Repentance Practices

Discussion of Zen Buddhism, Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Chan, Seon and Thien.

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KeithA
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by KeithA » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:03 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:44 am
KeithA wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:55 pm
I will leave the "karma causes cancer" thing to the other thread.
Yes, I agree...let's keep this thread a little bit focused, as its an interesting topic that doesn't get sufficient discussion in some Western Zen circles I think.

Particularly as many of us come from backgrounds conditioned by Abrahamic concepts of purity, sin and atonement, this is an interesting thing to examine.

Perhaps we can broaden the discussion to include with "repentance" the terms "confession" and "purification," as these are different aspects of the subject we're discussing here.

~ Meido
While I was not raised in any religious setting growing up, I always just assumed that this kind of conditioning was the root of my resistance to the idea of repentance.

"Confession" and "purity" are also a couple words that I notice some resistance to. Three times a year, my son and I head up to the Providence Zen Center for Sangha days (Buddha's Birthday, Buddha's Enlightenment Day and Founder's Day). In the afternoon, there is always a Precepts ceremony. It's an interesting ceremony, because it encompasses all three of the terms mentioned above. Here is short excerpt from it:

We now prostrate ourselves in repentance for all karma
hindrances accumulated for many kalpas.

We desire that our transgressions be totally removed
and that life after life we may always walk the path to
enlightenment.


The whole ceremony is here
You make, you get.

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KeithA
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by KeithA » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:07 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:41 am
Many answers could be given, but in the context of Buddhist practice, I would say repentance is the acknowledgement of shortcomings and the sincere intention to overcome them. After all 'samsara' means 'going around in circles', and the fuel source is habit-energy, so I see repentance in terms of breaking the hold of habit. But others might have different motivations.
This is how I see it. I honestly don't think it's all that complicated. For me, it was a matter overcoming attachment to ideas and opinions about the subject and seeing the situation clearly.

_/|\_
You make, you get.

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Caodemarte
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:56 pm

Bowing and repentance are very important for all who aspire to be Buddhist practitioners.

One reason the karma/repentance discussion has stirred up consternation is that it reminds one of the blame the victim mentality. In an apparent effort to control the uncontrollable victims are often told, “”What sin or stupid thing did you do to cause this? It must be your fault. I would never do that so that bad thing would never happen to me. Maybe it is your fate, but not mine.” You can hear words like this addressed to victims of rape, home invasions, disease, or accident. The disabled were often told that their disability was punishment for their sins and so they should be shunned and suffer. Few people want to be told that something harmful can happen to them, that they do not have the power to perfectly protect themselves.

Another concern is whether or not repentance to get a benefit is true repentance. In Christianity if you pray to God because you believe God has a lot of power to benefit or kill you or repent to gain health or wealth, is it truly prayer or repentance? Or just a form of heretical bribing of God or magic. These are kind of historical arguments that the discussion reminds one of.

Please note that I am saying that the karma discussion reminds people of these long standing issues and that stirs up an emotional reaction, at least in me. I am NOT saying that anyone here has or is advocating such attitudes.

That all said, I do repent all the limitless harm committed by me from beginningless time.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:33 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:41 am
Caodemarte wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:35 am
Karma literally means cause and effect and is used as such. In this meaning cancer, including my own melanoma, is the result of karma as is everything else. Repentance is always good. It will not cure or cause disease.
Well, it means something much more specific in Buddhism, namely, the volitional actions word and thoughts, some harmful or positive in this or past lives untold, that bring about positive or harmful effects in this and future lives.

I tend to be doubtful that my cancer now was caused by my kicking a puppy three lives ago.

It is much more than just some physical cause and effect.

Gassho, J

Thank you. If I could work through this for my own sake : As I understand, karma is not used merely as only physical cause and effect but for all causes and effects. The Chinese derived term used in Korean Buddhist texts for karma is a combination of “cause” and “ effect” and is often explained as just this. We are all cause and effect or karma in great Indra’s net which is so vast it is impossible to say that any action (all of which is also an effect) is the sole cause of any effect (which is also cause).

Karma is also used as a kind of derived shorthand specifically for volitional action (cause) that has moral weight and its results (effects). Buddhism is cited for saying that the intention of the act generated its own moral consequences (you have to intend to harm to suffer the moral consequences of harming),not the act itself, and thus distinguising itself from (what became) Hinduism by undercutting the whole idea of ritual or mechanical purity. You must intend to repent to receive the karmic consequences of repentance. Mechanically doing a ritual bath without such an intention does not cut it. This is a natural process for good, bad, and neutral acts leading to good, bad, and neutral effects. There is no enforcer in the sky creating a system of punishment and reward. Like everything else, the web of cause and effect is so complex that it is impossible to say that your past life puppy kicking would be the sole or even minor cause of any specific result on the next mind stream to be this mythical “Jundo.” Chi-I advises meditators to remember the vast unforseeable consequences echoing through far distant time of getting up and then recognize that getting up and its unfathomable consequences are all empty (empty because they are all causes and effects).

Anyway, that is my very limited and ill informed take on it. In any case, please don’t kick puppies or :cat: !

EDIT. In case I was not clear, thiis is not meant as a lecture telling better educated people (or even Buddhist experts!) what karma is, but my own working out of my own understanding.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Nicholas
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Nicholas » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:28 am

Of the ten major Bodhisattva vows of Samantabhadra Mahasattva, the Fourth deals with repentance. From the last chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra:
The Fourth Vow: To Repent of Karmic Obstacles and Reform

“Moreover, Good Man, to repent of karmic obstacles and reform is explained like this: The Bodhisattva reflects, ‘From beginningless kalpas in the past, I have created all measureless and boundless evil karma with my body, mouth, and mind, because of greed, hatred, and stupidity. If this evil karma had a substance and form, all of empty space could not contain it. I now completely purify these three karmas, and before the assemblies of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, throughout the Dharma Realm in lands as many as fine motes of dust, I sincerely repent of and reform my offenses and vow never to create them again. I will always dwell in all merit and virtue of the pure precepts.’

“So it is that when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, then my repentance will be exhausted. But just as the realm of empty space up to the afflictions of living beings are endless, so too my repentance and reform are endless. They continue in thought after thought without cease. My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by fuki » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:33 pm

To me if someone punches me in the face or if I have cancer is not my karma, my karma is the way I respond to it.
As with everything whether this is so or not doesn't even matter since we have no control over what happens only towards our attitude to what happens.

In the end you only run into yourself, and the stuff you keep running into I consider a blessing for it shows me the obstacles and lessons not learned or digested yet, but I mean this more in a behavioural way, bodies get cancer, it's usually because one grows old that sickness kicks in, if you call it karma then it's collective (like most karma is) not personal due to past transgressions. I might get cancer and by that heal others, I don't buy into the whole "wholesome and unwholesome results" part of scripture, well most of it. The workings of karma are clear enough for me in these 41 years books dont teach me much. In any case the danger with ppl accepting karma blindly based on scriptures is that it only enhances self-grasping and keeps one living in a alternating loophole of hope and fear.

Ppl get worked over rain and shine, one's karma (or habit energy) is that they keep getting worked up over nothing, over and over, not the weather itself.
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by [james] » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:43 pm

fuki wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:33 pm
To me if someone punches me in the face or if I have cancer is not my karma, my karma is the way I respond to it.
As with everything whether this is so or not doesn't even matter since we have no control over what happens only towards our attitude to what happens.
So if your or one’s response is repentance practice (whatever form that might take) is this an effective way of walking on the Buddhist path of liberation from the confines of karma or is repentance practice inherently creative of more karma.

I would say the latter. If one has caused harm and suffering to others or another and experiences regret or profound anguish as a result, one may make apology, restitution or repentance to the degree required by the needs of the one harmed and the one causing harm. One’s karmic debt arising from the harmful words or actions might be quickly fulfilled or long lasting but the obligation of repentance remains attached to the specific act itself, I think. How far that repentance goes in balancing, both karmically and immediately, the harm and suffering caused depends on one’s sincerity and willingness to follow through to completion.

Repentance “practice”, as I understand it, seems to be unrelated to those specific acts on one’s part that do require repentance. There is a separation created. I can’t see how, if the repentance is not closely tied to the act, it can have meaning, let alone efficacy. One takes on the mantle of a “repentant” and I don’t see how being a repentant necessarily has much to do with true repentance.

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daibunny
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by daibunny » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:19 pm

Thank you all for this thread. Im adding a repentance verse to my daily practice.
The bridge is flowing, not the water.

~Shenxiu

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by [james] » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:21 pm

daibunny wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:19 pm
Thank you all for this thread. Im adding a repentance verse to my daily practice.
Would you care to say why?

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by daibunny » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:42 pm

[james] wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:21 pm
daibunny wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:19 pm
Thank you all for this thread. Im adding a repentance verse to my daily practice.
Would you care to say why?
Because everything is worse when you resist and my behavior could use some improvement :)
The bridge is flowing, not the water.

~Shenxiu

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[james]
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by [james] » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:52 pm

Ok, thanks.

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by fuki » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:18 am

[james] wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:43 pm
fuki wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:33 pm
To me if someone punches me in the face or if I have cancer is not my karma, my karma is the way I respond to it.
As with everything whether this is so or not doesn't even matter since we have no control over what happens only towards our attitude to what happens.
So if your or one’s response is repentance practice (whatever form that might take) is this an effective way of walking on the Buddhist path of liberation from the confines of karma or is repentance practice inherently creative of more karma.
It depends, it can create bodhisattva karma, but it can also be just from fear born from self-grasping, could be "neutral" too but havent given it much contemplation, I could only speak for myself, the rare occasions it happened spontaneously were mostly projections of mind, its temporary. But I guess it could also be a genuine selfless wish to arouse bodhicitta. I never deliberately practised something like that though, just some rare spontaneous happenings including with illusion as manifesting bodhisattvas, brain stuff ;) (in my case)
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Re: Jundo's Cancer Ango

Post by SunWuKong » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:10 am

[james] wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:58 pm
KeithA wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:15 pm
This subject probably deserves it's own thread. For the longest time, I hated the idea of repentance. Now it's certainly part of what makes up my practice.

_/|\_
My questions are about repentance practice and one’s “relationship” to cancer. I’ve never felt a need for repentance ... maybe that is why I have had cancer; I don’t know. I’m curious.

By all means, start another thread. I would be interested in what you and others have to say about repentance, the practice of repentance and how it might affect one’s life and influence in the world.
Karma as in my karma, it’s what I must accept. As to whether I “caused” it - that’s another issue. In some cases I do get back the karmic retribution for things I have done, but I also get back things others have done, and sometimes things no one has done but I get them anyway
--- Eric H., also know as Sun Wu Kong, "an authentic genuine human being"
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Verse or no verse
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Dan74 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:13 am

I think both Jundo and Guo Gu stated their views in a very clear and articulate fashion which can only be of benefit to those reading.

The entire subject of Secular vs Traditional Buddhism, modern revisionism, Bompu Zen, materialism and scientism, etc etc is a big and controversial subject, as we all know, and people are of course free to discuss it. One thing I don't see as beneficial is derailing every thread towards this discussion. So I will look at creating a thread for it and moving any such posts there, which may involve cutting posts (don't like doing this...).

My request to all concerned is to avoid pulling threads in this direction but rather continue the discussions on the dedicated thread if you wish. So if folks do mention in the context of a practice, tangentally etc) beliefs that, say Jundo finds unscientific and a relic from the past, please avoid engaging unless this is central to the thread topic - everyone knows your (Jundo's) views by now and this will just derail the thread and not contribute something new. On the other hand, you are welcome to start a thread "Repentance practices from a Secular Buddhist perspective (or Repentance in this life, etc) to share what you see as important here.

Does this sound reasonable?

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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by fuki » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:31 pm

KeithA wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:53 am
sigh...round and round.
Image
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Meido » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:08 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:13 am
Does this sound reasonable?
Very reasonable.

I wonder if anyone has anything they'd like to share related to the topic of repentance/confession/purification practices: what is done in their traditions, experiences regarding same, benefits or challenges connected with these that they have experienced, etc.

I would say that this is an important topic, as it touches upon the manner in which obstructions and challenges can be worked with creatively.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by fuki » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:47 pm

Meido wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:08 pm
I would say that this is an important topic, as it touches upon the manner in which obstructions and challenges can be worked with creatively.

~ Meido

Can you give an example from your personal history perhaps?
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by Meido » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:31 pm

Sure.

For myself, I found obstacles of guilt in regard to past actions to be burdensome. For this, compassion-related practice and vows have been very useful.

The repentance verse (sangemon) that is commonly chanted I find very useful done with real engagement and sense of inquiry/self-examination.

A practice recommended by Torei - that we should imagine with all our hearts the suffering endured by beings in the six realms of existence and generate great compassion toward them (which includes ourselves, and so also entails acknowledging how we have caused suffering to others, and extending well-wishing and forgiveness to ourselves as well as those who have injured us) - has been important for me. I'm grateful to Guo Gu, actually, since it was in discussion with him about the things taught at his place that I was reminded of these words of Torei, and so was inspired to look more closely at Torei's advice. Since then we've been doing it here as a group once per week.

In regard to physical obstructions, I find that the various breath and body practices which aid with these truly gain traction when done within the context of affirming one's vows to aid others, and dedicating all activities of body/speech/mind for the benefit of others. Prostration practice is very good.

I have found there are dharani and mantra with which I feel some affinity, and which continue to be of benefit. I mentioned earlier an episode in which an ongoing physical condition was suddenly resolved. I don't like talking too much about personal details, but I'll explain that one here: I had been suffering from an ulcer in my throat, which over several months worsened to the point that I had trouble swallowing and felt constant pain. Worried of course that it could be cancer or something otherwise serious, I made an appointment to have it scoped. In the meantime, I had felt some affinity toward the Juntei Kannon/Cundi mantra practice, a well-known one for dealing with obstructions, and had began to recite and carry the mantra constantly. After a week of this, I dreamt one evening that the side of my neck opened, releasing a quantity of white liquid. When I awoke, the pain and swelling were gone.

In a way all practice is purification of course, and as Hakuin says Zen samadhi encompasses the practices of repentence, giving offerings, and so on. But there are lots of ways to express Zen samadhi, including repentence, giving offerings, and so on. :)

So, curious how this aspect of practice manifests for folks. I know the Chan tradition has very rich resources in terms of repentance practice, and would not mind learning more about that, and about what Soto Zen, Seon or Thien folks might do.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by fuki » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:49 pm

Thanks Meido.

For me I am sometimes "haunted" by stuff I did as a +- 10 year old kid, one involved fishing with a school friend and we both dared each other to kill the fish to use as bait but I couldn't do it so he did it but I blaim myself for not stopping him, the other is accidently breaking a fish bowl while cleaning it so I placed the fish in the sink with water but accidently pushed over a soap bar in it, that fish I saved but the other one I just let die, and I dont understand why all I know I did it because I could cry and by that way get attention from my parents (alcoholics) but I never got the attention so that still "haunts" me from time to time, and I once was to harsh on a cat, I didnt abuse the cat but I also caused it a lot of stress by "wrestling" with it and the cat was scared of me for a month or so. Afterwards we were best friends for 10 years, I was young but still cant understand it, oh and I also killed flies by using chemical cleaning projects just for "fun"

I was around 10 years old but every now and then it keeps popping up and I repent spontaneously, whatever done since beginningless time I dont know ofcourse but I don't really feel guilt about it, it's in the past and I was a fool. But these situations really I can consciously repent for, it's no longer an emotional reactivity but it pops up every now and then. I'm not familiar with practises but I did genuinly recited a Tibetian text about 5-7 years ago which really helped aspire the Bodhisattva path, well at least for me.
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Re: Repentance Practices

Post by SunWuKong » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:58 am

Where I’m at - call these religious beliefs if you prefer - is there are no beings, no birth, no death, no soul, “we” don’t own or possess any of these things. On a good day Im at peace with this. “We” are part of a fabric of existence, not part of a whole, but part of just this part - sentient beings arise so that in essence we can see “ourselves” the Universe so to speak has an innate desire to see and understand itself - not necessarily a time forward evolution, but catastrophic jumps and sudden starts of realization, enlightenment LOL is a peak experience where it peeks at itself. Reincarnation or a lack of it, if it’s real, there’s a remedy for that. I could dress this up in fancy Buddhist language, but plain and imperfect as it is - that’s where I’m coming from -

all this talk of disease and repentance, Karma and such. It forever remains speculative, but it’s not how healers generally heal people. I’ve seen miraculous healing from terminal cancer when I was a church goer. One of the strangest episodes of my life. No one got anything out of it except the child whose cancer went into remission. Everyone else forgot the miracle. In another case, The wife of a senator from Taiwan also sat in our house and she told us how prayer had healed her son, he just sat there and smiled, obviously they were some type of Buddhists but I never found out what. She had promised to always tell this story, and she did.

I don’t erroneously believe everything is as it should be, or that there’s some kind of perfect plan or law that everything follows, because it’s kind of boring. Things are complex and don’t need simplistic organization. That’s just invented by humans to easily explain things. Does not make it true.

Oh here’s my $0.02 worth

Peace
--- Eric H., also know as Sun Wu Kong, "an authentic genuine human being"
Birth is thus
Death is thus
Verse or no verse
What’s the fuss?

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