Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

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jundocohen
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Re: The Misnomer of Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment""

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:21 pm

If I may offer one small perspective ...

The question of whether or not Dogen ever taught "practice and enlightenment are one" or "continuous practice, continuous enlightenment" is not important in the universe. Yet, it is also more than merely an intellectual exercise.

Why?

They are teachings that are certainly helpful and a path of liberation for at least some students. However, if they were not taught as believed and claimed by Soto folks, or are publicized falsely to be a mistaken interpretation or "misnomer," then at least some of those students may come to believe that they are not correct teachings or merely in error, and they might not undertake that path or lose dedication believing the same to be in error. So, to clarify history and whether or not something is a mistake or misnomer is important in that sense. One can teach something even if the history is mistaken of course (Zen and other Buddhists, as well as all religions, do this all the time with many of our ahistorical beliefs and claims, and many students are fine with myth and benefit from that), but it is surely good to trace the origins and tradition behind some claim about our practice when that history is relatively clear. Dan has it exactly right ...
... it boils down to the simple question of skillful means. What helps best? A lie about golden leaves to entice the kids out of the burning house or just tell them there is no burning house and most likely watch them writhe in agony? We know even delusions are empty and non-existent and yet..
But, better than a lie, it is a good to teach them a demonstrable truth to get them out of the house when one has such a truth. Those who wish to believe the myths instead can and will. Those who will believe neither, and will stay in the burning house, can and will too.

In this case, it has been possible for so many scholars and others to demonstrate through his many writings that Dogen taught "practice and enlightenment are one" and "continuous practice, continuous enlightenment," so it is simply good to make that history clear and not let incorrect statements stand without some challenge. If someone presents a bit of personal scholarship and historical research as did Greg, then they should be prepared for polite challenge to their assertions to see if they hold water. One can respect the person, yet challenge their proposal. That is how historical and other research advances.

We live in a world where religions so often are based on all manner of wild and ahistorical claims, so it is nice to be able to say to prospective and current students, "in this case, it actually is true."

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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by Anders » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:48 am

At first glance, I like the notion of "practise is verification" over "practise is enlightenment", though I feel the latter is a big part of the message. The former brings it out of the asserted realm and into the experiential, demanding that one sees for oneself. The latter carries with it the seed of the "silent illumination" interpretation that Dahui and Hakuin loved to rant against. Still, if by "practise is its own verification" we understand it simply as "practise is the fruit of practise", that also is only half the story and doesn't touch on the depths of what Dogen wanted us to understand practise as being which was intimately connected to actualising the realisation of all the Buddhas in this moment. "practise is actualisation" seems like it catches a bit of both to me.

I think it all makes better sense in the context of hongaku, which was basically Dogen's koan - ie, "if we are already originally enlightened, why practise?"
And practise=verification/enlightenment/actualisation was his answer. To me, it's a kind of wittgensteinian approach. What I mean by that is that wittgenstein identified parts of language that seem to have sense and meaning, but don't actually have any because they fundamentally do not refer to anything that anyone has ever experienced. "horn of the hare" for example, would to wittgenstein be an example of nonsense speech. It seems like something is being said, but really it's just "bla bla bla"
And Dogen identifies similar with Hongaku - Although he plays heavily on lots of its themes, it is to him nonsensical to speak of, or conceive of, an enlightenment that is not experienced and actualised. The whole thing is his resolution to the question that flows from hongaku.

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:12 am

Lovely, Anders. Feels so right in my heart at least.

Gassho J
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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:53 am

PS - I might offer again my little view that this is really a "non-issue," not really a difference for the sameness.

From the Hongaku (Original Enlightenment) viewpoint, the practice is the verification of enlightenment even before the doing, even for the beginner who has yet to taste anything (as Dogen says in the Bendowa quotes I posted). There is nothing to attain either. But, unless one truly pours oneself into that doing of "nothing to attain" and "already so from the startless start," one does not taste that fact, so can't "verify" in that sense. Kind of a Karmic Katch-22. In other words, yes, practice is already enlightenment even before that is known, but better to know that is so by diligent practicing.

In the case of Zazen, Zazen is verification and enlightenment with nothing more to attain even before the person sits down (even before the person is born). But unless one sits and totally realizes this "already enlightenment, nothing to attain" deep in the bones, then the meaning of that is lost in a fog of ignorance.

In the case, of Samu or some other action, it is just the same. There is nothing to clean, and the dirty dishes are already washed even before the water is turned on. The dishes are also already verification and enlightenment, even before the planet earth was born. Nonetheless, the practitioner may not know and verify this fact until she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work in washingless washing, scrubbing the dishes that are "pure" all along (in a "no place for dust to alight from the start" kinda way).
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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by Dan74 » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:55 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:53 am
PS - I might offer again my little view that this is really a "non-issue," not really a difference for the sameness.

From the Hongaku (Original Enlightenment) viewpoint, the practice is the verification of enlightenment even before the doing, even for the beginner who has yet to taste anything (as Dogen says in the Bendowa quotes I posted). There is nothing to attain either. But, unless one truly pours oneself into that doing of "nothing to attain" and "already so from the startless start," one does not taste that fact, so can't "verify" in that sense. Kind of a Karmic Katch-22. In other words, yes, practice is already enlightenment even before that is known, but better to know that is so by diligent practicing.

In the case of Zazen, Zazen is verification and enlightenment with nothing more to attain even before the person sits down (even before the person is born). But unless one sits and totally realizes this "already enlightenment, nothing to attain" deep in the bones, then the meaning of that is lost in a fog of ignorance.

In the case, of Samu or some other action, it is just the same. There is nothing to clean, and the dirty dishes are already washed even before the water is turned on. The dishes are also already verification and enlightenment, even before the planet earth was born. Nonetheless, the practitioner may not know and verify this fact until she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work in washingless washing, scrubbing the dishes that are "pure" all along (in a "no place for dust to alight from the start" kinda way).
This is precisely where it kinda reveals itself as wordplay. The dishes are not clean, until they are. We are not liberated, until we truly know that we are. Saying to someone deep in the darkness of depression that they are a Buddha, free and enlightened, is a mockery. Their suffering is the most real thing there is to them. And it would be cruel and unhelpful. But yes, sometimes it may be helpful. Hence my comment about skilful means. Horses for courses.


As for the earlier comment that the practice-enlightenment viewpoint is true or truer, I am skeptical of holding any viewpoint as true or truer in itself, when we speak of Zen. Filtered through a deluded mind, everything becomes deluded, like a piece of fine cloth picked up with muddy filthy hands. Apprehended with a liberated mind, even a delusion reveals a kernel of wisdom.

Sorry this is off-topic as far as Dogen's intent is concerned. I will either move or delete my posts..

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:44 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:55 pm
This is precisely where it kinda reveals itself as wordplay. The dishes are not clean, until they are. We are not liberated, until we truly know that we are. Saying to someone deep in the darkness of depression that they are a Buddha, free and enlightened, is a mockery. Their suffering is the most real thing there is to them. And it would be cruel and unhelpful. But yes, sometimes it may be helpful. Hence my comment about skilful means. Horses for courses.
Hi Dan,

You actually highlight two very different approaches to Buddhism. In the one, we are deluded (dirty plates) and we have to scrub off the old sauce to get at the purity (Buddha, a perfectly clean plate). Wash wash wash. The plate is not "liberated" until really really (perhaps perfectly) clean. Or, perhaps one scrubs and scrubs seeking a single moment in which all the dirt immediately and perfectly flies off the plate never to return!

In the other (Dogen's) we also wash wash wash just the same, but as we wash, we come to realize that the plates and the sauce were pure (Buddha) from the start, as is the very act of washing (Buddhaing).

In both cases, the plates get clean, but in the latter case the realization is that there was never actually anything to clean from the start. If we never washed the plate of its sticky delusion, the plate would still be pure (pure and deluded at once, Buddha manifesting as delusion). Nonetheless, without washing washing washing, this fact would not be realized because it would be hidden in the sticky delusion. Only cleaning delusion let's us know the emptiness of the plate and the delusion from the start.

It is a subtle, but important, difference in approach.

In the latter (which is Dogen's "practice is enlightenment all along"), there is also the subtle sense that, since the dirty plates before washing, during and after washing are all the very same pure Buddha, it is not necessary to finally arrive at final, 100% spic and span cleanliness in order to clearly realize and beautifully manifest Buddha. Rather, at some point midway in the washing, the washer realizes that Buddha is present from start to finish, in both the clean and the dirty (all of which is empty, as is the washer), yet continues cleaning and polishing as best she can. In other words, the washer/practitioner realizes how to manifest Pure Buddha (Nirvana) right in/as/shining through this continued world of partial impurity (Samsara). However, she does not stop cleaning: When she acts good and cleanly, she manifests Buddha in the world here and now right in this kitchen, but when she acts with the dirty sauce of greed, anger and division she returns to confusion and makes more mess (even though, from another perspective, all is pure and empty all along). Nirvana is just Samsara, form is emptiness ... dirty plate, being cleaned plate and clean plate all Buddha Plate all along, as is the act of daily washing. However, unless we act good and clean, Buddha does not manifest.

Dogen is a "Continuous Practice/Continuous Washing is Already Purity/Enlightenment all along" fellow. In fact, he might have stood for BOTH kinds of dishwashing at once: Washing to realize Buddha right now in the act of washing filthy and imperfect samsara, which is also washing to someday get to the perfect pristine Buddha dish somewhere eventually down the road.

Frankly, I think this "liberation right in samsara" viewpoint is more realistic and useful (for folks like me anyway) than "it only pays off after several Kalpa when we all become perfectly washed dishes" or the "it flies off and stay off forever" flavors of Buddhism, but I am not the last word on what is good Buddhism. The Purity I know in my practice "stays forever" because it never came nor went anywhere, right in the heart of a world of coming and going. To each their own dishwashing. I don't recall myself ever saying that someone's way of dishwashing was better or truer than someone else's, so don't attribute that comment to me.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - Someone lost in depression or other mental illness is going to be so whichever of the two forms of Buddhism is right. They need therapy. However, to the degree that either way helps them see the light shining through delusion, both can help. I was very depressed in my teens and twenties, manifesting as my wallowing and getting pulled into dark thoughts. Shikantaza let me see the clarity and purity shining behind/through/between/as those dark thoughts ... and they became translucent or evaporated. I realized Buddha even while still sometimes having a head full of dark sauce, but now no longer a prisoner of the darkness and buying into what it was selling. In samsara, every day there is new sauce on the dishes, every day I keep washing. I know the light that is present throughout the process, both before, during and after the cleaning, and this frees me of the thoughts. Liberation right in/as/between and beyond samsara. I did not want or need to wait several Kalpa for my depression to clear and Buddha to manifest.
Last edited by jundocohen on Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:46 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by boda » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:52 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:44 pm
PS - Someone lost in depression or other mental illness is going to be so whichever of the two forms of Buddhism is right. They need therapy. However, to the degree that either way helps them see the light shining through delusion, both can help. I was very depressed in my teens and twenties, manifesting as my wallowing and getting pulled into dark thoughts. Shikantaza let me see the clarity and purity shining behind/through/between/as those dark thoughts ... and they became translucent or evaporated. I realized Buddha even while still sometimes having a head full of dark sauce, but now no longer a prisoner of the darkness and buying into what it was selling. In samsara, every day there is new sauce on the dishes, every day I keep washing. I know the light that is present throughout the process, both before, during and after the cleaning, and this frees me of the thoughts. Liberation right in/as/between and beyond samsara. I did not want or need to wait several Kalpa for my depression to clear and Buddha to manifest.
An interesting question that’s relevant to the topic is whether your depression would return if you stopped practicing. The fact that you continue to practice indicates a dependent relationship. That being the case, it seems most true to say that enlightenment (the sessation of suffering, or at least chronic depression) depends on practice.

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:24 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:52 pm
An interesting question that’s relevant to the topic is whether your depression would return if you stopped practicing. The fact that you continue to practice indicates a dependent relationship. That being the case, it seems most true to say that enlightenment (the sessation of suffering, or at least chronic depression) depends on practice.
I have hours of depressed thoughts and emotions now and then (like when the cat died). I see right through them, and the light shines.

The cat died, yet there is no birth or death.

Gassho, J
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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by boda » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:34 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:24 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:52 pm
An interesting question that’s relevant to the topic is whether your depression would return if you stopped practicing. The fact that you continue to practice indicates a dependent relationship. That being the case, it seems most true to say that enlightenment (the sessation of suffering, or at least chronic depression) depends on practice.
I have hours of depressed thoughts and emotions now and then (like when the cat died). I see right through them, and the light shines.

The cat died, yet there is no birth or death.

Gassho, J
If there's no birth or death then what caused the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions?

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:06 am

boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:34 pm
jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:24 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:52 pm
An interesting question that’s relevant to the topic is whether your depression would return if you stopped practicing. The fact that you continue to practice indicates a dependent relationship. That being the case, it seems most true to say that enlightenment (the sessation of suffering, or at least chronic depression) depends on practice.
I have hours of depressed thoughts and emotions now and then (like when the cat died). I see right through them, and the light shines.

The cat died, yet there is no birth or death.

Gassho, J
If there's no birth or death then what caused the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions?
We live in a world of me and you, this and that, happy and sad, my brain and its chemistry and yours, people and cats, having and loss, birth and death ... Samsara.

One is completely free of me and you, this and that, happy and sad, my brain and its chemistry and yours, people and cats, having and loss, birth and death ... Nirvana.

So long as we are alive in these bodies, which is true? YES! Not an "either/or" proposition. However, most folks seem only to know the former fact. We call this "delusion." In the realm of the latter alone, it would be impossible to live in this human world. Zen folks figured out how to thread that needle long ago.

(The class is called "Basic Mahayana 101" or "Basic Mahayana Not 1 Not 2" :-) )

Gassho, J
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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by boda » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:49 am

jundocohen wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:06 am
boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:34 pm
jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:24 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:52 pm
An interesting question that’s relevant to the topic is whether your depression would return if you stopped practicing. The fact that you continue to practice indicates a dependent relationship. That being the case, it seems most true to say that enlightenment (the sessation of suffering, or at least chronic depression) depends on practice.
I have hours of depressed thoughts and emotions now and then (like when the cat died). I see right through them, and the light shines.

The cat died, yet there is no birth or death.

Gassho, J
If there's no birth or death then what caused the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions?
We live in a world of me and you, this and that, happy and sad, my brain and its chemistry and yours, people and cats, having and loss, birth and death ... Samsara.

One is completely free of me and you, this and that, happy and sad, my brain and its chemistry and yours, people and cats, having and loss, birth and death ... Nirvana.

So long as we are alive in these bodies, which is true? YES! Not an "either/or" proposition. However, most folks seem only to know the former fact. We call this "delusion." In the realm of the latter alone, it would be impossible to live in this human world.
You appear to be saying that you suffered the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions because it would be impossible to do otherwise in this deluded “human world.”

This isn’t a human world, I’ll point out, though such anthropomorphism is quite common.

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:58 am

boda wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:49 am

You appear to be saying that you suffered the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions because it would be impossible to do otherwise in this deluded “human world.”
Well, it is what happened based on my brain chemistry and other factors at the time, so what happens does happen. Whether it could have been some other way is hard to say.

In another sense, it never did happen nor was there anyone for it to happen to. :hatsoff:
This isn’t a human world, I’ll point out, though such anthropomorphism is quite common.
Very true, point well taken. Our new cat and the trees outside would quite agree.

That said, Uchiyama Roshi often made the point that, from another perspective, "your" universe pops in and out of existence with you. It is the same universe as my universe, and that of the cats and trees ... yet not.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=vNS ... 22&f=false

Gassho, J
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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by boda » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:49 am

jundocohen wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:58 am
boda wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:49 am
You appear to be saying that you suffered the hours of depressed thoughts and emotions because it would be impossible to do otherwise in this deluded “human world.”
Well, it is what happened based on my brain chemistry and other factors at the time, so what happens does happen. Whether it could have been some other way is hard to say.
It’s hard to say if it could have been some other way for you and your particular conditioning. Our much loved dog died (of old age) last November and i was very emotional about it for days and weeks. I recall coming home from work one evening, him not being there, and openly weeping. It makes me teary just thinking about it now. Maybe you weren’t very bonded with your cat? to get over it in a matter of hours.
In another sense, it never did happen nor was there anyone for it to happen to.
If it didn’t happen to you then you wouldn’t have experienced hours of depressed thoughts and emotions, so there’s no sense in which it didn’t happen to you.

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:33 am

Who said I ever got over it? I love/d that cat, get a lump in my throat just thinking of the little guy.

Then again, what cat and what to get over? What throat?

Gassho J
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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by boda » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:26 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:33 am
Then again, what cat and what to get over?
Your cat and its death.
What throat?
Yours.

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by Dan74 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:59 pm

Jundo,

in my limited experience, it's not only in Soto, but in all schools of Zen, that this originally enlightened, already a Buddha, teaching is fully embraced. And not only in Zen. If I recall correctly, Surya Das recounts in his first chance meeting with the 16th Karmapa, he asked the great man why people call him the Living Buddha. The Karmapa replied, it was because he could see the Living Buddha in him (Surya Das).

As in the Heart Sutra - no ignorance and no ending of ignorance. And in Zen all extant schools stem from Huineng who said there is no mirror and nowhere for the dust to alight.

So where does the difference lie?

Nowhere, but in the application of the skilful means, it seems to me. Whereas purist Soto folks like you, emphasize this nonduality from the outset, even as you describe that in practice the realisation occurs quite some time into the "dishwashing process", teachers of other schools may not place such an emphasis on it. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages depending on personality and karmic disposition. That's what I meant before. It is not a fundamental difference in approaches, subtle or not. It is about what is suitable for the specific practitioner at this moment in time.

To be honest, I think the already enlightened nothing to seek approach would not be so helpful to most folks, at least at the outset. It just runs contrary to so much of one's experience and is bound to be misinterpreted. But hey, I am no teacher. Some folks obviously dig it.


Regardless, I find there is too much completely unnecessary polemics about this subject that at least in Mahayana is completely uncontroversial. Although yes, I agree with your earlier point that as far as historical accuracy, regarding what Dogen did or did not say, which Soto practices are authentic, etc, this is important. I am out of my depth here, and I leave it to the scholars to battle it out. I am sure Gregory means well, and even if his conclusions prove not to be sound, I bet he will still manage to shine some light on the subject.


_/|\_

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:44 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:55 pm
This is precisely where it kinda reveals itself as wordplay. The dishes are not clean, until they are. We are not liberated, until we truly know that we are. Saying to someone deep in the darkness of depression that they are a Buddha, free and enlightened, is a mockery. Their suffering is the most real thing there is to them. And it would be cruel and unhelpful. But yes, sometimes it may be helpful. Hence my comment about skilful means. Horses for courses.
Hi Dan,

You actually highlight two very different approaches to Buddhism. In the one, we are deluded (dirty plates) and we have to scrub off the old sauce to get at the purity (Buddha, a perfectly clean plate). Wash wash wash. The plate is not "liberated" until really really (perhaps perfectly) clean. Or, perhaps one scrubs and scrubs seeking a single moment in which all the dirt immediately and perfectly flies off the plate never to return!

In the other (Dogen's) we also wash wash wash just the same, but as we wash, we come to realize that the plates and the sauce were pure (Buddha) from the start, as is the very act of washing (Buddhaing).

In both cases, the plates get clean, but in the latter case the realization is that there was never actually anything to clean from the start. If we never washed the plate of its sticky delusion, the plate would still be pure (pure and deluded at once, Buddha manifesting as delusion). Nonetheless, without washing washing washing, this fact would not be realized because it would be hidden in the sticky delusion. Only cleaning delusion let's us know the emptiness of the plate and the delusion from the start.

It is a subtle, but important, difference in approach.

In the latter (which is Dogen's "practice is enlightenment all along"), there is also the subtle sense that, since the dirty plates before washing, during and after washing are all the very same pure Buddha, it is not necessary to finally arrive at final, 100% spic and span cleanliness in order to clearly realize and beautifully manifest Buddha. Rather, at some point midway in the washing, the washer realizes that Buddha is present from start to finish, in both the clean and the dirty (all of which is empty, as is the washer), yet continues cleaning and polishing as best she can. In other words, the washer/practitioner realizes how to manifest Pure Buddha (Nirvana) right in/as/shining through this continued world of partial impurity (Samsara). However, she does not stop cleaning: When she acts good and cleanly, she manifests Buddha in the world here and now right in this kitchen, but when she acts with the dirty sauce of greed, anger and division she returns to confusion and makes more mess (even though, from another perspective, all is pure and empty all along). Nirvana is just Samsara, form is emptiness ... dirty plate, being cleaned plate and clean plate all Buddha Plate all along, as is the act of daily washing. However, unless we act good and clean, Buddha does not manifest.

Dogen is a "Continuous Practice/Continuous Washing is Already Purity/Enlightenment all along" fellow. In fact, he might have stood for BOTH kinds of dishwashing at once: Washing to realize Buddha right now in the act of washing filthy and imperfect samsara, which is also washing to someday get to the perfect pristine Buddha dish somewhere eventually down the road.

Frankly, I think this "liberation right in samsara" viewpoint is more realistic and useful (for folks like me anyway) than "it only pays off after several Kalpa when we all become perfectly washed dishes" or the "it flies off and stay off forever" flavors of Buddhism, but I am not the last word on what is good Buddhism. The Purity I know in my practice "stays forever" because it never came nor went anywhere, right in the heart of a world of coming and going. To each their own dishwashing. I don't recall myself ever saying that someone's way of dishwashing was better or truer than someone else's, so don't attribute that comment to me.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - Someone lost in depression or other mental illness is going to be so whichever of the two forms of Buddhism is right. They need therapy. However, to the degree that either way helps them see the light shining through delusion, both can help. I was very depressed in my teens and twenties, manifesting as my wallowing and getting pulled into dark thoughts. Shikantaza let me see the clarity and purity shining behind/through/between/as those dark thoughts ... and they became translucent or evaporated. I realized Buddha even while still sometimes having a head full of dark sauce, but now no longer a prisoner of the darkness and buying into what it was selling. In samsara, every day there is new sauce on the dishes, every day I keep washing. I know the light that is present throughout the process, both before, during and after the cleaning, and this frees me of the thoughts. Liberation right in/as/between and beyond samsara. I did not want or need to wait several Kalpa for my depression to clear and Buddha to manifest.

ol' spikey

Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by ol' spikey » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:54 pm

”Gregory Wonderwheel” wrote: Also, my essay showed that Soto Zen Text Project translated shusho correctly in the title of their “Shushogi” as “The Meaning of Practice and Verification.” One can hardly call the Soto Zen Text Project a non-recognized Dogen translator.
Additionally, Nuishima, in his translation of “Bendowa” translates shusho as “practice-and-experience.” Bob Myers translates it variously as “practice and perfection” or “practice and realization.”
”jundocohen” wrote: If your thesis is that "sho" can mean "“verification, confirmation, proof, evidence, witness, etc.," but also and very very commonly in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism can mean "enlightenment, awakening, realization, actualization, etc." then we are in complete agreement.
”Gregory Wonderwheel” wrote: Dogen is simply saying that practice and the confirmation of practice are one.
So, no, what jundo says is not, in my interpretation, what Gregory interpreted Dogen as saying.

Gregory further states:
”Gregory Wonderwheel” wrote: Since there is no real disagreement that the shu of shusho means practice or cultivation, my central conclusion is that . . . there are three levels of valid interpretation for the sho of shusho: (1) “verification, confirmation, proof, evidence, witness,” etc. are all fully valid translations; (2) “realization” is a semi-valid translation when one connotation of realization intended and is a semi-invalid translation if another connotation of realization is intended, and (3) enlightenment or awakening is always an invalid translation, i.e., the term satori is not a synonym of sho.
Note point #3. (#1 okay to say valid; #2 okay to say semi valid; #3 okay to say not valid). That should be clear enough, "i.e., satori is not a synonym of sho". Granted, some terms are difficult to translate. For example, "Sunyata" traditionally has been translated as "emptiness", as per many liturgical renderings in Heart Sutra. Yet, in my understanding, there is the connotation of limitless possibility in this term. I do not believe that there is such leeway in translating "sho", per Gregory.
dan74 wrote: I am sure Gregory means well, and even if his conclusions prove not to be sound, I bet he will still manage to shine some light on the subject.
And who is better qualified to make such a conclusion or offer proof? Specifically, is "satori" a synonym of "sho"?

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Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:02 am

Dan74 wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:59 pm
Jundo,

in my limited experience, it's not only in Soto, but in all schools of Zen, that this originally enlightened, already a Buddha, teaching is fully embraced. And not only in Zen. If I recall correctly, Surya Das recounts in his first chance meeting with the 16th Karmapa, he asked the great man why people call him the Living Buddha. The Karmapa replied, it was because he could see the Living Buddha in him (Surya Das).

As in the Heart Sutra - no ignorance and no ending of ignorance. And in Zen all extant schools stem from Huineng who said there is no mirror and nowhere for the dust to alight.

So where does the difference lie?

Nowhere, but in the application of the skilful means, it seems to me. Whereas purist Soto folks like you, emphasize this nonduality from the outset, even as you describe that in practice the realisation occurs quite some time into the "dishwashing process", teachers of other schools may not place such an emphasis on it. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages depending on personality and karmic disposition. That's what I meant before. It is not a fundamental difference in approaches, subtle or not. It is about what is suitable for the specific practitioner at this moment in time.

To be honest, I think the already enlightened nothing to seek approach would not be so helpful to most folks, at least at the outset. It just runs contrary to so much of one's experience and is bound to be misinterpreted. But hey, I am no teacher. Some folks obviously dig it.


Regardless, I find there is too much completely unnecessary polemics about this subject that at least in Mahayana is completely uncontroversial. Although yes, I agree with your earlier point that as far as historical accuracy, regarding what Dogen did or did not say, which Soto practices are authentic, etc, this is important. I am out of my depth here, and I leave it to the scholars to battle it out. I am sure Gregory means well, and even if his conclusions prove not to be sound, I bet he will still manage to shine some light on the subject.
Yes, on all points, as far as my feelings.

I do feel that, in this world where folks are constantly rushing up mountains to get to some goal in their work, families and even Buddhist practices, that Dogen's radical message of "no where to go even as one keeps on going forward, every step by step itself a total arrival at its own goal line, the whole mountain top to bottom all Buddha from the startless start to the endless end, so step with grace and dedication in each step here and now" and "sitting as the one action needed in the whole universe in that one moment, nothing lacking" has some true value and resonates with many people these days filled with a sense of a million things to do and so much lacking.

I do agree, though, that most (many? all?) Mahayana and Zen paths emphasize this in some way or degree. Some do seem more "push to the goal, get there later" than others, however. Maybe that is what those people need, and what resonates with them.

Gassho, J
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: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by jundocohen » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:56 am

ol' spikey wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:54 pm

Note point #3. (#1 okay to say valid; #2 okay to say semi valid; #3 okay to say not valid). That should be clear enough, "i.e., satori is not a synonym of sho". Granted, some terms are difficult to translate. For example, "Sunyata" traditionally has been translated as "emptiness", as per many liturgical renderings in Heart Sutra. Yet, in my understanding, there is the connotation of limitless possibility in this term. I do not believe that there is such leeway in translating "sho", per Gregory.
Hi Spikey,

Just for my reference, Spikey, I am just wondering if you are a student of Chinese and Japanese yourself?

I want to say again that this is a bit of a moot debate: Many times in Chinese/Japanese translations and doctrine, "verification" = "realization" = "enlightenment." A reading from the bottom of page 176 here to the end of 178 should give a sense of how Dogen bounced back and forth in the interchange of 證 ("verification") for "enlightenment" in his writings.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=Q_q ... nt&f=false

A similar usage by Dogen is when he says, for example, that one has attained the "mind seal" of the Ancestors, meaning "enlightenment" (for example, he says in Bendowa, "although the five schools differ, they are all based on the single seal of the Buddha Mind.") This "seal" is also something that would be used, for example, to confirm or verify an official document.

Gassho, J
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

ol' spikey

Re: Disagreeing with Greg Wonderwheel's "The Misnomer of Dogen's "Practice is Enlightenment" [MOD EDIT]

Post by ol' spikey » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:03 am

jundocohen wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:56 am

Hi Spikey,

Just for my reference, Spikey, I am just wondering if you are a student of Chinese and Japanese yourself?

Gassho, J
Hi jundo,

Just for my reference, do you say that "satori" is a synonym of "sho"?

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