Advice on my intentions

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ASimpleAspirant
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Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm

Hello.

I desire a simple and consistent spiritual practice based on Zen Buddhism that I can pursue alone. I go to a group once a week so am aware of chanting and bowing and want to incorporate these into my practice. I also want to set up a home altar. I want to understand why I'm doing all these things, the reasons why they are significant etc. and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path.

Thank you.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:45 pm

Right. Use search options to find nearby groups, touch bases with them. There’s lots of different stripes and colors. Meeting and knowing a teacher, yes, but also a sangha as well. This puts you in the organization and the lineage and tradition; nothing else can. Then you still have to do solitary work, ultimately entering the cave to face off with the dragon. So you got an idea about that part, which is good. People in here can supply references as well
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Fruitzilla
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Fruitzilla » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:08 pm

ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
Hello.

I desire a simple and consistent spiritual practice based on Zen Buddhism that I can pursue alone. I go to a group once a week so am aware of chanting and bowing and want to incorporate these into my practice. I also want to set up a home altar. I want to understand why I'm doing all these things, the reasons why they are significant etc. and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path.

Thank you.
That's a lot of questions! Is my assumption right that there is no teacher at the group you go to? If so, maybe you can have a look at other groups in the neighbourhood to see if there's a teacher there you can ask your questions?
Zen is something that has to grow on you, so my main advice is to take it easy, keep sitting, ask questions and not worry about being a legitimate Zen Buddhist for at least a while. That will happen on its own.

Caodemarte
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:10 pm

ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
...and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path...
What does “being considered a Zen Buddhist” mean, why is that important to you or others?
There is no tax exemption or license :D .

If your question is how to deepen your practice I would point out as a fellow student that almost everyone for many centuries has found it extremely helpful to make a connection to a competent teacher and to fellow travelers on the way, and to use all resources available. Why would you not? A good teacher can encourage you, help you take the best course for you, help you formulate your deep questions, but no Zen teacher should require submission or attempt to make you follow any course, except your own. At the end of an interview a very good teacher asked me if I had any questions. Taking that as referring to my deep questions, I politely answered, “None that you can answer (for me).” “Got that right!,” he laughed.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Meido
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Meido » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:20 pm

To add to the other comments:

There is a bit of irony is needing to ask others about this, isn't there.

Short answer:

There are certainly practices you can learn and begin doing on your own with minimal guidance. But in general, you will need a teacher. It is not an option.

Longer answer:

All practice is individualistic. It is individualistic because only you can aspire to walk the path, and bring practice to fruition.

All practice is communal. It is communal because, as you've already discovered, knowledge regarding the path - how to practice - is obtained from other human beings.

The name "Zen Buddhist" is not important. What is important is that one actualizes what that name implies: awakening to one's nature, and practicing a path taking that awakening as its basis. Only this is Zen.

But because this path is one of seeing through and dissolving our own habitual delusion, advice regarding it must necessarily at times come from someone other than oneself, that is, someone other than the very one caught up in the delusion. Absent this, the path will become something increasingly self-indulgent, and in the end stubbornly fixated upon subtle personal preferences and fears.

The indispensable role of the teacher - not as someone to whom one submits, but as spiritual friend...a mentor and companion along the path, if you like - is affirmed again and again in the sutras, Zen writings, sayings of the patriarchs and masters, and so on. The idea that one may practice without a guide in a completely self-guided manner, according to one's own preferences and judgments, seems to be a rather recent one. To my mind it follows general cultural trends of social fragmentation, over-affirmation of subjectivity and individualism, and a false equation of the transmission of knowledge via technology with deep body-mind learning.

Personal observation, if it interests you: I have met many people who believed quite strongly that they were following the Zen path successfully alone, without guidance. To a person, each was caught up without knowing in obstructions, mistaken interpretations/views, or really basic pitfalls that could have been avoided right from the beginning. How tragic, what a complete shame, to have met with the sublime Zen teachings, to have the inclination and ability to practice, and really to have all one could need for the path - truly, good fortune so vast as to be inconceivable - and then to waste one's opportunity and life energy by avoiding something so basic and common-sense: a teacher with more knowledge of the subject than oneself.

Now, certainly there are folks whose conditions give them pause when it comes to teachers and communities: things like social anxiety, negative experiences or trauma, and so on are important to address. Allowances can be made, and patience is a must. But technology, in fact, allows us to contact and receive guidance in many ways that can ease our entry into a positive relationship with a teacher. We can reach out to many teachers, and slowly and patiently come to choose with whom we wish to work. So that is a tremendous advantage today compared to the past.

Despite all this, if one is determined to pursue a path of solo, self-guided practice, there will be some practical questions to be addressed:

1. Since Zen is a path based on an initial gate of experiential, rather than intellectual, understanding: how will I confirm for myself that I have indeed entered that gate?

2. Since the path of practice especially after entering the gate of awakening is exceedingly difficult, and must be walked in a manner that accords with my unique conditions: how will I, without experience, know what direction to go so as not to slip back into habitual delusion?

3. Since the path of practice in general contains so many potential pitfalls, experiences that can be falsely interpreted, and sticking points to be addressed: who will help me to avoid and address these things, since I myself have no knowledge of what to watch out for?

4. Since Zen practice is something psycho-physical and yogic, not simply mental and psychological, from whom will I learn the many details, and who will be the model from whom I may "catch" this knowledge with my own body in the manner that is required?

5. Since the path is both founded upon, and reaches its fruition, not only through a desire to benefit myself, but through a deep vow and aspiration to aid all beings: how will I in fact begin to accomplish such a thing, if I do not mingle with others?

Much more could be said, but that is certainly enough.

:namaste:

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:47 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Right. Use search options to find nearby groups, touch bases with them. There’s lots of different stripes and colors. Meeting and knowing a teacher, yes, but also a sangha as well. This puts you in the organization and the lineage and tradition; nothing else can. Then you still have to do solitary work, ultimately entering the cave to face off with the dragon. So you got an idea about that part, which is good. People in here can supply references as well
Thanks for replying. Yes I am hoping to contact some teachers in the area. I live in a large city so there are plenty of groups to try. I am sort of afraid to ask, but what do you mean by "to face off with the dragon"? In fact, no please do not answer that. I will perhaps know one day what that means or I will never know!
Last edited by ASimpleAspirant on Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:12 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:08 pm
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
Hello.

I desire a simple and consistent spiritual practice based on Zen Buddhism that I can pursue alone. I go to a group once a week so am aware of chanting and bowing and want to incorporate these into my practice. I also want to set up a home altar. I want to understand why I'm doing all these things, the reasons why they are significant etc. and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path.

Thank you.
That's a lot of questions! Is my assumption right that there is no teacher at the group you go to? If so, maybe you can have a look at other groups in the neighbourhood to see if there's a teacher there you can ask your questions?
Zen is something that has to grow on you, so my main advice is to take it easy, keep sitting, ask questions and not worry about being a legitimate Zen Buddhist for at least a while. That will happen on its own.
Thank you for replying. Yes, it was a lot of questions. Sorry about that.. I am beginning to become more certain that I shall approach the teacher in the group with some questions I have. Though it may be slightly intimidating at first. I really feel like I want to go deeper into the practice. I am slightly afraid I suppose of committing to working with a teacher, I am generally slow to commit to anything, and would prefer to find a way where I could just practice alone and still progress and have some sort of beautiful deepening practice. In reality I suppose I know that that may simply not be possible. I will see how my next group session goes and will try not to force things. Thanks.

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:34 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:10 pm
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
...and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path...
What does “being considered a Zen Buddhist” mean, why is that important to you or others?
There is no tax exemption or license :D .

If your question is how to deepen your practice I would point out as a fellow student that almost everyone for many centuries has found it extremely helpful to make a connection to a competent teacher and to fellow travelers on the way, and to use all resources available. Why would you not? A good teacher can encourage you, help you take the best course for you, help you formulate your deep questions, but no Zen teacher should require submission or attempt to make you follow any course, except your own. At the end of an interview a very good teacher asked me if I had any questions. Taking that as referring to my deep questions, I politely answered, “None that you can answer (for me).” “Got that right!,” he laughed.
I suppose what I really meant by that is not that it's important I am seen by others as a Zen Buddhist because I want to be seen in a certain way. What I was really trying to say was that if an individual who did all their practice alone and never used a teacher or anything and tried to figure it all out by themselves can be considered as a practicing Zen Buddhist, is there a precedence for this. Or just someone who is simply engaging in meditation and reading books, which is really the point where I am at at this time, (apart from my weekly visit to a meditation group, as a more or less anonymous member). Whether it is even possible practicing like that to attain all the things that we happen to attain from practicing.

I like your point about how for centuries connecting with a teacher and others has been seen as helpful. Food for thought. Thank you.

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:16 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:20 pm
To add to the other comments:

There is a bit of irony is needing to ask others about this, isn't there.

Short answer:

There are certainly practices you can learn and begin doing on your own with minimal guidance. But in general, you will need a teacher. It is not an option.

Longer answer:

All practice is individualistic. It is individualistic because only you can aspire to walk the path, and bring practice to fruition.

All practice is communal. It is communal because, as you've already discovered, knowledge regarding the path - how to practice - is obtained from other human beings.

The name "Zen Buddhist" is not important. What is important is that one actualizes what that name implies: awakening to one's nature, and practicing a path taking that awakening as its basis. Only this is Zen.

But because this path is one of seeing through and dissolving our own habitual delusion, advice regarding it must necessarily at times come from someone other than oneself, that is, someone other than the very one caught up in the delusion. Absent this, the path will become something increasingly self-indulgent, and in the end stubbornly fixated upon subtle personal preferences and fears.

The indispensable role of the teacher - not as someone to whom one submits, but as spiritual friend...a mentor and companion along the path, if you like - is affirmed again and again in the sutras, Zen writings, sayings of the patriarchs and masters, and so on. The idea that one may practice without a guide in a completely self-guided manner, according to one's own preferences and judgments, seems to be a rather recent one. To my mind it follows general cultural trends of social fragmentation, over-affirmation of subjectivity and individualism, and a false equation of the transmission of knowledge via technology with deep body-mind learning.

Personal observation, if it interests you: I have met many people who believed quite strongly that they were following the Zen path successfully alone, without guidance. To a person, each was caught up without knowing in obstructions, mistaken interpretations/views, or really basic pitfalls that could have been avoided right from the beginning. How tragic, what a complete shame, to have met with the sublime Zen teachings, to have the inclination and ability to practice, and really to have all one could need for the path - truly, good fortune so vast as to be inconceivable - and then to waste one's opportunity and life energy by avoiding something so basic and common-sense: a teacher with more knowledge of the subject than oneself.

Now, certainly there are folks whose conditions give them pause when it comes to teachers and communities: things like social anxiety, negative experiences or trauma, and so on are important to address. Allowances can be made, and patience is a must. But technology, in fact, allows us to contact and receive guidance in many ways that can ease our entry into a positive relationship with a teacher. We can reach out to many teachers, and slowly and patiently come to choose with whom we wish to work. So that is a tremendous advantage today compared to the past.

Despite all this, if one is determined to pursue a path of solo, self-guided practice, there will be some practical questions to be addressed:

1. Since Zen is a path based on an initial gate of experiential, rather than intellectual, understanding: how will I confirm for myself that I have indeed entered that gate?

2. Since the path of practice especially after entering the gate of awakening is exceedingly difficult, and must be walked in a manner that accords with my unique conditions: how will I, without experience, know what direction to go so as not to slip back into habitual delusion?

3. Since the path of practice in general contains so many potential pitfalls, experiences that can be falsely interpreted, and sticking points to be addressed: who will help me to avoid and address these things, since I myself have no knowledge of what to watch out for?

4. Since Zen practice is something psycho-physical and yogic, not simply mental and psychological, from whom will I learn the many details, and who will be the model from whom I may "catch" this knowledge with my own body in the manner that is required?

5. Since the path is both founded upon, and reaches its fruition, not only through a desire to benefit myself, but through a deep vow and aspiration to aid all beings: how will I in fact begin to accomplish such a thing, if I do not mingle with others?

Much more could be said, but that is certainly enough.

:namaste:

~ Meido
When I read something like this I truly realise I do not know what Zen is. What do you mean by "good fortune so vast as to be inconceivable"? I feel good after practice sometimes and feel more relaxed in life in general, but I would not describe my opportunity to practice as that, but I am not really a sincere practitioner I suppose, just curious about deepening my spiritual experience of life without recourse to men in the sky.

Your points 1 through 5 really make ribbons of the notion that I could engage in any sort of fruitful Zen Buddhist practice without a teacher to help me.

Can you elaborate on "the path will become something increasingly self-indulgent, and in the end stubbornly fixated upon subtle personal preferences and fears"? Do you mean here getting hung up on self preservation? Not letting go of little ego structures? Refusing to be fully open to what arises? Maybe allowing too many hidden corners as to face them may be painful? I get up in the morning and I usually just say to myself OK, I will sit for fifteen minutes and just notice what comes up. I repeat in the evening and sometimes I read a few passages from Zen Mind Beginners Mind! So you can probably appreciate I am overwhelmed by your response!

I think you have really articulated in a most powerful way that I need to engage with a teacher if I am to be really sincere about deepening my experience and practice of Zen. It is most stark. Thank you for this reply. It is truly appreciated. :)

Caodemarte
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:07 pm

Good luck with your practice! Please remember that you should not rush into anything.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:05 pm

the dragon in the cave refers to inner work, nothing to worry about really

Try not to over-stretch whilst sitting

Remember to enjoy
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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bokki
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by bokki » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:50 pm

hi asimpleaspirant,
may i , if i can, a few words..
a teacher is the backbone of the zen tradition.
there are many beginners views about this...
no discussion..sry.. no teacher..hmm

and im not talking a
spiritual friend along the path
a wise counselor when things get tough
n0

im talking a an awakened thief
one that will challenge every
idea
u have.

u c..
in zen
a teacher
preferably a rinzai one *my bad..(
is
zen 101

ps edit.. of course i had 2 forget the thing i wanted 2 say in the first place.
generaly, friend, you should be clear as to why you practice zen. just a very strong..hint..lol.
b
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

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Meido
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Meido » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:42 am

ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:16 pm
When I read something like this I truly realise I do not know what Zen is. What do you mean by "good fortune so vast as to be inconceivable"? I feel good after practice sometimes and feel more relaxed in life in general, but I would not describe my opportunity to practice as that, but I am not really a sincere practitioner I suppose, just curious about deepening my spiritual experience of life without recourse to men in the sky.
No men in the sky required. Just find a qualified teacher, as you would reasonably do for any other activity that interests you.

"Good fortune" because, as a Buddhist path, Zen affirms it to be a wondrous thing that - of all the beings existing anywhere in this or numberless other universes - we are among the very few who happen to encounter the Dharma, with conditions allowing us to practice it, have given rise to a desire to do so, etc.

Your motivation is sufficiently profound to begin exploring Zen. You seem, to me, very sincere. Should one doubt one's own sincerity, here is an old Japanese song or poem (I paraphrase from somewhat faulty memory):

I inquire of the gods, "How can I become sincere?"
Their reply is the echo
of my own voice.
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:16 pm
Your points 1 through 5 really make ribbons of the notion that I could engage in any sort of fruitful Zen Buddhist practice without a teacher to help me.
As mentioned, there are certainly fruitful things you can begin to practice with minimal guidance, as you begin simultaneously to explore different Zen communities and teachers. In the advice I gave I'm speaking to the totality of the Zen path, and with the assumption that you are interested in exploring it more deeply than simply as a form of self-help.
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:16 pm
Can you elaborate on "the path will become something increasingly self-indulgent, and in the end stubbornly fixated upon subtle personal preferences and fears"? Do you mean here getting hung up on self preservation? Not letting go of little ego structures? Refusing to be fully open to what arises? Maybe allowing too many hidden corners as to face them may be painful? I get up in the morning and I usually just say to myself OK, I will sit for fifteen minutes and just notice what comes up. I repeat in the evening and sometimes I read a few passages from Zen Mind Beginners Mind! So you can probably appreciate I am overwhelmed by your response!
What you are doing is, in fact, wonderful. But yes, the obstacles you describe can prevent practice from deepening. There is a kind of less-than-genuine spiritual practice that affirms one's comfort zones and egoistic attachment, rather than revealing them and challenging us to transcend self-imposed limitations. Left to our own devices, we will often without knowing choose such easier but less genuine paths, which don't really lead anywhere in the end. It's a common trap...but easily avoided. It is the teacher's precise job to help us do just that.
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:16 pm
I think you have really articulated in a most powerful way that I need to engage with a teacher if I am to be really sincere about deepening my experience and practice of Zen. It is most stark.
Yes, at times I unskillfully come across that way. I'd like to affirm that my feeling and intention are rather warm, and I mean to be encouraging as well as direct.

Practically speaking, some good next steps in your exploration might be:

1. Find out what Zen groups/teachers are in your area, and go visit all of them. See if anything clicks.

2. Explore Zen groups/teachers on line. If anyone or anyplace strikes you, reach out to them. The fact that they are not close doesn't mean you can't become involved. There are many people who study under a teacher's guidance but are only able to physically see their teachers a few times a year.

3. There are some other nice texts that you might consider reading to get some basic background in general Buddhism as well as practical Zen advice. Dhammapada was mentioned by Wayfare in another thread, you can't go wrong reading that over and over. In my own tradition, I would recommend a short text by Torei Enji variously translated as Essential Secrets for Entering the Way (in Cleary's The Original Face: A Rinzai Zen Anthology) or as A Spur for a Good Horse (In Leggett's Three Ages of Zen; it's a short text written for a layperson sketching out the essentials of the Buddhist view, e.g. in regard to recognizing the transience of life, generating aspiration for liberation from delusion, etc. Omori Sogen's Introduction to Zen Training is excellent...it's on Amazon. In the Chan tradition of Guo Gu, who also posts here, almost any of the books by his late teacher Sheng Yen will be approachable and very worth exploring (as well as his own books btw). I expect other folks will have many other suggestions.

Good luck, and welcome aboard to the forum.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

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jundocohen
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by jundocohen » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:40 am

ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
Hello.

I desire a simple and consistent spiritual practice based on Zen Buddhism that I can pursue alone. I go to a group once a week so am aware of chanting and bowing and want to incorporate these into my practice. I also want to set up a home altar. I want to understand why I'm doing all these things, the reasons why they are significant etc. and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path.

Thank you.
Hi,

I second all the folks who say that this is a communal Practice.

We have a thread about various aspects of Home Liturgy that folks may undertake, should they wish. It includes links to various explanations about them, including a wonderful book by Daido Loori called Bringing the Sacred to Life: The Daily Practice of Zen Ritual ...

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthr ... me-liturgy

Let me know if that helps, and if you have any question. However, there is a time to sit on one's own, just the me myself and i ... and I time when one is working with, and in service to, others and not just wrapped up staring into one's own navel. Find the Sangha community and Teacher (I prefer the term "friend on the way," an experienced mentor) that fits your heart.

Gassho, Jundo
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

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jundocohen
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by jundocohen » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:05 am

PS - I am also reminded of this ...

Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:01 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:40 am
ASimpleAspirant wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:25 pm
Hello.

I desire a simple and consistent spiritual practice based on Zen Buddhism that I can pursue alone. I go to a group once a week so am aware of chanting and bowing and want to incorporate these into my practice. I also want to set up a home altar. I want to understand why I'm doing all these things, the reasons why they are significant etc. and whether I could be considered a legitimate Zen Buddhist whilst following this largely self-sufficient path. Is this individualistic path possible or even a legitimate path to achieve greater understanding in Zen Buddhism? If so how can one go about it? What resources could inform my practice? Or can one categorically not be considered a Zen Buddhist if they have not submitted to working with a teacher and following a spiritual path laid out by the teacher? If the answer is most definitely a no, one cannot be considered a Zen Buddhist unless they follow a teacher's guidance, then I must consider finding a teacher and beginning on that path.

Thank you.
Hi,

I second all the folks who say that this is a communal Practice.

We have a thread about various aspects of Home Liturgy that folks may undertake, should they wish. It includes links to various explanations about them, including a wonderful book by Daido Loori called Bringing the Sacred to Life: The Daily Practice of Zen Ritual ...

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthr ... me-liturgy

Let me know if that helps, and if you have any question. However, there is a time to sit on one's own, just the me myself and i ... and I time when one is working with, and in service to, others and not just wrapped up staring into one's own navel. Find the Sangha community and Teacher (I prefer the term "friend on the way," an experienced mentor) that fits your heart.

Gassho, Jundo
Yes Jundo the information the link leads to seems to be just the type of resource I could find useful to deepen my practice at home. Likewise the book you recommend.Thank you!

ASimpleAspirant
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by ASimpleAspirant » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:04 pm

To Meido, thanks again for another thoughtful reply. I will engage first with the Dhammapadda I think.
To bokki, yes I must be clear to myself on my intentions before continuing further on the path. I must not force things or maybe get ahead of myself.
Thanks all for the considerate responses. I am now going to take time to absorb and process all this information.
Thank you :)

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Georgei
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Re: Advice on my intentions

Post by Georgei » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:40 am

This newbie is still browsing through the various topics within the forum... But ASimpleAspirant's topic here brings the kinds of discussions that I am interested in listening to.

I appreciate very much your questions, and especially enjoyed Meido's reply. I am asking some of the same kind of questions myself.

For me, and with having been around AA and NA groups, I feel some of the basics from entering those also apply to entering an understanding of Zen Buddhism.

The term, "keep it simple stupid" ( kiss ) comes to mind.. Also it was valuable when first entering those groups to simply be silent and listen. For myself this lasted for about a month before I opened up and shared in group.

Suiting up and showing up for 90 groups in 90 days was a big one. So I foresee finding a local temple and simply suiting up and showing up.. Keeping quiet and just listening for at least the first few weeks. Like you, I am also very much intimidated about opening a temple door for the first time.

Any attempt at approaching someone as a possible sponsor or mentor candidate did not present itself until after a good 30 days. After having had the opportunity to just listen and spend a little one on one time with various experienced group members. There was no hurry then, and right or wrong, I don't feel the need to be hurried into choosing a Buddhist mentor any time in the near future.

Find myself looking at both my bedroom and an extra room that would be fine for meditation and a modest alter.. Have to admit that am indeed feeling a bit hurried towards getting something set up so that can at least get started with practicing daily meditations.

With all the different websites, blogs, etc. out there, I would like to share a simple straight forward Zen Buddhism website that I am enjoying referencing these past few days... http://www.zen-buddhism.net/

So in a nutshell, as you can tell I am very much in the same boat as you are ASimpleAspirant.. I will let ya know if I actually make it up the stairs and open the doors to a local temple ! Think I have found a nice one called Zen Center of Spokane. There is also a wonderful Monastery up north called Stavasti Abby..

Any hooo... Thanks for this topic..

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