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Thread: WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 5 - History

  1. #1

    WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 5 - History

    Welcome Back to "What Is Zen?"

    Chapter 5 is really a grab bag of various topics about Buddhist and Zen history, Zen and Buddhism, Soto and Rinzai Zen, whether "western Zen" is "real Zen," Zen without Buddhism, mindfulness and ritual ...

    ... Well, just dive into any topics or questions that grab your interest, and we can talk about them more.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    No real comments to make on this chapter, which you could argue is a high level overview of the last 2500 years east and west. Might reread over weekend to see if anything sparks. Thank you all the same.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart



    Sat Today / lah

  4. #4
    I really liked what Norman Fischer had to say about the secular practices derived from Buddhist practices being helpful for many people while the religious practices are good for those seeking them. It was very open minded. The history and discussion of the different schools were interesting, too. I didn't know that some Rinzai schools don't use koan introspection.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat

  5. #5
    Hello all,

    I got a little bit confirmed, that the Soto way is the right one for me.
    Didn't know, that Soto was historically the way, that found more followers in the village people and farmers,
    and Rinzai more under the Samurai and possibly the more 'educated' people.

    In Zen practice, I like that the emotional, experiencing way of learning has a balance with the consciousness, rational way of learning.
    I think, people need both ways of teaching. The emotional and the rational side.
    Soto seems to lean a little more on the experiencing, learning by doing, way and Rinzai on the rational side.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Hello all,

    I got a little bit confirmed, that the Soto way is the right one for me.
    Didn't know, that Soto was historically the way, that found more followers in the village people and farmers,
    and Rinzai more under the Samurai and possibly the more 'educated' people.....

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Kotei, I felt exactly the same, as soon as I read those words they felt like and affirmation.

    In my humble opinion this chapter was a good overview of some of the historical aspects of Zen, simple but not dumbed down in any way. And even though it is brief and simple, it still contained quite a few things that I didn't know - every day is a school day!
    I liked that Fischer made the distinction between Western 'converts' and people born into Buddhism, I think the different approaches and their possible impact on Buddhism, especially here in the West, shouldn't be underestimated.
    I also appreciated Fischer's acknowledgement of the 'unfairness of the past' when talking about the treatment of women in Zen - and I was very interested to read this regarding the inclusion of women ancestors in the lineage list..
    These days we have started to give, along with the traditional lineage document, a 'dharma heritage' document that includes the name of the women ancestors I mentioned above. The two documents together constitute for us a 'complete' lineage.
    What a nice idea!

    Gassho
    Meitou
    satwithyoualltoday/lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  7. #7
    Hello everyone,

    I would imagine that in Japan, or the West, there would be a full spectrum of personal feelings or opinions toward Western Zen.

    I often find this ‘old rule’ useful: One third will like you regardless of what you do, another third will dislike you whatever you do and one third will go either way. However, other people’s thoughts about you are none of your business anyway.

    I liked the way Norman described the differences one might find between a Japanese born monk in Japan compared to a contemporary based overseas. I think his conclusion that the polar opposite feelings toward Western Zen being both correct is an important consideration. Within the continuum exists a full spectrum of positions one could take on the subject, however in the end, there is no inherent truth to be discovered in the pursuit of comparison, or pursuit of validation.

    I remember a conversation with a Shingon Mikkyo monk I lived close to in Japan. When asked about Mikkyo, he often mentioned how other schools of spiritual practice were also ‘fine’ or ‘basically the same’, even though Mikkyo is regarded as being quite esoteric and rigid. He was pointing to the vast array of similarities world religions share with Mikkyo, as opposed to dedicating the discussion to differences.

    Gassho,

    Frank

    Sat today and lent a hand. (Also feeling grateful for receiving a hand today)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I really like what he said about ritual being a practice and not just religious trappings. I've definitely found the ritual aspects make a huge difference. Maybe the heart and mind like structure and routine. I just feel more engaged when I am also practising the ritual elements. From what I've read about Dogen, the ritual side of Zen was something he developed a lot more later on. I also remember from watching that wonderful film that someone posted here about a German woman spending time in Antaiji (I think it was there), that she gave a talk where she spoke about the importance of structure in the monastery. She talked about how she had struggled with it at first but then it had given her so much freedom. I thought that was interesting in terms of ritual.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  9. #9
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Jundo,

    Are we stopping this book during Ango or are we still going?

    Thanks,

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    Jundo,

    Are we stopping this book during Ango or are we still going?

    Thanks,

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki
    Hi Hoseki,

    I will leave it to consensus, but I thought to keep going but slow down a little (post when the Precept readings are not heavy).

    Any feeling on that? Keep the current pace?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Hoseki,

    I will leave it to consensus, but I thought to keep going but slow down a little (post when the Precept readings are not heavy).

    Any feeling on that? Keep the current pace?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Personally I'd like to keep going; this isn't a heavy book with long exacting chapters, I found it very accessible, an easy read. However the first post of the Precepts discussion contains a lot of reading material, all very thought provoking, and merits full attention. So perhaps start our next discussion, Chapter 6 in two or three weeks, when we've settled in a bit more? It would tie in quite nicely as it's about beliefs and ethics.
    Just my humble opinion as someone already familiar with Ango (although always a beginner), so it might be more valid to hear what first time Ango-ers feel.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  12. #12
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Personally I'd like to slow down as I doubt I will be able to keep up at this pace with Ango myself. But I don't mind if people want to continue like this.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  13. #13
    Another vote for slow down.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    What's so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding.

  14. #14
    I vote slow down too


    Sat2day

  15. #15
    Okay, we will slow down a bit, and I will try to put readings when the Precepts readings are light or none that week. Your wish is my command.

    Remember one lesson of "Zen" ... there is no rushing, no deadline to life, to end to attain ... yet neither do we stop and quit while alive. Thus, just here and just here and just here.

    It applies for all of life, it applies to reading "Zen books" too!

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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