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Thread: WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 9 - Stages of Practice - P. 122 to End

  1. #1

    WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 9 - Stages of Practice - P. 122 to End

    It has been a few weeks, a good time to move ahead with our reading of "What is Zen?"

    So, what is a "priest?" Why would anyone feel called to be one? What is the role of a Zen priest in modern times, and do you think it means anything when most modern western Zen priests are homeowners, many married with kids and even other jobs?

    What does Norman mean in saying that "everyday" ordinary mind really doesn't quite mean just our everyday, ordinary way of seeing and thinking about things.

    What do you think about Norman's descriptions about long retreats and the like? Many folks at Treeleaf find it a hardship, or impossible, to join in such retreats. Do you feel like there are other ways to compensate, alternative paths of practice? Or, are such folks really missing out on something that is hard to replace? (Of course, I have my own feelings on that ... but I will keep them to myself for now).

    I love his story about taking care of his kids while he and his wife joined Zazen in shirts.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    The only difference that I really hold in my understanding between a priest and a dedicated layperson is the trust that a priest has been entrusted by his or her teacher as someone who knows how to help people practice. They have been confirmed as someone who can guide someone else and answer questions in a reliable way. I think that trust is important. Otherwise, there are many who could simply decide for themselves that they are knowledgeable enough to be a priest and start calling themselves one. Over time, the transmission of the dharma would start to thin out, and Zen would branch off gently into other sects and forms, suiting the new "priests" and their "students".

    However, this is not always a bad thing. Western Zen is different in form in many ways from Japanese Zen, but these Western teachers are still part of the lineage, and there is still that trust that even if they change a few things here or there, someone deemed them able to transmit and understand the dharma.

    As for those priests that do some questionable things: people are doing and have done questionable and unethical things in every religion and company and country and family since the dawn of time. I don't consider the Zen lineage to be free from the usual trappings of humanity. There are far more good priests, than bad, and I am sure that most teachers take Dharma Transmission very seriously. No one is clairvoyant when it comes to these things.

    I never expect a priest to be a perfect example of enlightened living, nor do I consider an unethical priest to be an invalid branch of the lineage that cuts everyone below him or her away.

    I also have no problem with Zen priests being householders or not spending that much time on retreat or in a monastery. For the most part I trust that they were transmitted because their teacher understood them to have a strong practice and understanding of that practice.

    "What does Norman mean in saying that "everyday" ordinary mind really doesn't quite mean just our everyday, ordinary way of seeing and thinking about things[?]"

    It is the same as the riddle in the question of "why sit if we are already enlightened?" Of course enlightenment is here and now, in this every day mind and every day action, but I think what Fischer means when he said it doesn't quite mean our ordinary way of seeing and thinking, he is pointing to the fact that for the most part, our day to day autopilot is a state of mind that is clouded with worries and thoughts and judgments moving forward into the future or dwelling on the past. It takes practice to let these illusions slide away and simply leave the ordinary "now" part of our existence.

    Gassho, 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.

  4. #4
    I think that priests are people who put themselves forward to help others. It calls for an openness about their lives and a dedication to community. The fact that most priests in the West are also homeowners and sometimes married makes them closer to the lay practitioners, and maybe makes them into better role models. I've never done sesshin or long residential retreats. Rohatsu at Treeleaf is the longest practice period for me and it has been a wonderful experience. Maybe in the future I'll have the opportunity to do a sesshin. The part about "everyday mind" being "vast and wide" is something for me to reflect on.

    Gassho,
    Onkai

  5. #5
    Being wrapt with other things recently, I only just acquired this, my first book by Norman Fischer (and Susan Moon) and have begun reading. So I am coming now to learn even more from the many excellent posts. I read through the first chapter thread after completing the first chapter in the book, and will do the same with the others. These posts are a wonderful accompaniment, and all of you authors have my gratitude.


    Gassho,
    然芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

    You deserve to be happy.
    You deserve to be loved.

  6. #6
    Hi all

    I have only read the first two pages of this section and have a couple of questions:

    1. Norman suggests that it takes around three years to become familiar with a new form of Buddhism (or "become part of the family" as he puts it) and he waits for that period before his sangha members take Jukai. I was wondering what you thought about this, Jundo, and why you do not have this period for most members? That is not to be critical as it is clearly a judgement call but it might be interesting to understand the differences.

    2. Norman says on p115 that there is "as yet [there are] norecognized specific agreement among teachers about requirements for ordination". This strikes me as strange as I believe there are some standards and agreements set down by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association in the west at least (and would imagine similar exists in Sotoshu in Japan). Am I wrong?

    Gasho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  7. #7
    Hi Kokuu,

    Well, Nishijima felt that Jukai is the entrance and should happen on the first day, no preparation or particular study needed. It is the gateway to all that follows.

    I will propably be teaching from Shobogenzo-Gyobutsu Igi this weekend at Zazenkai, and Dogen expresses that the entire path manifests the entire path beyond and right through every moment and all moments. He says stuff like the following (this text is the flowery OBC Shobogenzo which I usually don't use for its King James style, but it is handy right now) ...

    This is why Shakyamuni Buddha said in the Lotus Scripture, “The lifetime which I obtained by My practice of the Bodhisattva* Path from the start is not exhausted even now, and will still be twice the past number of eons.” You need to recognize that this does not mean that His lifetime as a bodhisattva was strung out in a continuous line to the present, nor does it mean that the life span of the Buddha was ever-present in the past. The ‘past number’ of which He spoke refers to all that He had accomplished up to that point. The ‘even now’ that He refers to is the whole of His life span. Even though His practice from the start has been as continuous and unvarying as an iron rail extending over ten thousand miles, yet, at the same time, it is His letting go of things for hundreds of years and His letting things be what they are, wherever they are. As a consequence, doing one’s training and realizing the Truth are beyond amatter of existing or not existing, for training and realizing the Truth are beyond any stain.
    Do you think that Jukai is something that can be measured, Kokuu? Do you believe that the precepts have a beginning and an end? Is sewing just a needle point, or the whole universe upon universes? It practiice something we do or is it something already realized beyond all "doing"?

    So, who the hell cares if it is 9 seconds or 9 Endless Kalpa or 9 days or 9 months? How do we "become" part of the "family of Buddha"? If Norman came up with some rule of thumb for when he likes to administer Jukai, does it apply to all human beings? Let Norman be Norman, let Jundo be Jundo.

    Some in the Zen world, you know, believe that the Ceremony itself works magic with no need to study any Precepts. Precepts cannot be broken, so what is there to study? Taking the Precepts is just a Buddha realizing Buddha. However, I like our folks to sew a bit, study a bit, feel at home in our community a bit and then undertake Jukai if they wish. Who is right, and when is the time right? Truly, "the Path from the start is not exhausted even now, and will still be twice the past number of eons."

    As to your second question:

    The SZBA (as we well know) is TRYING to set down some requirements. The reason it takes so long is people barely agree. One thing they have come to agree on is some residential component which, as you know, we cannot agree to for many of us for whom life and health might prevent so.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-30-2019 at 03:26 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Further to the above, a historian of Zen comments ...

    Precept Practice and Theory in Sōtō Zen
    David E. Riggs


    In mainstream Chinese Buddhism ... the precepts are an all-important part, but only a part, of Buddhist practice. They are the crucial initial step upon which the later practices of meditation and wisdom depend. The other viewpoint holds that taking the precepts in some sense completes practice, which is what came to be the Sōtō position under the name of the unity of Zen and the precepts ( zenkai itchi 禪戒一致 ). This view is very similar to the Tendai notion that precepts are expressions of innate Buddha nature. ...

    ... the trend was strongly toward the unity of Zen and precepts, following the research of Banjin Dōtan 萬仞道坦 (1698-1775) into the the Bonmōkyōryakushō 梵網經略抄 (1309)written in the first generation after Dōgen (S-Chūkai-2). This all-important text explains Dōgen's Busso shōden kyōjukaimon in terms that make it clear that Dōgen's regarded the precepts as not being bound by textual details and moral prescriptions but entailed awakening itself (Bodiford 1993, 171-173). Banjin claimed on the basis of his reading of this commentary that Dōgen's view was that taking the precepts entailed Buddhahood and that both Zen and the precepts were the eye of the true dharma. The question of following the precepts is of little importance; it is the taking of the precepts, the ceremony, which confers the transcendent benefit. ...

    ... This transcendental view of the precepts as the text of an initiation or consecration ceremony is the view that came to prevail in Japanese Sōtō. ... [The Jukai Ceremony at Eiheiji in Japan] clearly follows the line of thought which flows from Banjin's teaching. The ceremony itself is a complete religious event, one which can be repeated, and yet one from which there can be no retreat, no defeat. Although the manual which was distrubed to everyone at the beginning clearly says that to receive the precepts is to become a disciple of the Buddha, the ordinands have themselves become Buddha. They go forth in a new life, unburdened by either their past transgression or the concern of trying to live up to a new standard.
    http://repo.lib.ryukoku.ac.jp/jspui/...0005242161.pdf
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Thank you, Jundo. Allowing Jukai straight away seems to fit very much with the rest of Nishijima's philosophy.

    I do not have an opinion one way or the other at the moment but it is interesting to hear different points of view.

    Most important to me is that there is sufficient study of the precepts beforehand so that people know what they are being asked to take on. That I think we do very well at Treeleaf with at least three months set aside for precept study. I have yet to see someone be asked not to take Jukai but given that many drop out, I think that period of reflection is a useful one for people to consider their involvement well before time.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    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
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    That I think we do very well at Treeleaf with at least three months set aside for precept study. I have yet to see someone be asked not to take Jukai but given that many drop out, I think that period of reflection is a useful one for people to consider their involvement well before time.
    Agreement here. I cannot strongly enough express my appreciation for this process of study and dependence on intrinsic self-determination here at Treeleaf. After years of practice without seeking Jukai, and seeing some interesting checklists of extrinsic requirements in other places, the directed focus on the actual Precepts (versus other kinds of checklist requirements) under Jundo's gentle guidance was change-inducing for me. There were a number of times over the months preceding Jukai when I was not sure that I would proceed with the ceremony; not for reasons of effort, but because in-depth reflection on the precepts created questions about whether vowing to keep the Precepts was right for me.* Continued reflection, the diverse readings assigned, and participation in Ango goings-on were helpful in coming to a more clear view. For me, Jukai was a gateway to commitment. Now, no one else knew what was going on in my head during these months of study, and for all anyone knows about anybody, a person could certainly pop in, take Jukai (or be baptized, or get married, or...) and be off with no continued adherence. That's their burden to carry. I think that to me, what I would like to have is not an intent to measure whether a person is qualified or has earned the right to Jukai, but how I can support and encourage them in their quest to realize insight and truth to their commitment of Jukai.

    *One important take-away for me other than my commitment to the Precepts was the value of hitting the pause button on decisions (like whether to pull out of Jukai) based on what I am feeling at the moment.

    Gassho,
    然芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

    You deserve to be happy.
    You deserve to be loved.

  11. #11
    Nengei, I agree with what you wrote above and I had a very similar round of introspection prior to taking Jukai.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  12. #12
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    My first post for a while. Still been in the shadows, but my wife's health has not been good and the mess surrounding Brexit, has turned our idyllic quiet life in rural France into a nightmare, as a no deal exit could leave us without healthcare. Not a problem for me but a big impact on the significant other. So as a result I reigned back on study, but have sat daily in the FSR and followed Ango and this years Jukai.

    This section has been interesting for me, as I could not begin to explain what would draw someone to be a priest, Soto or any other religion, apart from a deeply felt commitment to "spread the word". My mistrust of mainstream religion and its "messengers" make me wary of those who call themselves priest. But keeping an open mind as after all this label refers to those who are "authorized to perform certain rites and administer certain sacraments" regardless of their beliefs. So from a Soto Zen perspective I see our priest, as those that are knowledgeable of our history, our lineage and practice and are committed to ensure this continues and adapts to the modern world. I am sure layman can do this equally as well but appreciate the traditional aspect of our Sangha and our abidance to tradition.

    Since joining Treeleaf in 2016 I have sat Zazenkai On Demand every week until the tail end of last year, A swing in my wife's medication has made it difficult to find the time to add this to my morning routine, as I did in the past and her health takes priority. But I find myself feeling guilty about not undertaking our formal rituals and practices as I did in the past. But as I say I sit every day. So as to regards retreats and longer monastic practice, yes I would love to be able to do this but my personal circumstances prohibit this. My wife depends on me for care and support, much as I would love to up sticks and spend months living as a monastic I can't. It would be good to do some focused "training" at a sesshin but again my wife's health prohibits this. So I undertake Rohatsu On Demand and spread this over several days. So is this proper practice or am I playing lip service to our traditions ? I don't know. I just do what I do when I can. We take each day, day by day, so pretty close to moment by moment. I get frustrated, irritable and angry at our situation and more so of how the politicians are making it worse (potentially). But I sit each morning with a myriad of thoughts wondering what the future will hold but trying to focus on the now.

    I hold the precepts dear to my heart but with my frustrations break several on a daily basis. I am human. So each morning I sit with Ryudo and Kotei in the FSR I recite the Verse on Atonement and Four Vows, knowing it won;t be long before another is broken. I recognise my suffering and cause and accept it is out of my hands for now. Guess that is all slightly off piste but recognise these as problems I just have to face. Disappearing to a monastery and a week/fortnight sesshin won't make this go away, it would just delay the inevitable.

    Anyway enough waffling. Deep bows to all


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Seishin View Post
    My first post for a while. Still been in the shadows, but my wife's health has not been good and the mess surrounding Brexit, has turned our idyllic quiet life in rural France into a nightmare, as a no deal exit could leave us without healthcare. Not a problem for me but a big impact on the significant other. So as a result I reigned back on study, but have sat daily in the FSR and followed Ango and this years Jukai.
    I would say that you are sitting the "sick loved one" retreat from which there is no retreat nor need to retreat.

    You know, I often point folks to a mysterious section of Master Dogen's very detailed (down to soup and nuts) instructions in Shobogenzo for how to conduct an "Ango" in a monastery as a 3 month intensive retreat period. After all the pages and pages of Dogen's seeming rigid insistence that an Ango in residence is vital and at the heart of our practice, Dogen finishes on the very last pages with a twist:

    It is astonishing. Dogen Zenji, after pages and pages specifying in fine detail the procedures for Ango, chose to close with an example describing "Ango attendance" in an unexpected way. The passage describes Mahakasyapa's attempt to have Manjusri expelled from the Sangha for failing to attend Ango in the mandated way. The Buddha intervenes. I quote the passage at length:

    ---------------------------

    Once when the World-honored One was doing the ninety-day summer retreat somewhere, on the final day, when the ceremony of public repentance was held, Manjushri suddenly appeared in the assembly, whereupon Makakashō [Mahakasyapa in Japanese] asked him, “Where did you do your retreat this summer?” Manjushri replied, “This summer I did the retreat in three other places.” [NOTE: According to some traditional accounts, the "three places" were a demon’s palace, a wealthy man’s house and a bordello!!] At this, Makakashō assembled the community, intending to have Manjushri expelled by striking the wooden fish. But just as he had raised the hammer to strike the wooden fish, he suddenly saw innumerable Buddhist temples appearing. He could see that there was a Buddha with a Manjushri at each place and a Makakashō at each place, his hand raising a hammer to expel Manjushri, whereupon the World-honored One spoke to Makakashō, saying, “Which Manjushri do you wish to expel now?” Makakashō was immediately dumbfounded.

    [Dogen continued:] Meditation Master Engo, in commenting on this account, once said the following:

    If a bell is not struck, it does not ring; if a drum is not struck, it
    does not resound. Makakashō had already grasped the essential
    function of a summer retreat; Manjushri had rid himself of all duality
    by means of his doing his meditation throughout the ten quarters [i.e., in many and all places]. This
    very moment in the story is an excellent one, for it expounds the
    functioning of the Buddha’s Teaching. How regrettable to have
    missed such a move! As our dear Master Shakyamuni was about to
    say, ‘Which of the Manjushris do you wish to expel now?’ just
    imagine, what if Makakashō, right off, had given the fish a good
    whack! What mass annihilation would he have then created?

    [Dogen continued:] Meditation Master Engo added a verse to this commentary of his:

    A great elephant does not play about in the narrow path that a rabbit makes,
    And what could a little bird know of a great wild swan [i.e., to each their own]
    It was just as if Makakashō had created a new way of
    putting the Matter whilst staying within the rules and regulations;
    It was just as if Manjushri had grabbed a flying arrow
    within his teeth, having already broken the target.
    The whole universe is one with Manjushri;
    The whole universe is one with Makakashō.
    Face-to-face, each is solemn in his authority.
    Makakashō raised his hammer, but in which place will he punish Manjushri?
    Manjushri did It with one fine prick of his needle;
    Makakashō s ascetic practices rid him of all hindrances

    [Dogen continued:]So, the World-honored One’s doing the summer retreat in one place is equivalent to Manjushri’s doing it in three places, and neither is not doing the summer retreat. If someone is not doing the retreat, then such a one is not a Buddha or a bodhisattva. There is no account of any offspring of the Buddhas and Ancestors not doing a summer retreat. You should realize that those who do a summer retreat are offspring of the Buddhas and Ancestors. Doing a summer retreat is the body and mind of the Buddhas and Ancestors. It is the Eye of the Buddhas and Ancestors, the very life of the Buddhas and Ancestors. Those who have not done a summer retreat are not the offspring of the Buddhas and Ancestors: they are neither a Buddha nor an Ancestor. We now have Buddhas and bodhisattvas, be they as humble as clay and wood, as precious as silk and gold, or as wondrous as the seven precious jewels. All of them have performed the retreat of sitting in meditation through the three months of the summer. This is the ancient custom of abiding within, and maintaining, the Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In short, those who reside within the house of the Buddhas and Ancestors must, by all means, do the practice of sitting in retreat for the three months of a summer.

    ---------------------------

    In such light, our Lineage upholds that an Ango can be conducted in a monastery behind walls, but also in a child's nursery, a sick room, in a soup kitchen or the city streets. It is conducted in one place, three places, countless places. When there is need, such as in attending a sick wife, this is a perfect Ango.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Seishin View Post
    My first post for a while. Still been in the shadows, but my wife's health has not been good and the mess surrounding Brexit, has turned our idyllic quiet life in rural France into a nightmare, as a no deal exit could leave us without healthcare. Not a problem for me but a big impact on the significant other.
    Metta to you and your wife, Seishin. Yours is a necessary, essential, primary duty, and a life practice.

    In my household we are eyeing Brexit with dismay. It is like a key member of a family got miffed, and now can't see past their own fault to avoid divorce. That people will lose healthcare is something we had not considered as fallout. I hope for the best outcome for all.

    This section has been interesting for me, as I could not begin to explain what would draw someone to be a priest, Soto or any other religion, apart from a deeply felt commitment to "spread the word". My mistrust of mainstream religion and its "messengers" make me wary of those who call themselves priest.
    Interestingly, me either. I have a strong drive to become ordained--will it happen or no?--and I don't know why. I am essentially non-theistic. I feel as though maybe the concept of priest and what they can do for the world could be helped with a humanistic approach. At the same time, I identify with your mistrust of "(men) of god." Perhaps we need a different word than priest. That one certainly carries a bit of baggage.

    I hold the precepts dear to my heart but with my frustrations break several on a daily basis. I am human.
    Can the Precepts be kept? If they can be kept, can they be kept by a person living in this world? I think maybe we can keep the Vows of Refuge, and my heart tells me this is the (or a) point. It's interesting to me that the first Pure Precept is usually stated renounce all evil while the second is practice all good. Why not practice no evil? Renouncing seems doable. But practicing no evil? Not so much. But a bit too much philosophy, perhaps... my point is that I suspect there are few if any who can claim to keep them all, every day. I can only speak for myself, and I don't get through any day without stepping on the Precepts a little or a lot. What I carry around as a result could be a bit of an issue. The need to fit into a box with strict rules--and to feel guilt when I can't--feels like a part of my cultural background. I'm trying not to do that. It does not sound to me as though you are paying lip service, but that you are flexing to fit the pieces of your life together in the right ways.

    I'm glad you are here. I'm glad you are practicing.

    Gassho,
    然芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

    You deserve to be happy.
    You deserve to be loved.

  15. #15
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Deep bows to you both. Thank you.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  16. #16
    Hello,

    hey Seishin, to me, you’re not „in the shadows“, but very much out in the light.
    Each day, we sit together with the help of the FSR in the first morning light.
    You’re an important part of what makes me feel Treeleaf Sangha more directly.

    Regarding the priest/lay advancing/stages question…
    I do think that there are kind of stages in understanding, like shown in the Ten ox herding pictures, but I don’t see them in a chronological order and not connected to priesthood in any way, either.

    Some years ago, I thought differently about what a priest is and what it does, than I do now.
    - being committed deeply to the way
    - living in accordance with the precepts as much as I can
    - practice being a central part of life
    - a more formal practice (chanting/bowing/etc)
    - study the Dharma
    - sewing/wearing the Kesa
    - sharing practice with others
    - doing good for others, not just myself
    - be humble not arrogant, see everyone and everything as Buddha, try to help!, be present with what is in front of you (like Norman said in the talk Q&As)

    considering if the path of priesthood is something for myself, I found out that there is no need to wait until a possible moment in the future.
    Start NOW, right away.

    So what seems different with priesthood?

    You can live together a happy, committed life with your loved one, or you can choose a different type of commitment and formally marry.
    Despite some legal differences, some feel it also as a different, formal way of commitment and this changes something for them.
    I feel priesthood a little bit like that. A formal commitment for life, good or bad times.
    If you don’t see such as restriction, you can imho find support and a kind of relief and even freedom.
    A bit of love to doing it the traditional way, finding meaning in symbols and symbolic thinking might be involved, too.
    A focus on ‚properly‘ and formally guided learning in a certain way may be of benefit to some.
    More focus on taking our way of teaching and learning one step further into the next generation, spreading the word.
    Being of service to the Sangha.

    I enjoyed listening to Norman’s answer on this topic in the Q&A of his talk at Treeleaf from 1:01:00 on: https://www.youtube.com/embed/2UMrdkjYmWY?start=3661

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

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    I watched a video of an ordination, and when one of the new unsui was asked what it meant to them to be a priest, they responded with something like, "Well, I'm living publicly now." Their teacher mentioned also that, "Many people think that becoming a priest is something extraordinary, but it is really to become very ordinary." Both of those sentiments have stuck with me for a while on the matter.

    Gassho, 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.

  18. #18
    I apologise for being late for this discussion, I've been without a fully functioning computer for a couple of weeks now and have had to resurrect this old one that I'm using at the moment, not perfect by any means, but better than nothing at all.
    When I've thought about what priesthood might mean, I think that the overriding definition for me is of someone who sincerely wants to dedicate their practice to others. I would imagine it being a great responsibility but also a fulfilment. It's something that perhaps in another life, at another time, I would have aspired to. I try not to feel sorry that I came home to Buddhism so late in life and that the conditions of my life now wouldn't permit me to enter into any kind of training; rather I take the conditions of my life as a framework for practising as well as I can. Here in Treeleaf we are blessed to have such wonderful unsui, I look up to them all and sincerely feel that I could approach any of them for guidance. I like that our priests are householders, they are better able to understand the challenges that the rest of us meet on a daily basis.

    The one thing that stood out for me in this chapter ( unfortunately!) was how downcast I felt when I read this..
    There is something about Zen that you can only fully appreciate when you have had the chance to do a residential practice period, several if possible........Sesshins are very important in Zen, essential probably.
    It's very unlikely that I'll ever be able to attend either a residential practice or a sesshin - does that make me less of a practitioner? Am I missing out on something very important? Well, no to the first question, but I'm not sure about the second. I try not to let it worry me, but I admit that I do feel it's something I would love to experience. Having said that, I don't personally feel that not attending sesshin or residential retreat is detrimental to my practice.

    The Rohatsu that we have here once a year is very important to me for that reason, I do become fully immersed in it and while I know I can do home retreats by myself, there's something about Rohatsu, the way we are all together, that makes it so special and inclusive. I would love it if we could do this kind of online retreat more than once a year, although I do understand it's a huge undertaking. I wonder if there would be any interest from other Treeleafers in group retreats, a weekend for example?

    I did love Norman's description of feeding his kids in the wheelbarrow because it was easy to hose it down afterwards - hilarious!

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

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Meitou View Post
    It's very unlikely that I'll ever be able to attend either a residential practice or a sesshin - does that make me less of a practitioner? Am I missing out on something very important? Well, no to the first question, but I'm not sure about the second. I try not to let it worry me, but I admit that I do feel it's something I would love to experience. Having said that, I don't personally feel that not attending sesshin or residential retreat is detrimental to my practice.

    The Rohatsu that we have here once a year is very important to me for that reason, I do become fully immersed in it and while I know I can do home retreats by myself, there's something about Rohatsu, the way we are all together, that makes it so special and inclusive. I would love it if we could do this kind of online retreat more than once a year, although I do understand it's a huge undertaking. I wonder if there would be any interest from other Treeleafers in group retreats, a weekend for example?

    I did love Norman's description of feeding his kids in the wheelbarrow because it was easy to hose it down afterwards - hilarious!

    Gassho
    Meitou
    satwithyoualltoday lah
    I will tell you how I feel about that. One of our Unsui(priests in training) is having some health issues, and feels that he/she cannot join enough into some practice lessons we are doing on how to open the Bowing cloth and Bow, a traditional Soto Zen priestly skill for any ceremony. I told him/her that if one could (in an extreme case) only move one's little finger because paralyzed and confined in bed, then that one motion of the little finger is all the Bows of the universe, all the Ceremony one needs if done with just the right heart. And, if one cannot even move a finger, then I suppose that the heart alone is enough.

    On the other hand, someone going to all the retreats in the world with the clutching attitude of heading to the mall or going out on a hunt may miss that heart completely.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I will tell you how I feel about that. One of our Unsui(priests in training) is having some health issues, and feels that he/she cannot join enough into some practice lessons we are doing on how to open the Bowing cloth and Bow, a traditional Soto Zen priestly skill for any ceremony. I told him/her that if one could (in an extreme case) only move one's little finger because paralyzed and confined in bed, then that one motion of the little finger is all the Bows of the universe, all the Ceremony one needs if done with just the right heart. And, if one cannot even move a finger, then I suppose that the heart alone is enough.

    On the other hand, someone going to all the retreats in the world with the clutching attitude of heading to the mall or going out on a hunt may miss that heart completely.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Nine bows in your direction.

    Gassho,
    然芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.
    You deserve to be happy.
    You deserve to be loved.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I will tell you how I feel about that. One of our Unsui(priests in training) is having some health issues, and feels that he/she cannot join enough into some practice lessons we are doing on how to open the Bowing cloth and Bow, a traditional Soto Zen priestly skill for any ceremony. I told him/her that if one could (in an extreme case) only move one's little finger because paralyzed and confined in bed, then that one motion of the little finger is all the Bows of the universe, all the Ceremony one needs if done with just the right heart. And, if one cannot even move a finger, then I suppose that the heart alone is enough.

    On the other hand, someone going to all the retreats in the world with the clutching attitude of heading to the mall or going out on a hunt may miss that heart completely.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Yes, I agree with you 100%, and as I wrote, I don't believe that not being able to participate in sesshin /retreats is in any way detrimental to my practice.
    I think that it's more that sometimes I feel a kind of spiritual loneliness, a sensation of isolation, truly living my Dharma name. But I also feel that this is an important part of my practice, perhaps more than I fully realise. It's also why Treeleaf is so vitally important to me. Slightly off topic but I was reading this touching article by Norman this morning on the importance of spiritual friends.
    https://www.lionsroar.com/friends-bu...eid=43240defdb

    Thank you Jundo
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  22. #22
    I agree with you Meitou about the importance of Treeleaf to combat “spiritual loneliness”. (Great term by the way). I have found that Treeleaf is far more vital to my practice than I ever would have guessed when I first joined. Who knew that Sangha was as important as Buddha and Dharma?


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

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