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Thread: Dark Zen?

  1. #1

    Dark Zen?

    What is Dark Zen... who and where does this person comes from? Yikes, after reading this website I becamse so scared thnat I felt like running here and hide behind you all.... This even sounded cultish!!!

    After reading this website I became puzzled and lost. Actually it reminded me when I was a child and did things I should've not done and promised myself never to read anything else that does not belong to Treeleaf, or that I have not been told to read, or study, by Jundo, Taigu, or any other fellow members of Treeleaf who know more than I do.... sheesh... I was even spooked about some of the things that were written here...

    Thanks for reading, Gassho!!!

  2. #2
    Hi Ricky,

    (The following is mostly cut and past from an old thread, so I can answer quickly),

    The fellow who runs that website, the "Zennist", is a fellow also known as "Zenmar" (and some other names around the net) who bills himself as teaching something called "Mystical Zen" and who runs a website called "DarkZen" that has a particular reputation and take on things. Generally, the reputation is not good, and his can be quite belligerent toward other Zen folks, particularly Soto. Very smart and well read fellow, but he is pushing his own little sect that he created ...

    Zenmar claims that all modern schools of Zen are inferior and incomplete at best and over the centuries have been corrupted. He claims to have discovered the "true" zen teachings and those are mystical in nature. The Zen practice according to him must be directed toward experiencing the supernatural light of Buddha. Thus Mystical or Dark Zen. You must be transformed, all trace of will submerged into this experience. All this talk of Everyday Mind or Buddha Nature in us or Clear Mind is nonsense to him. Buddha Nature is an actual, supernatural force existing out there (thus "mystical") that can be tapped into if you reject this world.

    He attracted a few disciples and a lot of rejection for such an obvious rewriting of basic Zen tenets. His online disciples started calling him Master Zenmar, and his website continues. According to his postings back then, he was a monk for a while but gave it up due to being treated badly by the other monks. Since he rejects the entire Transmission of Dharma tradition of existing Zen schools, this self-styled elevation to the title of Master and starting his own school of Zen Buddhism doesn't bother him or his followers.

    What he teaches is not a type of, variation of, or school of Buddhism. It is a rejection of Buddhism as it is currently practiced by the Sangha and an attempt to replace centuries of enlightened teaching with his own ideas.
    Here is Zenmar's description of his "Mystical Zen" ...

    Dark Zen: Our basis, if you wish to call it that, is Mind’s luminous originative power which can also be characterized as an intelligible light. Its other name is Buddha who is a “light-maker.”


    Question: Can you describe this so-called 'dark principle' of which you speak?

    Dark Zen: It's an intractable subject, I must say. If I describe it by saying that all constructed things flow from this dark principle while it, itself, remains unconstruced and unmoved, what can such words really explain? At this stage it is a far off goal, like some great mountain seen in the distance. You, as a person, must still make the journey on your own.

    Question: Yes, I tend to agree with you. But back to the dark principle. Could you at least sketch it out?

    Dark Zen: I will try although I am hesitant to say too much about it. I can't promise you miracles! [laughing] First of all, each of us has access to this dark principle. All of us can tap into it. This is a given. However, owing to our habit of following appearances, we have lost the ability to communicate with it even though it is coexistent with us. Now, in the case of the Buddha, with regard to the dark principle, when he reached complete enlightenment he entered into what might be called primordial light. But more than just mere light, it is sheer productive power, or the same, sheer potentiality. Naturally, it is free and independent of phenomena although without it, phenomena would not be. With that I can't say much more.

    Dark Zen was last discussed by some of our members in this old thread ...

    Gassho. J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-01-2013 at 12:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Thanks for answering Jundo, for your quick answer. Blessings and Gassho!!!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ricky Ramos View Post

    ... Actually it reminded me when I was a child and did things I should've not done and promised myself never to read anything else that does not belong to Treeleaf, or that I have not been told to read, or study, by Jundo, Taigu, or any other fellow members of Treeleaf who know more than I do.... sheesh...
    Yes, please clear all your future reading with Taigu or me beforehand. We can put a child lock on your computer, and will also edit with scissors the newspaper each morning to remove articles you should not see.

  5. #5
    I think this site seems to be a good teaching on receiving instruction from an authorised teacher in a known lineage. The essay in which modern Zen is critiqued is very odd: I do agree with him somewhat on this point: Without extensive Sutra study and proper instruction in Dharma, no actual advance can be made to the other shore of intuitive wisdom. I wonder how many Soto centres don't include dharma study as part of their training, though?

    Another essay criticising modern Buddhist magazines seems to show more where he is coming from (, suggesting that Zen should stick to mysticism alone rather than being stuck in the profane world of everyday life. How much more sacred making offerings than changing a diaper?

    I imagine the person behind the site is very genuine in his beliefs and views but I do notice there is no mention of who the author is and their previous training and teachers.


  6. #6
    Thanks for the funny answer, Jundo, made my day Gassho!!!

  7. #7
    Thank you.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  8. #8
    I got really excited for a minute thinking that it was the dark side to zen and that perhaps Star Wars was accurate. I was about to start working on my light saber.

    Oh well, it was an interesting read anyways.
    If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

  9. #9
    Thank you Master Jundo.

  10. #10
    Possibly Zenmar became enamored with the mystical aspects of Buddhism described in a few of the Sutras (The Surangama Sutra comes to mind). Tales of the earth quaking and light emanating from the Buddha. Interesting stuff, but I look at it the same way as when I was a Christian learning about the miracles Jesus was said to have performed, or many of the tales I'd read in the Upanishads when Hinduism was the main focus. To put these texts in perspective, it can be helpful to think in terms of historicism. Cultures, customs, beliefs, and the zeitgeist were different when these Sutras were written, and even more different when they were originated and passed down verbally. Back then, mystic events and miracles were everyday concepts to people, and most believed them wholly (even if they never directly observed them). Also, many of these tales of the phenomenal imparted a lesson to the reader or listener that could not otherwise have been understood by them at the time (ironically they tend to obscure the message for those reading them these days).

    Interesting he chose to call the practice Dark Zen. Like Catfish, it makes me think of Star Wars. The image of a Sith Lord version of Jundo popped in my head lol. Anyway, from what I make of it, it just seems that Zenmar is inspired more by the ancient texts with a fantasy nature, rather then more "Zennish" texts such as the Heart Sutra, Shobogenzo, The Compass of Zen, or Zen Mind Beginner's Mind.

    Gassho, John

  11. #11
    The little I know in life, I do know that sexy, "dark" and mysterious is generally glossy packaging with little substance. Give me the old, tried, and true, any day. The Dharma shines the Path forward. In this, I trust.


    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  12. #12
    I've had a few exchanges with Zenmar (or some other tag he was using) and feel he is very sincere in his beliefs.

    We have this need to conceive an alpha and omega, a causeless cause, then cling to it. It isn't an ordinary clinging because the object has absolute value, so there is no discussion after that. All light bends toward that truth.

    I always saw Buddhism as unique in seeing the dangers of religious fixed idea. That is why the teachings are all said to be skillful means, but anything can be picked up that way, Buddhist teachings included.

    Last edited by RichardH; 11-03-2013 at 05:53 AM. Reason: simplify language

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