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Thread: Westernising Zen

  1. #1
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Westernising Zen

    Good morning folks

    I watched this this morning and it kinda references/cuts to the chase of a couple of things that I've mentioned on Treeleaf or thought with my brainz since I joined.

    Firstly, despite Treeleaf being nominally international in makeup there seems to be a dominant US/North American flavour to general social attitudes within the Sangha.

    I'm finding that on occasion I'm butting up against ingrained societal thinking where I'm unable to express myself effectively enough to cut through.

    The US culture is extremely unique in that I'm not so sure there are too many other cultures that seem to mirror aspects of totalitarian states in terms of indoctrination from birth yet will kill you for claiming them to be anything other than the greatest example of democracy in all of time haha.
    As an outsider this really does seem strange although I'm first to admit that Australia is pretty far from perfect - it's just familiar.

    Every single time I hear the term 'Western' in terms of culture or Zen it almost exclusively is referring to the US culture and US Zen.

    So here's my questions...

    As Treeleaf is based in Japan, is influenced by Japanese culture and Japanese Zen practice but bringing Zen to all who can't easily make it to an English speaking bricks and mortar Zendo do you think that the Sangha's culture is as neutral in terms of English speaking but without cultural baggage as it could be? Or am I just being sensitive today? Maybe my expectations are of an English speaking version of Japanese Zen which is what I think Jundo delivers and most Treeleaf Priests and Unsui also contribute to.

    I like to think I am able to hold a mirror up to myself and see what cultural baggage I carry but maybe it's me that's delusional??

    Constructive responses welcome.

    Gassho

    Anna
    stlah
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    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
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  2. #2
    I think this place is a mish mash. Yes, there are a lot of Yankees, but also lots of people from other places. Maybe we need more Aussies. Certainly more folks from Botswana and Kyrgyzstan. Hard to avoid the cultural baggage (please see the long comment I made this morning on "baseball," as I have no idea about cricket or whatever "Australian rules baseball" you'all play). Frankly, I don't even know much about American baseball now, as I am more of a Sumo fan!

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post253053

    I don't think that this place is in any way an "English speaking version of Japanese Zen." Most Japanese Zen is focused on funerals and memorial services, temple life and monastic training with the vast number of lay people having little or no interest in Zazen. (Even only about 20% of Japanese Zen priests continue to sit Zazen regularly after they leave the monastic boot camp to get credentialed.) Japanese do not dance the hokey-pokie (hokie-cokie for the rest of the world).

    It is funny, but the comments I get about treeleaf take a whole range: Too modern, too traditional, too Japanese, not Japanese enough, too western, not western enough, too much emphasis on sitting Zazen, not enough emphasis on sitting Zazen ...

    I like to think that most of the folks around here, whether American, Canadian, Mexican, Brazilian, Aussie, Israeli, German ... you name it ... are kind of "misfits" in their own cultures for the most part (even the Japanese who tend to show up to Treeleaf are not "normal" Japanese). Good misfits. (What I call residents of the "Island of Misfit and Broken Toys" citing another old US cultural meme) ...



    Ordinary folks who fully accept and cling to the values of their home country and culture are usually not so attracted to Zen and Buddhism except on a very superficial level maybe (as another fashion accessory). So, I think that we are doing pretty good in cultural diversity. .

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    PS - I don't think many USA folks of any stripe, let alone Brits, Brazilians, Mexicans, Aussies and others, really believe that democracy is working too well right now. Maybe Canada is okay.
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-11-2019 at 01:19 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    Everyone is gonna respond to things from the frame of reference they have. Everything that has ever influenced them in their lives is at play when someone forms an opinion. The most we can hope for is an honest attempt at open listening and discussion that can lead to insight, rather than a digging of our own holes from the bottom.

    As a Sangha, we are in an interesting position. Jundo is from the US, but lives in Japan. Many of his students are in the "West". I feel he does a very good job of making sure that we stick to the core forms of Japanese Zen, but I also like that by speaking the chants in English we learn that the teachings aren't purely reserved for the Japanese language. And even in Japanese, the Heart Sutra is like a phonetic Chinese (correct me if I'm wrong!). So many cultures were already at play when Buddhism made it's way to Japan.

    Also, I like that we use many forms and languages of the Heart Sutra during different zazenkais, and also different "buddhas" on the altar. I think Jundo tries his best to point to the universality of the teachings outside of a purely Japanese mindset and form. However, he is very serious about keeping alive the Japanese traditions of Soto Zen.

    As far as discussions on social matters, we simply can't control who contributes and from where. Diversity is always best, but whoever comes, comes. If most are Western, it is probably due to mostly English being used here.

    And, like any family, everyone has their own views. The best we can do is be open and honest with each other.

    Gassho
    Sat today, lah

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - I don't think many USA folks of any stripe, let alone Brits, Brazilians, Mexicans, Aussies and others, really believe that democracy is working too well right now. Maybe Canada is okay.
    Ugh, you got that right

    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).

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - I don't think many USA folks of any stripe, let alone Brits, Brazilians, Mexicans, Aussies and others, really believe that democracy is working too well right now. Maybe Canada is okay.
    Ugh, you got that right
    On the other hand, as I heard recently ... it is also a celebration of how far we have come because (for the most part, big exceptions) we are not shooting each other and blowing each other up in the western democracies for all the troubles and serious disagreements (hopefully that will continue to be the case). It is actually one of the few times in human history that people could be so viscerally unhappy about politics and the state of things, disagreeing about views, without reaching for bombs or spears. That is a tremendous thing! Europe is literally pulling apart ... without invading each other! America is fighting a new "civil war" ... mostly of words! China and America are having a "trade war" ... not a new "Korean War."

    We might say that going through these rough patches in places like the US, Brazil and the UK is also a testament to how --well-- the system works under strain, at least in the sense of folks sticking with the basic system and not resorting to violence. As well, this too shall pass, and hopefully something stronger and better will result.

    (Also, note that my comment above as to "how bad things are" does not take sides: I think that the view is held now on all sides of the spectrum, looking at the "opponents" on the other side. Everybody thinks things are bad for their own reason, everyone thinks the "other guys" are the problem, yet, for the most part, we are not killing each other. That's good. Hopefully we will work it out peacefully.)

    Hopefully we will all also come to realize more that this is the "worst of times" ... EXCEPT IN COMPARISON TO ALMOST ANY OTHER TIMES IN WORLD HISTORY UP UNTIL NOW! We complain about our jobs "being like slavery", but we are not actual serfs or slaves like our great-grandparents. We say our kids are "malnourished" because they are consuming TOO MANY calories. We complain about our doctor and the cost of medicine .., for our heart transplant. Hopefully we will all come to realize more how good most of us actually have it now (and concentrate more on helping those who are not doing so well yet so that they might too.).

    Anyway, a bit off topic.

    Gassho, J

    STLaw
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-11-2019 at 02:22 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    Thank you, Jundo, I agree. A lot of people who I suggest this to-- that despite the political climate, this is a time of peace, comparatively-- really cannot understand what I am pointing to and find me dismissive. I am not trying to be blind to the troubles of today: I am just trying to be optimistic about all of the radical change we have accomplished throughout the progression of humanity, and thus hope for the future.

    Gassho
    Sat today, lah

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    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
    Hi Anna

    The history of western Zen is largely an American history, which is why the two are often conflated. The Japanese teachers who brought Zen to the west mainly flew to American shores - Soyu Matsuoka, Shunryu Suzuki, Dainin Katagiri, Yasutani Hakuun and others - and the most influential western teachers have also, by-and-large, been from the US - Norman Fischer, Bernie Glassman, John Daido Loori, Sojun Mel Weitsman etc.

    In contrast, the UK was seeded by Theravadin and Tibetan traditions, perhaps due to our colonial ties. Although there are pockets, for some reason Zen never seems to have taken off in the same way.

    At Treeleaf, we also have a majority of north Americans and that will have an influence on how things are around here.

    Were it down to me, there would be a picture of the Queen on the altar and tea and scones at every Zazenkai but such is life. I guess for the moment we will have to endure the awful Americanness of it all, at least until there are enough of us to stage a coup!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 11-11-2019 at 10:36 AM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  8. #8
    dont know about the UK, but continental europe seems mainly influenced by Deshimaru, imo,
    Gassho
    Myoku
    sat

  9. #9
    I always knew you were a filthy "redcoat" Kokuu!!! hahahah

    Now I"m purely a lay practitioner, and I don't keep the lights running like Jundo and The Priests (please someone name a band after that lol), so what I say comes from that perspective, so I"ll grant you some of my views are going to be absolutely myopic and ignorant/naive of what it really takes to run a Sangha. And I wouldn't be here if not for all the hard work that comes into keeping this place going, so I'm thankful for all of that. My practice is fully informed from this Sangha. So while I may not be a man of tradition, so to speak, if it weren't for Japanese Zen I wouldn't be sitting my tookus on a cushion. lol

    I know I'm echoing what others have said, but I think it comes down to what you like; I don't mean like ice cream vs. salad. lol I mean what really speaks to you and hits your heart and also what you mean by Zen. If you do what you know is right, that is genuine practice.

    I come from the approach that I think Zen doesn't have anything to do with any cultural "baggage", Western or Eastern. I mean the 3rd patriarch has got my back here too: "There are no Northern or Southern ancestors." I also think we should have some respect and honoring of the cultures that brought this to us as I mentioned above.

    So from one perspective, and most times, I'm sitting zazen in my pajamas; some times I do feel a yearning to wear my rakusu. I will in fact complain about rituals and costumes, and then 10 minutes later I'm lighting candles, so I'm 1 confused puppy. hahahaha

    I agree with Jundo - I know I have it way way way better than my grandparents. I know things aren't perfect, but what we are doing now is unprecedented. I know people are scared of it, but now that we are really connected via technology, I think a global culture will emerge.

    It already happens through "evil capitalism". For example, I work with people all over the world. Let me tell you; people are people. Not only at Treeleaf, but I mean actually professionally and personally I've gotten to know people all over the world: China, Russia, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, the hated UK :P, Poland, etc

    It's funny - you get to notice different cultural ways of expression- people always give Americans crap for being cocky and arrogant; let me tell you, we don't own the "rights" to that one! hahahaah

    I've met very arrogant people, and I've met sweethearts. In a way differences that we see, that we are so "in conflict" with, are usually at governmental levels that are catching up with the feelings of the populace. People are people.

    So I don't believe things are that bad. I know there are child soldiers in Liberia; of course things are not great but, all in all, I feel we are headed in the right direction.

    I also think we are all Nazi's. So I don't like calling out one culture over another. I mean people need to be held accountable, but we also have to be careful we are holding them accountable and not making them less than human.

    I'm finally reading "The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo". I know a lot of you already know this, but I had no idea that Sawaki Roshi was in the Japanese military in World War II.

    Guess what? I don't care; he was a fantastic teacher. None of our ancestors in this lineage, hell in humanity, were saints. I really believe if Buddha, or even Dogen, saw what a saint he was turned into, he would wonder if people are actually practicing what he preached.

    But more importantly - we talk about emptiness around here and oneness and all that crap - we are all in the Japanese military in World War II. We are all the oppressed and the oppressors, and I mean that. So it's easy to think of oneness (aka interconnectedness) from that "koombaya" and syrupy perspective. But it's also time to pull your heads out of your butts and understand that we can all be the devil.

    I visited Germany a few years ago; we went to a church in a local town, and all the names of the German soldiers from WWI from that town were painted on the ceiling. One of my wife's relative's names was on that ceiling. My great grandfather fought in the trenches on the US side during WWI. At one time mortal enemies - at another allies. The world is weird. Think about how odd it is that Nazi-ism was accepted by sane people - not crazy extremists, I'm taking normal everyday people!

    It's easy to point fingers at "others" and call people "evil"; now I'm not saying there isn't evil; there is real evil in this world that must be stopped. Women are getting raped on the streets of India; that's some real mysogyny. People always complain about the West with mysogyny; open your eyes. The world is not a civilized place everywhere. The West happens to be (and I mean all the countries that are in it) a very civilized land where we have the luxury of doing things that would get us killed in a truely oppressive regime. Next time we lose a sporting event, if you don't see your teams' heads on pikes, be thankful.

    What I'm saying is that we don't know all of what culturally and genetically molded us to where we are now. We really don't have control over that. Given the right situation, any of us could be an officer in a concentration camp, and that has been scientifically proven, and if you really think about it, that should scare the crap out of you.

    Gassho

    Rish
    -stlah

  10. #10
    dont know about the UK, but continental europe seems mainly influenced by Deshimaru, imo
    I agree, Myoku, and he is the main teacher I would cite as being influential somewhere other than the US. We do have AZIUK (Association Zen Internationale UK) here but I don't think it has been as significant as it has over the channel.


    Women are getting raped on the streets of India; that's some real mysogyny. People always complain about the West with mysogyny; open your eyes.
    India has a huge women problem but I would also point to the stats on sexual assault in US colleges too. Just because somewhere is worse does not mean we can afford to be complacent. In the UK female politicians receive daily threats of rape and harm to their families which massively outnumbers that which men receive. Women who die a violent death in the UK and US are most likely to be killed by their partner. There is not real and unreal misogyny any more than there is legitimate and illegimate rape.


    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.

  11. #11
    I didnít mean that; I meant chaos isnít only in the West; chaos and evil is human

    I also wanted to poin out the BS notion of the West being the devil; we are but so is everyone else.

    gassho

    rish
    -stlah

  12. #12
    This is indeed true. Greed, anger and ignorance get everywhere.

    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.

  13. #13
    It is the nature of TreeLeaf that we can’t control where people come from and who contributes. What I sincerely hope is that, as much as possible, we leave all our cultural baggage at the door and treat each other with respect. Here I am not Canadian. I am a member of the Treeleaf Sangha.


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

  14. #14
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    Indeed.

    Thankyou all for highlighting the comparative stability and Peace of this Age. No other time was quite this stable.

    As for the American thread, id agree that many masters moved there, and also point out just how damn BIG the USA is. I mean, seriously BIG. So, there is also a numbers aspect at work.

    Jundo mentioned something very interesting - the many complaints he gets about "too much / not enough". When I was in an Ashram the big teaching was that the "too-much/not-enough" mind was the Root of suffering. Combat with this "mind" was futile, instead compassion and dialogue was esteemed. As if talking to a child. Your child. Perhaps this is "little-m-mind"?

    Jundo id like to ask, what are the most common things ppl compliment TL on? Id assume that would point more to our "Mind".

    The one thing ive noticed is the need for Buddhism to be a living culture/lifestyle as opposed to simple rote learning. Lotus and mud and all that malarkey.


    Gassho,
    Geoff.

    SatToday
    LaH.


    p.s; its "Hokey-Pokey" here in Australia-land too, we dance it for victory in our Australian-rules-baseball ;P
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  15. #15
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Getchi View Post
    Indeed.

    Thankyou all for highlighting the comparative stability and Peace of this Age. No other time was quite this stable.

    As for the American thread, id agree that many masters moved there, and also point out just how damn BIG the USA is. I mean, seriously BIG. So, there is also a numbers aspect at work.

    Jundo mentioned something very interesting - the many complaints he gets about "too much / not enough". When I was in an Ashram the big teaching was that the "too-much/not-enough" mind was the Root of suffering. Combat with this "mind" was futile, instead compassion and dialogue was esteemed. As if talking to a child. Your child. Perhaps this is "little-m-mind"?

    Jundo id like to ask, what are the most common things ppl compliment TL on? Id assume that would point more to our "Mind".

    The one thing ive noticed is the need for Buddhism to be a living culture/lifestyle as opposed to simple rote learning. Lotus and mud and all that malarkey.


    Gassho,
    Geoff.

    SatToday
    LaH.


    p.s; its "Hokey-Pokey" here in Australia-land too, we dance it for victory in our Australian-rules-baseball ;P
    Geographically Australia is the same size as the US but with around 320million extra people lol

    In other news I'd like to remind everyone that I said it was ME that felt like I couldn't communicate as effectively as I'd like to cut through the cultural stuff. My problem, no-one elses. I also have zero issue with Jundo or Treeleaf, I was just commenting that I have noticed that when western zen is referred to they mean US zen. Jundo, Getchi is right, here in oz we call it the hokey pokey too. Also, regarding western zen, if it was centred here it would look different again, especially in rural and remote areas. While there is evidence that Islam first landed here some 1600 years ago, it wasn't until Afghan Cameleers helped colonisers to access the interior of this continent some 200 years ago that Islam as an organised religion took hold. In the remote desert areas of South Australia there are Mosques that are over 100 years old - essentially very basic shelters. I kinda think that if zen had a greater hold in Australia it would be dressed in rural workwear or singlets, boardshorts and thongs (flip flops you perves lol). In the US, zen seems more conservative/orthodox which is another reason i love Treeleaf because we are the misfits and rebels of the zen world even though we are all different. But I am not a fan of the US representing western zen. Maybe in Australia we need to do what football/soccer has done and wake up to the fact that Australia is geographically more of an Asian/Oceanic country. Anyway, yet again I seem to have created disharmony.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

  16. #16
    I kinda think that if zen had a greater hold in Australia it would be dressed in rural workwear or singlets, boardshorts and thongs (flip flops you perves lol). In the US, zen seems more conservative/orthodox which is another reason i love Treeleaf because we are the misfits and rebels of the zen world even though we are all different.
    Hi Anna

    Jundo often does summer sittings in board shorts and you might well have heard about the time he got invited to a naked Zen sit! (fortunately we stop at the shorts and t-shirts!).

    Some of American Zen does seem conservative but I get the feeling that a lot of it also is not. A number of the Beat writers loved Zen (Kerouac wrote Dharma Bums, Gary Snyder ended up in a Rinzai monastery in Japan) and it appealed to a lot of the hippy generation then all kinds of people seeking alternative ways of living outside of the norm. Why even bother seeking out a foreign religion that has you sitting on your butt for hours and chanting odd things unless you think that the mainstream way of living is not for you, and maybe even totally out of kilter with what may be best for humans in general?

    Bernie Glassman was unconventional. John Daido Loori sat smoking cigars during dokusan. Roshi Joan Halifax came from a background of medical anthropology and the study of shamanism. She was also married to Stanislav Grof who wrote the influential book Holotropic Mind. Brad Warner is a punk rock bassist with a love of comic books and monster movies. Darlene Cohen had to hobble to her nearest Zen center because of severe rheumatoid arthritis that she had for her whole adult life. US Zen folk I have had contact with seem no different from those of us at Treeleaf, all with their various stories of being a misfit and hearing a small voice that grows louder telling us that another way is possible.

    I would really recommend reading about some of the western Zen teachers and their stories and teachings before casting a judgement upon them. From the outside, Treeleaf might look like a bunch of geeks trying to imitate Japanese life and many have judged us before getting to know how things work here. The teachers who have visited have largely felt it just like a bricks and mortar Zendo.

    Whether US Zen represents western Zen and whether we like it or not is not particularly relevant anyway, imho. The important thing is to find a teacher and sangha you can work with and let go of all the other stuff. None of us here is anything special (well, aside from Risho ) and while it is important to find a place that feels more or less like home, even the best sangha will end up having frustrating elements. And that is just as well as it is part of practice.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 11-11-2019 at 10:33 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  17. #17
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    And yet I don't think I do cast judgement. How many years of Buddhism study will it take before I should comment or ask questions of living or dead zen folk? Or express a thought/reflection?
    Let me know and I'll come back then. Until then I'm joining all the other lurkers.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    And yet I don't think I do cast judgement. How many years of Buddhism study will it take before I should comment or ask questions of living or dead zen folk? Or express a thought/reflection?
    Let me know and I'll come back then. Until then I'm joining all the other lurkers.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

    What exactly is it in the thread that you feel is disharmony? I mean that with true curiosity. It sounds like a typical Treeleaf thread to me, with a statement/reflection being made, and then some input by Jundo and then discussion/points of view of the other members. Language is certainly the imperfect means by which we have to learn, and in this forum mostly written language with no inflection or facial expression to discern intent, which is even more imperfect. Perhaps it would help if you could clarify the type of response you are expecting when you post, so that the rest of us aren't so far off the mark. On the other hand, the range of unexpected responses one may get to a post can often be good practice, too, since they are coming from many extremely different cultures and circumstances. It's a good brain-stretch if we can disconnect it from our investment in what we were originally hoping to get from the communication.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    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).

  19. #19
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Somehow instead of editing a new post I deleted it. Sorry folks.
    Gassho
    Anna.
    st

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    What exactly is it in the thread that you feel is disharmony? I mean that with true curiosity. It sounds like a typical Treeleaf thread to me, with a statement/reflection being made, and then some input by Jundo and then discussion/points of view of the other members. Language is certainly the imperfect means by which we have to learn, and in this forum mostly written language with no inflection or facial expression to discern intent, which is even more imperfect. Perhaps it would help if you could clarify the type of response you are expecting when you post, so that the rest of us aren't so far off the mark. On the other hand, the range of unexpected responses one may get to a post can often be good practice, too, since they are coming from many extremely different cultures and circumstances. It's a good brain-stretch if we can disconnect it from our investment in what we were originally hoping to get from the communication.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    I've had to learn this myself. For example, I originally thought Risho and Kokuu were in disagreement until it occurred to me that it sounded like typical (polite) UK banter. Then I stopped worrying.

    Seriously, though, even beyond zen learning, I practice social interaction learning as well because a lot confuses me. In a cross-cultural setting, there is a lot to learn.

    Gassho
    Stlh

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  21. #21
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    I've had to learn this myself. For example, I originally thought Risho and Kokuu were in disagreement until it occurred to me that it sounded like typical (polite) UK banter. Then I stopped worrying.

    Seriously, though, even beyond zen learning, I practice social interaction learning as well because a lot confuses me. In a cross-cultural setting, there is a lot to learn.

    Gassho
    Stlh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    And ^this^ makes sense to me. Thank you Kim. And apologies for frustrating others, I was just about to ask Sekishi the thread killer (joke) to step in haha
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    And ^this^ makes sense to me. Thank you Kim. And apologies for frustrating others, I was just about to ask Sekishi the thread killer (joke) to step in haha
    glad I could help

    Gassho2
    St h

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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    ... In the US, zen seems more conservative/orthodox ...
    Oh, if there is one thing about USA Zen it is that it is incredibly (!) diverse ... with some non-Japanese folks who are more "Japanese than the Japanese", actual Japanese (some of whom are trying to break from that), Brad Warner, folks to the left of Brad, all kinds of experiments, 31 flavors in the Zen ice cream store, liberal and orthodox and ulta-orthodox, the actual Japanese Soto-shu and folks who want no part of that. Heck, Treeleaf too!

    If there is one "very western" aspect to Zen in our Sangha it is that folks do ask so many questions, have preferences, have personal complaints! (My Japanese doctor jokes that his Japanese patients rarely complain or ask questions, but his western patients ask too many ... and sometimes tell the doctor what he should diagnose and how to treat it! He also says we moan a lot louder while the Japanese tend to grit and bear the pain!)

    I feel that questioning is good in moderation, and a balance of accepting and questioning is best. Not one or the other in extreme.

    Look at this, the place where Japanese monks used to sit, eat, fart and sleep together for weeks on end ...



    I am sure that those folks drove each other crazy sometimes and, even though all Japanese, they were all very different with unique personalities ... each a country and culture of 1. There is an old saying that what you really learn from Sangha is, not "peace and tolerance," but the profound peace and tolerance that can only come from living with people in close quarters who drive you nuts ... and thus learning to transcend that fact. In other words, let us all be grateful that Treeleaf is horribly imperfect ... and that we are diverse or sometimes misunderstand each other, or rub the wrong way, because that is the seed of real peace and tolerance! That is the "best" part of this place. It helps us learn to find the "harmony" at the core of the heart's feelings of "disharmony."

    The old "rough stones of Sangha that become round and smooth by rubbing against each other."

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    (Actually, it is a funny thing: Japanese seem rather patient on the surface generally, but they tend to hold their resentments inside, and they can suddenly burst forth. Many westerners ... not all ... seem just to let their complaints burst forth right away. Not sure which is better!).
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-12-2019 at 06:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    And yet I don't think I do cast judgement. How many years of Buddhism study will it take before I should comment or ask questions of living or dead zen folk? Or express a thought/reflection?
    Let me know and I'll come back then. Until then I'm joining all the other lurkers.
    Anna,

    I think you know how much I love you being here and you are welcome to express whatever you wish. However, you have been at Treeleaf for a while now so we may begin to challenge you a little more.

    This was just the bit I felt you were judging American Zen to be something it isn't:

    In the US, zen seems more conservative/orthodox which is another reason i love Treeleaf because we are the misfits and rebels of the zen world even though we are all different. But I am not a fan of the US representing western zen.

    As Jakuden said, you don't need to worry about stirring up disharmony. Comment threads often have dissenting opinions and disagreements and that is completely fine. We are not aiming to churn out a bunch of Zen clones and differences of view are welcome as long as we all treat each other with respect and compassion.

    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.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    If there is one "very western" aspect to Zen in our Sangha it is that folks do ask so many questions, have preferences, have personal complaints! (My Japanese doctor jokes that his Japanese patients rarely complain or ask questions, but his western patients ask too many ... and sometimes tell the doctor what he should diagnose and how to treat it! He also says we moan a lot louder while the Japanese tend to grit and bear the pain!)
    Funny you brought this up- when I first go to a doctor, I treat the visit like I'm interviewing the dr. as my CHO (Chief Health Officer). Even on subsequent visits, I keep a little "check" on them to see if they are up to snuff. I'm not a doctor, but I like to see how much they know about nutrition especially. If any red flags come up, and they are open to advice, I'll suggest some articles and studies they can read. Otherwise, I'll gracefully take their advice, fire them silently and find a new physician. I have a pretty good doctor right now; she has brought up statins; I asked her if she's trying to give me early onset dementia and cardiovascular disease. hahaha I told her that she needs to do some research and that there has never been any causative data suggesting that statins are good for anything with all cause mortality... well except the JUPITER study, but that is questionable at best.

    I guess I'm just a difficult patient in zen and in life. hahahaha

    Seriously though - we need to make sure we question - especially someone we consider an authority. So I think respectful disagreement here is excellent; we need that spice. I mean we can post something and get an echo chamber of 500 gasshos. But there should always be questions and differing views; I think it's a lot of fun.

    Things like "oneness", "dropping body and mind" - none of these phrases should be taken lightly.

    Just my 10 cents hahahaha

    Gassho

    Rish

    -lahst

  26. #26
    Hi Anna,

    I think here in Treeleaf it's a totally mixed bag because we are from all corners of this earth. We do speak in English here, but at the end we live the teachings and practice Zen regardless of the language or time zone.

    I have also noticed that there are some cultural differences here in the sangha, but at least to me, it's all part of the experience and the way how the dharma has to adapt and evolve. We are no longer isolated by distance! We need to open up and evolve.

    Sometimes I am very quiet on the forums because I admit that sometimes it's hard for me to understand some cultural things. So that's why I only read and learn!

    But at the end of the day, we have to adapt and open up, which makes this the wonderful sangha it is.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  27. #27
    Member Anna's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Thank you all. I have sat with all responses and am in a more peaceful place.
    Thank you for your patience.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  28. #28
    Sometimes I am very quiet on the forums because I admit that sometimes it's hard for me to understand some cultural things. So that's why I only read and learn!
    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH

    Kyonin I am similar and I am a Yankee

    Gassho
    Doshin
    St

  29. #29
    The world, including the shape of Buddhism is a continually changing dynamic. As Buddhism spread across India, Tibet, Vietnam, Korea, China, Japan and now the "West", it has become like a can of paint touching every shape it hits, retaining the color, but morphing into and integrating with each culture it hits. Now it is spreading via the internet and we have become a sort of Sangha without borders. Yet, our tradition specifically is the Japanese Soto Zen shape. Though "Japanese", many of the ways we do things have a precedent and a reason, so we ( or Myself anyway) aren't necessarily trying to be Japanese, any more than Catholics are trying to be ancient Romans speaking Latin. Gudō Wafu Nishijima spoke about not playing at being ancient Chinese people. I am not, and I think most here are not trying to become Japanese, and yet, there is respect for the ancestors and where these teachings come from and the methods involved.

    As far as the US representing all of Western Zen, as an American, I can tell you that I never felt alienated from any Western country's citizens here, nor did I ever assume that we had the corner on the market. Nor did I ever even think about it until now. In fact, most of the people I interact with here are not from the US now that I do think about it. When I began Taigu was here, and he was French. Plum Village has a huge following, and I know in the UK and other places in Europe there are Zen folk and monasteries going on. Maybe there just isn't as big a following in Australia, yet?
    At any rate when I come here I am not trying to engage in "Western", Japanese, American, English, or Martian thinking. When I sit I drop all notions of East and West, and I think, though my understanding maybe be limited, that what we are trying to attempt is to get to that place before such differentiation enters the mind. Flying an airplane might be a situation where the compass is useful, but Buddha Nature goes beyond all that. If you are stuck on this being American Zen, or Western Zen, or Japanese Zen, or even NON American, French, or Japanese Zen, then maybe well you need more Zazen.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    ...the range of unexpected responses one may get to a post can often be good practice, too, since they are coming from many extremely different cultures and circumstances. It's a good brain-stretch if we can disconnect it from our investment in what we were originally hoping to get from the communication.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    Absolutely. . This is something I initially struggled with here at Treeleaf because, as opposed to other online places where people meet, there is what I'd label Buddhist communication. In general people post with a sense of "does my reply contribute or does a simple gassho suffice." "Is what I add to a thread helpful or superfluous? I really had to get used to that because at regular forums I get so many replies when I post something I don't even know who to reply to first. Over here I really had to get used to receiving not a single reply at times...and sometimes it made me wonder if I said something inappropriate or unusual. Now I'm fine with it. Like Jakuden said, it can be useful practice in the sense of reflecting on how we deal with our expectations.

    Gassho,
    Jack
    Sattoday/lah

  31. #31
    On the other hand, the range of unexpected responses one may get to a post can often be good practice, too, since they are coming from many extremely different cultures and circumstances. It's a good brain-stretch if we can disconnect it from our investment in what we were originally hoping to get from the communication.
    Well said, Jakuden

    Gassho
    Washin
    ST
    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'.

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