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Thread: Brad Warner on Shikantaza

  1. #1

    Brad Warner on Shikantaza

    Hi all

    Often when we mention Brother Brad here it is because of some disagreement over Engaged Buddhism or his views on online practice. However, as might be expected from someone who shares the same teacher as Jundo, a large percentage of his views on Zen and Zen practice are very much in line with what we do here, and I find his books to be a reliable source of information on practice and Dogen, even if he and Jundo might vary in some interpretations.

    So, as a reminder, here is Brad talking about Shikantaza in relation to Dogen's Mountains and Waters Sutra (and Shohaku Okumura's book on the subject) which I personally find to be very good, as is much of his material.



    I personally support Brad on Patreon (although that is not a suggestion that you should also) as I find his talks to be useful, even if I don't agree with them, and am glad he is around to give a different perspective on practice as a very visible member of our lineage.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-27-2020 at 11:46 PM. Reason: Fixed spelling in title, although "Shikantaa" has a certain ring to it.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  2. #2
    Thank you for the video Kokuu, I'm currently reading the exact book he's talking about! One of the next in line is also one of Brad Warner's books, so this video speaks basically directly to me, how serendipitous Also, mentioning aliens is a good way to keep me interested

    Gassho,

    Joshua
    SatToday

  3. #3
    Okumura Roshi's book on the Mountains & Waters Sutra is one of the best English language books on Zen ever written, period.

    That said, I don't recommend it to complete beginners or people very very new to Dogen. After a bit of experience and familiarity with the old boy, it is an excellent study.

    https://wisdomexperience.org/product...-waters-sutra/



    Brad's books on Shobogenzo are also fun reads (the second one was more fun if you are really into Japanese translation), but often I wish he would do his homework better. He sometimes pulls information out of his ear without checking. With that caution in mind, they are excellent and fun reads, e.g., where he turns expressions like "daily rice and tea" into "daily cheetos and pepsi."

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Thank you for posting that Kokuu.

    My favorite line:

    "we have to flow"

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshi View Post
    My favorite line:

    "we have to flow"
    I like that expression though I haven't watched the video yet. In my sitting I'm trying to remain open i.e. not concentrating per se, but rather endeavoring to just sit openly and allowing flow to occur where the things I see and try to attach to or resist are not so much dismissed as just allowed to wander the empty room with me and leave on their own by the open door. Not entirely successful!

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    ST

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    ... I wish he would do his homework better. He sometimes pulls information out of his ear without checking. With that caution in mind, they are excellent and fun reads, e.g., where he turns expressions like "daily rice and tea" into "daily cheetos and pepsi."
    Sorry, I spoke in error. It was not "cheetos and pepsi" but rather "Doritos/chips and beer." (Don't Be A Jerk P. 173).

    (Ya see, I actually look and confirm my facts ).

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    I know I've said before that I'm a Soto Zen Buddhist student because of comrade Brad but comrade Jundo is my teacher. I have criticised comrade Brad for not being as 'engaged' as I would expect of any Buddhist. Make no mistake sometimes comrade Jundo pisses me off too but I feel an affinity with him which is why I am here.
    I am going to get the hook for this but at the moment I'm literally in a fight for my life and give zero ##### about the nuances of a particular teacher's position on whether bears really do shit in the woods. I'm over this bollocks because that's exactly what it is, ####### bollocks and I'm ashamed that I've contributed to this BS when there is so much more to give a toss about in this world, like being able to breathe. I've got the next 6 months to get through that is going to be literally touch and go. So I'm going to wind my neck in and focus on MY Practice. Doing better. Being better. Nothing more. Nothing less.
    No Gassho. No Deep Bows. Just me, Onka a ####up who's trying to stay alive.
    On Ka
    穏 火
    No Gods No Masters
    "In whatever condition I find myself, I simply live my own life, a life connected with all the things in the universe." - Shohaku Okumura

  8. #8
    be well Anna, we love you and we're pulling with you.
    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    I know I've said before that I'm a Soto Zen Buddhist student because of comrade Brad but comrade Jundo is my teacher. I have criticised comrade Brad for not being as 'engaged' as I would expect of any Buddhist. Make no mistake sometimes comrade Jundo pisses me off too but I feel an affinity with him which is why I am here.
    I am going to get the hook for this but at the moment I'm literally in a fight for my life and give zero ##### about the nuances of a particular teacher's position on whether bears really do shit in the woods. I'm over this bollocks because that's exactly what it is, ####### bollocks and I'm ashamed that I've contributed to this BS when there is so much more to give a toss about in this world, like being able to breathe. I've got the next 6 months to get through that is going to be literally touch and go. So I'm going to wind my neck in and focus on MY Practice. Doing better. Being better. Nothing more. Nothing less.
    No Gassho. No Deep Bows. Just me, Onka a ####up who's trying to stay alive.
    Onka Anna

    My beloved sister



    Stay strong. Keep fighting.
    You're not alone. Love you always.

    Deep bows, meian kim

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    Sometimes there are no answers.
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  10. #10
    Hang in there Anna. This wave too shall crest and subside.

    We are there with you. Off to sit Metta for you.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  11. #11

    Smile

    Thank you for posting this Kokuu . It gave me new insights into Shikantaza, especially the JUSTTHIS'n'FLOW.

    Too right it's HARD for us Brad. JUST anything is a doozy!

    Gassho, Chris

    [Much Metta to you Anna. We all have times when much stuff is blah blah. It can bring clarity on what's important too.]
    Last edited by ChrisKiwi; 05-28-2020 at 07:58 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisKiwi View Post
    Thank you for posting this Kokuu . It gave me new insights into Shikantaza, especially the JUSTTHIS'n'FLOW.

    Too right it's HARD for us Brad. JUST anything is a doozy!

    Gassho, Chris

    [Much Metta to you Anna. We all have times when much stuff is blah blah. It can bring clarity on what's important too.]
    I would remind you, though, that Zazen is always right, and is a sacred sitting with nothing more to attain, to add or take away, and no other place in need of going ...

    ... both when one feels "flow" and when one does not feel "flow." The universe is always "flowing," felt or not.

    It is something like saying that the sky is always open, clear and boundless whether there are clouds or not. Even when we see clouds, we can also come to see the sky in the clouds. Further, even when the sky is not seen sometimes, it has gone no place.

    Truly "goalless" sitting means not to chase after or need "flow." It "flows" ... both when flow is felt and when it is not, even if some days feeling totally blocked.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Thank you Jundo for bringing me back to this

    Deep bows, Chris stlah

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Brad is a bit kooky, and you have to be careful to get the nuggets from what he says. I kind of think he's playing the part of a non-conventional zen teacher, and he does it well sometimes. But when he talks seriously, it's clear that he knows a lot. In some ways, I think if he dropped the kooky persona, he would be a better zen teacher, but maybe that's just not who he is.

    Re the Mountains and Rivers Sutra, I tried to start reading it some months ago and didn't get very far. Perhaps it's time to start again.

    Perhaps it's always time to start again.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----
    I know nothing.

  15. #15
    Thanks for posting the video!

    I'm reading Brad's two books on Shobogenzo as well and I like how he translates it to the 21st century (including Doritos and beer ). I also bought Okumura's guide to the Mountains and Waters Sutra, but as Jundo commented, it's not for beginners. It's quite dense—in Dogen's poetic way.

    Gassho,

    Luigi
    ST
    "Zazen is good for nothing."
    — Kōdō Sawaki (1880-1965)

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post

    Perhaps it's always time to start again.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    It really is, isn't it? In our practice it's amazing how easy it is to forget that we're always beginners. Sho-shin.

    Gassho,

    Joshua
    SatToday


    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

  17. #17
    I also bought Okumura's guide to the Mountains and Waters Sutra, but as Jundo commented, it's not for beginners. It's quite dense—in Dogen's poetic way.
    Yes, I think that is very true. I have read a lot of Dogen and am finding the need to take this particular book quite slowly.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Truly "goalless" sitting means not to chase after or need "flow." It "flows" ... both when flow is felt and when it is not, even if some days feeling totally blocked.
    Morning (here in Mexico) Rabbi,

    I'm a little confused. I thought when we're sitting we are "supposed to" assume correct posture and release thoughts as they arise (this is what I think of when I hear "flow" i.e. more a psychological non-clinging than a metaphysical or Taoist "flow" - or perhaps a psychologically merging with that more metaphysical flow -- I don't know). How can Zazen always be right just the way it is, even when we're distracted and clinging to thoughts? Like if I sit with the intent of sitting, but end up ruminating over some argument I had at work the whole time, how is that right? What's the relationship between Zazen and the end of suffering?

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    ST

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    Morning (here in Mexico) Rabbi,

    I'm a little confused. I thought when we're sitting we are "supposed to" assume correct posture and release thoughts as they arise (this is what I think of when I hear "flow" i.e. more a psychological non-clinging than a metaphysical or Taoist "flow" - or perhaps a psychologically merging with that more metaphysical flow -- I don't know). How can Zazen always be right just the way it is, even when we're distracted and clinging to thoughts? Like if I sit with the intent of sitting, but end up ruminating over some argument I had at work the whole time, how is that right? What's the relationship between Zazen and the end of suffering?

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    ST
    That's such a perfect question! How Zazen can always be right just the way it is even if we are distracted and clinging to thoughts: it's a Koan. When we sit, "just right" and "distracted and clinging to thoughts" are not two. We sit on the walking mountains, in the space where "nothing is really exactly what we think it is," and "everything we think" meet.

    Once we have followed instructions to assume the correct posture and the intention not to grasp and follow thoughts as they arise, we let go even of those instructions. That's when things flow on their own without our interference. With non-judgmental practice, eventually the flow becomes life and life becomes flow and there is no dissonance between the two.

    Thank you for the video Kokuu!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    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).

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    How can Zazen always be right just the way it is, even when we're distracted and clinging to thoughts? Like if I sit with the intent of sitting, but end up ruminating over some argument I had at work the whole time, how is that right? What's the relationship between Zazen and the end of suffering?
    From what I understand - and I know nothing - if you are sitting with the right intent, and you notice that you are distracted and ruminating over some argument, then you are doing it right. We just need to keep noticing, then coming back to our center. Eventually - very slowly, like water eroding a rock - we'll see the spaces between the thoughts.

    Gasso,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----
    I know nothing.

  21. #21
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Yesterday I posted a pretty ordinary rant on this thread. I could have expressed it in a better, more gentle way. I sent an apology to Jundo last night.
    Not sure if it's still up or not but I take ownership of the words I chose and apologise.
    My poor health is no excuse to deviate so far from my practice.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    On Ka
    穏 火
    No Gods No Masters
    "In whatever condition I find myself, I simply live my own life, a life connected with all the things in the universe." - Shohaku Okumura

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    Morning (here in Mexico) Rabbi,

    I'm a little confused. I thought when we're sitting we are "supposed to" assume correct posture and release thoughts as they arise (this is what I think of when I hear "flow" i.e. more a psychological non-clinging than a metaphysical or Taoist "flow" - or perhaps a psychologically merging with that more metaphysical flow -- I don't know). How can Zazen always be right just the way it is, even when we're distracted and clinging to thoughts? Like if I sit with the intent of sitting, but end up ruminating over some argument I had at work the whole time, how is that right? What's the relationship between Zazen and the end of suffering?

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    ST
    What Jakuden said is so precise.

    It is our small self that wrestles with this conundrum. People think that things are only right when they feel right. A Buddha knows that things are still right whether right or wrong, beyond human views of what feels right. Nonetheless, do your best to head right, avoid the wrong.

    Here is an example: We are walking Buddha Mountain, put on our good shoes, hope for clear weather and blue skies, seek to avoid the brambles and poison ivy, stay on the good trail. Sometimes it is wonderful, and we flow up and down and across the trail. Some days it rains, we wander off the trail or fall in the mud. It is still Buddha Mountain. Many people think that it is only right and Buddha Mountain when we reach some summit, or on those perfect days, or when the scenery opens to reveal boundless horizons in all directions. They think it wrong if they break a lace, break a leg, roll down in an avalanche. They think that it is only progress when we keep walking to reach some special place and finally get there.

    It is true that we secure our shoes correctly, do our best to avoid the pitfalls, hope for clear skies. We don't stir up trouble by stirring up clouds or storms of thought. We hope and are cautious not to break a leg or fall in an avalanche. We keep moving, sometimes one foot after another, sometimes resting for awhile.

    Yet it is all Buddha Mountain, was Buddha Mountain and will be Buddha Mountain wherever we go. The clear skies are Buddha Mountain, as is the storm. The beautiful scenes are Buddha Mountain, yet so is the mud and poison ivy..

    In other words, we do our best to have a nice hike ... assume the good posture, let thoughts go without getting tangled in clouds of thinking and brambles of tangled emotion. Sometimes we sit, but do not sit forever. We walk on, knowing that each step is its own summit and arrival at its own destination. The destination is here and ever so. Nonetheless, though we may sit and rest for a time, we keep moving. The birds are singing, but so are the falling stones. Nonetheless, we do our best to avoid the falling stones.

    Chances are an experienced hiker will be better at staying on the trail and avoiding mud, stones and brambles than the new fellow first starting to hike.

    But the whole walk is the hike, the entirety is Buddha Mountain.

    In fact, Buddha Mountain is walking up you as you walk Buddha Mountain. There is only one walking, for Buddha Mountain is you, the birds and sky, the walking. Mud holes are Buddha Mountain and shoe laces, broken or not, are Buddha Mountain. Clear skies and rain are hiking, are Buddha Mountain.

    Nonetheless, we pack our rain gear for when we need, check our laces, seek to avoid the poison ivy. How LOVELY are those days or moments when the vistas open and the skies are clear! How LOVELY even on those days when not.

    Like that.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-29-2020 at 11:10 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    What wonderful answers. Thank you!



    Gassho
    Kevin
    ST

  24. #24
    How Zazen can always be right just the way it is even if we are distracted and clinging to thoughts: it's a Koan. When we sit, "just right" and "distracted and clinging to thoughts" are not two. We sit on the walking mountains, in the space where "nothing is really exactly what we think it is," and "everything we think" meet.


    Gassho
    Washin
    sat today
    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'.

  25. #25
    I really like the hiking analogy Jundo.



    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  26. #26

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

  27. #27
    Indeed nice analogy.
    The book will arrivé today.

    Hans ,/ Hosei

    St
    Mountains are waters and waters are mountains ............

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