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Thread: New Buddhist Path - Beyond Transcendence and Immanence/Constructing Self - PP 39-46

  1. #1

    New Buddhist Path - Beyond Transcendence and Immanence/Constructing Self - PP 39-46

    Who is reading this book if there is no "self"?

    Your "self" is the source of judgments about the world. So, what does your "self" think of these two chapters?

    Your "self" is the root of frustrations and disappointments, feelings of lack. Does your "self" feel that these sections are lacking? That you are lacking?

    For folks who are new to this topic: The Buddhist proposition that there is no fixed "self", and that the subject/object divide (self vs. the rest of the world that is not yourself divide) is a mentally drawn line, does -not- mean that there is no "you" now reading these words. While, in one way of experiencing things, there is no "you" and the subject/object divide is only an arbitrary mental division and an illusion, but from another perspective there is a "you" (although more provisional and less solid and permanent than you might assume).

    Also, some folks believe that the goal of this practice is to be free of the individual "self" totally, once and for all. I do not believe so. We cannot function in the day to day world without a "self" that views itself as separate from other things. While their may be times of Kensho and the like in which the sense of being a separate and abiding self radically disappears, it must return for us to function in life. However, what is possible via this practice is for one to experience a sense of "self" and also "no self" at once (as if experiencing life simultaneously from two perspectives that are so interpenetrating and whole that they are truly one).

    Why is that a good thing?

    Because it allows one to experience life two ways (that are "not two"). For example, the "self" can experience loss, lack and frustration while simultaneously the "non-self" knows no loss, lack or frustration. One can experience a world in which we judge things and have hopes and regrets, and simultaneously a realm in which all is just as it is and precious. The "self" as an ordinary being in this world can experience the grief of a loved one's death, while the "non-self" experience surpasses the subject/object divide and can know something that does not "come and go", and is thus not a matter of birth and death. The "self" experiences the passage of time, the "non self" tastes something beyond the ticking clock.

    The central existential crisis of a human being is thus resolved.

    Does that make sense? Sound kinda nuts? Can you understand how the experience can resolve much human suffering?

    David Loy described many problems with a "transcendent" viewpoint. Is what he describing a "transcendent" viewpoint that somehow avoids those problems?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-10-2017 at 05:49 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Who is reading this book if there is no "self"?

    Your "self" is the source of judgments about the world. So, what does your "self" think of these two chapters?

    Your "self" is the root of frustrations and disappointments, feeling of lack. Does your "self" feel that these sections are lacking? That you are lacking?

    For folks who are new to this topic, the Buddhist proposition that there is no fixed "self", and that the subject/object (self vs. the rest of the world that is not my self) divide is a mentally drawn line, does -not- mean that there is no "you" now reading these words. While, in one way of experiencing things, there is no "you" and the subject/object divide in only an arbitrary mental division and an illusion, but from another perspective there is a "you" (although more provisional and less solid and permanent than you might assume).

    Also, some folks believe that the goal of this practice is to be free of the individual "self" totally, once and for all. I do not believe so. We cannot function in the day to day world without a "self" that views itself as separate from other things. While their may be times of Kensho and the like in which the sense of being a separate and abiding self radically disappears, it must return for us to function in life. However, what is possible via this practice is for one to experience a sense of "self" and also "no self" at once (as if experiencing life simultaneously from two perspectives that are so interpenetrating and whole that they are truly one).

    Why is that a good thing?

    Because it allows one to experience life two ways (that are "not two"). For example, the "self" can experience loss, lack and frustration while simultaneously the "non-self" knows no loss, lack or frustration. The "self" as an ordinary being in this world can experience the grief of a loved one's death, while the "non-self" experience surpasses the subject/object divide there can be experience something that does not "come and go", and is thus not a matter of birth and death. The "self" knows the passage of time, the "non self" tastes something beyond the ticking clock.

    The central existential crisis of a human being is thus resolved.

    Does that make sense? Sound kinda nuts? Can you understand how the experience can resolve much human suffering?

    David Loy described many problems with a "transcendent" viewpoint. Is what he describing a "transcendent" viewpoint that somehow avoids those problems?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Nuts? No not at all ... What a great expression Jundo, thank you for this. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today #with wishing of something better and yet accepting of things just as they are

  3. #3
    For me it was the advice and consent of my primary care doctor who told me "practice Zazen in every moment of every day." This was not the first doctor to tell me this, but also my Ph. D. therapist had worked with me through guided meditation, and through correcting faulty, so not from him, he gave me permission to find myself, and even the faulty pain specialist, and it was my non-self that sought through counting then beyond to let self and non-self flourish in Buddha arms around Christian shoulders toward freedom.

    Thank you so very much my teacher. You also have given permission for sitting in emptiness and non-emptiness, so in every day there is some self that lives in some pain for every living thing, and with self permission we are free. Thank you so very much Jundo, and in our Dokusan I learned of the self. Thank you my teacher.

    Tai Shi
    std
    Gassho
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  4. #4
    Thank you, Jundo. I find that I feel that sense of lack but can fill it temporarily with smaller and smaller joys, such as a cup of good tea or zazen. Sitting has made me aware of how my mind works sometimes. I'm still struggling to understand emptiness of form, sensations, perceptions, formations and consciousness. Occasionally I feel I'm getting a glimpse of how my self is interrelated to the rest of existence.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you, Jundo. I find that I feel that sense of lack but can fill it temporarily with smaller and smaller joys, such as a cup of good tea or zazen.
    Hi Onkai,

    It is important to count our blessings (I do ), but there is also a "Joy" and Completeness that comes from this Practice which underlies all small, passing human judgments and feeling of joy (small "j") or sadness, wholeness or completeness (small "c"). I can only describe this as a Joy at heart of the very fact that often life is sad and happy, a sense that even life's incompleteness is Complete in its very incompleteness.

    This comes in the dropping of the self-centered, judgmental "self".

    I wrote about this a bit here, in a very incomplete talk ...

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: gratitude & Great Gratitude
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...reat-Gratitude

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    I will echo Tai Shi's gratitude. The ability of self and non-self to exist without conflict is the ultimate gift. On this very day I will be mired in lack and craving, but at the same time will be free of all lack and craving. Not 🥜 at all!
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  7. #7
    Thank you, Jundo. That was an eye-opening post and link (to the talk). I will cultivate Great Gratitude with a capital "G".

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  8. #8
    For some reason the koan Ungan (Yunyan) Sweeps the Ground has always resonated with me.
    As Yunyan was sweeping the ground, Daowu said, “Too busy.”
    Yunyan said, “You should know there’s one who isn’t busy.”
    Daowu said, “If so, then there’s a second moon.”
    Yunyan held up the broom and said, “Which moon is this?”
    "You should know there is one who is not busy."
    And yet, there are not "two moons".

    So many times in practice I find myself present both as the one who is busy (immanent) and the one who is not busy (transcendent).
    After all, someone has to solve all the problems even as there are no problems to solve!

    But also, in moments when there is no peace I am aware that there is one who IS at peace (with a capital P) and that's reason enough for boundless practice.

    Gassho,
    Hoko
    #SatToday
    Last edited by Hoko; 03-14-2017 at 12:24 AM.
    法 Dharma
    口 Mouth

  9. #9
    _/\_
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  10. #10
    One of the new forms of psychotherapy that uses mindfulness is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The ACT workbook describes the very same mental process as Loy does in the section when he talks about the objects on his desk and how language creates for them what he calls "functional possibilities" that represents a constructed or conditioned reality of dualism and dukka and the wonderfully worded "sense of lack" that we all have. The other fascinating parallel between the ACT workbook and this section of the Loy text is how the workbook makes a distinction between "you" as a representation of your constructed self and your brain that helped create that construction that inadvertently left "you" lacking. The workbook then helps to deconstruct that sense of lack as a means of letting go of the dukka conditionally associated with it. I am grossly oversimplifying, of course, but my point here is that ACT is a westernized version of buddhist psychology (something it readily admits to) that is completely stripped of its Buddhist spirituality. In other words, it is ultimately goal directed rather than process oriented, in my view.

    I really liked how he describes how religion is used to try and fulfill that sense of lack, especially his reinterpretation of the Adam and Eve story. I read all the time on this forum how so many of us came to Buddhism because traditional Judeo-Christian practices did not fulfill that sense of lack, and so we moved our search from external sources to internal sources of fulfillment. This certainly speaks for and to me.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  11. #11
    I do not know if this is connected to what Al wrote, but I asked this of our mental health professionals awhile back ...

    I have a question or two for all our mental health professionals at Treeleaf.

    I was listening to an episode of a new science podcast on the subject of "Dark Thoughts" (be warned, if others will want to listen and are sensitive, that some of descriptions during the episode are very very dark and violent).

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/invisibilia/

    During the first 30 minutes of the program, they discuss 3 schools of therapy:

    -1- Analysis seeking for the meaning of thoughts, usually Freudian. Thoughts have meaning, often hidden in the subconscious.

    -2- Dr. Beck's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy "don't take one's 'automatic negative thoughts' seriously, challenge them and don't buy in", which has come to largely replace analysis for most therapists.

    -3- "Third Wave" or "Mindfulness" Therapy which, without seeking to contradict thoughts as in CBT, just "lets them go without engaging" in meditation, not buying in. This kind of therapy is experiencing a boom.

    I am wondering how you feel about all this.

    Also, it is my impression that 3 (and aspects of 2 too) have the flavor of Shikantaza. There are differences too from Shikantaza, which emphasizes much more. Based on your experience in our Community and with Shikantaza, how do you find Shikantaza to be similar or different from 2 and 3?

    It would be very helpful to hear from all our professionals.
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-Dark-Thoughts

    The consensus among several of the professionals who responded seemed to be that, yes, there was much common ground.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The Buddhist proposition that there is no fixed "self", and that the subject/object divide (self vs. the rest of the world that is not yourself divide) is a mentally drawn line, does -not- mean that there is no "you" now reading these words. While, in one way of experiencing things, there is no "you" and the subject/object divide is only an arbitrary mental division and an illusion, but from another perspective there is a "you" (although more provisional and less solid and permanent than you might assume).
    I have to admit that I find these ideas extremely challenging - particularly as my practice leads me to experience them in more than just an intellectual way. I have always found the teaching of non - permanence easy to grasp, for example, because it can be understood using the intellect rather than being directly experienced. The same can't be said, though, for the teaching above, which I think is much more difficult.

    One way I've tried to get into it is to think of my own habits in terms of the way that they reinforce my own sense of selfhood. For example, every night around 9 I have a snack - hot chocolate, a piece of cake. I think it's true that these things make me feel more concrete. But I also find this thought extremely unsettling: if there is no inherent "self" apart from these thoughts, perceptions, etc. with which I experience my snack, then what is there?

    I also find that things which might previously have been sources of comfort - the pleasant smell and feeling of fresh bed sheets, for instance - suddenly become a profound reminder of the illusory nature of reality.

    I'm curious how others have navigated the tension (if they felt any) which I feel when I spend time contemplating these ideas?

    Gassho

    Sat today

    Peter

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by pthwaites View Post

    I'm curious how others have navigated the tension (if they felt any) which I feel when I spend time contemplating these ideas?

    Gassho

    Sat today

    Peter
    Ooh I know the answer to that one! Stop contemplating and navigating and Just Sit! (Coming from a perceived "self" who experiences the same tendency to intellectualize everything and feels the tension you describe!)

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  14. #14
    In this section, I loved David Loy’s description of Buddhist realization as "a transformative realization that the world as we usually experience it ... is a psychological and social construction that can be deconstructed and reconstructed". My first degree (many years ago) was in psychology and since then I’ve been aware that reality, including my self, is a social and psychological construction. The academic psychologist’s job is generally to come up with theories about the nature and process of this construction, with no thought of pulling it apart and putting it together again in a different guise. This is what most interests me about Buddhism – that it does involve a radical reconstruction of the way we experience reality.

    As it's relevant to this section, here's a great line I came across recently in Sue Hamilton's "Identity and Experience":
    Nirvana is selfless ... because it is the experience of ceasing to project the separateness of selfhood onto oneself and everything else..."
    Jeremy
    SatToday

  15. #15
    I love this section; for me, this teaching of non- self is one if the most fascinating and helpful teachings of Buddhism. I really love this section lol

    This section, Jundo's talk in Buddhas basics; I just like listening or reading these ovef and over because they are so damned resonant. And, even though I sit regularly, I slip into old habits a lot, so these teachings are just like a fresh breeze.

    Being able to step back from "the blender" ( to steal a Jundo example ) and see without necessarily participating/ more like being controlled is very very cool; thats an understatement and also much deeper than my simple example.

    Its freeing to be able to drop what we think is us; it opens us up. I dont know how to explain it but this practice allows us to relax our grip and by dojng that we experience a wider sense of things. This may make no sense; its hard to explain but its why I love the practice.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  16. #16
    Sorry to be a bit late on this... The thread is closed for the previous section, so Jundo said I should just post my comments on it here. I haven't yet read this section, so maybe I'll have to post my comments on the next thread... (Just kidding.)

    It's been about thirty years since I first had an epiphany reading an introductory book about Buddhism. I was living on Oslo, Norway, at the time, and I had long been curious about Buddhism. Prior to that, I had read a couple of books - Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, for example - but hadn't really internalized very much.

    But that cool spring day, after buying a book called The Buddhist Handbook, I sat on a bench near Frogner Park, and started reading this book. It was the simple explanation of the four noble truths that struck a chord within me, setting off powerful feelings of understanding something that had been gnawing at me for the nearly thirty years of my life.

    Some months later, returning to Paris, where I had been living before, I bought two books on Buddhism: Chögyam Trungpa's Meditation in Action, and Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein's Seeking The Heart of Wisdom. I set out on a path of meditation on my own, and eventually followed the Tibetan tradition, is it was very present in France.

    I say all this because of what David Loy says in this section of his book. He points out that many people in the west understand "the Buddhist path as a program of psychological development that helps us cope with personal problems, especially one's 'monkey mind' and its affective emotions." I "got on the bus" as we Deadheads say not because of any desire to understand my psychology, but to understand the world. I didn't see dukkah as something wrong with my own mind, but something that was endemic to the human condition. Back in the 1980s, the psychological aspect of the dharma hadn't yet taken hold; the generation of Buddhist teachers who espouse this view of Buddhism were, for the most part, being formed. (It's true that the insight meditation movement did look a lot at psychology, but not the way the western Tibetan Buddhists seem to.)

    My point here is that people searching for meaning - asking the question of "why?" - are now being funneled, for the most part, into a Buddhism that claims to fix their minds, not guide them toward discovering understanding. What attracted me to Zen after many years - just about ten years ago at the time Treeleaf was being set up - was that this psychological bent took a back seat to a more visceral quest for oneness with the world, through understanding and realizing Buddha nature. I understand that Buddhism can be a psychological tool, but I think it's misguided to look to Buddhism for a cure for neuroses, anxiety, or any other mental imbalance. (Not that it might not cure some of these things indirectly...)

    So in this section about immanence, Loy seems to be saying that the only way that Buddhism is immanent as opposed to being transcendent is through this type of psychological approach, which tends to seek out problems to be solved. But problems are never solved, and even if one is considered to be surmounted, this means that there need to be others created to continue practicing. (I exaggerate a bit, but I see this as similar to homeopathy. In France, homeopathy - which does not work - is considered to be valid medical treatment, and is covered by the country's national health insurance system. Those who believe in homeopathy have to continuously have some reason to treat themselves in this way. If one medical condition cures, they have to find another, and another, and so on... I digress...)

    I think this is against the very nature of Buddhism. Yes, the Buddha did liken himself to a doctor, and certainly espoused how the eightfold path could heal the mind. But reducing Buddhism to a series of psychological treatments strips out what is most essential in this practice. It removes the inspiration to discover Buddha nature, and its culmination - at least for now - is seen in the mindfulness movement.

    I have nothing against using meditation as a tool for relaxation. I think the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn is wonderful, because it allows people with chronic pain and other conditions to better manage their health by helping them learn to accept rather than reject their problems. But by diluting Buddhism and turning it into simply a series of exercises to make one happy - and I blame the Dalai Lama for his focus on happiness as the goal of the dharma - it strips away any chance of discovering Buddha nature.

    I mentioned that epiphany I had thirty years ago. I've had a number of these over the years, sometimes when sitting, sometimes at other moments. I don't, like Brad Warner, think that these are moments of seeing God, but these kensho experiences are cracks open onto a truth that our delusions prevent us from seeing. We cannot cause these moments to happen; doing doesn't bring them about (though sitting meditation clearly helps potentiate them). It's the non-doing that lets us drop our blinders - drop away body and mind - and see the light through the fog that lets us glimpse our non-self.

    "We come to Buddhism because we suffer, one way or another," Loy says. And this is certainly true. In my case, I didn't realize that I suffered when I first got on the bus. But understanding how much suffering there is in the world opened my mind, and my heart, to an understanding that things were not as they seem.

    As I understand Zen, we sit with a goal of no goal; we're not focused on eliminating our suffering (even though it has to be there in the backs of our minds), and sitting with such thoughts would be counter-productive. It's the ability to drop away that lets us see what can be, and this isn't some psychological exercise that can be taught in a weekend.

    I think that we, as Zen practitioners - particularly those following Dogen's teachings - sit on a knife-edge between the transcendent approach and the immanent approach that Loy describes. (I would say that to support my team...) I think the idea of immanence as being only a psychological Buddhism is wrong, very wrong, just as I think a transcendent approach is wrong. I think, however, that Dogen's idea that sitting zazen is illumination itself (I may be misphrasing that, but I can't find exactly how Jundo describes it...) is an immanent approach to Buddhism, and one that sits in the right spot between the other extremes.

    Sorry if this is a bit long-winded, off-topic, and self-referential. I haven't yet read any of the reply's to Jundo's initial post, and will read them and perhaps comment on some of them. Again, sorry to be late to this episode.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat

    Note: having now read the section that is the object of this thread, I see that my reply also applies to this section, sort of.
    Last edited by Ryumon; 03-19-2017 at 03:21 PM.
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  17. #17
    So on to this section. I'm still a bit behind, but at least this reply will be in the right thread.

    A lot of what Loy says in the Beyond Transcendence and Immanence section jibes with my comments above, so I'll just leave that part there.

    As to the discussion of the self, this is always thorny. I'm not convinced that any explanation of the self is adequate: neither that of scientists, nor that of Buddhists. And I think it's something we can never know, even though much is written about it. Conze's three stages are interesting, and if you consider a young child, unencumbered by much understanding of the world, you can see how the first step is their meeting with objects in the world, and how the second step is their meeting with the same objects at subsequent times. The third step is what occurs after our brains have developed the links and memories of the way the world works.

    I don't think the goal of Buddhism or any other practice is to eliminate this third step. I'm reminded, for example, of elderly people with dementia who seem to have lost this third step when seeing certain objects or people; this isn't what we want to achieve. I think it's more the awareness that there doesn't need to be a "you" there. But this is above my pay grade.

    I don't think we can reason out the non-existence of self; I think we can only experience it. And this brings me back to the immanence of zazen, which allows us, at times, to glimpse the flimsiness of self. If we have enough glimpses of this ultimate reality, perhaps, just perhaps, we can achieve another level of understanding.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  18. #18
    Kirk --> BOOM! Thank you for that response. That not only resonates but is helpful in clarifying things for me as well. I completely agree with you; this reductionist approach as a self-help methodology is not right at all. I'm all for stuff that helps, but that approach is a bandaid at best, and it removes what you eloquently state is at the heart of our practice - the discovery. And it also propagates dukkha.

    I don't really have anything to add, I just wanted to thank you for your posts.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  19. #19
    I very much identified with Loy's interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. The word Satan means adversary in the same sense that two lawyers are adversaries in court. They drum up doubt about the other side's position. In the case of the Abrahamic religions the doubt being drummed up is pulling a person away from the transcendent and indescribable nature of God in favor of the material world and self centered pleasures believing only those things to be true and real. This is also the case in the Bible in the book of Job as well as the way Satan tempts Jesus in the desert. In this sense the Devil is very similar to Mara. That isn't to say that all these religions are the same. There are many differences, but I believe there is some common ground that cuts a lot deeper than most folks realize.

    My personal opinion is that these are the real important matters of religion and always have been. Too often we get caught up in superstitions or political posturing.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  20. #20
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
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    Hi Folks,

    I just wanted to say I don't have any thing in particular to add. But I'm reading along and I'm finding the discussion thought provoking.


    Gassho

    Hoseki
    Sattoday
    Last edited by Hoseki; 03-21-2017 at 06:47 PM. Reason: I just wanted to add an explanation for my empty post.

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