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Thread: Brad & Gesshin: The Punk and the Monk

  1. #1

    Brad & Gesshin: The Punk and the Monk

    Hi,

    I would probably only recommend these for folks really really interested in the subject of differences between practice in the West and an American woman's experience in a monastery in Japan, but pretty good.

    I met Gesshin (月心) Greenwood at Tassajara Zen monastery this Summer. She is an American-born Buddhist nun who currently lives in Kyoto, Japan. She trained in two very intense training monasteries in Japan and knows first hand what it’s like to do that sort of rigorous practice. Her current teacher is Shundo Aoyama, the author of the book Zen Seeds: Reflections of a Female Priest.

    As those of you who regularly read this blog and my books already know, I never really experienced this sort of training. Both of my teachers were and are non-monastics. Although both of them trained in Zen monasteries, they chose to teach their students a different way. They believed in weaving the Zen life into the the work-a-day world outside of the monastic setting. ... There’s a lot here. But I think it’s really interesting and relevant to hear Gesshin’s take on these matters.










    http://hardcorezen.info/interview-wi...dhist-nun/3068

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-21-2014 at 03:47 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    This also makes me want to link to the Obituary I wrote for Nishijima Roshi. I have to get back to writing more on his way of Practice ...

    Eight Ways Gudo Wafu Nishijima Will Help Change Zen Buddhism
    http://sweepingzen.com/eight-ways-gu...-zen-buddhism/

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Hello,

    Thank you for the links.

    Very interesting conversation involving contemporary monasticism and the nuts-and-bolts of a practicing monk-nun.

    Brad's Dharma name is Odo, Jundo. With respect.


    Gassho,
    Myosha

    P.S. Gesshin has a pretty good blog:
    http://thatssozen.blogspot.jp/2014/0...-help-you.html
    Last edited by Myosha; 09-24-2014 at 02:45 PM. Reason: blog
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Myosha View Post

    Brad's Dharma name is Odo, Jundo. With respect.
    Yes, I know. This is what he looks like when he shape-shifts.



    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Mp
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yes, I know. This is what he looks like when he shape-shifts.



    Gassho, J
    Wow ... that is the exact image that came to mind when I heard Gesshin say that. =) Also, I enjoyed the chat they had and their perspectives on this topic.

    Gassho
    Shingen

  6. #6
    Hee hee,

    And doing himself proud(foot) in Lord of the Rings™ -

    http://middle-earthencyclopedia.weeb...proudfoot.html


    Isn't 'shape-shifting' one of the Five Superknowledges??


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

  7. #7
    Many questions answered, many more rising.


  8. #8
    Thank you Jundo,
    interesting talk !
    Gassho
    Myoku

  9. #9
    A great article clarifying the practice in this lineage...very inspirational, and something that I will be thinking about for some time to come.
    Thank you Jundo.
    Gassho
    Heisoku
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  10. #10
    By the way, just an aside on this for those concerned about what this historical Buddha might say about such topics ...

    Folks often say that the historical Buddha himself insisted that Nirvana and "real" Practice could only happen as a monastic. That is not actually what he said, as quoted in many an old Sutta. It is only that, in his opinion, Practice as a householder is so much harder because of the distractions and temptations! In his view, being a renunciant is actually the easier road and way to live because of leaving all one's worldly entanglements behind.

    In an old Sutta I was reading just recently, there is a question by a Brahmin to Buddha ...

    Subha Sutta


    4. “Master Gotama, the brahmins say this: ‘The householder is accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome. The one gone forth [into homelessness] is not accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.’ What does Master Gotama say about this?”

    [The Buddha said] “Student, I speak about this after making an analysis; I do not speak about this one-sidedly. I do not praise the wrong way of practice on the part either of a householder or one gone forth; for whether it be a householder or one gone forth, one who has entered on the wrong way of practice, by reason of his wrong way of practice, is not accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome. I praise the right way of practice on the part either of a householder or one gone forth; for whether it be a householder or one gone forth, one who has entered on the right way of practice, by reason of his right way of practice, is accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.”

    5. “Master Gotama, the brahmins say this: ‘Since the work of the household life involves a great deal of activity, great functions, great engagements, and great undertakings, it is of great fruit. Since the work of those gone forth involves a small amount of activity, small functions, small engagements, and small undertakings, it is of small fruit.’ What does Master Gotama say about this?” “Again, student, I speak about this after making an analysis; I do not speak about this one-sidedly. There is work involving a great deal of activity, great functions, great engagements, and great undertakings,
    which, when it fails, is of small fruit. There is work involving a great deal of activity, great functions, great engagements, and great undertakings, which, when it succeeds, is of great fruit. There is work
    involving a small amount of activity, small functions, small engagements, and small undertakings, which, when it fails, is of small fruit. There is work involving a small amount of activity, small functions,
    small engagements, and small undertakings, which, when it succeeds, is of great fruit. ...

    ... Just as agriculture, student, is work that involves a great deal of activity…but is of small fruit when it fails, so the work of the household life involves a great deal of activity, great functions, great
    engagements, and great undertakings, but is of small fruit when it fails. Just as agriculture is work that involves a great deal of activity…and is of great fruit when it succeeds, so the work of the household life
    involves a great deal of activity, great functions, great engagements, and great undertakings, and is of great fruit when it succeeds.
    Just as trade is work that involves a small amount of activity…and is of small
    fruit when it fails, so the work of those gone forth involves a small amount of activity, small functions, small engagements, and small undertakings, and is of small fruit when it fails. Just as trade is work that involves a small amount of activity…but is of great fruit when it succeeds, so the work of those gone forth involves a small amount of activity, small functions, small engagements, and small undertakings, but is of great fruit when it succeeds.”

    ...

    9. “Master Gotama, truth is the first thing that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome. Asceticism is the second thing…[Purity in sexuality] is the third thing…Study is the fourth thing…Generosity is the fifth thing that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome. ... What
    does Master Gotama say about this?”

    [The Buddha said] .20 “Those five things, student, that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome—where do you often see those five things, among householders or among those gone forth?”

    “Those five things, Master Gotama, that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome, I often see among those gone forth, seldom among householders. For the
    householder has a great deal of activity, great functions, great engagements, and great undertakings: he does not constantly and invariably speak the truth, practise asceticism, observe [purity in sexuality],
    engage in study, or engage in generosity. But one gone forth has a small amount of activity, small functions, small engagements, and small undertakings: he constantly and invariably speaks the truth, practises asceticism, observes celibacy, engages in study, and engages in generosity. Thus those five things that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome, I often see among those gone forth, seldom among householders.”

    [The Buddha said] 21. “Those five things, student, that the brahmins prescribe for the performance of merit, for accomplishing the wholesome, I call equipment of the mind, that is, for developing a mind that is without hostility and without ill will. ...

    http://buddhism.vipassati.ch/nikaya/...sutta-to-subha
    Notice that, in the above, the Buddha says "often" or "more often" is the Bikhu/Monk. He does not say "only". As the Buddha is often heard to say in many other Sutta ...

    “A householder or householder’s son or one born in some other clan hears that Dhamma. On hearing the Dhamma he acquires faith in the Tathāgata. Possessing that faith, he considers thus: ‘Household life is crowded and dusty; life gone forth is wide open. It is not easy, while living in a home, to lead the holy life utterly perfect and pure as a polished shell. ...

    http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middl...padopama-sutta
    Notice that the Bossman says "not easy" ... not "impossible"!

    Actually, one of the subtle changes brought forth more in Buddhism later, in the Mahayana, was the feeling that one could "leave home and stay home" at once, be "celibate and chaste" even in a world of trade and family.

    However, that is a topic for another time.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-29-2014 at 03:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Thanks for this.

    When I was reading through the "Adult practice" series of Antaiji (which I found interesting and helpful in general), I also felt a bit hurt. Muho does explicitely say, others are not doing wrong, but they are not feeling the same need for practice, the same dedication.
    And not being with a "real" sangha 24/7 will not yield good results, he writes.
    I respect and admire his dedication.

    But I've been also wondering, don't we have other important tasks in life and society too?

    So if "the really committed buddhism" is to be monastic, who will be there to care for the old and ill, to do work in the midst of society?

    Muho argues for the importance of the monastic community as a practice place to form one another, before one eventually goes back to "the world".
    I'd appreciate if my co-workers shared more values with me, but now they are my practice place as well. They are sangha, without knowing so.

    Gassho,
    Danny

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny B View Post
    Thanks for this.

    When I was reading through the "Adult practice" series of Antaiji (which I found interesting and helpful in general), I also felt a bit hurt. Muho does explicitely say, others are not doing wrong, but they are not feeling the same need for practice, the same dedication.
    And not being with a "real" sangha 24/7 will not yield good results, he writes....

    Muho argues for the importance of the monastic community as a practice place to form one another, before one eventually goes back to "the world".
    I'd appreciate if my co-workers shared more values with me, but now they are my practice place as well. They are sangha, without knowing so.

    Gassho,
    Danny
    Hey Danny,

    First, let me mention that Abbot Muho Noelke, the German born abbot of Sawaki Roshi's old temple, Antaiji, has agreed to come to Treeleaf sometime in late December to lead a Zazenkai and offer a talk! So, we can be sure to ask him about this when he comes.

    I will just say that, in my view Rev. Muho is speaking what may be right for some Practitioners who would benefit from that kind of concentrated monastic Practice, but he is very wrong for other Practitioners who can find their "monastery" amid this dusty world and their busy lives.

    If you ask me, for some people, Muho and the folks at Antaiji sit much much too long and too often. (We can all benefit from long sitting sometimes, but we can also benefit from short sitting sometimes ... PROVIDED that we always sit in Wholeness and Timelessness dropping all thought of "short" vs. "long" and "anything to attain"). Here is a typical schedule at Antaiji on a Sesshin day (which would be, in my understanding, about 9 days out of every month, including a monthly 5 day Sesshin. I believe they have longer Sesshin twice a year too)!

    4am to 9am Zazen
    9am Breakfast
    10am to 3pm Zazen
    3pm Lunch
    4pm to 9pm Zazen
    9pm Lights out
    I believe that is 15 hours of Zazen each day (I believe that they sit 50 minute periods with 10 minute Kinhin). On non-Sesshin days, they have Zazen with Samu work most of the day (they are a very labor intensive place, with their own farm fields for residents to maintain) ...

    4am to 6:10am Zazen
    6:10am Breakfest
    6:40am Cleaning
    After cleaning Help in the kitchen
    7:30am to noon Samu (work)
    12:00 noon Lunch
    after lunch Samu (work), shower, help in the kitchen
    5:00pm Dinner
    5:20pm Dish washing
    5:30pm Tea meeting
    6pm to 8pm Zazen
    After 8pm Free time (be quiet after 9pm)
    Again, I salute this ... and I truly believe that such kind of Practice is valuable for many people, perhaps most people sometimes. (We sit beyond "long" and "short", but there are times when it is good to sit long. Now, someone might ask too, "if each moment is all time and space, what is the purpose of an intensive Sesshin?" Well, I often say that, sometimes, we need to practice a bit long and hard, morning to night ... sitting and wrestling with 'me, my self and I' ... all to attain Nothing to Attain! )

    However, such Practice can also lead to a fleeing from the responsibilities of the world, a need to have that isolated experience leaving one less equipped to find Buddha even in the busy and noisy marketplace.

    Not only can most people not pack up their life to go to such a place for months or years, but THE VERY SAME BUDDHA IS FOUND AT ANTAIJI OR IN OUR CHILDREN'S NURSERY (Muho has a wife and is raising his children at Antaiji, by the way, so has not completely left the world behind), IN A MONASTERY KITCHEN OR OUR HOUSEHOLD KITCHEN, IN THE FARM FIELD OF FACTORY OR OFFICE ... ANYWHERE, ALL BUDDHA ... TO SOMEONE WITH THE EYES TO SEE!

    This, I believe that Muho is DEAD WRONG ... at least for many people and much of the time. Not for all people or all of the time.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-30-2014 at 12:41 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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