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Thread: Stuck in mind mud

  1. #1

    Stuck in mind mud

    I feel a very strong pull to Zen Buddhism, but I'm fairly new to Buddhism overall. I have searched and read the Zen take on karma and rebirth but I'm having a really hard time reconciling the differences between what I initially studied on (Tibetan) which seemed logical to me, and the Zen take on it which is seemingly confined to this lifetime.

    Honestly I don't even know if this is a question, I'm just stuck.

    Sat today

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by _Jd_ View Post
    I feel a very strong pull to Zen Buddhism, but I'm fairly new to Buddhism overall. I have searched and read the Zen take on karma and rebirth but I'm having a really hard time reconciling the differences between what I initially studied on (Tibetan) which seemed logical to me, and the Zen take on it which is seemingly confined to this lifetime.

    Honestly I don't even know if this is a question, I'm just stuck.

    Sat today
    Hey JD! Nothing wrong with being stuck and feeling things out! When I first started studying Buddhism it was Tibetan as well, mainly because my partner at the time was Mongolian and that's what her family practiced. I liked it, but I'm more atheistic in nature and present-life focused, so when I started with Zen it clicked and fit me better. We're all different in what makes sense to us — and there are many others who can speak about the topic you're stuck on better than I — so just saying you're not alone and no worries

    Apologies for going over 3 sentences,

    Gassho,
    Jesse
    ST

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by _Jd_ View Post
    I feel a very strong pull to Zen Buddhism, but I'm fairly new to Buddhism overall. I have searched and read the Zen take on karma and rebirth but I'm having a really hard time reconciling the differences between what I initially studied on (Tibetan) which seemed logical to me, and the Zen take on it which is seemingly confined to this lifetime.

    Honestly I don't even know if this is a question, I'm just stuck.

    Sat today
    Welcome Jd! I also come from a Tibetan Buddhist Sangha. In general, Zen Buddhism doesn't deny karma nor rebirth, but I feel it puts a lot more emphasis on embodied wisdom and understanding in this lifetime. There are thousands of books in Zen that go into different details of Buddhist philosophy, and it's important to have a general grounding in the doctrines. But fundamentally, Zazen is the core pilar of this tradition. And not only Zazen on the cushion, but on every single aspect of your life.

    As someone who has spent years "trapped" in Buddhist doctrines (still am somewhat), trying to understand all of it from an intellectual perspective and building a puzzle in my head, I would say it is more important to focus on this lifetime, this moment, just this, being aware. When I started, someone told me that the journey is 80% practice, 20% reading. Not everyone will agree, I started the other way around, but I am trying to follow that rule now, I find it useful.

    As Bhikkhu Analayo says (a Theravada monk that I really enjoyed in the past): If rebirth exists, the best thing to do is to focus on good deeds and on this life. If rebirth doesn't exist, the best thing to do is to focus on good deeds and on this life (paraphrased).

    Will be happy to be of help to you in any way, although I am also a newbie.

    Sorry for going over 3 sentences.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  4. #4
    I feel a very strong pull to Zen Buddhism, but I'm fairly new to Buddhism overall. I have searched and read the Zen take on karma and rebirth but I'm having a really hard time reconciling the differences between what I initially studied on (Tibetan) which seemed logical to me, and the Zen take on it which is seemingly confined to this lifetime.
    Hi JD!

    People in Zen vary in their beliefs. Some may be more akin to your Tibetan background whereas others are more agnostic as regards ideas of rebirth.

    Essentially, there is no dogma in Zen around this. Zen is more of a path of direct experience and what we experience is by and large related to this life, so this is what we focus on. Rebirth is instead considered something which is pretty much unknowable.

    The Buddha himself, is seen in the Pali Canon counselling against thinking about future lives:

    This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?

    (Sabbasava Sutra, Majjhima Nikaya 2)
    Like you, I came from a Tibetan Buddhist background before finding Treeleaf. At first I had to drop a number of ideas I had about practice, but later on have found it useful to draw on those formative experiences.

    Different Buddhist traditions do have different approaches to different teachings but they rest on the same foundation of the Four Noble Truths and the same wish (in Mahayana traditions at least) of freeing all beings from suffering.

    Apologies for this answer exceeding three sentences.

    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.

  5. #5
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Apologies in advance for the flippant comment I'm about to make but I'll be pleased to get through this life let alone being concerned about rebirth and the like.
    On a more serious note my personal politics and ethics lend themselves to being of service to others and the prevention of suffering to all living and seemingly inanimate objects. Soto Zen Buddhism (for me) aligns very nicely with this in its focus on the Bodhisattva ideal. I'm afraid that as another new student (previously only dabbled but never inhaled haha) I'm ignorant to the teachings of other branches of the Buddha Dharma.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today

    *apologies for exceeding 3 sentences.
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  6. #6
    Hey thanks everyone for the words of encouragement and thoughts. The closer I look at this all it seems more like Baptist/Catholic/Lutheran who all still hold the same core belief but differ slightly on how to get there. I need to focus more on the basic teachings, the more subtle differences will work themselves out over time.

    Sat today

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by _Jd_ View Post
    Hey thanks everyone for the words of encouragement and thoughts. The closer I look at this all it seems more like Baptist/Catholic/Lutheran who all still hold the same core belief but differ slightly on how to get there. I need to focus more on the basic teachings, the more subtle differences will work themselves out over time.

    Sat today
    Hi Jd,

    Here is my personal take on such questions (you have to come to your own understanding). I describe myself as someone who sees us reborn constantly, in every blade of grass and grain of sand, baby born now or yesterday or tomorrow, act word and thought. I do not worry too much about mechanical details regarding how rebirth might happen into future lives for this reason ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

    And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

    In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
    Zen Masters of the past, although many or most did believe in Karma and future lives after this one, also knew that liberation is possible in this one too. Thus, it all becomes rather a non-question if we are living gently now, freeing our "self" of excess desire, anger, jealousy and the rest.

    (sorry for running long)

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-15-2020 at 03:30 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Jd,

    Here is my personal take on such questions (you have to come to your own understanding). I described myself as someone who sees us reborn constantly, in every blade of grass and grain of sand, baby born now or yesterday or tomorrow, act word and thought. I do not worry too much about mechanical details regarding how rebirth might happen into future lives for this reason ...

    Zen Masters of the pass, although many or most did believe in Karma and future lives after this one, also knew that liberation is possible in this one too. Thus, it all becomes rather a non-question if we are living gently now, freeing our "self" of excess desire, anger, jealousy and the rest.

    (sorry for running long)

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    This ^ Something just clicked. Thank you.

    Sat today
    Last edited by _Jd_; 12-15-2020 at 03:20 AM. Reason: corrected a word

  9. #9
    Hi Jd, welcome!
    A stone woman gives birth to a child at night means that the moment when a
    barren woman gives birth to a child is called night.
    There are male stones, female stones, and nonmale, nonfemale stones. Placed
    in the sky and in the earth, they are called heavenly stones and earthly stones.
    These are explained in the ordinary world, but not many people know about it.
    Understand the meaning of gives birth to a child. At the moment of giving
    birth to a child, is the mother separate from the child? Study not only that you
    become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child. This
    is to actualize giving birth in practice-realization. Study and investigate this
    thoroughly.
    Now I may be way off the mark with my understanding, but for me this quote from Dogen "Mountains and Water Sutra" is as much about death as it is about birth.

    I came a lot in Tibetan writings describing the moment of death as a child returning to mother's lap and that moment being the greatest opportunity for realising our true nature, if you miss that, well that's where the post mortem bardo instructions apply.

    In Zen, the practice - realisation is a mother giving birth to a child, becoming a child.... and a child becoming a mother : a practice of realising your true nature, actualising the Way in this lifetime, so there's no need to worry to much about afterlife.

    Gassho
    Sat

  10. #10
    Thank you Ania, that's a very interesting way to see it. Much for me to contemplate and explore.

    Sat today

  11. #11
    I don't have much to add because I am in agreeance with the others. Whether there is karma and rebirth it's best to try to remain true to the Way here and now. I have heard it said that only humans are capable of achieving full enlightenment. If rebirth exists there is no telling when you get your chance to be human again. So focus on following the precepts and peeling back the layers of the onion in this life as best we can.
    Dave SAT/LAH

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