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Thread: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

  1. #1

    3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    We continue our reading with SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14 ... ... 03-10.html

    I will just mention a couple of things. The layman "Hoon" who is mentioned in 3-11 is the great "Layman P'ang" ... one of the great enlightened laypeople in Zen stories ...

    and everyone at some time should read the little tales attributed to him (here is one translation I have not read, I am more familiar with the Ruth Sasaki version) ... ... 382&sr=1-1

    Laymen P'ang sits right up their with Vimalakirti as a symbol for lay (non-ordained, householder) practice ... ... 0271006013

    Also, let me emphasize again that THERE IS NO NEED TO AGREE WITH DOGEN ZENJI ON EVERYTHING ... Just because he was "enlightened" does not mean he had all the answers. (It is probably enough to agree on the main stuff, the important stuff about "the universe and life" ... not how to best wash your socks). So, for example, his advice on a fellow thinking to abandon his old mother to poverty in order to be a priest in 3-14 ... eh? I don't know about that at all.

    Gassho, J

  2. #2

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    One of the key things that attracted me to Buddhism was the statement that you should check out the Buddha's teachings for yourself to see if they are true.

    The issues raised in this section have caused me a good deal of exploration over the years.

    Firstly Dogen appears to be saying two things:

    that monastic practice is primarily better than lay practice;
    secondly that it is better to have no or few resources as they act as an impediment

    My experiences have not necessarily supported this. I have seen many unpleasant interactions among humans in monastic and buddhist centre settings and many unpleasant interactions outside and this has definitely had an effect on abilities and opportunities to practice. This is usually then interpreted in terms of personal karma, but it seems to me that this can become an excuse for allowing any type of interaction. If the argument is that there is a need, at times, in your practice to remove yourself from the outside world this is a different argument as a monastic setting could be the outside world if you used it in that way.

    Clearly wealth/resources can act in relation to fostering delusions and the precepts are designed to counteract this and enhance practice, but resources are also needed to develop organisations, facilities which support the dharma and provide facilities for monks to live. All of this seems to be supporting our interaction with the world around us.

    Another way I've seen this looked at is in terms of culture. Clearly Dogen lived in a completely different culture to ours when this division between monastic and lay practitioner perhaps made more sense but clearly there is a need to apply these teachings to our current situation which requires experience and wisdom. From my experience we do not live in a culture which extensively supports monastic existence and modern day western practitioners are having to find new ways to adapt these teachings to our very different culture

    From Taigu's excellent teachings on the Ox Herding pictures my feeling is that you have to work with where you are at this time and probably for most of us the opportunity for extensive monastic practice is limited.The contradiction I have with Dogen here is that in Mahayana Buddhism I don't see this as a bad thing. If you connect with the world around you and try to reduce the self the world should open up the way it wants to. This now seems to be different to the world Dogen was connected to although the fundamental truths he described are the same.

    What follows if this is in anyway accurate is that modern day teachers and practitioners have massive responsibilities and challenges to adapt the teachings of Buddha and Dogen to be as effective in our modern culture as they were in Dogens.

    Thank you for Tree Leaf Jundo


  3. #3

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    3-10 'The old nest is what we are always going back to. A kind of frame we are unable to get out of, that is, the tendency or the system of values formed by our upbringing, experiences, and so on. It is the Karmic (or conditioned) self.'

    This is so true. There are parts of the old nest I don't like. I'm grateful to be able to come and go more frequently.

    3-11 'If a lay person learning the Way still clings to wealth, covets comfortable housing, and keeps company with relatives, despite having the aspiration he will confront many obstacles in learning the Way.'

    It's all in the mind. The problem with business and wealth is that it requires attention and too much attention to this may be an obstacle to practice.

    3-12 'Without thinking of how to gain or store up things you will naturally receive as much as you need to stay alive for a while. Each person has his allotted share; heaven and earth bestow it on us. Even though you don’t run around seeking it, you will receive it without fail.'

    Is this great faith? Maybe my problem is that I've always wanted to stay alive for more than just a while.

    314 'If you abandon your present life and enter the Buddha-Way, even if your mother dies of starvation, wouldn’t it be better for you to form a connection with the Way and for her to permit her only son to enter the Way?'

    Maybe in Dogen's day this wasn't as true, but today one can enter the Buddha-Way without abandoning your present life or your mother.


  4. #4

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14


    expect nothing, seek nothing, gain nothing.
    As i like to say it, "expect nothing, be prepared for everything!"
    He goes on to say that you have to continue doing the right thing even after you stop practicing, which i think is an important point.
    Our practice doesn't end when we leave the cushion.

    First of all, a person studying the Way should be poor.
    This is because being poor is being intimate with the Way.
    Wealth is poison which sickens both body and mind.
    First up let me just say i'm with dogen here and thinks he might have missed the point.
    Welath is a poison if you let it be, and as such being poor should be being intimate with the way.
    But in our doing the dharma we transcend such things as wealthy and poor.
    When being poor, be poor.
    When being wealthy be wealthy.
    Both can be in accordance with the dharma.

    Although many lay people have learned the dharma since ancient times, even those who were known as good practitioners were no match for monks.
    Think about it, if you want to learn to jump high, which would be better training in the stadium with a trainer or at home in the garden alone?
    They're both good.
    But can't you learn to jump as high at home as in the stadium?

    Here he talks about having some fields to harvest rather on relying on alms.
    Maybe it is a great obstacle to have to go up and pull weeds when you rather just sit.
    I don't know.
    For me they're both good practice.

    Therefore, do not depend on the sentiments of worldly people. If an action should be carried out according to the Buddha-Way, practice it wholeheartedly.
    Do what is right, not what gets you the most "plus".
    And when doing the right thing do it with the right mindset.

    This one is about that you can't do two things at the same time, pulling in two directions at once...
    The leaving the mother part is controversial, perhaps...
    But if you look at it, can he practice wholeheartedly when his mind is at different places at once?


  5. #5

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    Fugen, thank you for your views and insights.

  6. #6

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    From my experience we do not live in a culture which extensively supports monastic existence and modern day western practitioners are having to find new ways to adapt these teachings to our very different culture

    I am not challenging your views as I understand the concept and reasoning, they just triggered a thought. As did reading 3-11, 3-12 concerning wealth, possesion, and surviving'

    I have been thinking much about this lately, of culture and how it applies to how we learn and follow a given path, and how culture affects us.

    I personnnaly have been struggling lately with my own place in culture, and finding balance between what I am "Supposed to do", and what I need to do, in regards to Work, Family, Spirt, and all things life.

    I could elabotare at great length, but long story short, I have Tried the "American Dream" approach (College, Job, House....Debt) and it did not work out for me well. (trying not to come off too bitter ) It may work well for many but, I have been VERY fortunate in all areas of life, yet in the pursuit have been left feeling kinda lost and empty. *Sniff* *Sniff* :roll: Enough of my sobs.

    I would be curious to hear from others, what effect you think your culture has on your practice, and do you feel it difficult to balance the line of what your heart/spirit tells you and what the world tells you?

    My apologizes, if this is out of place in the book forum, as I have made it about my own personal thoughts. I would gladly move it to a new thread if I may get some external views on this.

    P.S. thinking about my own words above "Supposed to do" Does culture really have that much push on us, or is this me using culture as an excuse for my inability to be happy with things as they are?

  7. #7

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14


    Awakening the mind which seeks the way, one wants nothing and gains nothing. However, this doesn't mean we don't walk, or sit, or do stuff. The way is presented directly before you. This basically means coming back to Zazen (on/off cushion) and maintaining a balance in the midst of things. Doesn't mean anything really. Just this. Just practice, just life. Being attentive, or aware. There are a lot of words for it. However, the thing that we fail to realize, is that it is directly beneath your feet. No need to search, run away to a monastery, recite Sutras, go fishing or whatever it is that we "think" we need to do. Although, those are great practices (minus the fishing) for maintaining Buddha mind and such, etc.


  8. #8

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Just this. Just practice, just life. Being attentive, or aware. There are a lot of words for it. However, the thing that we fail to realize, is that it is directly beneath your feet. No need to search, run away to a monastery, recite Sutras, go fishing or whatever it is that we "think" we need to do.
    Eaiser said then done , but it does make a little more sense with time, (I know that is the point....patience and practice, but it is very difficult not to question the world around me) I even told myself after that last post, "Just sit!"

    Thank you for the thoughts Will, much appreciated.
    Gassho ~ Dave.

  9. #9

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    There is a danger to idealize Zen practice by only hearing the superficial aspects of such as these words of Dogen. I have seen, too often, in aspirants of a spiritual life the tendency to adopt the trappings of those held in high esteem, rather than the practice these same ideals that they have undergone for years. In other words, hearing that the better part of the practice is accomplished by monks may move some to think if they acted, or dressed, or lived like monks they would attain all those things spoken of. I can tell you first hand that the clothes do not make the monk!

    Sure we can give up all wealth and attaining, but might not the act of acting like a monk also be a form of seeking to attain "wealth". There is a lot of honor and prestige in some circles for the monk, and very often it is enough to knock him or her off the zafu into the dirt. We are always looking for shortcuts to most things: "get it, got it, good". I think that to truly practice this way we will need to give up the desire for a shortcut and just accept the fact that it is a daily grind of doing the best we can. Most of the time, no fanfares, no flashes of insight, no omniscience; just doing what we do each day, no matter what state we live in. One does not have to become monastic to do this, one does not have to abandon monasticism to do this, one does not have to be poor or free to practice because wealth supports the freedom to practice.

    Today we have societies in both the East and West that are vastly different from medieval Japan or Europe. The monasteries are not supported by nobility, nor even revered as they once were. The laity are not serfs owned by the nobility or the monastery, ignorant, muddy and superstitious. There is far less of a gulf between monks and lay people now, and in fact there is much more of a cross-over between the two. In Japan the Zen "monks" often marry and have families; in the West we have opened our monasteries for more and more of the laity to spend time with us and become affiliated as oblates or third order members. For those who wish to have spiritual training and experience, the way is far more open than 500-600 years ago; and the laity are considered to be equally capable as the monastics. I think Dogen's words in these chapters need to be taken with far less gravity than they were when he spoke them.

    My concern, as mentioned at the start of these comments, is that some who seek to be trained and practice also try to take on the trappings of a group who is also on the same path, feeling those trappings as "necessary" for them to seem "real". Today there is no need to leave family, job and home to find spiritual training, and I am sure that this is one of the 84,000 paths the Buddha intended.



  10. #10

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    Endless bows, Seishin.

    (in other words ... Amen)

  11. #11

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    The first reading to me was a warning not to get caught up in wealth because it will by nature impede the way. This is true because most people cling to it and it gets so that people equate it with personal worth, and they want more and more.

    Following the Patriarchs to me means that they are the guide up the mountain and to follow after them might learn me a thing or two. Practicing the way even though you be reviled, well, that means that Buddhism isn't a fad. Do it because you love it and live it and believe it and know it, don't tuck tail and run because some one laughed at you.

    I'm not sure that I can muster the kind of determination however, that would allow my mother to starve. I think I'd go with the "I'll help her now, and later, when she has passed from this world in peace, I will enter the Buddha life." way.

  12. #12

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    The old nest is a apt metaphor. Perhaps we never are entirely free of it, but learn to visit a bit less. Dogen says practice without expectation and just keep our focus on practice not expectation. This reminds me of Taigu's statement:
    It might be helpful to remember that enlightenment takes care of itself, it is none of our business.

    3-11 and 3-12
    Perhaps becoming a monk has its advantages, but for me not likely. I defer to Kyrill-Seishin's comments above as I believe he has made some excellent points of the drawbacks of "idealizing" the monastic life.

    How often do we judge our actions by how friends, family, co-workers will view them? There is a social psychological principle called imaginary audience, which refers to the fact that we tend to imagine how others will react to our behavior and this guides our actions. This is not always a bad thing as imaginary rehearsal can save us from making some very serious blunders. Nevertheless, I catch myself thinking what great praise I may get from others if I do X and not Y. Dogen reminds us that our gauge for life is the practice.

    I would not let my mother starve for an "opportunity for eternal peace and joy." In fact, this seems a bit contrary to 3-10 above....we ditch our mother for the hope of some reward? Nevertheless, it does raise the issue of how we deal with responsibilities we have towards our families and how this relates to the Way. Seems to me that the Mahayana tradition, with the emphasis on compassion, argues for an incorporation of caring for our family as we follow the Way. Shohei's picture illustrates this beyond mere words.


  13. #13

    Re: 3/12 - SHOBOGENZO-ZUIMONKI - 3-10 to 3-14

    Hi all,

    Some thoughts "late in the game":

    3-10 -- This struck me as Dogen giving a pep talk to someone asking, "Is this really going anywhere?" His answer: Yes...and no. I appreciated the "old nest" metaphor as it fits my falling back into old habits perfectly. Everyone questions their path once and shame in that, but stay on target (what target?).

    3-11 -- I agree with Fugen that being wealthy is only a problem if you let it be, but like many temptations I think human nature makes us vulnerable to some traps more than others. Having wealth can make you feel more powerful and more important and I actually think it can be more harmful to one's children than to the one who actually earns the wealth (rather than inheriting it). If we are charitable and humble I do not think it necessary to throw all our posessions into the sea. Besides, couldn't Hoon have given each of his possessions to a different person and not as a set to one individual?

    3-12 -- Again, I don't think one needs to live in the woods alone to learn the dharma and certainly not to sit, but if we could leave everything behind I suppose it might be easier. But do we want it to be easier? Isn't learning the Way with all of modern life's distractions perhaps more challenging? Jundo often tells us that we should sit zazen in a crowded place every once and is harder than sitting alone in many respects. Not all, but most I think.

    3-13 -- For me, not having many friends or people to sit with it can be challenging to stay connected to the dharma. Others' doubts (or my mind's creation of what other people "must" be thinking) can quite easily slip in and move us away from the path, even their praise at practicing the Way can be distracting. Ultimately, have "faith" (a loaded concept, but not meant in a religous context) in what you are practicing and continue despite what others say, good or bad.

    3-14 -- As someone who has a complex relationship with my mother my first instinct was to say, "See you later Mom!" Harsh? Yes...and I feel bad that such was my first thought. It is basically a feeling that upon my mother's passing I will feel a certain relief...again, perhaps horrible to say...but nonetheless true. In the end I agree that this advice is rather puzzling since, despite any differences we might have, if I was my mother's sole support and she had no other means I don't think leaving her by the side of the road is the way to go. And even is she "endorsed" such a plan, I don't think anyone's mother would say, "Go ahead son...I won't be ok, but don't let that bother you." It again supports the idea that one need not be a monk to learn the dharma or to practice these days.


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