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Thread: The big R

  1. #1

    The big R


    Just back from my first offical zen retreat this weekend at Throssel Howl Abbey in the UK.

    All went well, silence, sitting, but blimey I was hungry, I'm used to a bit more than porridge and a couple of veggie soups a day :lol:

    At a Q&A session with the monks I thought I'd bring up the reincarnation question just to get their 'official' response to it out of interest.

    The response was basically:

    It's best not to concern ourselves over it and just do our practise.

    As Dogen says the belief is that on death the body diss-agregates including any un-resolved karma but there is no abiding self that carries on carrying your karma.

    Other 'Buddhist traditions' that believe in literal re-incarnation (such as Tibetan) believe what they believe, who knows who is right so don't waste time thinking on it and concentrate on your own training.

    I mentioned that people had been banned from a certain internet forum for saying the above which they obviously found faintly amusing judging by from their smile but made no comment.

    Hoping to go on a longer one there later this year.

    In gassho, Kev

  2. #2

    Re: The big R

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    Just back from my first offical zen retreat this weekend at Throssel Howl Abbey in the UK.
    LOLOLOL! :lol: Considering that they are a contemplative order, big on silence, and live out in the Middle of Nowhere Hexham I'm wondering whence the howl arose?? Was it yours?

    I'm glad you got there! They are such a wonderful, warm, compassionate group of very fine monks. I don't know if you actually got to hear Rev. Master Daishin Morgan speak but he's quite wonderful. He's also got one heck of a sense of that English wry humour (many of the monks there do, actually.) Did you run into Rev. Master Mugo by any chance? She's a truly lovely and wise monk. Also, didn't you get some really good stuff to eat at the end of the retreat? Usually there's a wonderful breakfast or somewhat on the last day.

    Yes, I've seen that "little smile" which is all the answer the monks will give to some questions or responses. It's just another way of saying, "that is not the important thing" so that you don't get stuck there. It's a very compassionate way of moving everyone along.

    Well...good for you! I hope you found it to be fruitful to your practice. Be well.

    In Gassho~


  3. #3

    Re: The big R

    :lol: sorry it's Hole not Howl :lol: can't even put it down to typo as 'l' is no where near 'e' on the key board!

    I did wonder if you'd met some of them from your time at Shasta.

    Didn't hear Rev Master Daishin speak but I have before, I did bump into him doing the washing up though, he was in charge of the dishwasher (who said the bosses don't get all the fun!) as well as seeing him leading the services. One of the things I really enjoy is singing the scriptures in plain chant, I find it very moving, even though it's not something I would ever listen to. The organ seems to have gone which was even better, just the voices.

    I was hoping to meet Rev Master Mugo as I'd been in email conversation with her on and off about ME after something she posted on her blog. She's off back to the states soon, not sure exactly when or where but seems to be a very busy woman.

    We did get a more substantial meal on the sunday just before we left and it was informal so chance for a talk just before we all left. Don't get me wrong the food was and always is lovely there, I'm just used to a bit more than was on offer :lol:

    In gassho, Kev

  4. #4

    Re: The big R

    Let me mention in passing ...

    ... the main reason I was booted off e-sangha this week (1 month suspension) is for protesting this rule of theirs. We have many fine Zen Buddhist "monks" at Throssel Hole and elsewhere, living very strict lives. Yet, on e-sangha, one is not allowed to call these people "monks" merely because they derive from a Japanese lineage ...

    A "monastic" is defined for E-sangha as a person who has legitimately received at least a novice ordination in a monastic tradition and presently maintains those vows and precepts, including celibacy. Monastic traditions are defined as those of the Theravada, Dharmagupta, or Mulasarvastivada schools.

    A "priest" is defined for E-sangha as a person who has received formal ordination in any of the modern Japanese lineages, sects, or schools, and who is either married or unmarried. The ordination must have been verifiably recognized by the concerned formal governing body in Japan. The term "minister" may be used in the same sense as "priest" if desired.
    In "e-sangha" speak, this is all code for their belief that the only true Buddhist clergy are those of the Theravada, Dharmagupta, or Mulasarvastivada schools (you need a history lesson to know why), while all Japanese clergy of every sect or type are ordained laypeople who remain as lay people (so silly!!!). I am sorry to see sectarianism raise its ugly head anywhere, especially within Buddhism. It is not unlike the way Catholic priests have frequently looked upon the Protestant clergy (for those of you who recall the Reformation).

    I do not care about names and status, and such things are all baloney. I do not care if you call me Jundo, Jim, Monk or Monkey, Priest or Plumber ... (names are just names). I do not care if you think of me as "high" or "low", cause I am right where I need to be ... beyond high and low. But I did protest that we all had the right to use the same drinking fountain of the Buddha's Wisdom, and nobody need sit at the back of the Dharma bus.

    I did nothing more this week to be booted off than say that everybody drinks at the same fountain.

    For those of you who do not know, my last banishment from e-sangha was for saying that I do not know whether rebirth exists or not, that I certainly doubt an overly literal or mechanical model of reincarnation, nor do I think that any living person has a sure grasp on what happens after we are dead, nor is knowing for sure important to my Practice (which is centered on living this life, here and now). I also said that if the Buddha claimed some mechanical view of reincarnation (I do not think he did), well, even so, he was just speaking as a man of his culture and times.

    That does not mean that I do not believe in life after death, by the way. I certainly do, and that we are reborn then and now too. I discussed my vision of how, most certainly, we do not die (cause we were never born) in these two talks ... ... death.html

    and ... tives.html

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: The big R

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Let me mention in passing ...

    ... (1 month suspension)
    Oooo! Vuja De!

    Use it wisely? :wink:

    as in: meditate on why you would ever go back to that site again, grasshopper...

    In Gassho~


  6. #6

    Re: The big R

    It's rather hypocritical to host Zen forums if they do not recognize Zen monks - oh, I'm sure they're happy to get the search traffic when people Google "Zen Forum" etc. Maybe they should make the font in there a special colour so you know its a lesser form. Or make some "my dharma can beat up your dharma" T-shirts for the store.

    If you want to see some interesting views of the afterlife and its consequences for morality:

    Yahoo Answers - Home > Society & Culture > Religion & Spirituality;_ylt=AuGK ... ?link=list


  7. #7

    Re: The big R

    :lol: Crazy :lol:

    Seems like you're stuck in a cycle of rebirth and death with e-sanga Jundo :?:

    I echo Lynn's thoughts. Time to get off :?:

    In gassho, Kev

  8. #8

    Re: The big R

    Hi Guys,

    Oh, I am not there looking for trouble (and I thought I was being rather careful) ... but sometimes I offer a too liberal or critical opinion on doctrine or Buddhist history and the thought police "disappear' me.

    Should I go back?

    Well, if I and some others don't speak out for a certain viewpoint (however carefully we must do so), it will be silenced and unheard by folks looking for a variety of information on Buddhism. Providing to newcomers and exchanging information of Buddhism is the main purpose of the e-sangha site.

    I am not a Russian dissident sent to Siberia, or Rosa Parks ... but it feels like it in a very very small sort of way.

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9

    Re: The big R

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Providing to newcomers and exchanging information of Buddhism is the main purpose of the e-sangha site.
    I hate to point out the obvious, but the main purpose of e-sangha is point out their own superiority over other forms of Buddhism. The attitude there is not much different from that of Chinese or Tibetan Buddhists I've encountered who declare that Japanese are only "playing" at being Buddhist. E-sangha has as it's main goal the dissemination of their own discriminatory views.

  10. #10

    Re: The big R

    I've been listening to the audio book of "Moon in a Dewdrop" every night as I go to sleep, I find it very poetic. (I got it on iTunes, search for Dogen) Last night this part stood out... how appropriate:

    Accordingly, endeavors in practice-realization of the way are not limited to one or two kinds. The ultimate realm has one thousand kinds and ten thousand ways.
    I sure love the Mountains & Waters Sutra - I don't understand 90% of it but I love it anyway


  11. #11

    Re: The big R

    PS I think the text from the front page of e-sangha's "Zen Shop" says it all...

    Get with the true flock; enter the Zen Shop!

    The online store that knows the most about real oriental mysticism begins here.

    T-shirt designs that specialize in buddhism symbols and oriental crests; wear them on your chest and know that there is no contest!

    Rest assured that creations are original, and be confident that they are real in meaning, including great looking Chinese characters and emblems that are exact in translation. When you get hooked on one oriental theme, be sure that you could quickly begin to collect the same design on many other merchandise.
    Way to go, guys.

  12. #12

    Re: The big R

    Harry's statement is a timely reminder that as human beings, we will constantly encounter attachment, discriminating thoughts, and other forms of likes and dislikes... even in the Buddhist community...

    "Surely its a very ineffective Buddhism which sees ideas as threatening."

    The notion of threatening ideas in intellectual, philosophical, and religious traditions is one that I find disappointing and at this point in my life view as a human quality or tendency that some individuals manifest - some more than others. I encountered it in my own doctoral thesis work - I went through two advisors before I found a third who was comfortable enough with my work to advocate for it... what is the difference between a teacher who spends their career defending the boundaries of their knowledge and one who encourages colleagues and students to redefine those boundaries?

    One of the most interesting developments I have found in certain quarters of Buddhist thought (Tibetan (Dalai Lama), Vietnamese (Thich Nhat Hanh), as well as Japanese (Gudo Nishijima, Hisamtasu Shin'ichi) is the necessity of not only incorporating but reconciling Buddhist practice with other traditions (in this context, Western disciplines such as science, psychology, and historical/philosophical method) if Buddhism is to remain relevant as a potential soltuion to the problems that humanity faces in this century. The problems and challenges of secular knowledge as they are posed not only in Buddhism, but Christianity and Islam are only too well known - and their followers fall out along tectonic divides - perhaps this has more to do with the way in which the human mind collects, analyzes, and manages knowledge - George Lakoff uses the term "frames of reference." What are the frames through which we view our world and our relation to it?

    I was born into the Greek Orthodox tradition - complete with Bishops, Archbishops, and priests - incense, black robes, kissing the back of my uncle's hand on Sunday afternoons (done not only in the mafia)... it is interesting that at age 48 I am choosing to be a Zen Buddhist - my family of origin thinks that I am renouncing my background and tradition - when I believe that I am embracing it - expanding the barriers of knowledge and thought in my own experience - by the way, the source of this digression is the expression of gratitude on my part that I have found this community.

    I was at the bookstore in town yesterday - a small, independent, college town bookstore - the owner is a poet and esrtwhile Buddhist who remembers Alan Watts - I told him of the Treeleaf Sangha and his reaction to the idea of an online sangha was highly skeptical - I was sorry to witness that - in my own experience this community is a place where I am able to observe and participate in the flow of discussion and exploration - I'm on board for the duration!


  13. #13

    Re: The big R

    Congratulations on making it through the retreat, Kev! I've got a 3-day meditation retreat of my own coming up at the end of the month. I've heard many good things about the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, but have never had any contact with any of their groups (I believe there's an affiliated temple in BC somewhere?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    The response was basically:

    It's best not to concern ourselves over it and just do our practise.
    That's pretty well what I've always heard too. I was very surprised when everyone's favourite self-kicking anthill on the Buddhist Internet started making such a huge fuss over the issue. I've never really had much trouble in following the advice that the monks gave you, Kev. I find it quite difficult to spend very much time at all thinking about what happens to me when I die. Logic and experience both fail me, and I get frustrated and bored. And arguing from what the sutras or the Shobogenzo says just seems like an ipse dixit to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    The attitude there is not much different from that of Chinese or Tibetan Buddhists I've encountered who declare that Japanese are only "playing" at being Buddhist.
    I don't really know any Tibetans, but it's been my experience that Chinese (and Korean) people like to declare (very loudly!) that they are better than the Japanese at any damn thing! Just ask about tea ceremony! :mrgreen:

  14. #14

  15. #15

    Re: The big R

    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Here's an interesting translation/commentary of 'Mountains & Rivers' from Jundo's teacher's blog: ... zo-14.html
    Thats great thanks!! Wow, I never thought of "mountains walking" in terms of Earth's rotation (or more broadly, Einstein's relativity) before, but it makes total sense :shock:


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