Western fade away.

    That's the still point I invite you to find.



    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  16. #16
    For about 15 years I helped lead in ritual during Sunday public sittings for a lay Forest Sangha group. It consisted of lighting the candles, ringing the bell, and leading in bowing and chanting (Namo tassa Bhagavato..... ) . Since the Sunday practice was open to the public, there was always... almost every week, people expressing discomfort with ritual. Many people would say it was too "religious" and that the reason they liked Buddhism was because they thought it wasn't a "religion" but an "individual" "spiritual path". Some people associated ritual with Mom and Dad's Church and all kinds of negative personal history. We tried to appease this and stripped away most of the ritual for a while, but it was still not enough for people who were "uncomfortable" with any amount of chanting and bowing. Finally we just brought everything back and told people "It is what it is". They could sit it out if they wanted to, but it is what it is. I think what was underneath much of the "discomfort" was a threat to self in "devotional practice", in bowing down. It looks dualistic.. as if you are lowering yourself to a higher power, and that unnerves people who feel very mistrustful of spiritual authority....or scary "cults" etc. Not sure what the solution is... just engage that aspect of practice. It has deep history, deep resonance, and soon becomes perfectly normal.

    Gassho, kojip
    Last edited by Daizan; 07-31-2012 at 01:41 AM.
    大山

  17. #17
    I don't think my aversion to it has anything to do with a bowing down to something. There are a couple of things. One is definitely arrogance as Taigu said, so I guess it's an aversion to bowing down. hahahah The other is a habitual reaction I have to things. After doing something for a couple of years, I can "psyche" myself out of it. I don't know why. Hell, zazen is weird to myself sometimes. Sometimes I feel like quitting, like "what am I doing?" But I'm not quitting. I took those precepts because I really do need this sangha for my practice. My mind goes back and forth like a pendulum at times. When I saw this post, I had to just post what I felt. It was a relief to get it out to everyone. Sometimes I feel guilty or like a shitty practitioner for these thoughts. Thanks for listening (or reading) them.

    I feel like if I don't honestly express my cynicism, I'm lying to everyone. ANyway this isn't all about me.. Thank you again for reading this. Thank you for this post Kirk and your responses Taigu and Kojip.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Last edited by Risho; 07-31-2012 at 02:11 AM.

  18. #18
    I would simply add this to what Taigu just wrote ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    The kesa is not a trapping, it is form and formless-universe-being itself, not just a symbol. Not a pair of jeans.
    We may throw the kolomo, the white kimono, the bells and all of the rest of it in our will to make it our own ( Zen is not our own by the way, it has nothing to do with our stincky agendas), we may negate the whole history, do a tabula rasa, and practice with shorts or Tshirs ( very comfortable, I quite like it).

    and when you sit in your pans or pijama these also become the kesa.

    Would you take the time to study a bit the kesa and practice a bit more before dismissing it?
    I would say that the Kesa, as with Zazen itself, is sacred and special by convention. Our way of choosing to experience and define and live each is what makes each "sacred" and "special", for otherwise the former are just some cotton rags resembling a table cloth, and the latter no different from any sitting on the ground with crossed legs. There is nothing particularly wondrous about each until we choose to encounter and live them such way.

    But that being said, how we encounter and embody them makes all the difference (and sameness!) in the world!

    It is much like saying that one's home is "just some house" or "any building" or "just a pile of wood and nails" until we move in and merge into it, coming to encounter and enliven it with our lives, making a "home" one's "home". Thus we merge into and find our True Home in the Kesa, in Zazen.

    When we choose to experience the Kesa as a symbol-less symbol ... as the very embodiment ... of Liberation reaching boundlessly in all directions, as both form and formless, as the Buddha's Teachings and our Bodhisattva Vow to Rescue All Sentient Beings (as in the Verse of the Kesa recited) ... presto-chango ... the "cotton cloth" becomes All Sacred Reality, one's Home. Frankly, it is not much different in that way from how our Christian friends may choose to experience and enliven two pieces of wood nailed together in the shape of a "t" as a formless form and symbol-less symbol embodying the Teachings and Path of Jesus, thus do we experience and enliven this cloth into a formless form and symbol-less symbol embodying the Teachings and Path of Buddha. The "power" manifests when one comes to experience and place the power into the symbol-less symbol, yes, but upon doing so the power is real.

    Sewing a Kesa is an amazing non-task ... and also a lesson in how to approach and "sew" all of our life ... for we move forward, slowly, diligently and carefully stitch-by-stitch ... yet there is no finish line or goal, and each stitch is wholly unto itself ... and we make "mistakes" nonetheless, though no mistake is possible ... and fix and straighten what imperfections we can, though what need of fixing, and what not just what it is?

    Zazen is nothing more than sitting down like any sitting ... until we encounter and embody and enliven this sitting in a most special way that I call "non-Self Fulfilling" ...

    If you simply sit with the attitude that your Zazen in that moment is "perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... then IT IS! IT IS because you learn to treat and taste it as so. Your learning how to treat it as so, makes it so. If you can learn to sit there feeling about Zazen, and all of life, that "there is not one thing to add or take away" ... then, guess what: there is not one thing to add or take away precisely because you feel that way. Each moment is perfectly whole when you can see each moment as perfectly whole. Time stops when you stop thinking about time. Each instant of time is perfect when you think it perfectly just that time.

    Strange, huh? But you are in the driver's seat.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...lling-Prophesy
    Same with bowing, offering Gassho, lighting incense and much more ... a waste of time until encountered as Timeless.

    Yes, how we encounter and embody and live them makes all the difference (and sameness!) in the world! And so such is, we learn, FOR ALL OF THIS ORDINARY-SACRED LIFE!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-31-2012 at 07:41 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Someone wrote to ask what the monks are engaged in from the 9:00 mark in the film I posted above, from Sojiji.

    That is the "tendoku" ritual reading of the 600-fascicle Large Prajña Paramita Sutra (tendoku ritual reading involves shouting the title and volume number of the sutra, then quickly flipping through the sutra book itself). The purpose is a bit esoteric, much like the belief that simply praising the name of a Sutra equals the merit of reading the whole Sutra, or that even spinning a wheel containing the Sutra once is equivalent to the merit of reading the whole Sutra. In fact, think of the merit of then spinning a whole bookcase, as in this photo from Japan! Similar wheels are found in Tibet, China and the like.

    Talk about "speed reading"!



    Here is the Tibetan portable version ...



    Now, that is -not- a Buddhist Practice that speaks to me particularly (I think the same for Taigu), so we don't Practice such here. It does speak to some however, and more power to 'em!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-31-2012 at 04:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Thanks for this thread Kirk - I am finding it really helpful. And thanks to everyone for their honesty.

    I also have difficulty with some aspects of Zen ritual and think to myself how can I truly say I belong to/or fully carry out this practice?
    But when I reflect upon the many years that Jundo and Taigu have been practicing/devoting their time to Zen/shikantaza it puts my anxiety in perspective. Really - 7 months into this I am just a baby going goo goo, ga, ga. I am quite happy to copy/mouth the words because I believe in time the process will deepen, the connotations will resonate - I'll discover that new sentences can be made. This process does not have to be dreary - it can be an exciting dialogue. But just now I'm at base camp - and that's OK too.

    I don't know if I'll ever grow to love The Heart Sutra (I have particular difficulty with the English translation that throws me into a mind turmoil of understanding empty/not empty every time!) or the sound of drumming (which my ears find difficult to take).
    I do love the rich tradition of the Kesa - no problem there.

    Anyway - as Myozan says it's a slow process (a journey) and that's all fine too.

    ... and Taigu, thank you for expressing the essence of the 'still point' - perhaps the point of it all, n'est-ce-pas?



    Gassho



    Willow

  21. #21
    I have only been practicing for a short period of time (relatively) but the way I see ritual in Zen is as a respect and homage to the people who came before me, who dedicated their whole lives so that I can practice. In our practice here at Trealeaf we integrate both our Japanese and American heritage by, for example, reciting the Heart Sutra in both languages. In the beginning I was very apprehensive about the Japanese version – why do it, if we don't even understand a word of it? Our tradition is lineage based and keeping certain aspects of the Zen ritual connects us (me at least) to the people who practiced before me regardless of where they lived China, Japan or Florida. I can't even imagine what our tradition would look like if every generation of practitioners just kept what they liked and disregarded what they didn't.
    Gassho,
    Andy

  22. #22
    Just to underline ... at heart, in my view, there is only one Practice ultimately necessary.

    Of course, seated Zazen is our one and only practice, for by the very nature of Shikantaza ... when sitting Zazen, there is nothing more to do, nothing more that need be done, no addition needed nor anything to take away. Zazen is complete and whole. No other place to be in all the world, no other place we must (or can) run to. Nothing lacks, all is sacred, and Zazen is the One Liturgy. It is vital to be sat by Zazen with such attitude. When we sit, it is very very vital to sit with the attitude sunk deep in one's bones that " there is no other place to be, nothing lacking, not one more thing to do" than this. (We do so because in daily life, running here and there and always feeling some lackings or discontents in life, we rarely if ever undertake one action with total heart and completeness in such way! Thus we call this "non-doing".) Thus, Zazen is sat each day as the One and Whole Practice.

    Yet ... of course ... we do rise up from the Zafu and get on with "the rest of life". Rising from the sitting cushion ... one must come to express Zazen all through daily life. All of daily life is also "Zazen" in its wider meaning. Then, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can be encountered as Sacred, One, Whole ... as 'Zazen' ... from 'changing a baby's diaper' to 'stapling staples' at work to 'pulling weeds' in the garden ... to bowing a bow or chanting a chant ... all a SACRED RITUAL when approached as such. ... That is "Zazen" in its boundless meaning, on or off the sitting cushion.

    The sacredness can be brought into everything, even the most ordinary ... even the most ordinary manifests the sacred, is sacred and 'not just ordinary'.

    And so it goes if one wishes to add "Buddhist" liturgy and ritual ... from ringing a bell to bowing to sewing and wearing the Kesa ... all Zazen in its boundless meaning.

    Frankly, so long as one is sitting Zazen with such attitude-non-attitude ... and encountering all of life with such non-attitude-attitude ... it is not so important to me what they wear or do not wear, ring or do not ring, bow or do not bow. The True Kesa is sometimes unseen and not made of cloth, the True Chant is in words and silence. the True Bow is not just up or down. However, if one says they will not sew, ring or bow because they do not "like" it, are filled with opinions and aversions against it ... then I tell them to try sewing, ringing and bowing while dropping aversions. If they think that one has to sew, ring or bow to a Buddha Statue in an Incense filled room to experience "real Zen" ... I tell them to Just Sit and drop all the rest.

    In this case, Kirk ... you should undertake Jukai, sew a Rakusu, bow and chant for Jukai. It will do you a world of good.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-31-2012 at 10:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Near Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    Posts
    897
    Ok Jundo. Where do I sign up?

  24. #24
    Details on Jukai and Ango to be posted within the day.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    It is much like saying that one's home is "just some house" or "any building" or "just a pile of wood and nails" until we move in and merge into it, coming to encounter and enliven it with our lives, making a "home" one's "home". Thus we merge into and find our True Home in the Kesa, in Zazen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sewing a Kesa is an amazing non-task ... and also a lesson in how to approach and "sew" all of our life ... for we move forward, slowly, diligently and carefully stitch-by-stitch ... yet there is no finish line or goal, and each stitch is wholly unto itself ... and we make "mistakes" nonetheless, though no mistake is possible ... and fix and straighten what imperfections we can, though what need of fixing, and what not just what it is?
    Wonderful ... thank you Jundo ... this gave me goose bumps.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  26. #26
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Evansburg, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    330
    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ View Post
    I have only been practicing for a short period of time (relatively) but the way I see ritual in Zen is as a respect and homage to the people who came before me, who dedicated their whole lives so that I can practice. In our practice here at Trealeaf we integrate both our Japanese and American heritage by, for example, reciting the Heart Sutra in both languages. In the beginning I was very apprehensive about the Japanese version – why do it, if we don't even understand a word of it? Our tradition is lineage based and keeping certain aspects of the Zen ritual connects us (me at least) to the people who practiced before me regardless of where they lived China, Japan or Florida. I can't even imagine what our tradition would look like if every generation of practitioners just kept what they liked and disregarded what they didn't.
    Yes! What Andy said.

    in deep respect to those who came before and those in the here and now,

    Lisa

  27. #27
    It seems to me that the relation in the rites evolves with the practice: at the beginning, we participate in the rites with emotion, by giving them an almost magic value. Later, we rebel, we refuse the rites because we consider them deafening, childish. Later even, it does not have importance anymore: sometimes we strike the bell, we put the incense, we bang the mokugyo, and sometimes not. Then the rite enters the flow of the life, without we think of it, and the sound of the bell is the music of the life.
    One day, in a Tibetan temple, my daughters turned an enormous prayer wheel : while turning, they laughed, they laughed, and it was a very beautiful rite. The children are very bright for the rites.
    Kosen

  28. #28
    Thank you for this topic

    my practice in the Dojo is like in the youtube film (see Jundo reaction)
    a bit less big :-)
    but the text are the same (we chant in japanese),
    the setting is the same,
    the bells are the same,
    just in the weekends,
    in the week we do without the chants.

    for me
    the rituals are a preparation to start/end Zazen
    to train concentration in the moment,
    the harmony/unity with the others,
    it brings calm and let you forget all what has happen before,
    the respect to all.

    with rituals I understand chanting, a bell,
    a bow, a gassho,
    wearing the rakusu or a kimono,
    or putting shoes aside.
    _/|\_ Gassho with deeply respect
    慈 ji 氣 ki : Energy of Compassion

  29. #29
    Thanks for bringing up this topic, Kirk--you are not alone. In my case, I did start to look deeply at my resistance to these rituals. For most of my adult life, I was staunchly anti-religious. In fact, I don't think it's an overstatement to say that I viewed the devoutly religious (especially those of the Abrahamic traditions I grew up around) with disdain, seeing them as simple-minded, foolish, and callow. Just a bunch of superstitious sheep.

    When I began to practice, I was very drawn to the just-sitting style of Soto, but very uncomfortable with bowing, sewing, chanting, etc. As I looked deeper, my discomfort became obvious: I was getting involved in activities that my prior self would have found ridiculous.

    Ego strike #1.

    Further still, I began to question that if I, a reasonably rational, skeptical, logical person could accept and even participate in such activities for the purposes at hand... well... then maybe all those other "crazy" religious people were not what I had made them out to be. Maybe, just maybe, my arrogant assessment of them was--gasp!--inaccurate. And of course that should have been clear. People aren't so simple. Even among the devoutly religious, there is unbelievable variance in their beliefs, practices, and so forth. Ultimately, I had to accept something even worse: my assessments of others are based on my own deluded, clouded thought processes. I am ignorant and not awake.

    Ego Strike #2

    Now the reason for my reluctance/discomfort is clear: two big strikes against my ever-so-precious ego, my intellectual arrogance, and of course, my fear.

    I'm sure there are other reasons lurking as well, but these are the ones I know are active.

    So I just do the rituals and practices, setting judgment aside as best I can (I'm not perfect and still struggle of course). Doing so has helped me tremendously, as it helps me to see more deeply into my own thoughts, words, and deeds.

    Glad to see you will be participating in Jukai this year, Kirk!
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi,
    This is a great thread.

    I think-feel the individual and the tradition should merge and be in balance. That means entering the ritual fully. That means the ritual has to reckon with you and you with it. From this the rituial may be changed in its new blood-body (you), just as you will become the timeless ritual by giving yourself over to it.

    It's too early for me to know what is happening in this slow process. And so I just practice.

    Thank you all for your insights.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Today, with the rising of the full moon, I prepare myself. When ready, I recite the Verse of the Kesa before donning my rakuzu, light the candles on the altar, offer the incense, bow, and enter fully into the Ryaku Fusatsu. Foolish? Perhaps, but I'm content to sit with Ryōkan:

    "Last year, I was just a foolish monk.
    This year, no change."
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  31. #31
    [QUOTE="Last year, I was just a foolish monk.
    This year, no change."[/QUOTE]

    Says a lot to me

    Gassho,

    Daido


  32. #32
    As a piper, I participate in a great many rituals and traditions.

    Posting the colors. National anthems.
    American military honors; the rifle volley and the playing of "Taps", the folding of the flag and presenting it to the next of kin.
    Remembrance Day; piping "Flowers of the Forest" on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
    ANZAC Day; piping "Flowers of the Forest" on the beach at sunrise.
    The flag-draped casket, the regimental bonnet, all the red poppies; the Act of Remembrance; "Last Post".
    The "Missing Man" flyover; the riderless horse being silently led down the road, sabre in it's scabbard, empty boots backwards in the stirrups.
    At sea, "Piping the Side" one last time, and "The Navy Hymn".
    Piping a single girl down the aisle, the exchange of rings, then piping a young couple back up the aisle to a merry tune.
    Like any ceremonial dress, even the donning of the kilt, dirk, and bonnet is rife with meaning and symbolism; in a way anchoring you in your place in an ancestral line, lineage, or tradition, connecting you with your predecessors and ancestors.

    I do this sort of thing every week; most of us have witnessed or participated in similar events. What did you feel? Particularly to the initiated who know the symbolism, these rituals can be very evocative on a deep level, speaking to something that lies beneath the analytic reasoning mind; nonverbal and beyond words, something atavistic and primal; the subconscious.
    Ritual in Zen practice speaks to me in a similar fashion; holistically unifying the conscious/subconscious, mind/body. While not necessary, my practice would seem diminished without it. I realize that this is not everyone's experience; I know of one teacher who had transmission in my tradition but branched off, stripping her teaching down to just sitting, devoid of any ritual, symbolism, or religiosity; not even the Precepts. A dear Dharma sister is fond of recounting the tale of a sitting group where a visitor asked; "where's the Buddha (statue)?". The group's leader picked up a rock, set it on a table, and said "There. There's the Buddha." While I clearly understand the point she was making, and I see the value of such an experience, that's not how my practice has evolved. May your practice evolve in a manner that serves for the liberation of yourself, and of all beings.
    Last edited by Piobair; 08-03-2012 at 12:31 PM.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Piobair View Post
    A dear Dharma sister is fond of recounting the tale of a sitting group where a visitor asked; "where's the Buddha (statue)?". The group's leader picked up a rock, set it on a table, and said "There. There's the Buddha." While I clearly understand the point she was making, and I see the value of such an experience, that's not how my practice has evolved. May your practice evolve in a manner that serves for the liberation of yourself, and of all beings.
    Actually, that sounds like my sometimes modus operandi too! I may have a strange idea of what is "Buddha", and what is "sacred" and ways to appreciate Buddha ... and it is unusual from what you may find in more traditional Buddhist Sangha.

    Sometimes, when I do a ceremony, I place on the Altar anything that strikes my heart ... As a personal Practice, often when I lead a ceremony or sitting for a group, I replace the Buddha statue on the altar with whatever comes to mind ... sometimes a car tire, a dirty diaper, a trash can, a flower, a rock or an open space without any thing at all. Other times, I just bow to the Statue that is there. Once, after 9-11, I replaced the statue with 3 photos ... Mother Theresa, George Bush and Osama bin Laden. That really upset some folks in the group! I had people walk out of the sitting!

    But, you know, what isn't the Buddha? And for me, if you think I degradate or insult the Buddha by replacing him(her) with a trash can, or that I raise up the trash can in praise, you miss the point I think. All of life is sacred, all the "Buddha" when seen as such.

    By the way, we do not "worship the idol". I take a Buddha statue ... and the Kesa ... as primarily a symbol, like a Crucifix or Star of David, which reminds us of a "greater reality". At heart, it is just wood or stone or cloth. However, all wood and stones and cloths are sacred.

    This inspired me as I haven't done so for awhile ... so time to switch the Buddha on the Altar tomorrow during our Zazenkai with Buddha!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  34. #34
    Thanks Piobair and Jundo

    I like that teacher's style Different strokes for different folks

    I found this quote in Steve Hagen's book "Buddhism Plain and Simple" (pg. 4) which does a better job of articulating what I meant. For me the rituals aren't as important, but that is a very, very personal decision... I'm not in any way degrading them. Plus as Taigu said, I need to investigate things more before dismissing them.

    Rituals, ceremonies, prayers, and special outfits are inevitable, but they do not--they cannot--express the heart of what the Buddha taught. In fact, all too often, such things get in the way. They veil the simple wisdom of the Buddha's words, and distract us from it.

    This is a major problem, and not just for those of us raised in the West. It is not easy to know where Buddhism ends and Asian culture begins, or to distinguish the original and authentic teachings of the Buddha from what was added later by people with less acute insight. As a result, many Americans and Europeans genuinely believe that Buddhism is about worshipping Buddha, or bowing and wearing robes, or working oneself into a trance, or coming up with answers to bewilder riddles, or past and future incarnations.
    Gassho,

    Risho

  35. #35
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,882
    Kirk,

    I hope you will take the precepts with us and embrace this path, but I understand it is difficult for many. All I will say is that, for me, it was very freeing to learn this new language, slowly and carefully, finding how to grasp the culture but not by grasping! In the West in can appear foreign and it is, but as they say "a rose by any other name smells just as sweet". Or something like that. I question myself at times, as we all do, as to whether I am "going native" because of some status it may appear to give me. But then I realize that all of this comes from a language Western society has largely forgotten and which was always there for the "taking". Some go to Japan, some to India, some just go into the woods and live near a pond. It starts as a search that ends with nothing to find...because what you sought was always there in front of you.

    Deep bows,
    Scott
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    513
    What never ceases to amaze me is to hear the reaction against what are called "religious rituals" when we surround ourselves in ritual of all sorts religiously all the time, and think nothing of it. Think about the ritual one creates around watching the big game on the TV: all the snack foods are arrayed on the table, the drinks are set up, we put on the team jersey, maybe even a strange hat (for luck) and begin an hours long ritual or emotion and eating. Even chores around the home have their ritual, take mowing the lawn: the mower is brought out, the tank is filled with gas, the cord is pulled (sometimes along with prayer that it will start right away!), then we start to mow in certain patterns. When the lawn is done we clean the mower and put it away. Ritual. Why do we so easily ritualize our life otherwise, but when it comes to our spiritual life we baulk at ritual? Well mostly, I think it is because we do not feel we made that ritual, someone else did and they are therefore telling us what to do...and we do not like that, beling told what to do, especially with regard to our spiritual life. Really?! Then why did we look for a teacher? Why aren't we sitting alone in a cave, in the forest, on a mountain, in our room with no one telling us how to work our spiritual life and practice? When we come to any particular teacher, school or church (there I said that horrible word!) we are saying that we wish to learn how to work on our spiritual life according to the principles of that teacher, school or church. If that includes ritual, that's what we signed up for. If it is strange and foreign to us, we might exercise our sense of adventure to experience it. If after trying it we do not like the taste we do not have the eat there again; but to simply throw up barriers before trying is being dishonest with our human nature which surrounds itself with ritual every day.

    Gassho..
    Seishin Kyrill

  37. #37
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Near Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    Posts
    897
    I will agree with the sports metaphor, but the lawn mower is certainly not a ritual. It's just the way you do something.

    As for the rest, to me it's the lack of inherent meaning in a ritual that I am not familiar with, and ,in this case, the fact that that meaning is foreign.

  38. #38
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,882
    Of course mowing is a ritual! And it is nothing but Buddha!

    Forgive me if this sounds harsh and I am only a priest in training, but take your toes out of the water and jump in with your whole body and being. You can always get out (but not really since you were always in!).

    Just do it!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  39. #39
    I actually posted something anti-ritual again, but then as I took my dogs out I thought about what Kyrillos said and what Taigu said, and Kirk and myself. So I removed it. I really need to practice these more to investigate what they mean (as Taigu said earlier). I do adopt some of the rituals and feel less comfortable with others. So why is that? And this way is important to me, and it's not something I'm going to just drop because my ego is so convinced that the rituals aren't necessary.

    Part of my posts is that I like to argue and debate. lol But I was going to argue that these rituals are foreign because they come from a different time ,but sports rituals are not because they are done now. Perhaps my acceptance of one over the other is that I'm used to seeing people do the sports rituals but not the Zen rituals and I'm not comfortable just expressing myself. Because they are both odd. hahahah Anyway, I'm done posting on this I will be practicing.

    Gassho,

    Risho

    P.S. Thank you Kyrillos for your thoughtful post.
    Last edited by Risho; 08-04-2012 at 04:37 PM.

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Of course mowing is a ritual! And it is nothing but Buddha!

    Forgive me if this sounds harsh and I am only a priest in training, but take your toes out of the water and jump in with your whole body and being. You can always get out (but not really since you were always in!).

    Just do it!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Nicely put Dosho, thank you.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  41. #41
    to me it's the lack of inherent meaning in a ritual that I am not familiar with, and ,in this case, the fact that that meaning is foreign.
    Every ritual act should have inherent meaning; otherwise, what's the point? Every bell and bow means something to me, and I execute them mindfully. The one exception which I can think of is the Shosai Myokichijo Darani; "the Dharani to Allay Disasters"; the only chant we don't do in English. Neither I, nor any member of my sangha, speak Japanese, so it feels like meaningless gibberish to me. It doesn't inspire confidence to know that it's traditionally chanted before an effigy of Idaten, a mythical guardian deity, which smacks of what I consider to be superstitious bunkum. I don't feel like I derive much benefit from it as it appears to me to be devoid of meaning, but there are many things whose value is not readily apparent to me, not because of their inherent lack of value, but because of my lack of sufficient depth of insight. But as I belong to this sangha, which belongs to a lineage tradition, and as this is our practice, which my teacher and our predecessors consider to be of value, I will sound the keisu bells and chant with everyone as earnestly as if it were the Heart Sutra or Four Vows (in English). I still have much to learn, and this might be one of the lessons. Sometimes I think the key to learning isn't being particularly smart, but simply being open-minded.
    Last edited by Piobair; 08-04-2012 at 08:23 PM.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Actually, that sounds like my sometimes modus operandi too! I may have a strange idea of what is "Buddha", and what is "sacred" and ways to appreciate Buddha ... and it is unusual from what you may find in more traditional Buddhist Sangha.

    Sometimes, when I do a ceremony, I place on the Altar anything that strikes my heart ... As a personal Practice, often when I lead a ceremony or sitting for a group, I replace the Buddha statue on the altar with whatever comes to mind ... sometimes a car tire, a dirty diaper, a trash can, a flower, a rock or an open space without any thing at all. Other times, I just bow to the Statue that is there. Once, after 9-11, I replaced the statue with 3 photos ... Mother Theresa, George Bush and Osama bin Laden. That really upset some folks in the group! I had people walk out of the sitting!

    But, you know, what isn't the Buddha? And for me, if you think I degradate or insult the Buddha by replacing him(her) with a trash can, or that I raise up the trash can in praise, you miss the point I think. All of life is sacred, all the "Buddha" when seen as such.

    By the way, we do not "worship the idol". I take a Buddha statue ... and the Kesa ... as primarily a symbol, like a Crucifix or Star of David, which reminds us of a "greater reality". At heart, it is just wood or stone or cloth. However, all wood and stones and cloths are sacred.

    This inspired me as I haven't done so for awhile ... so time to switch the Buddha on the Altar tomorrow during our Zazenkai with Buddha!

    Gassho, J
    Today's Buddha on the Altar during our Zazenkai was an old rubber boot (watch the first few minutes). Boot-dha.

    How vast is Buddha? About a size 9 (42 in Europe)

    How do you recognize a Buddhist boot? It has no soul. (I gotta million of 'em)



    Of course mowing is a ritual! And it is nothing but Buddha!

    It is, but a ritual I need to perform more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piobair View Post
    Every ritual act should have inherent meaning; otherwise, what's the point? Every bell and bow means something to me, and I execute them mindfully. The one exception which I can think of is the Shosai Myokichijo Darani; "the Dharani to Allay Disasters"; the only chant we don't do in English. Neither I, nor any member of my sangha, speak Japanese, so it feels like meaningless gibberish to me. It doesn't inspire confidence to know that it's traditionally chanted before an effigy of Idaten, a mythical guardian deity, which smacks of what I consider to be superstitious bunkum
    Me too, which is why I do not chant it. An 'abracadabra' hocus-pocus magic spell of gibberish to prevent bad things from happening, and I will not chant it. Poppycock. I would rather dance the macarena in front of the Altar for all the effect it has. In fact, have done just that.

    Taigu chants it during our annual Rohatsu Retreat, and you will have to ask him his reasons for doing so ... but I think it is mostly because he has a beautiful voice and likes doing it! When he does, I hum along to be polite. Taigu?

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-05-2012 at 01:37 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  43. #43
    By the way ...

    Dharani are chants, sometimes intelligible but often unintelligible as the original Indian meanings have been lost (for example, they are chanted phonetically in Japanese vaguely based on purely phonetic Chinese, itself based on some original long lost Indian words!! ), often felt to have protective, good fortune bringing or other special powers thought to derive from the power of the sound (more than the lost meaning). Mantra are similar, but typically shorter. Dharani are recited as part of standard Soto rituals, and in most other schools of Buddhism.

    I do not recite many Dharani here at Treeleaf, for I tend to consider them too much "hocus pocus and abracadarba". As discussed, Taigu sometimes does.

    Below is what I write on why I will not chant magic spells, but I do feel at home to chant certain Mantra, such as at the end of the Heart Sutra ...

    Gate! Gate! (Already Gone, Gone)
    Paragate! (Already Gone Beyond)
    Parasamgate! (Already Fully Beyond)
    Bodhi! Svaha! * (Awakening, Rejoice)


    ---------------------------

    I would say that this all depends how one defines a Mantra in one's heart. In much of Buddhism and related religions of India (although something very similar can be found in about all religions really ... e.g., like "God Is Great/Allahu al-Akbar" in Islam, an orthodox Jew's reciting the sacred letters of Torah, or "Praise Jesus" in some corners of Christianity), it is a sound, word or words that create transformation in some way.

    Now, the meaning of "creates transformation" can mean anything from (a) a magic "abracadabra" incantation to the Buddhas or gods asking for their power, support or favor to cure one's disease, get a good grade on an exam, have business success or grant admission to some Heaven or good rebirth in a future incarnation etc. ... to (b) a simple reminder or focus of the mind on some subtle spiritual truth while calming and steadying the heart&mind. In most cases, I would say that Mantras have been used as a mix of (a) and (b) throughout their history. In my view, it depends on the heart of the chanter whether (a) or (b) is the dominant motive, but that most lay folks throughout history in Asia (including in many modern Buddhist groups active in the West) chant Mantra with a heavy dose of (a).

    Now, with regard to (b), those "spiritual truths" can range anywhere from "simple, yet subtle truths" of wisdom and compassion to incredibly dense and complicated systems, whole philosophies and esoteric systems, much like the Jews have found the whole system of Kabbalah in the sounds of the Hebrew Alphabet and some Buddhists or Hindus all levels-upon-levels of cosmic meanings in Sanskrit sounds.

    I feel in my heart that the little Mantra at the endless end of the Heart Sutra ... with its emphasis on Wisdom and Emptiness ... is (b), as is the whole Heart Sutra. Moreover, the lessons there are infinitely profound and subtle, yet simple too as the breeze or the sound of raindrops. In Zen, we tend to avoid the "intricate complicated, esoteric philosophies and systems". We are content to be simple minded.

    Also, Mantras and Dharani ... like classical music ... can have a profound meaning often beyond words that is spoken to the heart. That is fine. All sounds arise from and return to Silence! The bare sounds truly can resonate with the heart and outward into space. If you have no problem, and it makes your heart feel good, to walk down the street on a summer day, singing the Beatle's unintelligible "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", then why not the Dharani's equally unintelligible "gya gya gya ki gya ki" if it rings in your heart?

    ...

    My real objection is to those Dharani and Mantras used quite clearly as abracadabra magic spells and incantations to get some material benefit such as a new job or new car or love or even medical recovery. I believe that, for most people, that is the way they have been primarily thought of and used through the centuries. Often the ways in which we chant "to get stuff" can be much more hidden and subtle, and we should be cautious.

    ...

    We usually chant in English as the common language we share in this international Sangha. We also chant in Japanese (to be exact, "Sino-Japanese", the Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese) from time to time out of respect for tradition and honoring our "roots" (Sometimes, but more rarely, we chant something in Sanskrit). I also agree that it is important to understand the philosophy and perspectives presented in the words of the Heart Sutra, the Identity of Relative and Absolute and all of the other chants we chant. (I even translated the little Mantra that closes the Heart Sutra into understandable English in our Chant Book).

    However, there is also a point where we "Just Chant" (like "Just Sit") ... throwing one-self into the chanting. In such case, it does not matter if we chant in English, Japanese, Esperanto, Martian or Silently. Got the point?

    On the other hand, I do not encourage around here the Chanting of "Dharani", even several traditional to the Soto school and Zen in general. It is just too much "abracadabra" removed from all sense of meaning.

    Read a bit more about Dharani here ... by D.T. Suzuki

    http://sacred-texts.com/bud/mzb/mzb02.htm

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-23-2013 at 03:01 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  44. #44
    Very good stuff Jundo, thank you.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  45. #45
    yes I like doing it (though challenging), I like its sound ( not mine, but the sound in my heart) and wish its reality to pervade the four corners of this universe (and it does already, with or without it)
    Dharani stuff is expressing what is already, not what should, could , ought to be...
    The magic is in the being with this.


    gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  46. #46
    Hello,

    mumbo-jumbo or not, Elements like Dharani are always an important liturgical reminder that we shaven monkeys don't have it all worked out. At the end of the day, Zen is a relgious practise based on the MYSTERY of what this is. If we feel the need to really cut everything into pieces that are easy to digest and are pleasing to our early 21st century secular minds, we are sacrificing more to our own preferences than we should. THIS is bigger than us. As long as we don't rely on anything outside of what is, I do not see any problem. Taking itno account that the everyday Zen reality in Japan is far more based on ritual than on Zazen, it is hard for me to understand that even the DIET-liturgy of western Zen is causing so many people head- and heartaches.
    At some point one has to ask oneself why one wants to engage in religious practise at all, when so many traditional elements have to be left behind before one can finally commit to a certain practise.

    Gassho,

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

  47. #47
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Near Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    Posts
    897
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello,

    mumbo-jumbo or not, Elements like Dharani are always an important liturgical reminder that we shaven monkeys don't have it all worked out. At the end of the day, Zen is a relgious practise based on the MYSTERY of what this is. If we feel the need to really cut everything into pieces that are easy to digest and are pleasing to our early 21st century secular minds, we are sacrificing more to our own preferences than we should. THIS is bigger than us. As long as we don't rely on anything outside of what is, I do not see any problem. Taking itno account that the everyday Zen reality in Japan is far more based on ritual than on Zazen, it is hard for me to understand that even the DIET-liturgy of western Zen is causing so many people head- and heartaches.
    At some point one has to ask oneself why one wants to engage in religious practise at all, when so many traditional elements have to be left behind before one can finally commit to a certain practise.
    Maybe because I really don't see Zen as a religious practice?

    Why is "the mystery of what is" a religious practice? It is a philosophical practice, and much of Zen is a psychological practice, but what makes it religious? Isn't it the rituals that make it such? My Mac's dictionary points out that religion is "a particular system of faith and worship." While there is faith in Zen - the faith that zazen serves a purpose - the Zen we practice here doesn't really have worship.

    See, this is the root of my discomfort with these rituals. I don't see Zen as a religion, and the rituals that can tilt it in that direction bother that part of me that feels this way.

  48. #48
    Hello Kirk,

    I can completely understand what you mean...my gut feeling however is that (EDIT) whatever this practise is in its many forms only managed to survive historically because of a deep and powerful force and passion that arose within quite a number of its adherents who would literally cross deserts and seas to find sutras and spread the teachings...their appreciation went deeper than any kind of philosophical practise and appreciation that I have come across (and that may indeed be a limitation on my part).

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 08-06-2012 at 10:04 AM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello Kirk,

    I can completely understand what you mean...my gut feeling however is that Zen Buddhism in its many forms only managed to survive historically because of a deep and powerful force and passion that arose within quite a number of its adherents who would literally cross deserts and seas to find sutras and spread the teachings...their appreciation went deeper than any kind of philosophical practise and appreciation that I have come across (and that may indeed be a limitation on my part).

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Hans - I am finding this really interesting/enlightening.

    The more I communicate with Zen the more I feel it is a religion - or certainly as elements of being such.

    I hadn't come across Dharani - but in what can be a cold and crazy world perhaps we all need the odd magic
    spell at times.

    I don't think it matters what the ritual is if it rings with the heart - it doesn't matter what words we mouth if the sound connects with the universe in a positive manner.

    This matter of religious belief/spiritual belief - versus philosophy/psychology - I don't think we can take a mental axe to it and chop it down the middle (creating yet another dualism).
    Even if we just sit - forgoing all else - we are rooted in what has gone before - what we have taken in and accepted/understood - what we have rejected - what we feel we no longer need.

    Gassho

    Willow

  50. #50
    Member BobSpour's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Posts
    72
    Great thread but I just go back to the heart sutra!
    Form is emptiness
    Emptiness is form
    its where I also look to find answers/questions

    _/\_ gassho
    bob

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •