Zen versus Mindfulness?

Discussion of Zen Buddhism.
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Great Sage EofH
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Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:26 pm

I wanted to expand on my thoughts about why Zen seems to be the only community among western converts to Buddhism that oppose the Mindfulness Movement.

First, they see is as part of the Vipassana Movement, and oppose it because it isn't Mahayana. However, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) as developed by Jon Kabat Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massuchusetts Medical School. https://umassmed.edu/cfm/ - actually Kabat Zin co-developed mindfulness meditation with Thich Naht Hahn who was establishing Mindfulness Practice Centers through the auspices of his organization at the time, Community of Mindful Living. Naht Hanh is in the Thein tradition, which is both Mahayana and Lin Chi (Rin Zai) lineage. When you read this history of Zen in the Bay area (Thich Naht Hanh's organization in the USA started there) the newer mindfulness movement was a seismic shift in orientation that still has reverberations. See the other thread in "Lounge" about "McMindfulness". The Insight Meditations Society (IMS) also based in the Boston area began to develop it's own over-lapping inclusion of "mindfulness" as it is rooted in the Pali as "sati" in the Anapannasati Sutta and Satipatanna Sutta, a natural fit. As has been mentioned elsewhere, Thich Nhat Hahn's Vietnamese Zen is "Lam Te Dhyana" (Lin Chi Zen) which for the laity practivce mostly Pure Land and the monks mostly Theraveda practices, seeming incongrous to Westerners, but its had ten centuries to develop as a tradition. Unlike the one century of the Vipassana Movement, which largely began with Mahasi Sayadaw. Anyway, in Boston these influences seem to mingle as well, as the Barre Center and IMS host speakers from a wide range on Buddhist and Non-Buddhist backgrounds. A number of organizations promote mindfulness mediation, Tibetan Buddhists, Vipassana, Theraveda, Mahayana, Thein, as well as secular groups.

However, MBSR isn;t an off-shoot of only Buddhism. It also incorporates Yoga, specifically hatha yoga and yoga nidra. It also incorporates positive psychology, and the sitting practice specifically addresses non-judgement as well as non-striving. Neither of which are really Zen teachings. But the main point I think, MBSR is a medical intervention used in stress related illness such as heart disease, hypertension, etc. It only exists in the context between a MBSR trained medical professional and their patients. Now, it can be used as a therapy in group sessions or group programs, but that isn't the standard proceedure. You can not simply join a MBSR sangha. There aren't any. MBSR has evolved into treating things like PTSD and work-place stress, and is sometimes taught in the corporate context. But clinically it's been proven it does not increase productivity. It is used in some schools, but really "quiet time" has been used in schools for decades, and this is nothing new. And it is far less developed into a dynamic practice, and certainly lacks "subversive" potential.

Secondly, Zen people seem to be determined to resist the tendency to act deliberately rather than spontaneously, a key Zen principle. I find this to be true myself. The type of mindfulness practice i prefer is the totally non-judgemental variety, come what may, allow thoughts to come and go. I experience more stillness the less i try to control whether thoughts are "positive" or "negative" - but as far as truly spontaneous behavior, Zen literature indicates after satori one begins to be truly spontaneous. Hardly an burning issue for heart disease patients or stressed-out tech employees.

Thirdly, Zen tends to be in opposition to all other Buddhism anyway, and tend to see MBSR as Buddhist. It isn't. It is psychology + sitting & breathing + yoga & breathing. The results in disease reduction and pain reduction are measurable. Brain imaging technology can see it work, but much research is still pending in brain science. We still do not know the neuro-chemical or neuro-electrical procesesses. MBSR is used to treat illness and dysfunctional behaviors. But it is often combined with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Emotional Intelligence (EI). The workplace application of mindfulness such as the Search Inside Yourself program developed by Google is largely based on Emotional Intelligence and addresses peoples abilty to work together in a workplace environment . Not sure why Zen people get so involved in this issue - it has nothing to do with them.

Getting teaching credentials in MBSR and MBCT require a prerequisite of a medical degree, as it is a physical and mental health intervention. The training is rather costly, well over $10k. Time-wise as well as money, lots of time on the cushion, and at retreats. Unless you are into medicine or counselling or research, MBSR Teaching isn't for you. I really don't see this as threatening.

And as far as the Mindfulness Hype craze, hey, all this stuff that people think comes form Asia - martial arts, yoga, Zen, massage therapies, Tai Chi, they are all increasingly popular in the West. It just is what it is.

I hope this disambiguation FAQ is useful. I'll expand on it over time if anyone has questions. Otherwise I can lay it to rest here. (fingers crossed)

:109:
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

Caodemarte
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:06 pm

The Zen “community” does not oppose mindfulness, Vipassana, or non-Mahayana teachings. Zen is not in opposition to “all other Buddhism;” it is Buddhism and the Lin-chi tradition is Mahayana as are other forms of Zen.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:18 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:06 pm
The Zen “community” does not oppose mindfulness, Vipassana, or non-Mahayana teachings. Zen is not in opposition to “all other Buddhism;” it is Buddhism and the Lin-chi tradition is Mahayana as are other forms of Zen.
Yeah, i over-reached there. I should have had my coffee first that morning.

:555:
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

Caodemarte
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:32 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:18 am
Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:06 pm
The Zen “community” does not oppose mindfulness, Vipassana, or non-Mahayana teachings. Zen is not in opposition to “all other Buddhism;” it is Buddhism and the Lin-chi tradition is Mahayana as are other forms of Zen.
Yeah, i over-reached there. I should have had my coffee first that morning.

:555:
Would have been better if I had had some coffee too.

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lindama
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by lindama » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:38 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:26 pm
Otherwise I can lay it to rest here. (fingers crossed)
yes, it's time

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loves' the unjust
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by loves' the unjust » Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:03 pm

It is not spoken by words and letters
gentleness and frustration in different form of coctails is my present psychology

Thank you, dad.

onefrogj@yahoo.com

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:25 pm

loves' the unjust wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:03 pm
It is not spoken by words and letters
~ sigh ~

that's much easier than you imagine
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

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Spike
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Spike » Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:40 pm

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:25 pm
loves' the unjust wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:03 pm
It is not spoken by words and letters
~ sigh ~

that's much easier than you imagine
Try to learn Turkish, then see.

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loves' the unjust
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by loves' the unjust » Fri Jan 31, 2020 9:54 pm

:D
gentleness and frustration in different form of coctails is my present psychology

Thank you, dad.

onefrogj@yahoo.com

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Larry
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Larry » Sat Feb 01, 2020 3:49 pm

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:25 pm
loves' the unjust wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:03 pm
It is not spoken by words and letters
~ sigh ~

that's much easier than you imagine
Gentleness and frustration going together :D

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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:38 am

Lovely! God-bless, GS Eof H.

(my Punk friends tell me, "Gob less!" [I guess I'm particularly expectorant, in their presence] ).

They/we don't OPPOSE; but, as you know (?), ...just know, instead, that the Secret-Decoder-Ring is Samadhi-state. This comes about with something like at least 2-3 hours per day of proper daily sitting, and perhaps some other practices (physical). So it's seldom encountered and commented upon, in lay circles.

Given good luck and good circumstances, samadhi-state may break up suddenly to unveil awakening, especially on sesshin or Ch'an retreat, and be confirmed by the teacher there to be the genuine article (and not otherwise). Practice will change, after that, for the disciple: It's all pretty natural.

I'd say so-called 'mindfulness' is a kind of self-help, by comparison to the over-the-top-dedicated-Zen-Buddhist's regimen. Not so bad as far as it goes! But, alright, a far cry, I think, from what your run-of-the-mill "in-deep" Zen student is willing to put out, say, on 7-day sesshin after 7-day sesshin, for a lifetime, based on heavy-duty daily practice, for all good and natural reasons, with teacher's and sangha's help. If one can and does support it.

Still... "mindfulness"... it sounds good!

:namaste:

--Joe
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:26 pm
I wanted to expand on my thoughts about why Zen seems to be the only community among western converts to Buddhism that oppose the Mindfulness Movement.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:11 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:38 am
the Secret-Decoder-Ring is Samadhi-state. This comes about with something like at least 2-3 hours per day of proper daily sitting, and perhaps some other practices (physical). So it's seldom encountered and commented upon, in lay circles.
Given good luck and good circumstances, samadhi-state may break up suddenly to unveil awakening, especially on sesshin or Ch'an retreat, and be confirmed by the teacher there to be the genuine article (and not otherwise). Practice will change, after that, for the disciple: It's all pretty natural.
I'd say so-called 'mindfulness' is a kind of self-help, by comparison to the over-the-top-dedicated-Zen-Buddhist's regimen. Not so bad as far as it goes! But, alright, a far cry, I think, from what your run-of-the-mill "in-deep" Zen student is willing to put out, say, on 7-day sesshin after 7-day sesshin, for a lifetime, based on heavy-duty daily practice, for all good and natural reasons, with teacher's and sangha's help. If one can and does support it.
I agree, it's not encountered and commented on in lay circles, and nobody mentioned the Secret-Decoder-Rings. Dr. Strange (Marvel comics circa 1963) used to wear an amulet called the All-Seeing Eye of Aggomatto - he could send it out of his Third Eye to look at goings-on in other places and dimensions, or have it create a hologram of itself that acted as a portal into other dimensions. But I think his teacher was Tibetan, and all that inter-dimensional stuff is kinda sketchy, I'll gladly settle for the decoder ring.
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by desert_woodworker » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:42 am

Howdy. From the desert,
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:11 am
I agree, it's not encountered and commented on in lay circles, and nobody mentioned the Secret-Decoder-Rings.
Aw, don't miss the secret-decoder-ring, samadhi state(s). Maybe you have them well in hand, or wherever they spring from. The palms (?).

It's not the be-all and end-all, but it's a start. Especially when -- and after -- samadhi breaks up suddenly, leaving nothing (!), for weeks and months.

Granted, this is plain vanilla Zen Buddhist practice phenomenology, but maybe not enough practitioners stick with it, or have the conditions to do so to stick with it. Let's support our sangha members who may want to make a break-through. How to do it? Wisdom and Compassion. And stick-to-it-ive-ness, so that others see it's not all impossible. Well, we do what we can. And so do they.

--Joe

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:29 am

Being really well-rounded isn't easy, I find.

"We emphasize practice" - Suzuki Roshi on the topic of Zen
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:21 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:38 am
Lovely! God-bless, GS Eof H.

(my Punk friends tell me, "Gob less!" [I guess I'm particularly expectorant, in their presence] ).

They/we don't OPPOSE; but, as you know (?), ...just know, instead, that the Secret-Decoder-Ring is Samadhi-state. This comes about with something like at least 2-3 hours per day of proper daily sitting, and perhaps some other practices (physical). So it's seldom encountered and commented upon, in lay circles.

Given good luck and good circumstances, samadhi-state may break up suddenly to unveil awakening, especially on sesshin or Ch'an retreat, and be confirmed by the teacher there to be the genuine article (and not otherwise). Practice will change, after that, for the disciple: It's all pretty natural.

I'd say so-called 'mindfulness' is a kind of self-help, by comparison to the over-the-top-dedicated-Zen-Buddhist's regimen. Not so bad as far as it goes! But, alright, a far cry, I think, from what your run-of-the-mill "in-deep" Zen student is willing to put out, say, on 7-day sesshin after 7-day sesshin, for a lifetime, based on heavy-duty daily practice, for all good and natural reasons, with teacher's and sangha's help. If one can and does support it.

Still... "mindfulness"... it sounds good!

:namaste:

--Joe
Great Sage EofH wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:26 pm
I wanted to expand on my thoughts about why Zen seems to be the only community among western converts to Buddhism that oppose the Mindfulness Movement.
Joe: Could you expand on this a bit? You recommend 2-3 hours of sitting practice daily PLUS+ multiple seven-day-sesshins on top of each other? How many would that be? I'm curious because in my tradition they encourage those who practice to enter samadhi during daily activity rather than sitting alone. Do you do anything other than kinhin, prostrations, chanting, by way of establishing the 24/7 side of practice? Or do you stack all your chips on sitting? This isn't a critique, I'm truly curious, it has literally been on my mind since you posted this. I'm in a situation where a schedule similar to this is feasable, but only at my specific location, and as time moves on (God willing and the arroyo waters don't rise). What is the ideal Zen practice?

In MSBR normally people do daily sitting, mindful yoga, daily practice journal, random revisting of mindful awareness throughout the day, and when they get more committed, add group practice and 24/7 "consistent mindfulness" (ichigo-sanmai in Japanese). If that's the level one is at, clearly it has limitations, but a lot depends on the degree to which the 24/7 practice is put to use.

Your thoughts are appreciated. Obviously the Zen route is preferable from the stand point of finding liberation, and the mindfulness route more applicable to palliative care. Thoughts?
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

avisitor
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by avisitor » Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:41 am

Mindfulness movement is not Zen.
The methods used in Zen are being used in a way, by the mindfulness movement, that science can see actual benefits
But, it is not the same although they may use similar activity.

Zen is the teachings, practice and enlightenment
The practice by itself is not Zen
Nor is just learning the teachings
Nor is enlightenment

A person who takes on mindfulness (for the benefits of reduced stress) is not a monk seeking one's true nature.
So mindfulness and Zen are not the same

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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:58 am

avisitor wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:41 am
Mindfulness movement is not Zen.
The methods used in Zen are being used in a way, by the mindfulness movement, that science can see actual benefits
But, it is not the same although they may use similar activity.

Zen is the teachings, practice and enlightenment
The practice by itself is not Zen
Nor is just learning the teachings
Nor is enlightenment

A person who takes on mindfulness (for the benefits of reduced stress) is not a monk seeking one's true nature.
So mindfulness and Zen are not the same
Except where the Zen Master (or Thien) teaches it. As noted earlier Thich Nhat Hanh co-developed "mindfulness meditation" with Jon Kabat-Zinn (also a Zen practicioner) and that's what you learn in his Nhat Hanh's sangha. My paper work when i took 3 refuge and 5 precepts clearly says Lam Te Dhyana (Lin Chi Ch'an in Chinese, Rinzai Zen in Japanese). None the less, I don't disagree with what you say, because not everyone would call it Zen, even though technically, it is. I have co-practiced both MBSR and Vietnamese Thien "Smrti, Prajna, Samadhi" for 20 years now.
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

avisitor
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by avisitor » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:47 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:58 am
Except where the Zen Master (or Thien) teaches it. As noted earlier Thich Nhat Hanh co-developed "mindfulness meditation" with Jon Kabat-Zinn (also a Zen practicioner) and that's what you learn in his Nhat Hanh's sangha. My paper work when i took 3 refuge and 5 precepts clearly says Lam Te Dhyana (Lin Chi Ch'an in Chinese, Rinzai Zen in Japanese). None the less, I don't disagree with what you say, because not everyone would call it Zen, even though technically, it is. I have co-practiced both MBSR and Vietnamese Thien "Smrti, Prajna, Samadhi" for 20 years now.
desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:38 am
I'd say so-called 'mindfulness' is a kind of self-help, by comparison to the over-the-top-dedicated-Zen-Buddhist's regimen. Not so bad as far as it goes! But, alright, a far cry, I think, from what your run-of-the-mill "in-deep" Zen student is willing to put out, say, on 7-day sesshin after 7-day sesshin, for a lifetime, based on heavy-duty daily practice, for all good and natural reasons, with teacher's and sangha's help. If one can and does support it.

Still... "mindfulness"... it sounds good!

:namaste:

--Joe
Hmm, guess it really does make a difference where the words come from?
Or I did not make my point clear??
Still I believe that Zen stands upon the three.
Teachings, Practice and Enlightenment.

If you believe they have all three then it must be the same.
It can't be just about Mindfulness

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:01 am

avisitor wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:47 am

Hmm, guess it really does make a difference where the words come from?
Or I did not make my point clear??
Still I believe that Zen stands upon the three.
Teachings, Practice and Enlightenment.

If you believe they have all three then it must be the same.
It can't be just about Mindfulness
So, who is enlightened? You think these teachers are enlightened? You trust your practice to them? Why?
“Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.” - Gautama Buddha, Nālakasutta

avisitor
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Re: Zen versus Mindfulness?

Post by avisitor » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:42 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:01 am
avisitor wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:47 am
Still I believe that Zen stands upon the three.
Teachings, Practice and Enlightenment.

If you believe they have all three then it must be the same.
It can't be just about Mindfulness
So, who is enlightened? You think these teachers are enlightened? You trust your practice to them? Why?
This is not an attack. Please do not get upset.
No offense is meant nor intended.

You posed a "Zen versus Mindfulness"
While Mindfulness may be one of the practices used in Zen
It is not the same. Joe said the same in a different way.
What I get back ... is that those Zen masters you mentioned helped to co-develop this Mindfulness.
So, that is the reasoning for Mindfulness and Zen for being the same??

So, who is enlightened?
No one. My baby daughter Sarah, possibly, who has since grown out of it.

You think these teachers are enlightened?
Not a one.

You trust your practice with them? Why?
I trust all who teaches the truth of the Buddha

I apologize for any misunderstanding.
Please go on with what you were saying.

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