Training and Practice

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Training and Practice

Post by [james] » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:15 pm

I noticed, in another thread here some time ago, that Meido’s place, Korin-ji, was called a training monastery. Meanwhile, here in, I have never heard anyone here refer to their zen activity as anything other than Zen practice. In my view there is a difference in intent and purpose. Training, something like an apprenticeship, is undertaken to recognize, absorb, and explore the fundamental qualities that describe the Zen ways of being in the world. Practice, the process of refinement and perhaps elaboration, begins when goals of training have been clearly realized.

Some questions then. Is it necessary to train in Zen in order to practice? Are the two distinct or is there a (necessary) overlap? How may a layperson undertake an effective training in zen outside of a monastery setting? What degree of immersion in training is needed to build a strong enough foundation for a lifetime of resilient, determined and beneficial practice to unfold?

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Re: Training and Practice

Post by Meido » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:02 pm

Nice topic, James.

Not much time right now, but I'll just say that my describing Korinji as a "training monastery" is meant to emphasize that it is what in Japanese would be called a "sodo" or "senmon dojo." That means that it is a place where a residential monastic schedule is followed, and a certain rigor/amount of practice can be expected, in contrast to a temple or Zen center open to the public which welcomes and teaches beginners. It also implies that training of ordained folks is going on, though here we don't make that distinction so much and lay folks are welcome to apply for residence or come to sesshin.

There are a number of words in Japanese used for training: tanren, kunren, keiko, kufu, shugyo, etc. The habit in our lineage has been to just say "Zen training" when discussing the path as a whole; D.T. Suzuki may have been the one to start that, not sure. I personally started to emphasize the word "practice" more than "training," because to my ears the latter sounds like something athletic, or that would exclude people who are not young. But essentially, to me the words are mostly interchangeable.

I hadn't looked at those words in the way you describe, I'll give it some thought and chime in later.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] -
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] -
The Rinzai Zen Community -

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Re: Training and Practice

Post by lindama » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:44 am

well, apart from all these words, I know I'm welcome at Korinji if the occasion should ever arise.... even tho I'm not the athletic type. I know Meido would be a good host.

So, James brings up a point of discussion which I usually bypass because at the end of the day, we're all welcome. I'll add my experience. After many years with my local sangha in koan contemplation, I volunteered at SFZC Tassajara (soto) to work for their summer program. David Chadwick, Suzki Roshi's librarian, greased the wheels for me to go. It's a revenue generator for their monastary with summer tourists. (haha, that is a reality all it's own). Nonetheless, it was my first exposure to ppl who had dedicated their lives to the dharma and the monastic way of life. I was in awe, we need these folks. Yet, it's not a path most of us walk.. no matter. I was grateful to spend time there and to cook in their kitchen. Still, I was a visitor tho I participated in meditation morning and night and worked in blazing heat during the day ... on the second day, an unknown man sat next to me at evening meditation, I know in the silence that this was a being who got me wondering. The next day or two, I sat with him at lunch and we talked. Still, I didn't know who he was, but he asked a very relevant question about my sangha. After that he gave a darma talk.... and years later, I found him on ZFI.... Nonin.

I think we all walk our own paths. Welcoming visitors is always called for.... just like I visited Sasaki Roshi's sessins at Cobb Mountain for his dharma talks. It's important to keep the welcome mat out for us'ns. I saw at Tassajara that zen training does imply a period of monastic retreat... and I think this calls for revision and integration in these times. And, don't forget, folks who dedicate their lives to this in the US are SOL in the US at retirement. SFZC and Guo Gu are addressing how to care for seniors who have no retirement.

anyhoo, training and practice are ideas... ask the tea lady

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Re: Training and Practice

Post by fuki » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:16 pm

Nice topic James, never given it thought before but now it's here I hardly ever use the word training and that's because in language we divide things in moments or parts. So training is a word I'd use in a more timeless sense, for instance life is training. We live and sometimes learn, what we learn (from life or from teachers, instructions,school,courses,retreats etc) we put into practise (or integrate/actualize) on a daily basis.

I practice darts each day for 20 years, but there were years I didn't practise, nevertheless what is "learnt" from training is put into practise. Without training and starting practise today the method and functioning would be very different ofcourse. Ofcourse these are merely notions but I do notice I use practise in a more timely sense (when asked) and training more in a timeless sense, as in not dividing it in time/space.

Just the way I would use the words, well I never noticed up till now thanks to you....smily teeth.

But the words are as always used in relation ofcourse, so nothing fixed, more habit.

ps to avoid confusion I see "life" not in a way of coming or going or the so called phenomenal birth and death. So training is beginingless and endless, yet practise comes and goes. But if someone would turn the words around thats fine too.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.


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Re: Training and Practice

Post by desert_woodworker » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:04 pm

We may train in forms, but practice is key in all training. And, when not training, practice is key.

Some call "practice" by the name "training". Don't be confunded... .

I still really like Jundo Roshi spelling practice as "Practice". That upper-case "p" does it for me. Kudos... .


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