Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

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clyde
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Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by clyde » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:33 pm

I’m confused.

I thought that Thein (Vietnamese) Zen, as exemplified by Thich Nhat Hanh, was in the Soto style. Last evening I was reading a bit of the IZI (http://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/tr ... /main.html) website (a link in Fuki’s signature) and learned that it is in the Rinzai Zen lineage.

Was I mistaken about Vietnamese Zen? Or are there both a Soto and Rinzai lineages in Vietnamese Zen?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by desert_woodworker » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:57 pm

There are five schools everywhere, although two have died out.

Of the remaining three, Obaku is scarce everywhere, and I presume in Vietnam also.

--Joe

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fuki
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by fuki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:36 pm

clyde wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:33 pm
I’m confused.

I thought that Thein (Vietnamese) Zen, as exemplified by Thich Nhat Hanh, was in the Soto style. Last evening I was reading a bit of the IZI (http://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/tr ... /main.html) website (a link in Fuki’s signature) and learned that it is in the Rinzai Zen lineage.

Was I mistaken about Vietnamese Zen? Or are there both a Soto and Rinzai lineages in Vietnamese Zen?
I wouldn't know clyde, lineages are not an interest of mine.
So it was perfect for me when I asked the local IZI teacher in what tradition she received inka and couldn't remember :D

Bob knew Gesshin Myoko Prabhasa Dharma very well from his time in Mount Baldy with Sasaki, so that was another nice addition.
In the group I notice a "mixture" of different traditions, I just call it "life"
Perhaps IZI is like an "open tradition" or something, I didn't ask.
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Meido » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:44 pm

Obaku is a Linji/Rinzai line that just happened to come to Japan later, in the Ming Dynasty. It is not one of the classic five houses of Chan.

In China, Linji Chan essentially absorbed the other 4 (Caodong, Fayen, Yunmen, Guiyang). I understand that Caodong still managed to keep an intact lineage, for example Sheng-yen inherited and transmitted it...so along with Soto Zen in Japan we can say that still survives, though of course Soto has its own take on things after developing in Japan for centuries. Hsu Yun in the 20th century "restored" the Fayen, Yunmen, and Guiyang lineages in China... meaning basically that they were lost, but he was respected enough to say that they were henceforth revived. At least such is my understanding. In any case, all five houses do not exist everywhere.

Someone like Guo Gu would be much more dependable a source RE these things than i am.

Back to the OP, have read that Vietnam received several Zen transmissions, but have not heard that any Caodong lines were strongly active there...and in any case Linji lines eventually dominated (as in Korea). So while i dont know details, it would be likely that Thich Nhat Hanh carries a Lam Te (Linji) lineage.

Of course his actual style is fairly eclectic, drawing from Theravada and other influences as well.
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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by fuki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:49 pm

Meido wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:44 pm
Of course his actual style is fairly eclectic, drawing from Theravadin and other influences as well.
Meido, are there lineages/traditions were teacher's styles are "fixed in flavour" and other lineages more "free"
or is it usually up to the teacher whether or not he/she "deviates" or "mixes" things up.
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Meido » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:20 pm

fuki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:49 pm
Meido, are there lineages/traditions were teacher's styles are "fixed in flavour" and other lineages more "free"
or is it usually up to the teacher whether or not he/she "deviates" or "mixes" things up.
Well, i can't speak for everyone. And of course real lineage rests completely on realization, and is useful only inasmuch as it fosters such. So in that regard, nothing could ever really be fixed at all.

But speaking in terms of the details, I would say that what we call a lineage is a kind of container or culture that generally carries three things:

1. A body of inherited knowledge, usually some mix of oral transmission (kuden) of essential points, texts, lineage documents, etc.
2. A collection of practices and an understanding of how to bring them to fruition.
3. A particular flavor, "wind", or kiai (energetic quality) animating the above

So in the actual transmission of a lineage from teacher to student, there are these things that are imparted, and these qualities cultivated. If one is invested in preserving the treasures and flavors of a lineage, one strives to make sure that happens. But byond that, yes, there is freedom for individual exploration and expression. And crucially, the body of a lineage's knowledge/methods can and should grow with each generation.

Of course, it is possible to have realization and be a potentially skillful teacher, but just not have the qualities to inherit a particular lineage. In the old days it was more common for students to jump around between lineages and teachers. Torei warns specifically against inheriting the lineage of a teacher to which one is not suited...it causes problems.

Finally, we should say it's no problem for lineages to arise and pass away. Some brilliant teachers no longer have living lineages, for example Bankei. But his teachings still have power, and he is an important ancestor. Further, lineages that lack or lose vitality tend to die out...a good thing! All lineages change, and need occasional reformation/revitalization, thus the idea that a truly great master comes along every 500 years or so. Etc.
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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clyde
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by clyde » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:11 pm

fuki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:36 pm
I wouldn't know clyde, lineages are not an interest of mine.
My interest isn’t personal. I wish to have a basic understanding of lineages because Zen teachers and students have interest in lineages, and it seems fundamental to the Zen tradition.


p.s: I noted that Gesshin Myoko Prabhasa Dharma, the IZI founding teacher, was trained and ordained by Joshu Sasaki and that “she formally left” him. That reminded me of the Sasaki scandal and that reminded me of my very early, but brief encounters with Sasaki and his fledgling sangha at the Cimarron Zen Center (later to become the Rinzai-ji Zen Center).
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by fuki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:18 pm

Thank you Meido.
Meido wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:20 pm
Of course, it is possible to have realization and be a potentially skillful teacher, but just not have the qualities to inherit a particular lineage. In the old days it was more common for students to jump around between lineages and teachers. Torei warns specifically against inheriting the lineage of a teacher to which one is not suited...it causes problems.
Do you have a text to share which touches upon Torei's warning about inhereting a non-suited lineages, or/and share your observations of what the symptoms of such problems are?
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by fuki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:25 pm

clyde wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:11 pm
fuki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:36 pm
I wouldn't know clyde, lineages are not an interest of mine.
My interest isn’t personal. I wish to have a basic understanding of lineages because Zen teachers and students have interest in lineages, and it seems fundamental to the Zen tradition.


p.s: I noted that Gesshin Myoko Prabhasa Dharma, the IZI founding teacher, was trained and ordained by Joshu Sasaki and that “she formally left” him. That reminded me of the Sasaki scandal and that reminded me of my very early, but brief encounters with Sasaki and his fledgling sangha at the Cimarron Zen Center (later to become the Rinzai-ji Zen Center).
I could have left that out clyde, apologies, was referring to a non-interest when it comes to history, however if someone raises the matter then I'm interested, so I already learned something. (though poor of memory) :)

Yes, Gesshin Myoko was Sasaki's mistress.
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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:45 am

My understanding, from some sitting at a Monastery in Vietnam and some recent reading on Vietnamese Zen History, is that "Zen" (Thien) died out in Vietnam many generations ago, At least, that is according to the information I have (I do not quite understand where TNH would fit in such a claim). For example, the scholar's paper i posted in the Thien section a few weeks ago says this ...
While Zen has a long history in Vietnam, there
has never been a tradition of continuous Zen
schools, Zen lineages or Zen transmission. Cuong
Tu Nguyen (1995; 1997) expresses scepticism
that it has ever even had much of an influence on
most Vietnamese lay or monastic Buddhists. In‐
stead, he argues that the few extant writings on
Zen in Vietnam from the medieval period repre‐
sent a rhetorical expression of Vietnamese elite
fascination with all things Chinese, and a concern
with appearing equal to the Chinese by mimick‐
ing their Buddhist literary forms, particularly
Ch'an transmission of the lamp texts. He bluntly
states: "For the ordinary Vietnamese Buddhists,
Zen was (and probably still is) merely 'a rumor
from the monasteries'" (Nguyen 1997, 99). De‐
spite this, Zen has been associated with the elite,
attracting kings and scholars. It has been particu‐
larly linked with what is considered the golden
era of Buddhism in Vietnam, during the Lý and
Trần dynasties, before Confucianism took away
its courtly influence.
The roots of the contemporary interest in Zen
date back to the Buddhist Reform Movement that
started in the 1920s in Vietnam, but earlier in
other countries in Asia. The main centres of these
international Asian reform movements were Sri
Lanka, Japan and China. These revival move‐
ments, which became internationalized and con‐
nected to some degree, sought to claim legitimacy
for Buddhism by identifying it as a 'world reli‐
gion', as this category was constructed by the
Western academy. This was done as part of a
more comprehensive effort to gain legitimacy and
to compete with Christian missionary incursions
and hegemonic colonial power.
The Vietnamese, for their part, were trying to
cope with French colonial domination and pres‐
sure from Christian missionaries, and Buddhism
became one of the fronts of national cultural re‐
imagining that came about as resistance to
French hegemony. In 1932 Trần Văn Giáp, a
French trained Vietnamese scholar, wrote about
the history of early Vietnamese Buddhism, basing
his work on a 'rediscovered' text called the Thiền
Uyển Tập Anh. Virtually every description of Bud‐
dhism in Vietnam from that point to today has
been a reproduction of Trần Văn Giáp's work
(Nguyen 1997, 22). It has strongly influenced not
only academic descriptions of Buddhism in Vi‐
etnam (mostly by Vietnamese scholars), but has

1 See Soucy 2012 for more on this.
also been taken up by the Buddhist institution as
a self‐description. The Vietnamese interest in Zen
picked up steam in South Vietnam during the
1960s, influenced by translations of D.T. Suzuki's
writings.
https://goedoc.uni-goettingen.de/bitstr ... sAllowed=y
There has been an attempt by a Master, since mid-20th Century, to revive Zen. He does not actually have Dharma Transmission in a Zen Lineage, in my understanding, although he is a fully Ordained and very respected teacher in Vietnam. He does state that he is in the Rinzai lineage in heart, but the meditation method he seems to describe in his writings seems more in the flavor of Silent Illumination or Just Sitting. He also emphasizes for lay people not called to Zazen all the usual teachings on ethics, Dana and Karma etc. typical of teachings for lay people on the continent.

Thich Thanh Tu (1924-)
https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich-Thanh-Tu.html

Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADc ... T%E1%BB%AB

I do not have further information.

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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:43 am

clyde wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:33 pm
I’m confused.

I thought that Thein (Vietnamese) Zen, as exemplified by Thich Nhat Hanh, was in the Soto style. Last evening I was reading a bit of the IZI (http://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/tr ... /main.html) website (a link in Fuki’s signature) and learned that it is in the Rinzai Zen lineage.

Was I mistaken about Vietnamese Zen? Or are there both a Soto and Rinzai lineages in Vietnamese Zen?
Wikipedia says, "According to traditional accounts of Vietnam, in 580, an Indian monk named Vinītaruci (Vietnamese: Tì-ni-đa-lưu-chi) traveled to Vietnam after completing his studies with Sengcan, the third patriarch of Chinese Chán. This, then, would be the first appearance of Vietnamese Thiền Buddhism."

This Sengcan is almost a contemporary to Bodhidharma, so its before any of these 5 sects appeared in China. However, this line died out. The current line is Lam Te (Lin Chi/Rinzai)

And yes, kung-ans are part of the Thien tradition. Most of the ancient texts we hear quoted by TNH are from the Chinese Agamas and other Chinese sources.

Some of are teachers use the title "Dharmacharya" - but not all that are ordained actually teach. And much of the teaching is done more by doing.

As I understand it, the Soto of Japan is all that remains of Caodong School of Chan

I hope this helps
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:56 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:43 am


As I understand it, the Soto of Japan is all that remains of Caodong School of Chan

Oh, that is not true at all. Caodong remains in China and Taiwan, although (according to Holmes Welch and others) the lineage has become virtually indistinguishable from the Linji line and Pure Land (all mixed together in China). I think it was Red Pine who said that you can now only tell the lineage of the Master by the direction in which the wooden Han is hung in the Zen hall. However, there are others much more qualified than me to comment on any differences

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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:04 am

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:56 am
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:43 am


As I understand it, the Soto of Japan is all that remains of Caodong School of Chan

Oh, that is not true at all. Caodong remains in China and Taiwan, although (according to Holmes Welch and others) the lineage has become virtually indistinguishable from the Linji line and Pure Land (all mixed together in China). I think it was Red Pine who said that you can now only tell the lineage of the Master by the direction in which the wooden Han is hung in the Zen hall. However, there are others much more qualified than me to comment on any differences

Gassho, Jundo
Okay, awesome. :115:

I love to read Red Pine!
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:07 am

"December 17, 2009. New Hamlet. Plum Village. Thay tells the story of the beginnings of the Lieu Quán Dharma Line, of which Thich Nhat Hanh is the 8th generation of this Vietnamese branch. Our lineage is also traced to through the Lâm Te Dyana School (Linji), of which Thich Nhat Hanh is the 42nd generation. The talk begins with the gatha given to our main root teacher, Zen Master Lieu Quán (1670-1742), by Zen Master Tu Dung in Thuan Hóa, Vietnam in 1702...." etc.
https://tnhaudio.org/2009/12/22/the-lin ... nhat-hanh/

"In the 17th century, a group of Chinese monks led by Nguyên Thiều established a vigorous new school, the Lâm Tế, which is the Vietnamese pronunciation of Linji. A more domesticated offshoot of Lâm Tế, the Liễu Quán school, was founded in the 18th century and has since been the predominant branch of Vietnamese Thiền. "
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_Thi%E1%BB%81n

So basically, TNH is 42nd generation Lin Chi, but this line was imported to Vietnam in the 18th century.

Of the other important Thien line Jundo mentions, Wikipedia says: "Other early Vietnamese Thiền schools included that of Wu Yantong, called Vô Ngôn Thông in Vietnamese, which was associated with the teaching of Mazu Daoyi, and the Thảo Đường, which incorporated nianfo chanting techniques; both were founded by Chinese monks. A new school was founded by one of Vietnam's religious kings; this was the Trúc Lâm school, which evinced a deep influence from Confucian and Taoist philosophy. Nevertheless, Trúc Lâm's prestige waned over the following centuries as Confucianism became dominant in the royal court."... ..."Thiền master Thích Thanh Từ is credited for renovating Trúc Lâm in Vietnam. He is one of the most prominent and influential Thiền masters currently alive. He was a disciple of Master Thích Thiện Hoa."

But its been noted that Thien in Vietnam is highly syncretic (just like it is everywhere else), in this case including HuaYen, Tientai, Taoism, Confucianism, as well as Theraveda, as all these are found inside Vietnam as well. Thien always borrows from its own Vietnamese past as well.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:16 am

People have compared the two meditation styles, I have heard it said that Thich Naht Hanh's style is much like Soto Zen. Personally, I couldn't agree with that because (1) it's more samatha than it is Vipassana, but it has characteristics of both. (2) Shikantaza, as has been explained, doesn't make use of "objects" like breath, body, thought, mind, feeling. The awareness of these things might arise, but "choice-less awareness is the Soto way. (3) In TNH, initially the breath is always used as the object, and (4) no matter how deeply calming and transcendent the experience becomes, breath remains the anchor. The meditation source texts used by TNH are both Chinese Agama and Pali Sutta.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Meido » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:05 pm

Interesting stuff, thank you folks. The Thien scene has always been one about which I've been hazy...good to get some more info.
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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by clyde » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:42 pm

Great Sage; Thank you for your informative posts.

But I disagree with you on the following:
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:16 am
People have compared the two meditation styles, I have heard it said that Thich Naht Hanh's style is much like Soto Zen. Personally, I couldn't agree with that because (1) it's more samatha than it is Vipassana, but it has characteristics of both. (2) Shikantaza, as has been explained, doesn't make use of "objects" like breath, body, thought, mind, feeling. The awareness of these things might arise, but "choice-less awareness is the Soto way. (3) In TNH, initially the breath is always used as the object, and (4) no matter how deeply calming and transcendent the experience becomes, breath remains the anchor. The meditation source texts used by TNH are both Chinese Agama and Pali Sutta.
First, I’ve heard Soto Zen teachers describe zazen (& shikantaza) as combining both samatha and vipassana.

While the shikantza taught by the Soto Zen teachers I’ve sat with would describe it as “choice-less awareness”, they also teach using the breath to ‘settle’, and ‘re-settle’, and again; until one can return directly to choice-less awareness. At least, that’s my understanding and it seems to match what TNH teaches. I don’t think “initially the breath is always used” and “breath remains the anchor” are outside of what a Soto Zen teacher in the Suzuki Roshi lineage might say and do.


p.s: If it’s not clear, I don’t speak for any Zen sect or lineage, so I’m expressing my opinion based on my limited observations.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:12 am

clyde wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:42 pm
Great Sage; Thank you for your informative posts.

But I disagree with you on the following:
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:16 am
People have compared the two meditation styles, I have heard it said that Thich Naht Hanh's style is much like Soto Zen. Personally, I couldn't agree with that because (1) it's more samatha than it is Vipassana, but it has characteristics of both. (2) Shikantaza, as has been explained, doesn't make use of "objects" like breath, body, thought, mind, feeling. The awareness of these things might arise, but "choice-less awareness is the Soto way. (3) In TNH, initially the breath is always used as the object, and (4) no matter how deeply calming and transcendent the experience becomes, breath remains the anchor. The meditation source texts used by TNH are both Chinese Agama and Pali Sutta.
First, I’ve heard Soto Zen teachers describe zazen (& shikantaza) as combining both samatha and vipassana.

While the shikantza taught by the Soto Zen teachers I’ve sat with would describe it as “choice-less awareness”, they also teach using the breath to ‘settle’, and ‘re-settle’, and again; until one can return directly to choice-less awareness. At least, that’s my understanding and it seems to match what TNH teaches. I don’t think “initially the breath is always used” and “breath remains the anchor” are outside of what a Soto Zen teacher in the Suzuki Roshi lineage might say and do.


p.s: If it’s not clear, I don’t speak for any Zen sect or lineage, so I’m expressing my opinion based on my limited observations.
Hi,

Off topic, but for what it is worth, my experience is as Clyde says. Soto folks say that Shikantaza encompasses and fulfills both samatha and vipassana, although not in a way of encouraging (nor discouraging) the deep concentration states of the former, and not using the noting method of the latter. However, it totally is both. We do often center attention on the breath, the posture, the palm of the left hand or the like, but in a way that also is simultaneously choiceless awareness. Shikantaza is totally transcendent of what never can be transcended, the calm of both calm and storms, and reads burns and brings to life again all the Suttas and Sutras. :-)

Just a clarification, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:17 am

Does anyone have experience with this book which, although now 40 years old, seems to be one of the few on the topic? Seems like surprisingly few histories in English of Vietnamese Zen.

https://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Zen-Vie ... ddhism+zen

Image

Gassho, J

SatTodayLAH
Last edited by jundocohen on Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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: Rinzai? Soto? Both? Neither?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:48 am

clyde wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:42 pm
Great Sage; Thank you for your informative posts.

But I disagree with you on the following:
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:16 am
People have compared the two meditation styles, I have heard it said that Thich Naht Hanh's style is much like Soto Zen. Personally, I couldn't agree with that because (1) it's more samatha than it is Vipassana, but it has characteristics of both. (2) Shikantaza, as has been explained, doesn't make use of "objects" like breath, body, thought, mind, feeling. The awareness of these things might arise, but "choice-less awareness is the Soto way. (3) In TNH, initially the breath is always used as the object, and (4) no matter how deeply calming and transcendent the experience becomes, breath remains the anchor. The meditation source texts used by TNH are both Chinese Agama and Pali Sutta.
First, I’ve heard Soto Zen teachers describe zazen (& shikantaza) as combining both samatha and vipassana.

While the shikantza taught by the Soto Zen teachers I’ve sat with would describe it as “choice-less awareness”, they also teach using the breath to ‘settle’, and ‘re-settle’, and again; until one can return directly to choice-less awareness. At least, that’s my understanding and it seems to match what TNH teaches. I don’t think “initially the breath is always used” and “breath remains the anchor” are outside of what a Soto Zen teacher in the Suzuki Roshi lineage might say and do.
Okay, well that's all good.

While we're on the topic, what Thich Nhat Hanh teaches in his sangha is a form of Mindfulness Meditation, mindfully breathing, which at the same time is positive affirmation of positive states such as joy, peace, calm. Originally in my own experience I started with MBSR as by Jon Kabat Zinn, so I tended to downplay the assertion of "positive vibes" at the outset. Whats odd about this is Kabat Zinn got his feet wet initially through TNH as well as Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, who at the time was in Providence. Kabat Zinn doesn't plant any expectations on emotive directions. As Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness Meditation at U Mass, TNH was setting up Mindfulness Practice Centers worldwide, but it got a slow start. Meanwhile the Theravadans arrived in the Boston area with the Burmese ink still wet on their credentials, and set up Insight Meditation Society in the shadow of U Mass. There's a tangible historical shift away from Mahayana that begins to take place in the nascent Mindfulness movement, with more and more teachers jumping on board. This kind of sealed its fate into becoming heavily psycho-speak and mood-management. TNH approach is refreshingly different that some of this standard brand mindfulness.

Traditionally, sati (mindfulness)is taught to balance samadhi (concentration), samatha to balance vipassana. With TNH the sitting practice seems like mostly sati & samatha, but really this is heavily balanced with the thrust of 24/7 mindfulness as opposed to only a sitting practice. A retreat might actually not have very much sitting, but the teaching is specific that mindfulness is to brought into all the activities. It's a point that's often overlooked. I hope this further clarifies whats going on
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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