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Thread: Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path

  1. #1

    Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path

    Thank-you all so much for your patience with my incessant questions.

    It occurs to me that zazen springs from the Eightfold Path.

    It is no secret that there have been zen teachers who have harmed others by engaging in sexual misconduct and sadly a host of other improprieties.

    While I find that a side benefit of zazen for me is that it cultivates a "quieter spirit" and helps me fight off the noxious effects of the three poisons, the eightfold path and the precepts can be basically understood and followed by the novice of novices.

    So, to me it seems, that the full practice of Zen Buddhism includes the whole of the Eightfold path with the precepts. To me it seems that a person can have the right concentration portion of the path nailed but woefully lack if he or she lies, steals, or commits sexual misconduct. Even though they sit Sesshins without number, dukkha continues.

    Likewise, a person who rigidly follows the precepts and eightfold but neglects right concentration simply adheres to a code of ethics and suffers in duality.

    Am I on the right track here?



    Kevin

    sat today.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    Thank-you all so much for your patience with my incessant questions.

    It occurs to me that zazen springs from the Eightfold Path.

    It is no secret that there have been zen teachers who have harmed others by engaging in sexual misconduct and sadly a host of other improprieties.

    While I find that a side benefit of zazen for me is that it cultivates a "quieter spirit" and helps me fight off the noxious effects of the three poisons, the eightfold path and the precepts can be basically understood and followed by the novice of novices.

    So, to me it seems, that the full practice of Zen Buddhism includes the whole of the Eightfold path with the precepts. To me it seems that a person can have the right concentration portion of the path nailed but woefully lack if he or she lies, steals, or commits sexual misconduct. Even though they sit Sesshins without number, dukkha continues.

    Likewise, a person who rigidly follows the precepts and eightfold but neglects right concentration simply adheres to a code of ethics and suffers in duality.

    Am I on the right track here?



    Kevin

    sat today.
    Hi Kevin,

    My understanding is that the act of sitting Zazen is the entire path. That is to say that when we sit, our sitting contains the it all, the precepts, the 8 fold path... All of it. The path is complete in the act of sitting.

    I have likely grossly over simplified and I am certain Jundo or one of the priests will soon come along and explain it much more clearly, and correct me along the way as well lol.

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    The wonderful thing about Zen is that it can help us to see that the Three Higher Trainings (a way to summarize the Eightfold Path) are fulfilled naturally and easily through keeping the precepts and sitting zazen. The Higher Trainings are ethical conduct, concentration, and wisdom. In keeping the precepts we develop ethical conduct. The keeping of precepts pairs well with zazen to develop concentration, and concentration in and out of zazen leads to the development of wisdom which, itself, shows us why the precepts are important and beneficial to everyone.

    When we sit in zazen we are fulfilling the precepts (since we cannot do think, say, or do anything that would violate them while we're sitting) as Junkyo wrote. It's quite a remarkable practice and Dogen was right to place such a strong emphasis on it.

    And the great thing about the Four Noble Truths is they contain the Eightfold Path (I'm not sure if you've heard about the symbolism of the elephant's foot in Buddhism or not). The truth of dukkha, the cause of dukkha, the end of dukkha, and the path to the end of dukkha. We get to see, understand, and accomplish these in our zen practice through keeping the precepts and sitting zazen. Through the development of concentration and wisdom we come to see not only the First Truth but also the Second Truth, the Third Truth is like a hopeful message of encouragement - one more reason to sit every day we can - and the Fourth Truth is the Three Higher Trainings all over again.

    I think this is the brilliant thing about the Buddha's teachings; they all inter-connect and exist within one another. None of them are truly separate, but they are presented separately for our benefit. Zazen helps us to see how they are all connected and stem from the same source.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  4. #4
    The first noble truth is that the unenlightened, Unexamined life is suffering or sorrow.

    The second is that the cause is desire.

    The third is the eightfold path which is right mindfulness or awareness in the various dimensions.

    The fourth is the cessation of suffering or sorrow which is attained by following the previous three.

    The precepts are guides for behavior.

    The practice of meditation/ zazen is the most fundamental teaching as pointed to by the first noble truth

    Sat/lah


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    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  5. #5
    It makes sense. I can certainly understand that while sitting there will be no violation of the precepts.

    I guess what dawned on me is that sitting with no regard for the precepts or ethics in general (i.e., a life largely characterized by criminal behavior, sexual misconduct, etc.) is still going to be full of suffering.

    I'm a novice, but it just seems to me that suffering is eliminated by following the whole path.

    There is a chapter in the Shobogenzo that encourages us to "avoid all evil whatsoever." Dogen is saying this to monks who sit regularly, so this makes me think that there are times we will need to use our right concentration and right effort in order to have right intentions and views (i.e., observance of the precepts). In other words, I will have to make complex decisions about whether to do or not do something.

    <Gassho>

    Kevin

    sat today

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    It makes sense. I can certainly understand that while sitting there will be no violation of the precepts.

    I guess what dawned on me is that sitting with no regard for the precepts or ethics in general (i.e., a life largely characterized by criminal behavior, sexual misconduct, etc.) is still going to be full of suffering.

    I'm a novice, but it just seems to me that suffering is eliminated by following the whole path.

    There is a chapter in the Shobogenzo that encourages us to "avoid all evil whatsoever." Dogen is saying this to monks who sit regularly, so this makes me think that there are times we will need to use our right concentration and right effort in order to have right intentions and views (i.e., observance of the precepts). In other words, I will have to make complex decisions about whether to do or not do something.

    <Gassho>

    Kevin

    sat today
    Life is always going to have pain, and ups and downs. What leads to suffering is how we perceive these ups and downs and pain. If we have aversion to them we will suffer. If we accept them as facts of being alive and having human life we wont suffer so much.

    Just as we sit with things "just as they are" we have to accept and make friends woth our every day troubles "just as they are".

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyo View Post
    Life is always going to have pain, and ups and downs. What leads to suffering is how we perceive these ups and downs and pain. If we have aversion to them we will suffer. If we accept them as facts of being alive and having human life we wont suffer so much.

    Just as we sit with things "just as they are" we have to accept and make friends woth our every day troubles "just as they are".

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
    Thanks Junkyo.

    I certainly agree that we will always have pain and suffering. It also makes sense that the more we learn to sit with things the way they are the less we will suffer.

    That said, does not sexual misconduct also cause needless suffering for everybody involved? Does not the abuse of alcohol or other drugs not also lead to suffering for the users and their loved ones?

    I mean, sitting is how we learn to accept things. It can also help us accept things that might otherwise lead us to substance abuse or sexual misconduct.

    I guess it just seems important to me to be mindful of the precepts to help keep our lives between the ethical ditches.

    gassho

    klb

    sat today

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    It makes sense. I can certainly understand that while sitting there will be no violation of the precepts.

    I guess what dawned on me is that sitting with no regard for the precepts or ethics in general (i.e., a life largely characterized by criminal behavior, sexual misconduct, etc.) is still going to be full of suffering.

    I'm a novice, but it just seems to me that suffering is eliminated by following the whole path.

    There is a chapter in the Shobogenzo that encourages us to "avoid all evil whatsoever." Dogen is saying this to monks who sit regularly, so this makes me think that there are times we will need to use our right concentration and right effort in order to have right intentions and views (i.e., observance of the precepts). In other words, I will have to make complex decisions about whether to do or not do something.

    <Gassho>

    Kevin

    sat today
    Yes, I think you're correct. Dogen and the Buddha and all of our Dharma Ancestors trust in our intelligence and in our sincere intentions to act for the benefit of everyone. When we sit, we allow the mind to settle and things become clear, when we allow things to be-as-they-are in zazen we give ourselves a chance to see through the obscurations that cloud our mind from our natural wishes for happiness and liberation. I'm not sure what, if anything, Dogen had to say about analytical meditation - I have a feeling he may have felt it unnecessary but, even so, I think it's good for us to think deeply about the precepts and what it means to cultivate good ethical conduct.

    And when it comes to making complex decisions, if we're stuck, we have the Three Jewels at all times including the Dharma and the Sangha. Sometimes we are too close to our problems to see them clearly in the same way that someone searching their house for their glasses may not notice them sitting on their own face already. In this way, we may wish to consider asking a kalyāṇa-mitta or a spiritual/noble/virtuous friend.

    I think we are extraordinarily fortunate to have a community of such wise and kind practitioners who we can ask questions of at any time, day or night.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    Thanks Junkyo.

    I certainly agree that we will always have pain and suffering. It also makes sense that the more we learn to sit with things the way they are the less we will suffer.

    That said, does not sexual misconduct also cause needless suffering for everybody involved? Does not the abuse of alcohol or other drugs not also lead to suffering for the users and their loved ones?

    I mean, sitting is how we learn to accept things. It can also help us accept things that might otherwise lead us to substance abuse or sexual misconduct.

    I guess it just seems important to me to be mindful of the precepts to help keep our lives between the ethical ditches.

    gassho

    klb

    sat today
    Hey Kevin!

    Absolutely keeping the precepts is important, and yes unskillful actions cause harm and suffering to many people and so we should avoid acting in harmful ways. Sitting Zazen is a great way to avoid doing harm! We also learn to carry that off the cushion into every day life.

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    You are exactly right Kevin, during one of my first Ango group meetings we were talking about the Three Refuges... if Buddha is enlightenment, why do we need Dharma and Sangha? I theorized that without Dharma, the teachings, and Sangha, the others practicing with you, Enlightenment could be like the Dark Side of the Force. In the absolute, what does it matter if someone is killed or something is stolen, for there is no separation when we are enlightened; we drop it all. But in the relative world we live in daily, these things cause great suffering so we must also follow the Eightfold Path, the Precepts and learn from our teachers.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


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    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).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    Thanks Junkyo.

    I certainly agree that we will always have pain and suffering. It also makes sense that the more we learn to sit with things the way they are the less we will suffer.

    That said, does not sexual misconduct also cause needless suffering for everybody involved? Does not the abuse of alcohol or other drugs not also lead to suffering for the users and their loved ones?

    I mean, sitting is how we learn to accept things. It can also help us accept things that might otherwise lead us to substance abuse or sexual misconduct.

    I guess it just seems important to me to be mindful of the precepts to help keep our lives between the ethical ditches.

    gassho

    klb

    sat today
    I think it was comrade Tokan who said something along the lines that (and this is a broad sweeping paraphrase) if we are not mindful of the interconnectedness of things at all times our practice risks essentially becoming a hobby and at its worst a caricature of the teaching.
    Gassho
    Anna
    stlah

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-8304F1 using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    I think it was comrade Tokan who said something along the lines that (and this is a broad sweeping paraphrase) if we are not mindful of the interconnectedness of things at all times our practice risks essentially becoming a hobby and at its worst a caricature of the teaching.
    This is an excellent reminder, thank you Anna!

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  13. #13
    Thanks to all of you.

    I really like the "Dark side of the Force" analogy. There have been some gifted zen teachers, christian ministers, therapists, and others who had all of their good works wiped out by bad conduct. Their families suffered. Their students, patients, and other people around them suffered as well.

    I'm tempted to think that adherence to the precepts is a good barometer for one to measure their practice.

    gassho

    kevin

    sat today

  14. #14
    The Precepts and Zazen are one. If one practices Zazen, dropping judgments of "good and bad" on the cushion, but then gets up and robs, burns, kills and cheats, then one is in a kind of "dark side" and has missed the power of these teachings. There is no Precept which can be broken while sitting on the cushion yet, getting up and out into the world, constant opportunities to do good or bad.

    Likewise, one who is filled with excess desire, anger and violence, jealousy and other divided thinking, is most unlikely to get the fruits of Zazen.

    Yes, someone (even a teacher who has gone off the rails) can have great insight into wisdom and compassion, and also have a dark aspect that does harm.

    Thus, we study the Precepts in preparation for Jukai, and seek to bring them to life.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...glen-Too%21%29

    Very simple.

    Suzuki Roshi famously said, "You are perfect just as you are, yet you could use a little work" to get rid of the bad parts.

    The whole Eightfold Path is our Path too. I spoke about that a bit here ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...-Buddha-Basics

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-01-2019 at 02:38 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Something else dawned on me about the precepts and the eightfold path that I wanted to run by you all.

    It occurred to me that we can fall into very strong delusion if we don't heed Suzuki Roshi's teaching that "We can use a little work."

    If I think that I no longer need work, then I am completely and thoroughly deluded and in danger of harming me and those around me.

    In my profession, psychotherapy, it is important to be mindful that all of us are capable of unethical practice. For example, sexual contact between therapist and client, or client's immediate family members, is never OK even if all are consenting adults. The rationale is that the therapist is exploiting the client for their own benefit. Most of the time when this happens the therapist will try to defend themselves by saying "But we are in love." That may be true, but it is also delusion for a therapist to think like this. We are encouraged to know that all of us will have clients we are attracted to, and, to act out on these feelings damages the client and has the same consequences as rape according to research.

    This leads me to the hazing behavior that happens at some monasteries. This sounds inconsistent with the path to me, but then again, I am an outsider looking in.

    Gassho

    klb

    sat today.

  17. #17
    I agree and I think it's important that we keep in mind that we're not exactly Buddhas yet so we are still under the influence of ignorance, craving, and aversion. Our minds like to trick us into believing we have all (or most) of the answers and that we're seeing things clearly all the time - I think this is why it's important for us to have "Dharma Friends" and a reliable teacher who can help us to see where we're faltering, what we're not seeing clearly. Otherwise we end up believing the stories we tell ourselves.

    When we really want something, we can find all kinds of ways to justify why we should get what we desire. Sometimes there are no lengths we'll go to in order to give ourselves permission to go for what we think we really want. This isn't to say all desires are bad - the desire to plant trees for the environment or support our families or donate to causes we believe in are all good desires. I'm not sure how clear it is in the Mahayana teachings but in the Therevada teachings there is a distinction made between different kinds of craving: tanha and chanda.

    Ajahn Jayasaro: "In fact, the Buddha spoke of two kinds of desire: desire that arises from ignorance and delusion, which is called tanha, craving, and desire that arises from wisdom and intelligence, which is called kusala-chanda, or dhamma-chanda, or most simply chanda. Chanda has a range of meanings, but in this case I’m using it to mean wise and intelligent desire and motivation, which the Buddha stressed as being absolutely fundamental to any progress on the eightfold path."

    Source
    I think that many people can confuse the two and that may be how we end up with highly-respected Dharma teachers being caught in scandals perhaps. There could be a sense on their part that they are somehow acting in the best interests of whoever their actions bring harm to. That it can happen to even experienced Dharma practitioners should encourage us to be vigilant and to seek the insight and counsel of our peers. This can be intimidating, especially if we don't want our peers to think less of us for having certain thoughts or feelings, and maybe we sometimes want to keep these things to ourselves. Having compassion means we have to be courageous and to skillfully speak the truth when it matters most, and I think that in certain settings it's important to understand that keeping up a good reputation while wanting to avoid a bad reputation is a motivation that can get in the way of our practice, and is a self-harming desire.

    Of course as a professional it is important to keep up certain appearances in certain contexts, otherwise potential clients or customers or patients will not have faith in our ability to perform to the best of our abilities and their trust is an important part of their own experience. But outside of the professional settings, we need to be honest with ourselves and our teacher and/or a trusted Dharma friend in order to help us get out of our own heads. At least that's what I think.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  18. #18
    *** I meant to post this much earlier - but I posted in the wrong thread - that's what I get for multi-tasking lol ***

    Jundo's Buddha Basics hands down is some of the best content I've gone through for.. well Buddha Basics. lol I mean that in comparison to any media (book or otherwise) anywhere. If you haven't gone through them, it's very good practice; I still love reviewing these from time to time, because I always forget the basics. always gotta practice. it always comes back to basics. hahaha

    I'm sure others have feedback too, but I think 1 or 2 a week and sitting after each one is a good cadence. I know the gut reaction, for me at least, is to consume as much content as possible and zoom through these. But slow down; take your time; really taste these teachings - as everyone has said (and I'm just parroting), make sure that sitting practice is consistent - it always comes back to sitting. If you aren't sitting and practicing you might as well be watching YouTube cat videos; although there's nothing wrong with that - but you know what I mean. lol

    Gassho

    Rish
    -stlah
    Last edited by Risho; 11-01-2019 at 07:40 PM.

  19. #19
    Thanks Risho.

    This is a great suggestion.

    <Gassho>

    klb

    sat today
    Last edited by Kevin Benbow; 11-01-2019 at 08:10 PM.

  20. #20
    If you want to live in the past or future, if you don’t make an effort to wake up from your dreams and stories then you are living with desire. The desire to be other than here and now.

    Sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  21. #21
    Rich

    You always say so much with so little words

    gassho

    Rish
    -stlah

  22. #22
    Sen, thanks for your insight above. I had not even considered the desire to do good. That's an interesting piece of the Buddhism puzzle for sure.

    Hmm. .

    Gassho

    Klb

    Sat today

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Rich

    You always say so much with so little words

    gassho

    Rish
    -stlah

    Thanks


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  24. #24
    Rich, help me understand what you mean here. It is possible to fall into the intellectual trap if Buddhism and get sucked right out of the present moment.

    I wish to understand, but balance that understanding with practice so as to get at the heart if the matter. Since my recent involvement in Treeleaf my practice has been more consistent than ever because you all are a ready resource to encourage me.

    So, I respectfully ask for clarification.

    Gassho

    Klb

    Sat today.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Jundo's Buddha Basics hands down is some of the best content I've gone through for.. well Buddha Basics. lol
    Well, they are a very simple and basic introduction to bottomless topics that take a lifetime(s?). But thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    ... It is possible to fall into the intellectual trap if Buddhism and get sucked right out of the present moment.
    This "be in the present moment" thing gets overplayed in modern Buddhism and "mindfulness" too. l sometimes say that, more than being "in the moment," is to be radically allowing each moment to be that moment (even the moments of being "sucked right out.") lt is not that "being in the moment" is a bad thing at all, but that it need not be every ... or even most ... moments. Every moment is perfectly just that moment, and it is impossible for us really to be "outside" any moment when we just let it be that moment of life.

    More here, if you have a few moments.

    Being mindful of 'mindful'
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ful-of-mindful

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Jundo, thanks so much for clarifying this. The link you posted makes a lot of sense. It really isn't practical to "be mindful" every moment of the day. I find that mindfulness can help me get through mountains of paperwork, but "being one" with doing the paperwork and just letting it be a sh*t load of paperwork is more helpful still.

    Gassho.

    Klb

    Sat today

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Every moment is perfectly just that moment, and it is impossible for us really to be "outside" any moment when we just let it be that moment of life.


    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Beautiful!


    Moment to moment
    Joyous beauty opening
    THIS the lotus world

    From my haiku collection at
    Www.instagram.com/notmovingmind/

    Sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Beautiful!


    Moment to moment
    Joyous beauty opening
    THIS the lotus world

    From my haiku collection at
    Www.instagram.com/notmovingmind/

    Sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  29. #29
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Jundo said
    'This "be in the present moment" thing gets overplayed in modern Buddhism and "mindfulness" too. l sometimes say that, more than being "in the moment," is to be radically allowing each moment to be that moment (even the moments of being "sucked right out.") lt is not that "being in the moment" is a bad thing at all, but that it need not be every ... or even most ... moments. Every moment is perfectly just that moment, and it is impossible for us really to be "outside" any moment when we just let it be that moment of life.'

    Perfect! Gassho
    Anna
    st


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    Last edited by Jundo; 11-02-2019 at 09:30 PM.
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  30. #30
    exactly right; there is nowhere else to be; to be lost in thought or to stifle thought to “ be constantly mindful” is attachment to one or the other; the same as zazen; it’s not thinking, it’s not not thinking, it’s non-thinking; beyond the dichotomy; this idea of “mindful” is bs imho hahaha

    gassho

    rish
    -st

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