Differing views of shikantaza

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jundocohen
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Brain Activity and Shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:17 pm

[This topic split from discussion of James Ford's new book about koan practice, here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=394]

I will say for the record that, in my view and viewless (and that is all it is), neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen, and thus they teach as they do.

Of course, others, including James Ford and Dosho Port, might disagree.

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundocohen on Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ol' spikey

Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:37 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:17 pm
I will say for the record that, in my view and viewless (and that is all it is), neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen, and thus they teach as they do.

Of course, others, including James Ford and Dosho Port, might disagree.
Their teachers, who are actually qualified to make this judgment, might, perhaps, disagree.

Virtually smearing their understanding does harm. Just say how your understanding is different, and leave it at that.

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:42 pm

My basis is very simple, perhaps too simple.

In one interpretation of what is "Shikantaza," there can be nothing else but Shikantaza, not a drop more needed during the time of sitting.

Comments by Dosho and James have presented that they have found Shikantaza lacking. Thus, they do not understand Shikantaza. Ipso facto.

I will try to dig some up.

If this topic is deleted, then it would be deleting the presentation of those Soto interpretations that Shikantaza is a whole and complete Practice, all that is needed. James and Dosho present the beautiful and powerful road of a mixed practice via the Yasutani-Harada interpretations. I do not mean to diminish their way of teaching and practicing for them and others, nor what they present as "Shikantaza." Nobody owns Zazen. I am sure that, for James and Dosho, their path is not lacking, and I celebrate their path. I do not criticize their path, and only honor it as a complete path too.

I merely assert that, for some of us who are radical purists on the one practice path of Shikantaza, James and Dosho do not understand Shikantaza, as witnessed by many of their descriptions and comments on Shikantaza. As I will show in quotes from them, it is not that I criticize their practice, but they have often criticized a straw man version of Shikantaza.

Gassho, Jundo
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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by lindama » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:16 pm

this yes and no.... a mountain stream jumping off a cliff.....

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:23 pm

A few quotes from Dosho Port because of the late hour here. I will be happy to debate the historical accuracy of the claims he makes. Please note that, besides being questionable as assertions, Dosho's words strike a tone of acid and criticism of others ways. I wish to take a polite and respectful tone in my descriptions of his chosen path. .
Dogen Did Not Practice Shikantaza and Even Had a Gaining Idea

More bad news for the orthodox Soto position that Dogen was opposed to koan introspection in zazen.

Modern scientific historical research supports what some of us who have experienced koan introspection and Dogen Zen have been saying for some time – Dogen offers wonderful teaching by example of how to engage the wild and rich world of koan.

Why does it matter? If you care about enlightenment, it matters. If you care about truth, it matters. If you care that Dogen’s words can inspire opening and actualizing the radiant field of awakening, it matters.

... The winners in the debate, winners largely due to the positions they held rather than the merits of their arguments, stressed “just sitting” zazen as a koan-free zone and employed a doctrine of the oneness of practice and enlightenment that diminishes the importance of enlightenment (no need for bothersome striving)...

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... -idea.html
If you are a follower of Sōtō Zen, especially in a lineage that conflates silent illumination with shikantaza (aka, “just sitting”), Hakuin’s criticism might seem startling and even offensive to you. “Anyway,” you might say, “just because Hakuin was critical of some Sōtō Zen practice, doesn’t mean that his criticisms were valid or still are today.”

I agree. A question for Sōtō Zen practitioners in our times, though, is simple – are they?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... -what.html
That said, I think we in Sōtō Zen make way too much of Dōgen. Afterall, he is long dead and wasn’t God or the lord Jesus but a person like us, a self-proclaimed broken-wooden ladle. In addition, if we’re going to make a big deal out of dead people, there have been a lot of great Zen teachers in China, Japan, and Korea (at least). And Rujing, one of Dōgen’s primary teachers, gave instruction for how to engage the mu kōan (click here), as did Dogen (click here), which would have been kinda silly if no one they were talking to was doing it. Finally, Dōgen’s immediate successors, at least through Keizan, practiced, woke up, and taught through kōan (click here and/or click here).

In my view, the kōan innovation is one of the most generous and illuminating developments in meditation practice in fifteen hundred years or so. And Hakuin and his close successors were incredible spiritual geniuses. So even if Dōgen really did teach that zazen MUST be a kōan-free zone, well, so what?
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... teach.html
How To Lose Friends & Alienate People: My On-going Failing Efforts to Express the Truth of the Shikantaza Koan

Myo Lahey, a San Francisco Zen trained Soto priest, has entered the shikantaza-koan fray with admirable spirit, offering a thoughtful restatement of the Soto orthodoxy (San Francisco Zen flavored neopolitan, I think) in response to my last blog post (Dogen and Koan: The Ultimate Truly Definitive Unquestionable Smoking Gun) with his “Plain or Sugar Koan.”

Myo’s critique runs along these lines (not necessarily in this order): First, Myo asserts that although Dogen had koan training and fluency, he rejected it in favor of pure Ts’ao-tung (J. Sōtō) lineage shikantaza. Second, Myo challenges the maturity of my own shikantaza (indirectly) and anyone who doesn’t see it in the orthodox way, saying, “Lacking thorough, mature experience of such practice, it will be difficult to avoid misconstruing what Dōgen is saying.”
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... -koan.html
Shikantaza: Busy, Busy Karmic Consciousness – When Will it Rest?

... But back to the point. For Dogen, past is present and so authentic shikantaza (aka, earnest, vivid sitting) is a reenactment (a practice enlightenment), of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree and all the successive buddhas and ancestors in the past and future.
Yes, for Dogen and for any of us “…when the baskets and cages are broken (Zazenshin).”

That little word “when” is very important and I believe at the heart of James’ concern. Shikantaza as a dogma is a deadly disservice to our heart’s innermost (and original) request – to awaken and live in peace and harmony. ... What practical shikantaza instruction can I offer?

The best I can do at the moment is to say that shikantaza is only “…the gate of repose and bliss” when it is the actualization of this phrase – “busy, busy karmic consciousness, when will it rest?”
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... -rest.html
Now Maezumi Roshi and Katagiri Roshi didn’t agree on much but on this point they did. Katagiri Roshi often said that not many people (“Quite few,” he would say) really understood or practiced shikantaza, including those who had searched exhaustively. “There is no guarantee,” he’d say.

I suspect neither Maezumi nor Katagiri would include the other in their short-list of those who actualized shikantaza but they’d probably also agree that shikantaza is not what the plurality of views on a forum think that it is. I suspect that shikantaza is best discovered in shikantaza while practicing closely with a teacher of shikantaza.

A related issue is the relationship between koan and shikantaza. I notice what looks to me like defensiveness by some on this point. Why else go on and on about wholeness and how in shikantaza nothing is missing or lacking?

If nothing is missing or lacking, then koan would be included too, no? And how about our dear friends Missing and Lacking? While dogmatic shikantaza excludes them, true shikantaza expresses them as well.
Shikantaza is not a dogma of wholeness or some simple formula based on original enlightenment, so don’t believe that’s all there is to it – if you want to realize it yourself – no matter what ribbons and bows the person asserting such views has pinned to their uniform. If you’ve got a good bull shit detector you won’t settle for such views but will simply continue your search.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... ntaza.html
I can only say that these are a few quick examples I took because of the late hour, I would assert that Dosho frequently contradicts and offers the "Fake News" on many of the quotes and sources he cites in his own articles to support his interpretations. Again, none of this is meant as a criticism of his own path, its beauty and power, for people who choose to practice such way, merely his presentation of much of the Soto path and Shikantaza.

As to James Ford, who has a softer and more genteel way, I nonetheless would question many of his presentations of Shikantaza.
As I thought about it I realized this must arise from Dogen’s great question, if we’re all awakened from the beginning why do we need to practice, and his famous resolution of that burning hot coal in his heart when deeply discovering, encountering as a fundamental moment that practice and awakening are one thing. Actually, not even one thing.

From my perspective the problem here is that many people on the Soto way seem to take this story and that term “practice-enlightenment” in a dead-letter way, where if they practice, whatever they are actually experiencing while on the pillow, they are and that is awakening. A truth, no doubt. But, if one assumes the position and then just rests there like a bump on a log, well, it is selling one’s inheritance for some cold mush. A popular pastime pretty much everywhere, I’ve noticed. Lots of people up to their necks in a river crying out in thirst. So, no particular knock on the “pure” Soto way.

But.
Specifically within Soto a lot of people do seem to have run with this not quite hitting the mark, reducing zazen to a “liturgical reenactment of awakening.” A term with just enough truth attached to it to mislead the unwary, and for some to fritter away a life time.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind ... ening.html
Again, no criticism, and only honoring and celebration, of such a path as these teachers offer for those who find their treasure there. I merely assert that many of the presentations of Shikantaza and its spirit are neither historically correct nor applicable for students who do not also undertake the same with Koan Introspection and the mixed path which Dosho and James present.

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundocohen on Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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ol' spikey

Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:38 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:42 pm
"it is not that I criticize their practice"
jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:42 pm
" . . . James and Dosho do not understand Shikantaza . . ."
jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:42 pm
" . . .neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen, . . ."
bodhi wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:32 pm
. . . might as well delete the topic now.
Second that

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:39 pm

lindama wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:16 pm
this yes and no.... a mountain stream jumping off a cliff.....
I respectfully offer that our way is beyond yes and no. A dog is a cat and MU to you too.

Yet sometimes yes and no matters. A dog is not a cat.

If someone misdescribes kitties, with a bias toward dogs, I will politely say that someone must stand up for the kitties. Both cats and dogs are beautiful however. I also honor their preference for dogs.

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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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by lindama » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:43 pm

precisely... the stream

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by boda » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:00 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:23 pm
I merely assert that many of the presentations of Shikantaza and its spirit are neither historically correct nor applicable for students who do not also undertake the same with Koan Introspection and the mixed path which Dosho and James present.

Gassho, Jundo
No, you asserted that "neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza." If you're retracting this claim maybe it would be best to just delete the topic.

Regarding your new claims, you haven't shown how "many of the presentations of Shikantaza" are not historically correct. No doubt many are incorrect but you haven't shown how they're incorrect.

Also, you can't know what is 'applicable' for all students.

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:40 pm

Before the deletion, I'd like to quote again a line from one of Mariquita Platov's (1905-2000) poems, in her volume FROM THE HERB GARDEN OF A CHRISTIAN BUDDHIST:

"Where, but for sameness, would distinctions be?"

Celebrating sameness, this new week. Differences, too.

:namaste:

--Joe

ps along the lines of what one "bodhi" here has had to say, and by way of further (off-topic) meta-discussion in this thread, I'd add, as I've written in another thread, that, yes, it's probably better and to be preferred (by some? by many?) for Jundo or anyone who feels a difference in what one teacher teaches vs. what (or how) others teach, to emphasize one's own ways, and one's own understanding. It gets "too personal", otherwise. Especially when straw-men are set up who are actual men (or women), and red herrings are put in place, who are actually Humans.

If comparisons are odious, then how much more so are contrasts?

I think, too, that for many of those posting at this forum, a topic like this is probably better lodged in the "Academic" thread area, because the discussion does indeed seem academic, at least to me, and maybe to most. I don't think academics is what brings most people here, and when it's featured in a post like this which rises to the top of the Active Topics stack, it can put people off to the extent that it appears ad hominem, or is actually ad hominem. On second (or 1.5) thoughts, maybe let the thread persist, but be moved to "Academics". And maybe close the post at the same time and let it stand as an archive of what some people were hashing just before the June Solstice of 2018.

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Differing views of shikantaza

Post by Meido » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:16 pm

Will keep the topic open a bit longer, but have changed the title to remove focus from individuals.

At this point let's consider this a topic recording the variety of different views RE shikantaza.

Jundo has described his view as a "radical purist" one. He has provided quotes from others with whom he disagrees, but those links serve to record their views. Any more?

In particular, I'm wondering if a mainstream, orthodox view - to which the majority of Soto practitioners would agree - can be provided. I'm certain such a thing must have been put out many times, e.g. by authorized Soto Zen teachers (shike), by an official Soto-shu publication, etc.

~ 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: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by Meido » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:29 pm

For the pot, here is a contribution from Gregory in which he raises a question regarding translation of terms:

http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/2015/1 ... ce-is.html
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

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:33 pm

Meido wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:16 pm
Jundo has described his view as a "radical purist" one.
Quite right, perhaps implying other views are impure.
Meido wrote: In particular, I'm wondering if a mainstream, orthodox view - to which the majority of Soto practitioners would agree - can be provided. I'm certain such a thing must have been put out many times, e.g. by authorized Soto Zen teachers . . .
Yes, notably lacking so far.

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:44 pm

Meido wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:29 pm
For the pot, here is a contribution from Gregory in which he raises a question regarding translation of terms:

http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/2015/1 ... ce-is.html
The conclusion is clear.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:33 pm

Meido, I think the Subject-Line change is a good and generic one.
Meido wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:16 pm
In particular, I'm wondering if a mainstream, orthodox view - to which the majority of Soto practitioners would agree - can be provided. I'm certain such a thing must have been put out many times, e.g. by authorized Soto Zen teachers (shike), by an official Soto-shu publication, etc.
If someone is practicing shikantaza with a teacher, and should elsewhere happen to read an "official" write-up on what shikantaza is "all about", what is one to do? Right, keep on with one's own teacher's direction: It's closer to home, and one can interact with the teacher, but not with the document. This is what I mean by saying that discussion of this is "academic", in both senses of being the proper material of the Academy; and, otherwise, to practitioners, being only of theoretical interest (maybe at most).

Regards,

--Joe

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by lindama » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:49 pm

This stood out for me....
Dosho Port:
That little word “when” is very important and I believe at the heart of James’ concern. Shikantaza as a dogma is a deadly disservice to our heart’s innermost (and original) request – to awaken and live in peace and harmony. ...
James Ford:
if one assumes the position and then just rests there like a bump on a log, well, it is selling one’s inheritance for some cold mush.
don't miss Gregory's blog

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by boda » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:37 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:23 pm
b.,
bodhi wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:06 pm
Well, I think that if Jundo were able to substantiate the claim that "neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza" he would have at least tried to do so by now.
I think an Academic would say that that is a guess or a wish, not a logical inference (nor something that would stand up in a court of Law). ;) My guess is that Jundo Roshi is ...a busy man! And, generous. And I send him wishes for good health. Salud!
If claiming that neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza is generous then I'd hate to see him when he's stingy.
b. wrote:Your real name is desert woodworker?
Now, now; you're being clever (trying... ).
No, just pointing out a discrepancy between saying and doing.
Desert_woodworker does not have to be distinguished from Buddhist technical terms. But ask anyone who knows me, yes, I am the desert woodworker. There is no other in my house.
You know me as bodhi, and there is no other in the house. :namaste:

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:48 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:23 pm
b.,
b. wrote:Even some of the mods here don't use their real names . . ..
No, this is misattributed. It is not a quote from "b.". It is a quote from bodhi.*

You choke on respect for some others.

*Believe quotes should be treated differently from comments. At least, the quote source should be accurate for obvious reasons.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by boda » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:01 am

It hadn't occurred to me until now that DW abbreviates my chosen username because he finds it offensive to use as such, bodhi being short and easy to type out. Is that right, desert_woodworker?

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by desert_woodworker » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:09 am

bodhi wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:01 am
It hadn't occurred to me until now that DW abbreviates my chosen username because he finds it offensive to use as such, bodhi being short and easy to type out. Is that right, desert_woodworker?
Where the system just gives "quote", with no name appended, I sometimes add a hint as to who's being quoted, and often abbreviate it, yes. For fukasetsu, I sometimes use "f.", and for "Jundo", "J." When the attribution is unambiguous in so doing, yes, I use a single character to fill that void. When "Jundo" and "Joe" are the principals, I sometimes elaborate, else "J." would be unclear.

--Joe

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