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Thread: WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 8 - Teachers - To top of P. 99

  1. #1

    WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 8 - Teachers - To top of P. 99

    Dear Teachers (because I believe that everyone teaches everyone around this Sangha),

    Let us read on a bit, Chapter 8, Teachers, stopping with the first few lines of page 99 (before the question beginning "I know that everyone is human ... ")

    What do you think about the need or benefits of having a community of supportive and experienced fellow Zen practitioners, as well as Zen teachers? Can Zen be taught? Is it good to mix and match teachers and teachings, or to put down deep roots in one home? Anything else about the discussion touch you?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you, Jundo. I think having a community of supportive and experienced Zen practitioners is very helpful in making Zen practice continuous. The commitment here at Treeleaf has made my practice stronger. I originally had some realizations with a practice from a book, but there are questions that come up, and sides to things I wouldn't see without guidance. For a while, I was fortunate to practice with a few different Buddhist organizations, but I didn't feel at home until I found Treeleaf. We had moved from New York City, so it was good to find an online community, but more than that, an accepting community that encourages wisdom and compassion as well as consistent practice. In the reading, on p 92, the book says:
    The great possibility of Zen practice is to completely trust life, to have full confidence in your life, whatever happens. Trust isn't abstract. It's more than belief or faith. It develops through living, communicating, feeling what life brings. The relationship to the teacher is a vehicle for this profound trust, and the teacher should be trustworthy, transparent, and unselfish enough to allow that trust to dawn on you, without getting in the way.
    That is what I have found at Treeleaf.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/LAH

  3. #3
    Thank you Jundo ... we are all students and teachers ... moment by moment. =)

    Zen has many flavours of the same ice cream ... in time I feel through practice we come to realize that the many flavours are just one.

    Sangha is the cone that holds the ice cream ... a very valuable part of practice.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    Last edited by Shingen; 11-09-2018 at 02:02 PM.
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    What do you think about the need or benefits of having a community of supportive and experienced fellow Zen practitioners, as well as Zen teachers? Can Zen be taught? Is it good to mix and match teachers and teachings, or to put down deep roots in one home? Anything else about the discussion touch you?
    The sangha is very important to my practice. Having a "shared language" in the understanding of practice together is very beneficial. Everyone wants to be understood and accepted. I feel that we do that well for each other. While visiting SFZC it was really calming to know that everyone was pretty much on the same page, practicing together in the same spirit, more or less. Of course everyone has their own personality. But everyone smiled and bowed, and graciously showed us around and explained a lot of cool things, and told stories, and it felt warm, like family. There was also an undemanding silence. A few signs here and there about their forms, and a copy of the way they recite the Heart Sutra, but all around the same spirit.

    The sangha also holds me accountable. I feel very comfortable talking about practice and my life with you all.

    Zen practice can be taught, in a way, but everyone has to "get it" on their own. Fundamentally, it doesn't have to be taught. Truth exists whether or not we know how to identify it, but it is helpful to have someone to help us figure it out. That is where a good Zen teacher is a great help. Of course, many people seem to exemplify Zen practice without even knowing what Zen is. Zen teaching is finger-pointing-at-the-moon stuff, but it is nice to have directions.

    I think mixing and matching is fine as long as you have a clear vision for how you want to be living a life that is meaningful and nourishing to you and others. When I used to mix and match it was usually out of fear of missing out on some spiritual experience, but I have settled nicely here and no longer feel the need to reach out for one more spiritual high.

    But of course I still like to learn. I really admire Thich Nat Hanh, and I read a lot of his teachings on mindfulness, which we don't really emphasize here. I find this compatible is due to Jundo's good direction: I don't have any flighty notions of being mindful all of the time, or always being serene, and my understanding of mindfulness is grown from the perspective of Zen practice and zazen.

    I also understand the value of really settling in with a group though. To just trust and really drop all notions of "right for me" or "wrong for me" and just engage with what is being shown. It has been invaluable to me.

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  5. #5
    My family obligations and my introverted tendencies typically prevent me from making connections or finding a sangha near me. The nearest Zendo for me is about 100 miles away also. I would love to take this practice to the next level and have a teacher and community to hold me accountable but alas, this seems an impossibility currently. There is another option for me however. There are easily five or six Laos and Vietnamese Wats that are located within 5-15 miles from me and I have attended a few ceremonies and meditation sessions in the past but the Theravada tradition doesn't quite have the same appeal for me as Zen. Perhaps it is best for one to accept what is offered? Is that better than a practice severed from community and a teacher?
    Gassho
    Cj
    Sat today, lah

    Sent from my STV100-1 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Moth; 11-10-2018 at 01:28 AM.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moth View Post
    My family obligations and my introverted tendencies typically prevent me from making connections or finding a sangha near me. The nearest Zendo for me is about 100 miles away also.
    I am introverted as well, and it is hard for me to find the courage to seek out a group of people to sit with. However, when I joined the Treeleaf retreat last year and sat at the San Francisco Zen Center, my introversion dropped away in favor of the welcoming atmosphere. It was just fear of the unknown preventing me. Now I know it is a very comforting and familiar experience, despite new faces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moth View Post
    I would love to take this practice to the next level and have a teacher and community to hold me accountable but alas, this seems an impossibility currently.
    It is not impossible at all! In my opinion, Treeleaf is perhaps an even more immersive group to practice with than a group that you would perhaps only meet with once a week or month or so. We encourage regular sitting and traditional forms, like a physical zendo would, but we have the benefit of twenty-four hour communication. Also, the longer I have been here the better I know everyone, and for many members it feels very familial. After having sat in person with other Treeleaf members and another sangha, I have determined that it really feels no different at all. I personally find Treeleaf to be even more engaging. There really is very little separation between us on the screen. If you are interested in truly deepening your practice, all the options are available here. Of course, if you find a physical place to go that you really enjoy, that is fine too! There is no rule that says you can't do both! I definitely think it is better than trying to practice all alone. That sounds lonely.

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    Of course, if you find a physical place to go that you really enjoy, that is fine too! There is no rule that says you can't do both! I definitely think it is better than trying to practice all alone. That sounds lonely.

    Sat today, lah
    I confess, it is pretty lonely. I was raised a Catholic in a heavily populated Catholic region, so I was used to having that community surround me and guide me. I stopped attending mass about 6 years ago and have pulled all of my children out of catechism. There are many issues I have with the church that I cannot reconcile and refuse to contribute to an institution that I feel is mired in deceit and deception.

    I guess at times my greatest concern is that I'm not providing a strong enough spiritual foundation for my family (which is important for me) and I feel a community can be beneficial in this regard.

    Gassho
    Cj
    Sat today, lah

    Sent from my STV100-1 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    What do you think about the need or benefits of having a community of supportive and experienced fellow Zen practitioners, as well as Zen teachers? Can Zen be taught? Is it good to mix and match teachers and teachings, or to put down deep roots in one home? Anything else about the discussion touch you?
    Sometimes it is said see one, do one and teach one in medicine. Probably the same in other disciplines.

    Exposure to various disciplines within medicine is standard but at some point a specialty is selected. After a specialty is selected and proficiency is attained it is not good to go back and retrain in another specialty. Itís a waste of time and resources.

    I think that when teachers say go visit anther teacher and see whatís up they really mean that if you are not smart enough to know that this is your home, knock yourself out and go searching some more for the promised land that is right under your feet. Get you some more of that yummy Dukkha.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  9. #9
    Sarah Tucker wrote about community in this way:

    “The real struggle which binds individuals in a group together is a commitment on the part of each person to open their hitherto concealed self, both to others and in doing so to themselves. This is something a person can do only in the context of others with an equal commitment, for it is only by risking taking a ‘step out’ in relation to another that one can discover what it is one has hitherto concealed from oneself. A community of people is not fundamentally constituted by things or attributes they have in common, but rather by a common attitude of commitment to, as it were, have dealings with one another, in all their diversity. In essence, a commitment not to turn their backs on what they find in themselves and others. What creates membership of a community, what binds a group of individuals together and creates a sense of belonging, is a commitment to struggle together” (Tucker, 2001, p28)

    While this was not specific to Zen community, the commitment she writes of resonates deeply with our commitment to practice and supporting one another, so it does seem to capture beautiful and important aspects of Sangha. Soto Zen is a community practice, and Sangha is the home we carry with us quietly into the everyday world.

    _()_
    sosen

    st/lah

  10. #10
    Hello,
    I have nothing to add, but Shunryu Suzuki scrolled through my 'social' media stream today with:

    'Wherever you go you will find your teacher, as long as you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.'

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

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dear Teachers (because I believe that everyone teaches everyone around this Sangha),

    Let us read on a bit, Chapter 8, Teachers, stopping with the first few lines of page 99 (before the question beginning "I know that everyone is human ... ")

    What do you think about the need or benefits of having a community of supportive and experienced fellow Zen practitioners, as well as Zen teachers? Can Zen be taught? Is it good to mix and match teachers and teachings, or to put down deep roots in one home? Anything else about the discussion touch you?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    In common with others here, I had read a couple of books but it became obvious to me pretty early on that if I wanted to progress I really needed a teacher. I think that's truer today than ever, because if someone is starting out on this path now and turns to Roshi Google for help, there's so much information out there ( and so much disinformation too) that it's impossible to know where or how to start. This is what happened to me, total confusion. I decided that I liked Pema Chodron's style, so I followed links to Sanghas related to her lineage and found my first teacher - in the Tibetan tradition - and it was with her that I took Refuge. But when I began to be drawn to Soto Zen, I wrote to her immediately because I personally felt I wasn't able to have two root teachers in two different traditions. I can see how on one level it may work, but I'm not convinced, and it certainly wasn't for me. I don't discount reading the works of other teachers and listening to their teachings, I do that too, but in order to feel that deep connection with the lineage and tradition, I really believe it's vital to have just one root teacher who I can trust and believe in ( even on April Fools day!!) to accompany me on this journey. Thank you Jundo.

    I don't know, can't imagine, what my practice would look like without being guided, by Jundo and our Unsui, by the wealth of resources we have here and by the support and friendship of this community, which has literally transformed my practice, ergo my life.
    Thank you Treeleaf,
    Gassho
    Meitou
    satwithyoualltodaylah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  12. #12
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Finding a sangha and teacher became key to me, when seeking to restart my practice, which previously been based solely on Zen Mind Beginners Mind, Three Pillars of Zen and Zen Training and Philosophy. Having reread the books that had introduced me to Zen nearly 2 decades ago, I knew that I needed further guidance and also clarity to work out which path was for me. And more importantly what my expectations should be from practice.

    As that happened to turn out to be Soto Zen and having moved to France, I started looking for local sanghas but struggling with the language and confidence, I started to search for an online sangha, not even knowing if such a thing existed. Having read a comment from Jundo on another sites forum and then discovering Treeleaf, I knew that this was the place to be. Since joining and getting to know folks better and making new friends, the importance of sangha could not be clearer. That and the wealth of teaching material provided here by Jundo and the support of the Unsui, has ensured my practice continues.

    So thank Jundo, our Unsui and all our members for making my practice possible.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

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