No, not at all!
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. Pursue your own Practice. Ultimately in Zazen, we sit with ourself and
ourself alone (literally, with our "self"), and wrappings, bells and
whistles are a sideshow. Ultimately, it is a matter of you exploring
and sitting with your own "me myself and I" 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, Namibian or AmericanOn 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' (Kinhin)
why not hold them in the traditional manner of Shashu
(I mean, better than sticking 'em in your pockets)?
As well, there are parts of our practice which we do BECAUSE we resist
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
). 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 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 ...
Bowing ...http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/2 ... eat-3.htmlOn 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 another example of a great practice, and worth keeping..
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 and to respect our 'roots'. Some things also have a special symbolic
if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu
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.
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!
), 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 with the bath water
. Many completely "Japanese" or other exotic 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
Gassho (an Asian custom of "Pressed Palms"), Jundo (a Dharma name)