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Thread: LIVING by VOW: The Four Bodhisattva Vows (First Half) - PP 13 to 31

  1. #1

    LIVING by VOW: The Four Bodhisattva Vows (First Half) - PP 13 to 31

    Hi All Vowers,

    We will go up through the section "D.T. Suzuki's Vow" on p. 31.

    This chapter has been a little dense and packed with interesting information. Maybe if folks want, we can slow down for an extra week, and spend some more time here. Let's see,

    I was surprised that Okumura Roshi said that "Buddhists don't pray" (although he seems to admit that is not so in the footnote.) Most typical Buddhist people in Japan and the rest of Asia do pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, health and the like, just like Western people might pray to God, angels and saints. I think that Okumura Roshi means that, in his view, the real message of Buddhism is not that.

    Our translation of the Four Vows is a little different, but recently we spoke about that. I explained why we use, in the last line, "unattainable" instead of "unsurpassable." Okumura Roshi seems to say that the actual meaning is something like an enlightenment so "unsurpassable" that we can't get there. I would simply add that, while we keep moving forward even though we cannot "get there", from another wondrous way of seeing, we are ALREADY there and thus never any place to get at all.

    More here:
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post198785

    Zen and the Mahayana often see these two ways at once.

    Likewise, his translation uses "desires", but ours (and the majority of translations in English I believe) use something like "delusions" inexhaustable. All these delusions, in one way or another, arise form our experience of separate self with its selfish wants, self-centered judgements and the like.

    What do you feel about his way of expressing what "Vow" is, or any other the other descriptions from Katagiri Roshi or D.T. Suzuki?

    There is a lot more packed into these pages, so please pick out or ask about anything, and we can all talk about it.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    "Most typical Buddhist people in Japan and the rest of Asia do pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, health and the like, just like Western people might pray to God, angels and saints." I find this comforting. I didn't know if this was a "thing" or not (asking Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, etc), but I adopted this practice on my own recently, mostly in an act of desperation one night. To my surprise, it did not seem to be a useless exercise and is something I've been experimenting with. I don't see it the same way as Catholic prayer, but I do sense an inexplicable and gentle connection that it feels OK to me to do this. A bit strange for me also, but no more strange than anything else I've tried recently.

    Thank you for sharing this, Jundo - something I wondered about, but did not know how to ask about it.

    Gassho
    Kim
    St/LAH

    Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
    "Not all those who wander are lost." (J.R.R. Tolkien)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    "Most typical Buddhist people in Japan and the rest of Asia do pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, health and the like, just like Western people might pray to God, angels and saints." I find this comforting. I didn't know if this was a "thing" or not (asking Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, etc), but I adopted this practice on my own recently, mostly in an act of desperation one night. To my surprise, it did not seem to be a useless exercise and is something I've been experimenting with. I don't see it the same way as Catholic prayer, but I do sense an inexplicable and gentle connection that it feels OK to me to do this. A bit strange for me also, but no more strange than anything else I've tried recently.

    Thank you for sharing this, Jundo - something I wondered about, but did not know how to ask about it.

    Gassho
    Kim
    St/LAH

    Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
    Whatever gets you through the night.

    I am not much of a prayer person myself, and I agree with Okumura Roshi that Buddhism was not originally about that, and Zen Practice is not really about that.

    But in China, Vietnam and some other places, Zen "self power" and faith in Amida Buddha "other power" has pretty much been all mixed together for a thousand years.

    Also, I confess to being a "winker" with regard to prayer when pressed to the corner ... like when my son was sick in the hospital a few years ago, my daughter more recently (at such moments, one will reach for any help one can get, any hope) ...



    (Suprisingly kinda Zenny lyrics!)

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-21-2017 at 12:20 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    I am surprised at how much I'm enjoying this book!

    The concept of vow as universal self appeals to me because not only is it something to aspire to "achieve" but also something that is already achieved. The concrete practice of aligning the ego driven self with Reality moment by moment is practice-enligntenment itself. In fact this is almost verbatim how Uchiyama Roshi explained how he had spent the majority of his life in the first Chapter of Opening the Hand of Thought. Pairing it inextricably with repentance completes the circle to provide the endless motivation of the bodhisattva.

    This was the first time I have encountered the four fundamental bonnō of Yogacara. I was not familiar with them but I found it intriguing. Do you have anything more to add on this, Jundo?

    Gassho,
    Hōkō
    #SatToday
    LAH
    法 Dharma
    口 Mouth

  5. #5
    I vote for going slowly -- lots to digest, and I like to read through everything twice, the second time with others' perspectives in mind.

    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  6. #6
    I had a little bit of trouble with the concept of "vow". I imagined something I would chafe against. Vow in this book is something completely different, a deep aspiration. I'm on board with that.

    Like Frankie mentioned in the previous thread, I was surprised to find the sentence, 'Each bodhisattva makes specific vows unique to his or her personality and capabilities'. How does one find one's unique vows? Is this part of an enlightenment experience? Is this something I should be trying to recognize? Or is it something I consciously choose? Should it be decided in dokusan or of my own counsel?

    I haven't read much of D.T. Suzuki's writings. I had the impression that they were very scholarly. From what Okumura wrote about him, I'm more interested in his work. Does he come from a Rinzai perspective?

    I hope I'm not asking too many questions.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday.

  7. #7
    I second Kaishin's vote to go slowly and am very interested to hear answers to Onkai's questions!

    So far I just have an observation, that I found Okumura's explanation of the six realms the best I have heard so far. They are actually useful to me now instead of just an old Buddhist fairy-tale that is difficult to swallow.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    Last edited by Jakuden; 05-21-2017 at 11:09 PM. Reason: Lent a Hand!
    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).

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    I haven't read much of D.T. Suzuki's writings. I had the impression that they were very scholarly. From what Okumura wrote about him, I'm more interested in his work. Does he come from a Rinzai perspective?
    Hi Onkai,

    Yes, Suzuki Daisetsu (not to be confused with "Zen Mind Beginners Mind" Suzuki Shunryu) came from a Rinzai perspective. But actually, he is a bit out of favor these days, and rather criticized for presenting a very romantic, ideological presentation of Zen Practice. That criticism is complicated, but boils down to his presenting a very intellectual, idealized, Koan and "reaching Satori" presentation of Zazen that almost completely forgot to mention Zazen or Soto Zen. You can read more (than you ever wanted to) on this criticism here:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post84830

    I think, based on requests, that we may take an extra week with the rather dense first section.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH

    PS - Much gratitude to all the folks living the LAH Vow!
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-22-2017 at 12:53 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    I am really enjoying this already. Although we talked about the relationship of the Four Vows to the Four Noble Truths here recently, it was good to be reminded of that and it was in my mind when I chanted them along with the zazenkai today.

    D T Suzuki is someone whose writings I do like. I read his Essays on Zen Buddhism during Ango and found them inspiring. However, Jundo's criticisms ring true and his Zen and Japanese Culture book definitely falls more on the side of romanticism than cultural history.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/LAH-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  10. #10
    Hello everyone,

    This is indeed a rich chapter so far. I have two observations and a question.

    First, I like how Okumura writes in a circular style. For example, he continually returns to "vow" not to stabilize or reinforce a meaning, but to expand the possibilities of meaning contained in the concept of "vow." In another instance, he initial makes an apparent distinction between "vow" and "prayer" (14), and then in his explication of Katagiri Roshi's poem, he all but erases the distinction, presenting them as complimentaries of aspiration.

    Second, I was struck by something he said on page 24 that returned me to a statement from the introduction that Jundo highlighted: "This awareness of incompleteness is repentance" (7). I initially had some difficulty with exactly what that means, and while I don't claim (or desire) to have arrived at a definitive conclusion, I now see repentance as a special type of awareness, one that has an active component. The meaning of "repentance" involves not just regret over past shortcomings, but a commitment to change one's life in order to overcome them. On page 24, in discussing his own initial difficulty in accepting Buddha's, Okumura writes that the Buddha's teaching regarding the causes and extinguishment of suffering is easy to understand intellectually or to see in others, "but it's difficult to see when we ourselves suffer and are ignorant. It's also hard to accept that we are deluded....If we agree with the Buddha's teaching, we need to practice it and make an effort to transform our lives." These statements help me to better understand how "awareness of incompleteness is repentance," a recognition-and-remedy that seems to be at the heart of the Bodhisattva Vows.

    Finally, I'm intrigued by Okumura's statement, "We vow toward the Buddha, toward something absolute and infinite" (29). This seems like a very important description of what it means to vow in Buddhism--especially in relation to the Bodhisattva Vows, but I don't understand what vowing toward something might mean. Does anyone have some ideas?

    Gassho,

    Michael

    Sat today/LAH

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Joseph View Post
    Finally, I'm intrigued by Okumura's statement, "We vow toward the Buddha, toward something absolute and infinite" (29). This seems like a very important description of what it means to vow in Buddhism--especially in relation to the Bodhisattva Vows, but I don't understand what vowing toward something might mean. Does anyone have some ideas?

    Gassho,

    Michael

    Sat today/LAH
    To me it's aspirational. These vows are not promises that can't be broken, they're paths that we choose to travel knowing full well we'll never reach the destination. We vow towards the infinite, but we can never reach it.
    I don't expect to transform all my delusions, but I can keep walking towards where that finger is pointing.

    Gassho, Zenmei
    #sat/lah

  12. #12
    My first exposure to the word "vow" circa age 6

    Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now,
    With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow,
    To take each moment and live each moment, in peace eternally


    So to that young child a vow was something ever going, eternal, impossible to finish. And now the cycle turns and the lesson repeats.

    More recently my first reading of the four vows was in this translation (Kwan Um School)

    Sentient beings are numberless; we vow to save them all.
    Delusions are endless; we vow to cut through them all.
    The teachings are infinite; we vow to learn them all.
    The Buddha way is inconceivable; we vow to attain it.


    Each translation I have seen so far has it's own unique spin. I wonder where and how it was decided to take the original, "I vow to enable people . . ." and add the challenge of infinity, impossibility, etc. Especially if the vow naturally insinuates the eternal nature anyway. Somehow the Korean version sounds more like bragging.

    I do tend to prefer the concepts of teaching in the third vow. The Platform sutra cited by Jundo (http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post198785) has it "The teachings of our own minds " . But with wisdom we find that the teachings are not just what is written, but in every action of nature, every molecule of our being.

    Without wisdom you get this:
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  13. #13
    I really enjoyed this portion of the book. I truly love the definitions that are laid out for for a vow is. I struggled for a long time in other religions because of how promises and rules were set up. I didn't like the idea of doing something good so you would get into heaven.

    This quote is one of my favorites:

    In face, part of the definition of a bodhisattva is a person who lives by a vow instead of by karma. Karma means habit, preferences, or a ready-made system of values.... In contrast, a bodhisattva lives by vow. Vow is like a magnet or compass that shows us the direction toward the Buddha.
    I really like the idea that a vow shows us the way, but we are responsible for getting ourselves there. This is one of the things that has always resonated for me with Buddhism. It doesn't necessarily tell me exactly what to do, but gives general guide lines. It reminds me of a trail guide, where there are descriptions of heading north and passing the stream, then coming to a clearing, etc. But you still have to walk the path, and usually you stop at points hoping you are still on the right path. Sometimes you might even sit down and cry because you feel lost (true story) but eventually you have to pick yourself back up, put one foot in front of the other and make a choice of which direction to go.

    Of course, it won't be a zen book if it didn't prop you up and make you ready to go out and conquer the world and then say something so simple that puts you back in the humble frame of mind:

    Even if you cannot practice as hard, sit as long, study as much, or understand as deeply as others, we don't need to feel guilty or inferior. Compared to the eternal, the absolute, or the infinite, we are all equal to zero.
    This section was heartwarming and saddening at the same time. It is such a contrast to say, don't worry if you can't do too much, you aren't inferior. But as he says there is something very meaningful in this comparison. We have to remember that we are just a tiny tiny part of the absolute.

    I'm still digesting this section, but those are the two things that really struck me. I also vote for going slowly.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday

  14. #14
    If I previously learned that the Bodhisattva vows corresponded to the Four Noble Truths, then I had forgotten it, so this was a nice surprise that I can't quite get out of my head now. I have said this before on the forum, but it bears repeating here, I find new meanings in these four vows just about every time I say/commit to them. Sometimes their meaning is global, and other times their meaning is very specific, but each time I am always asking myself the same basic question: How can I fulfill this vow? And the beauty in it for me is that I cannot. It is the very impossibility of an attainment outcome that sets me free to live the process. Finding personal applications of this general vow gives it great depth and meaning. For me, living by this vow (and others) is a never ending act of discovery. Figuring out how all the vows work in my life on a day to day basis is what the Buddhist Path is all about. Maybe this is an answer to Onkai's question:
    Each bodhisattva makes specific vows unique to his or her personality and capabilities'. How does one find one's unique vows?
    Posting day = sitting day
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    If I previously learned that the Bodhisattva vows corresponded to the Four Noble Truths, then I had forgotten it, so this was a nice surprise that I can't quite get out of my head now.
    Me too! Isn't that funny. And we will probably forget again soon Seems like I forget and then re-learn almost everything in this practice... continuous practice indeed.

    Still slowly digesting this section -- feel like I'm highlighting basically every page!

    This passage stood out to me, given that almost everyone here seems rather clever

    [Our practice] is certainly a stupid way of life, not a clever one. A clever person cannot be a bodhisattva.

    Okumura, Shohaku. Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts (Kindle Location 538). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.
    The second quote Shoka mentions above was also reassuring, as I have a tendency to feel that way sometimes.

    One last passage, where Okumura quotes Shakyamuni:

    He thought, “The content of my enlightenment, the concept of interdependent origination, is extremely difficult to comprehend. Those who enjoy clinging take pleasure in attachment and are fond of their ties of dependence, and they will never be able to understand it.”

    Okumura, Shohaku. Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts (Kindle Locations 613-615). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.
    How true -- it's not just that people are deluded and can't realize it... it's that even if they realize it, they are so addicted to this dependency, revel in it almost, that they have such a hard time opening themselves beyond it (me too of course).
    Last edited by Kaishin; 05-25-2017 at 09:17 PM.
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  16. #16
    I would suggest perhaps, since we are taking an extra week and these few pages were so rich with insights, that maybe take the time to read them again and discover more. I will be doing so again this week.

    Gassho, J


    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Joyo
    Guest
    I am having a tough time keeping up with the book club right now. I've got a few other courses on the go that I am doing. I do plan on reading this book, but I will be the tortoise at the back of the race. =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today/lah

  18. #18
    Joyo - you are not alone I often read too many books at once and with just life stuff I just take my time. lol Then I get to a point where I'm like oh crap I Have to post something! hahaha Perhaps this this is the samsara of the Treeleaf book club? lol

    Alan as you mentioned, I completely forgot about the mapping between the vows and the four noble truths as well!

    I really like this chapter so far. This time when reading Katagiri roshi's poem on vow and Shohaku's explanation of it; it sort of just completely reflected my practice. It also hammered home Shohaku's point about the importance of Buddha teaching the Dharma.

    So I have a big ego. I really do. It's a double-edged sword; it keeps me very driven and competitive and helps me to learn things quickly. It helps me push myself.

    At the same time, if I don't catch the negative behaviors I can be an asshole, plain and simple. This practice has been extremely helpful with that. For example, now by not caring about humans, and only focusing on my mindful productivity practices (patent pending), I can be an asshole without caring. hahah just kidding

    Seriously, practice has helped me apologize and atone for that. I can notice when I'm doing something harmful and by noticing it I take immediate corrective action. This practice is awesome. I feel good when I notice something like that, and that extends into social interactions and it helps people soften up as well. I notice this a lot at work.

    When the Buddha wasn't sure if he wanted to teach what he discovered, I can understand that too. I sometimes take for granted what I know; although what I know isn't a breakthrough in humanity like Buddha discovered. lol I mean for example, I have particular ways I learn or organize or whatever to make things efficient and effective - ok I'm lazy so I want to get the most done at work with the least amount of effort

    So when I show people things at work, from coding techniques to help with organization or whatever it is, I sometimes am not sure that I should really show it because I sort of figured this stuff out; I figure hey maybe they can figure this out too. So, in these cases, when I'm showing people things at work I usually preface with "However you need to do this..." or "This is how I do it, but whatever works for you..".

    My point is that the Buddha spent so much time figuring this stuff out for himself, I wonder if he sort of took for granted how much he learned along the way? So when it came time to teach maybe it felt so ordinary to him that he didn't think that he really needed to show anyone anything? I mean from one perspective we truly all are enlightened.

    In any case, I sort of wonder about that; maybe it's a teachers dilemma. What do you show? What do you let others discover for themselves so that they can really get to the heart of the teaching? (whatever that teaching is)

    Thankfully he did teach it because this path is really special. Take sitting for example. It's pretty damned revolutionary. I mean it's a seemingly simple practice; deceptively so. To paraphrase Jundo in the first Sitting Basics sit a long - your mind is like a blender; turn it off man! And when you do, it's like opening a window and a fresh spring breeze comes in. And that extends to all of our lives. It's incredible. That allows us to face our lives, to notice what our mind is doing, to not be led around by it.

    My favorite part, the part that most resonated with me in this section was Katagiri's poem on vow and Shohaku's explanation of it. Again, and now I'm circling back to my initial thought as I navigate this stream of consciousness , ok nice poem. But then when Shohaku explained it I was like Bam! There's my ego, thinking I know everything again. After I read that explanation, it was just beautiful. I couldn't see the depth of the poem past my ego, but after reading the explanation, I just thought ohhhhhhh wow, this really captures the beauty, elegance and heart of this practice.

    And that is why we need Zen teachers. To bring us back again and again, to open us up beyond our limitations.

    And that is also why we need Sangha to support us and why we need vow to never give up.

    These vows, this sitting practice is difficult from one perspective because we come to this practice with certain expectations that we feel shitty a lot of the times so we are looking for a "quick hit" to fix us, to remove the anxiety about the future or whatever it is. Then our teacher says, "Hey, this is how you sit" and then you hang around and you learn some chants and vows and all this other stuff.

    At first this is so much fun; the honeymoon period where you wonder why you didn't join a monastery when you were younger pre-responsibilities, but now you are locked into this life and so you'll just make do. Those thoughts happened after the first year to me. Of course I love my wife, but that was me trying to run again. Anyway, I've seen this over the years in others too. I think it's an important phase in practice.

    Once the honeymoon is over, what do you have? Well either this was built on a house of cards or you start doing some soul searching and understand what these vows mean.

    The thing is, and I know from experience, that you can read every Buddhist book your wife will let you buy - whoops I mean that you can get your hands on - but it all comes down to consistent practice, day in and day out. Also, for me at least, I had to understand what these vows meant to me. And I still have to clarify them all the time.

    Which brings me back to the book. These vows are very frustrating from a logical perspective. But I think the way they are forces a practitioner to invest time in figuring them out for themselves. We have to bring this practice into our lives. We have to let it blossom through us. The only way to do that is that we have to figure out how we can fulfill the vows - of course, while knowing that we can never complete them. But that's also the point.

    I don't live your life. No one knows you better than you. So you and I and everyone of us here has to figure out how we will make the vows alive in our lives. Answers to our questions in books or talks or whatever are not our answers; they can point us to the direction, but we must answer these questions.

    There isn't a right and a wrong to this ( I mean assuming you aren't harming anyone). This isn't a competition like Hey I just fed every single homeless person in my town; oh wow your vows seem a little weak compared to mine. No it's literally, we each have to figure out how --- actually I think it would be better to state - we each need to learn how to let go to let our practice shine through us.

    Anyway I'm done rambling; this is what happens when I don't post often. lol

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  19. #19
    Phew, glad there's a bit more time to comment, this is such a rich book.
    Thanks Onkai for bringing this up again
    Like Frankie mentioned in the previous thread, I was surprised to find the sentence, 'Each bodhisattva makes specific vows unique to his or her personality and capabilities'. How does one find one's unique vows? Is this part of an enlightenment experience? Is this something I should be trying to recognize? Or is it something I consciously choose? Should it be decided in dokusan or of my own counsel?
    I'm still wondering about this myself and wondering if Jundo could give some clarity to this?

    I too was surprised with the Buddhists don't pray comment, but I was wondering if Okumura was thinking along strictly Christian lines as he was addressing nuns? I think that every definition of praying that I looked at on the net spoke firstly of God with the big G, then all the other stuff, gods, spirits etc, not really suprising from our Western centred/white Christian biased point of view, but rather interesting all the same. How do we define prayer? Come to that how do we define vow - it would be good perhaps to have a general discussion around that when we come to the end of the book.
    In the meantime it's interesting to see how words have a power of their own and how our reactions to words can show how deep our conditioned thoughts can be rooted. I personally believe there is prayer in Buddhism, but perhaps it's just defined differently because that word doesn't quite fit in the sense that we are used to. For example, when practising the Metta chant, we use the words 'May I be free of suffering..' etc, which could be defined as prayer as we are expressing 'an earnest wish or hope' , a phrase that crops up in many dictionary definitions of the word. I also think terms like aspiration and pranidhana can encompass the idea of prayer.

    And hands up here too, I don't think I ever knew about the link between the Bodhisattva vows and the Four Noble Truths, or if I did, like AlanLa, I had forgotten it - a great (re)discovery.
    So much to think about! I'm really enjoying this book and reading everyone's brilliant comments
    Gassho

    Sat with you all today and LAH

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie View Post
    Like Frankie mentioned in the previous thread, I was surprised to find the sentence, 'Each bodhisattva makes specific vows unique to his or her personality and capabilities'. How does one find one's unique vows? Is this part of an enlightenment experience? Is this something I should be trying to recognize? Or is it something I consciously choose? Should it be decided in dokusan or of my own counsel?
    Thanks Onkai for bringing this up again I'm still wondering about this myself and wondering if Jundo could give some clarity to this?
    Maybe a bit of all. One should answer even this in one's own heart, in consultation with the counsel of others.

    Perhaps the meaning is a bit like this: I have had to counsel sometimes a police officer or soldier on the "Vow to Save All Sentient Beings" or the Precept to Avoid the Taking of Life. Given their life circumstances, their encounter with these Vows might be the same, yet very different, from a mother taking care of children or a doctor, etc. The words and heart art the same, but our lives present many variations.

    Perhaps we can return to this question again as we approach the end of the book.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Joyo
    Guest
    I am slowly making my way to page 31. Lots to learn, very good book.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today/lah

  22. #22
    I am currently on my 3rd reading of this section.
    I agree with Kaishin about highlighting nearly every page; so much seems it is relevant.
    It is most definitely a lot to digest.
    I like the section about speaking to the Nuns, one of my favourite parts of this section is at the end of page 20/start of page 21 where it says:
    "When we talk to people of other religions, we don't need to discuss the differences in theory. Of course, it is important to understand the differences, but we don't need to argue about which are true."
    I think this is an important point to keep in mind for everyone of all faiths/religions/belief systems.

    I also thought the section on Shakyamuni Buddha's vow was very interesting, particularly the descriptions of all 6 realms of samsara as present in this life, and not necessarily something that comes after death from this life.

    A lot to like so far, these are just a couple of my favourites.

    Gassho
    Patrick

    Sat today.

  23. #23
    Hello all,

    This may be a silly question, but is it too late to join in on the discussion of this book? I haven't ordered it yet, but if I were to order it and catch up, would you all mind if I joined in?

    Gassho,
    Taylor
    SatToday
    a bee / staggers out / of the peony.
    -matsuo basho

  24. #24
    No, please join in!

    I do close chapters after a few weeks, but you can still read and catch up, join in. No problem. At least some of it is available online too ...

    http://www.wisdompubs.org/sites/defa...0Preview_0.pdf

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTOdayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    No, please join in!

    I do close chapters after a few weeks, but you can still read and catch up, join in. No problem. At least some of it is available online too ...

    http://www.wisdompubs.org/sites/defa...0Preview_0.pdf

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTOdayLAH
    Fantastic!

    My copy should be here by Saturday.

    Gassho,
    Taylor
    SatTodayLAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    a bee / staggers out / of the peony.
    -matsuo basho

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Whatever gets you through the night.

    I am not much of a prayer person myself, and I agree with Okumura Roshi that Buddhism was not originally about that, and Zen Practice is not really about that.

    But in China, Vietnam and some other places, Zen "self power" and faith in Amida Buddha "other power" has pretty much been all mixed together for a thousand years.

    Also, I confess to being a "winker" with regard to prayer when pressed to the corner ... like when my son was sick in the hospital a few years ago, my daughter more recently (at such moments, one will reach for any help one can get, any hope) ...



    (Suprisingly kinda Zenny lyrics!)

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Totally tangential, but I love this song. Elton John layin' down the backup vocals!

    Gassho,
    Taylor
    SatTodayLAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    a bee / staggers out / of the peony.
    -matsuo basho

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Maybe a bit of all. One should answer even this in one's own heart, in consultation with the counsel of others.

    Perhaps the meaning is a bit like this: I have had to counsel sometimes a police officer or soldier on the "Vow to Save All Sentient Beings" or the Precept to Avoid the Taking of Life. Given their life circumstances, their encounter with these Vows might be the same, yet very different, from a mother taking care of children or a doctor, etc. The words and heart art the same, but our lives present many variations.

    Perhaps we can return to this question again as we approach the end of the book.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Thank you Jundo, this makes sense - I know for me personally regarding the precepts etc there are areas I need to work on more than others. I also like the idea of making a personal commitment beyond the vows themselves. I look forward to coming back to this as you suggest.

    Gassho

    Sat with you all today and LAH
    Last edited by Meitou; 06-02-2017 at 07:47 PM. Reason: forgot to Gassho, erk!!

  28. #28
    Hello all,

    This has been an excellent thread with my questions and perspectives that I have kept with me and returned to over the past couple of weeks. One of the things that I've wrestled with is the contradictions in the vows: to save all sentient beings, though beings numberless, etc. Until this morning, it made little sense to me, though I pretended that I had perfect understanding of it. (Funny how I learn after I think I know. .) Today, the contradictions made perfect sense. Without the acknowledgement that we can't save all beings, etc., we may become too discouraged to save the beings that we can, which, for us, is all beings. If I thought I had to know every work of British literature written between 1790 and today in order to teach my survey class this summer, then it would be impossible for me to do so, and that would be of no service to my students who know nothing about British literature. Knowing well what I do know and not pretending to know what I don't, I can "save" them. What before seemed like an impediment to "living by" the vows now seems liberating and empowering.

    Gassho,

    Michael
    Sat today

  29. #29
    Perhaps this is the most valuable quote I've taken from this section after reading through twice, as it distills the essence of Okamura's definition of "vow":

    Vow is essential for us as Buddhist practitioners. It is a concrete and practical form of wisdom and compassion. This is the important point to understand when we think about vow.
    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  30. #30
    I am slowly making my way to page 31 as well and loving every sentence in this section, too. (Don't worry, Joyo! I think we've got several tortoises here at the tail end of the pack, and I'm right there with you!). Many of you have been commenting on the first part of the chapter especially (his lecture to the nuns).

    My favorite lines were: "We cannot be proud of our practice, and we don't need to be too humble about our lack of practice or understanding. We are just as we are. Our practice is to take one more step to the infinite, the absolute, moment by moment" (p. 20). I found this comforting because, as I strive to practice "enough" with health limitations, I too easily start to beat up on myself for being less consistent than I want to be. But that is just another attachment to another delusion--that I can be other than I am.

    I also think this concept of all our practice amounting to zero--along with many of your illuminating comments in the previous thread--helped me better understand that parable about lying down in the mud as a bodhisattva vow. Perhaps prostrating ourselves in the mud manifests our awareness of where we actually are in relation to what we've vowed to undertake. We're not wallowing down there in the mud. We're not saying, "Abuse me because I am worthless." We're saying, "This is where I am in this moment, and though my worth is equal to those who will walk over me--because we are all one, not two--this is what I can do right here and now to save all beings. It is a tiny thing. It is zero, but I am here, and I can do it." So we do it. Mud or not.

    Melanie
    SatToday/LAH

  31. #31
    Hello All,

    I, too, am enjoying this book much more than I initially anticipated. I really appreciate how Okumura balances a scholar's thoroughness and a practitioner's pragmatism. I feel that I'm being *educated,* as opposed to merely informed, as I read.

    Additionally, the care taken to present the information from a specifically Japanese Buddhist *cultural* perspective really sets this apart from other works I've read. Also, he does this with what appears to me to be great skill. Considering he's writing about his native culture, the amount of neutrality with which he handles the subject matter is quite impressive. I don't feel as if I'm being persuaded toward, or driven from, a particular viewpoint.

    Overall, I find great value in the perspective offered in Living By Vow. The history, commentary, and careful consideration demonstrated in these first few sections has already made me feel more connected, and frankly, excited about our practice.

    Gassho,
    Taylor
    SatToday/LAH




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    a bee / staggers out / of the peony.
    -matsuo basho

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