Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

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jundocohen
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Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by jundocohen » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:21 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:27 pm
... I'd encourage folks to also jump in at Dharma Wheel if they haven't already, since a pan-Buddhist board provides nice learning opportunities. But a Zen-specific board is also great and does the same...wishing success to the group here.

~ Meido
Since this topic was raised, and I am not the one broaching it, I will offer this small caution and criticism of Dharma Wheel, especially in their treatment of Soto Zen Buddhism. There are some serious issues, if I may offer. There is a tendency for Tibetan and other non-Soto Zen Practitioners to rush in to the Soto Zen section and "set things straight" with their non-Soto Zen perspectives on many questions (often from newcomers to Soto Practice looking for basic information) about Soto Zen Practice, Shikantaza, Dogen and the like. (The non-Soto Zen practitioners do not usually reveal to the questioners that they are not Soto Zen practitioners, and are answering from their own perspectives and beliefs). There is a tendency to allow certain interpretations that our doctrinally acceptable to the non-Soto Zen Practitioners who tend to moderate and administer the place, but which are often incomplete or misleading as a result from Soto perspectives. This was seen, for example, just this week in which a newcomer asked a question about Shikantaza, and several quite incomplete or even misleading interpretations were offered. In that recent post asking about "Skikantaza," for example, responses tended to emphasize that proper Shikantaza requires that "a Rinzai lineage has [also] been incorporated" or described Shikantaza as "to see directly that the six sensory phenomena are absolutely unstable" which might both be rather unorthodox descriptions from a straight Soto interpretation.

There is also a tendency to speak negatively, within the Soto Zen section, about what these more conservative and traditional non-Soto Zen practitioners see as the illegitimacy of "modern Soto in the West," especially as to views and perspectives which they may consider to be too liberal. There is a Japanese woman who often posts there, and she is extremely knowledgeable and highly experienced in Japanese Buddhism ... but almost always addresses questions from the "temple Buddhism/monastic" and "funeral Buddhism" perspective of Soto found in Japan, with little knowledge of western developments in Soto Zen. (This week, she described the role of "Shike" as a Zen Master, which is only one way to describe the role). Her opinions are acceptable to the administrators as they tend to come from a more traditional and conservative framework.

So, they do have some structural problems in my experience, and caution is required. I would respectfully offer such caution when Dharma Wheel is recommended, and I am sure it is a fine resource in many other ways.

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundocohen on Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by boda » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:31 pm

Hello jundocohen,

Can you name a teacher or other individual, besides yourself of course, who could adequately represent the “liberal” Soto Zen framework of which you speak? Because otherwise all you seem to be saying is that DW is lacking because you don’t contribute there enough.

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by lindama » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:55 pm

my two cents, I didn't start with Soto. rather, a break away from the Diamond Sangha. There is a name for DS which I never learned. I'm also in one of the dharma hotbeds in Northern CA/SFO/Oakland. I know many Soto descendants from SFZC as unique individuals. ofc, there is an orthodoxy yet it doesn't seem to transcend each teacher's individual approach. I know Tibetans who will on occasion join a zen meditation. Such is the nature of dharma friendship, it seems normal to me. My teacher says there is nothing that is not zen... that's a practice point. I'm for incorporating DW into my experience. If we go in looking for attitude we will surely find it and miss the richness of the Buddhist universe.

here's is a story about orthodoxy .... at the 50th anniversary of SFZC, all the head priests/teachers sat in order by length of time at the center. It was a grand affair with every one in their finest robes... imagine how solemn. Then, the oldest of the oldest came in wearing a sport shirt.... everyone of the sartorial priests had to move down one to give him the first seat. I've heard this story repeated by a teacher who was there.... everyone delighted in his presence and his attire .... he was responsible for the manifestation of it all as well as a priest and an abbot. I knew him, he is like that.

linda
Last edited by lindama on Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Meido » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:00 pm

Jundo, for the sake of discussion (if you'd like to develop this) could you please post links to the threads at DW you mention...

~ 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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Dan74 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:07 pm

DW is of course, a Forum, not an authority on any kinds of Buddhism. So it only stands to reason that many things we read there are going to be somewhat off-base. It doesn't have many experienced Soto people posting there either to correct that or give a differwnr perspective. Matilda is currently the only one I know.

My hope is that here we will be able to attract more experienced people and give a more balanced view of Zen, whether Soto or any other school.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by lindama » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:29 pm

to the contrary, I admire some of the folks at DW who comment on zen... Astus and Anjali to name two who are qualified to speak thoughtfully about zen. there are others .... I'm not keeping score. I'm blushing to make such evaluations.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:07 am

During my brief active life on DW (I now passively view it to pick up useful references that sometimes pop up) there were a couple of posters who actually announced that they would “drop in” on a Zen (not just Soto Zen) discussion to blow it up. Two self-described “Tibetan Buddhists” were so ill informed that they started ridiculing basic Mahayana thought under the impression that they were attacking specifically Zen sect doctrines. I understand that a lot of this was caused by the very personal feuds of the internet bullies you find online. I also understand that other sects, some inside TB, are also sometimes singled out for these attacks. Nevertheless the whole atmosphere quickly becomes too toxic whenever one publicly strays from the weird, archaic, conservative TB views of more active, especially the self-proclaimed “most valuable member.” I suspect the Dalai Lama would be quickly banned. According to a announcement as I left other people were also leaving the forum because of the poisonous atmosphere.

I don’t know in what spirit one DW poster recently said he might drop in on this forum to get a “punch up,” in his words, going, but that is the problem. Many, if not most posters, use the forum to “win” pointless arguments. :fencing: If you want to argue about the Dharma, DW is your place. If you want to participative in a civil discussion to learn from others, it is not the best place.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by jundocohen » Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:50 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:07 am
During my brief active life on DW (I now passively view it to pick up useful references that sometimes pop up) there were a couple of posters who actually announced that they would “drop in” on a Zen (not just Soto Zen) discussion to blow it up. Two self-described “Tibetan Buddhists” were so ill informed that they started ridiculing basic Mahayana thought under the impression that they were attacking specifically Zen sect doctrines. I understand that a lot of this was caused by the very personal feuds of the internet bullies you find online. I also understand that other sects, some inside TB, are also sometimes singled out for these attacks. Nevertheless the whole atmosphere quickly becomes too toxic whenever one publicly strays from the weird, archaic, conservative TB views of more active, especially the self-proclaimed “most valuable member.” I suspect the Dalai Lama would be quickly banned. According to a announcement as I left other people were also leaving the forum because of the poisonous atmosphere.

I don’t know in what spirit one DW poster recently said he might drop in on this forum to get a “punch up,” in his words, going, but that is the problem. Many, if not most posters, use the forum to “win” pointless arguments. :fencing: If you want to argue about the Dharma, DW is your place. If you want to participative in a civil discussion to learn from others, it is not the best place.
Yes, thank you for this. I believe that describes the situation accurately. I also believe that the problem infects other areas of their Forum with "minority" beliefs beyond Soto Zen, but I only wished to speak from the area I come from.
Meido wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:00 pm
Jundo, for the sake of discussion (if you'd like to develop this) could you please post links to the threads at DW you mention...

~ Meido
Well, as you ask, the following are just a few recent examples quickly pulled up, not a detailed survey of the archives (although the pattern repeats with great frequency) ...

Someone new to Soto Zen specifically asks, in the Soto forum, about "how Dogen equates sitting with Enlightenment" in Soto.

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=22442

Most (all?) of the responders are not themselves Soto Zen practitioners, but do not clearly disclose that fact. and make statements such as:

"'Just sitting' is simply to discontinue the continuing mind in a way that does not employ the conceptual faults of understanding or direction or coming from one state of delusion and going to another of awakening, even as 'continuance', 'understanding', 'direction', 'coming' and 'going' are experienced as arising when just sitting." (Anders)

"I hate to sound cliche here, but the answer is not an answer that comes from the thinking mind, it's experienced, not analyzed, once the analysis of how why, etc. begins, that is no longer the experience, that is an attempt to catalogue it. Not always a bad thing at all, but you have to realize that abstractions of it are just that - and all the discursive mind can ever work with is abstractions. Analysis is a useful tool, but even in Lojong teachings " even the remedy is liberated"... (Johnny Dangerous, Global Moderator)

One answer is the ground consciousness, and the karmic seeds that it contains. These seeds, or memories, are the conditions for future existence. Occassionally these memories come to mind, and if we are deluded about their nature, then we act on them, and this creates more seeds (of existence, suffering). So what to do about it? The problem is we don't see the ground consciousness, rather we work with the sense of identity and the other six consciousnesses. (Maybay)

These may be very wise and insightful statements from wherever they are coming from, but I do not see the connection to Soto Teachings, let alone how "Dogen equates sitting with Enlightenment."

... and then there is Astus, who is very smart but is not (I believe) actually a Soto Zen Practitioner, but often plays the role of "in-house Soto/Dogen expert" in these threads, and thereupon often makes some very off-key statements about Soto Practice. For example, he first responds to the inquiry by quoting something called "The Middling Stages of Enlightenment" by Acharya Kamalashila:
"In this way, by entering into the suchness of the selflessness of persons and phenomena, you are free from concepts and analysis, because there is nothing to be thoroughly examined and observed. You are free from expression and with single-pointed mental engagement you automatically enter into meditation without exertion. Thus, you very clearly meditate on suchness and abide in it. While abiding in that meditation, the continuity of the mind should not be distracted. ... If and when the mind spontaneously engages in meditation on suchness, free of sinking and mental agitation, it should be left naturally and your efforts should be relaxed."
... perhaps a beautiful Teaching, but what does this have to do with Soto ways and Master Dogen? Is Astus a Soto Teacher, by the way? He seems to hold himself out as one and somehow an expert, and speaks to questioners with authority often dominating Soto threads, despite often offering very questionable interpretations.

In a thread I mentioned, called "Zazen and Liberation" in the Soto section, and how Shikantaza related to Silent Illumination meditation, someone asked, "Can someone help me understand how ‘Silent Illumination’ (Shikantaza) can help bring about an end to suffering?" (This is where there were also responses such as that "Unfortunately, much of modern Soto has become disconnected from the necessity of kensho, except where a Rinzai lineage has been incorporated" (Fu Ri Shin)). Astus jumps in with the very wrong statement "There are some differences between Mozhao and Shikantaza, mostly that the latter has a special emphasis on posture. But they both teach the same old practice of no-thought and no-mind as you can find it in the Platform Sutra." That is the difference? Emphasis on POSTURE? He also describes both as "to see directly that the six sensory phenomena are absolutely unstable" which (while perhaps a fine teaching somewhere) is not related to Shikantaza at all.

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=27747

And those are just a couple of recent threads.

Threads with "bashing" of modern or western Soto doctrine are also plentiful. "Matylda," for all I respect her, is very weighted in her statements toward her understanding, from her Teachers in Japan, and often ignorant (admittedly) of Soto in the West, or quick to put it down. For example, this comment on Norman Fischer's explanation of Shikantaza ...

This is rather non of shikan taza thing.. neither real explanation of zazen.. moreover even if one uses some oehter systems and teachers to expalin zazen it does not mean that is is real zazen instruction... I geuss there is very little of known in the West zazen instructions.. so people are forcesd to use intellectually some other available instructions unrelated to zazen..

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f ... rn#p384515

These are just a few quick examples I pulled.
bodhi wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:31 pm
Hello jundocohen,

Can you name a teacher or other individual, besides yourself of course, who could adequately represent the “liberal” Soto Zen framework of which you speak? Because otherwise all you seem to be saying is that DW is lacking because you don’t contribute there enough.
Hello Bodhi. I don't contribute there "enough" because several "modern" views ran afoul of administrators, and I am not allowed to post. (Without getting into the whole thing again), my "agnosticism" and skepticism on literal models of rebirth was the key problem. Most Soto Teachers in the West, I believe, might be considered "liberal" in the same way. James Ford, former Director of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association in America and author of the history of Zen Lineages in the West called "Zen Master Who?" (https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Master-Who-P ... 0861715098) writes the following based on his experience, and also various informal surveys and discussions I have witnessed among SZBA members:

There are Buddhists, including Zen Buddhists, including Soto and Rinzai Buddhists who believe if one does not accept the doctrine of rebirth as axiomatic one cannot claim to be a Buddhist.

I would say, however, the majority of Zen practitioners and teachers in the West are agnostic on this subject, leaning one way or the other. I, for instance, am agnostic on the subject, but lean toward nonbelief…
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind ... V6l3U0g.99


Recent surveys among Western AND Japanese Zen clergy show that the majority do not currently holding extremely literal views of rebirth. Here is one about Japanese Zen clergy, there are others (page 119) ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=CyV ... ts&f=false

That would be a problem for the administrators there.

Global Moderator "Johnny Dangerous" sets us Soto folks straight (in the Soto Zen forum) when he writes ...

It's been my impression that in the US at least (and a bit of personal experience here) that there are many people attracted to Soto Zen that have a somewhat disdainful attitude towards what they see as the 'religious' end of Buddhism, and incorrectly take a couple of the positions of Zen to mean something they might not mean historically.

II admit i'm not totally in the know of the doctrinal positions of Soto Zen, but i've read stuff here and there, and have some experience of Zen practice, to me..it reads like what it is, which is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. Many forms of Buddhism (in fact arguably most of the Mahayana) takes takes a similar approach that we are already Buddha, that the pure land is obtainable here and now etc. However, it seems some Modern Soto folks have taken this kind of thing to mean that anything outside this interpretation is incorrect, and that it being "here and now" means that's the only mode things exist in, that it's only here and now. That is very different from what i've read of Zen, where Bodhisattvas are revered etc., and the general worldview is still Mahayana Buddhism.


https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f ... rn#p215216

People should be respectful of others' beliefs and right to belief as they will. Nobody who is a sincere Buddhist Practitioner should be told that they are "slandering Buddhism" or "not Buddhist," especially by people outside their Tradition, let alone administrators.

If I had dug further in the archives, there would be plentiful additional examples.

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundocohen on Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Dan74 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:22 am

I think we should avoid bashing other Fora here (might be a sensible addition to the ToS?). Any discussion should confine itself to matters of substance, please, not personalities, personal histories, etc

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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:37 am

I don't see a lot of point in using this forum to explore issues from another forum. Issues should be dealt with on their merits by those here.
The most important thing is not at all important.

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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Dan74 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:46 am

Well, this is meta-discussion, but there may be merit in discussing common problems in treatment and misunderstanding of Soto, as expressed online, etc. I wonder though whether our one Soto teacher can speak for the entirety of Soto, so in the end it boils down to "this is what I think Dogen was about, which is different to what those folks who have a lot less experience than me are saying..." Which is fine too. Members can make up their minds, or stay agnostic.

Perhaps in time we will have more Soto teachers and a diversity of approaches?

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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Crystal » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:53 am

I think its important to get these issues out in the open, because the demeaning and threatening with "rebirth in hell realms" of practitioners of all traditions who are agnostic about rebirth has been happening around the internet for quite some time now.

This kind of attitude doesn't say much for the successful practice of loving kindness and compassion.... and it reeks of prejudice towards strangers who may be otherwise quietly leading blameless lives dedicated to the welfare of other sentient beings.

Its sad really, because I haven't heard that attitude from genuine teachers I've encountered in "meat space," in either the Vajrayana or Theravada traditions. (I haven't met any Zen teachers yet.)


_/|\_
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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Dan74 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:56 am

Here we don't do that, Crystal. People are free to be anywhere they like on the 'literal rebirth' to 'no rebirth of any sort' spectrum. It's been discussed and no one was banned or even warned, AFAIK. Not to imply that other Fora are very different in this regard. People do react in different ways of course.

I hope there is more to Zen than that, though.

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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by jundocohen » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:18 am

Dan74 wrote: ↑Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:22 pm wrote: I think we should avoid bashing other Fora here (might be a sensible addition to the ToS?). Any discussion should confine itself to matters of substance, please, not personalities, personal histories, etc
Yes, I was only responding to Meido's request for details. If there is a referral to DW, I might offer that caution which I first posted.

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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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:42 pm

Crystal wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:53 am

This kind of attitude doesn't say much for the successful practice of loving kindness and compassion.... and it reeks of prejudice towards strangers who may be otherwise quietly leading blameless lives dedicated to the welfare of other sentient beings.
As long as ppl are attached to the dharma (or what they think the dharma is) distasteful talk to others will manifest. To me their are practisioners and believers, when theres attachment to doctrine, what the Buddha supposedly said ppl will project their own desires and fears unto discussions about anything under the sun, instead of speaking from experience or realisations they just pick and choose a quote from some sutra to enhance their patterns of belief and self reference/grasping. Most need a sense to hold unto something like a brain-truth to give their believe or practise meaning ironically for their fabricated sense of self. All you can do is live by example, theres no merit into discussing with believers, unless you are one too and get a boner from being confirmed how good you are doing and how well a Buddhist you are.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by boda » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:52 pm

“jundocohen” wrote:People should be respectful of others' beliefs and right to believe as they will. Nobody who is a sincere Buddhist Practitioner should be told that they are "slandering Buddhism" or "not Buddhist," especially by people outside their Tradition, let alone administrators.
This works both ways. Promoting your so called “liberal” beliefs could be construed as disrespectful in an environment where such views are unwelcome.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by anjali » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:51 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:07 am
If you want to argue about the Dharma, DW is your place.
Indeed. If one wants to argue (where emotions run hot), people can be found at DW--and many other boards--to oblige. Probably here too. ;) However, in my experience and observation, it takes two to argue. The one rule I have, that has served me well over the years, is: Reply to substance (if there is any), and ignore everything else.
If you want to participative in a civil discussion to learn from others, it is not the best place.
I'm sad to hear that was your experience there.

Civil discussion is definitely an art. My preferred mode of Dharma discussion is dialogue or collective inquiry, more or less captured as, "What do you believe? Interesting. Do you mind if I ask a few questions? Thank you for sharing. Here's what I believe. Feel free to ask questions."

One definition of dialogue I like a lot is: "The free flow of meaning between two or more people." There is a lot that can get in the way of the free flow of meaning.

Addressing the topic of the thread, Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel, I sincerely hope that if someone notices obvious errors of doctrine regarding Soto or any other zen family lineage at DW, that you feel welcome to offer corrections in the spirit of Dharma friends helping each other come to a better understanding of the different traditions. As Meido has said elsewhere,
Meido wrote:My personal feeling has always been that it would be good for Zen folks to make a home here, regardless of where else they hang out. If a Zen specific forum succeeds, great. But DW also works, and the advantages of bumping up against followers of other paths are great.
Since I participate here :), please feel free to PM me about anything, or if you prefer, come chat with me over on DW.
Last edited by anjali on Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by KeithA » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:04 am

anjali wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:51 pm
Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:07 am
If you want to argue about the Dharma, DW is your place.
Indeed. If one wants to argue (where emotions run hot), people can be found at DW--and many other boards--to oblige. Probably here too. ;) However, in my experience and observation, it takes two to argue. The one rule I have, that has served me well over the years, is: Reply to substance (if there is any), and ignore everything else.
If you want to participative in a civil discussion to learn from others, it is not the best place.
I'm sad to hear that was your experience there.

Civil discussion is definitely an art. My preferred mode of Dharma discussion is dialogue or collective inquiry, more or less captured as, "What do you believe? Interesting. Do you mind if I ask a few questions? Thank you for sharing. Here's what I believe. Feel free to ask questions."

One definition of dialogue I like a lot is: "The free flow of meaning between two or more people." There is a lot that can get in the way of the free flow of meaning.

Addressing the topic of the thread, Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel, I sincerely hope that if someone notices obvious errors of doctrine regarding Soto or any other lineage at DW, that you feel welcome to offer corrections in the spirit of Dharma friends helping each other come to a better understanding of the different traditions. As Meido has said elsewhere,
Meido wrote:My personal feeling has always been that it would be good for Zen folks to make a home here, regardless of where else they hang out. If a Zen specific forum succeeds, great. But DW also works, and the advantages of bumping up against followers of other paths are great.
Since I participate here :), please feel free to PM me about anything, or if you prefer, come chat with me over on DW.
Thanks for your post, Anjali. And even bigger thanks for your hospitality to us Zen folks, when our usual hang-out went under. It was very nice. I enjoy poking around at DW, even though I don't post a whole lot. I will say it was a curious decision by a mod to lock the discussion thread for our recent troubles. If a neighbors house burned down, I would let them borrow my kitchen table to discuss how to proceed. Locking the thread seemed like a spiteful and mean thing to do. Other than that minor deal, thanks again. I find DW to a valuable place to rub shoulders with my fellow Buddhists. Even if I don't understand half of what is being talked about! :lol:

I can't speak to the Soto issues. What went on in the past was crap, but it's in the past and I can't say that what goes on there now is much like the e-sangha mess.

_/|\_

Keith
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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by daibunny » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:34 am

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:21 pm
Meido wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:27 pm
... I'd encourage folks to also jump in at Dharma Wheel if they haven't already, since a pan-Buddhist board provides nice learning opportunities. But a Zen-specific board is also great and does the same...wishing success to the group here.

~ Meido
Since this topic was raised, and I am not the one broaching it, I will offer this small caution and criticism of Dharma Wheel, especially in their treatment of Soto Zen Buddhism. There are some serious issues, if I may offer. There is a tendency for Tibetan and other non-Soto Zen Practitioners to rush in to the Soto Zen section and "set things straight" with their non-Soto Zen perspectives on many questions (often from newcomers to Soto Practice looking for basic information) about Soto Zen Practice, Shikantaza, Dogen and the like. (The non-Soto Zen practitioners do not usually reveal to the questioners that they are not Soto Zen practitioners, and are answering from their own perspectives and beliefs). There is a tendency to allow certain interpretations that our doctrinally acceptable to the non-Soto Zen Practitioners who tend to moderate and administer the place, but which are often incomplete or misleading as a result from Soto perspectives. This was seen, for example, just this week in which a newcomer asked a question about Shikantaza, and several quite incomplete or even misleading interpretations were offered. In that recent post asking about "Skikantaza," for example, responses tended to emphasize that proper Shikantaza requires that "a Rinzai lineage has [also] been incorporated" or described Shikantaza as "to see directly that the six sensory phenomena are absolutely unstable" which might both be rather unorthodox descriptions from a straight Soto interpretation.

There is also a tendency to speak negatively, within the Soto Zen section, about what these more conservative and traditional non-Soto Zen practitioners see as the illegitimacy of "modern Soto in the West," especially as to views and perspectives which they may consider to be too liberal. There is a Japanese woman who often posts there, and she is extremely knowledgeable and highly experienced in Japanese Buddhism ... but almost always addresses questions from the "temple Buddhism/monastic" and "funeral Buddhism" perspective of Soto found in Japan, with little knowledge of western developments in Soto Zen. (This week, she described the role of "Shike" as a Zen Master, which is only one way to describe the role). Her opinions are acceptable to the administrators as they tend to come from a more traditional and conservative framework.

So, they do have some structural problems in my experience, and caution is required. I would respectfully offer such caution when Dharma Wheel is recommended, and I am sure it is a fine resource in many other ways.

Gassho, Jundo
I agree. As a practitioner of zen/ chan, much of the "zen" discussion at DW seems to me to be the clue and practice deprived attempting to add notches to their "master of all things buddhist" cred.
This situation seems to me to be almost the usual thing for a general buddhist discussion forum starting with esangha. It may be partly the fault of the way i think zen is sometimes popularly presented, as something so simple anyone can understand it, immediately and with little effort or practice.
Also, people like complicated things. Complicated things are sometimes much more easily grasped than simple ones and people i think assume that the more complicated something is the more correct it is. Maybe zen in some ways is too simple for its own good :)
The bridge is flowing, not the water.

~Shenxiu

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Meido
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Re: Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel

Post by Meido » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:44 am

When I split this topic, I re-titled it "Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel." I see that has been changed to "Problems in Treatment of Soto Zen at Dharma Wheel." Not my intention to focus the topic in that direction.

Going forward, if there is discussion to be had RE differing understandings of Soto Zen in Japan vs. the West, Soto teacher certification, or any of the other things raised in the DW topics, let's have dedicated topics focused on those issues rather than their forum of origin. The place to discuss issues with DW itself would be DW.

And, we are indeed extremely grateful to DW for letting us chat in their place while ours was being rebuilt (thank you Anjali).

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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
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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