Wonderful, No Place to Go

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jundocohen
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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:59 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:35 pm
jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:08 pm

As in the military boot camp, some things are done for the simple reason of causing people to put the ego aside and commit to the group. Why would you be so egotistical that you demand the right to do what you want in getting your tea? In retreat or a Zen sitting, we put aside some of the "ways I want" and follow the structure precisely because it is not always what "I want." Further, any ceremony is like a dance, and when committing to the motions of the dance, one can lose one's small self and find oneself again.

Gassho, J
Sure hence I said "no problem following any program" I like bootcamp as I'm quite made/build to follow (sensible) orders, including from teachers/parents as a kid (again if sensible and "just") I actually thrive like that without the whole "option" thing. I prefer a grocery list then ppl asking me "what do you want to eat" Who cares/I don't know, just tell me what to eat! :lol: So within the sangha I never experience resistence or even a sense of following, the narrative aint there. Yet everyone is different and ppl have picked up aquired flavours along the way, so in that sense I see no issue in liking to see a tea ceremony different, when I sit with friends at home we do things a bit different then in the official sangha, no problem, at someone elses house its a bit different again.

The "ego" or "sense of self" is just fabricated software, yet part of life or the human experience, one can use it skillfully or not, its not something good or bad only the way it's used, so it doesnt automatically mean egotistical to "want" something, it can be creative, deepening (sangha) relations actually. Otherwise it is just hardware without any "juice" Anyways "ego" is also just a word, I often see it's a word thrown around easily while it doesnt mean the same to everyone, like "God" for instance. No problem putting it aside but can also just let it function freely (as it's not an entity/identity anyway) but I agree ego in the sense you put it can be disruptive or cause conflict/division, but too much "no-ego" in religious institutes can be abused or manipulated too or result in bad conduct by teachers as you know.
Yes, lovely. In Zen retreat, follow the forms with one's preferences left aside, then outside the retreat ... drink tea however the hell someone wants, or a milk or a pepsi. In art class, a time to learn and master the classical techniques and forms, and a time to express. About the same.

Hopefully, along the way, folks learn that peace and contentment is not about being handed "what I want." If life gives you a pepsi, drink pepsi. If life hands you vinegar, drink vinegar. Like that.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:49 am

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:51 am
Nothing wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:21 am

Great piece :hatsoff: thanks for sharing
Yes, wonderful piece.

I might offer, though (as a ceremony minimalist in our Sangha) that some ceremonies, chants and symbols can be quite powerful. We don't force anyone to join in reciting the Heart Sutra, throwing themselves into Oryoki, reciting the Verse of Atonement or Metta and the like ... but many folks find that these pack a lesson and a wallop.

Gassho, J


Yes, well said and i am fine with all that, with the rituals, ceremonies, clothes etc.. as long they are not given primary importance, cause have seen people get stressed, preoccupied over the rules about them, they way they perform, to not make mistake, so they create unnecessary burden for themselves or they get preocuppied and attached to all that cultural baggage and neglect the practice of zazen which trancends any cultural/religious conditioning. But yes they can be of great addition, a complement to the practice without doubt. The way that japanese zen over time became a distinct flavor of zen compared to the chan/zen of his homeland, same should go with the western zen, and not just copy paste the cultural baggage that developed through time both in China, Japan, Korea etc as an aswer to the needs of the practitioners in those countries/cultures because if imported like that to the west it is a dead thing.

I practice with the rinzai lay teacher Jeff Shore and on the retreats besides gassho when entering the zendo, before you sit and gassho on one on one after you sit in seiza, and of course the 4 vows are recited at the start and the end of the day and the bows there are not any rituals, ceremonies, buddha, statues, clothes etc.. Jeff calls it zazen without toys :)
“Here it is--right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”
― Huang Po

https://beingwithoutself.org/retreats/

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:20 pm

Nothing wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:49 am

Yes, well said and i am fine with all that, with the rituals, ceremonies, clothes etc.. as long they are not given primary importance, cause have seen people get stressed, preoccupied over the rules about them, they way they perform, to not make mistake, so they create unnecessary burden for themselves or they get preocuppied and attached to all that cultural baggage and neglect the practice of zazen which trancends any cultural/religious conditioning.
To play Mara's Advocate, but the "preoccuptation" and getting "hung up," is between their own ears, and not in the ceremony itself. The ceremony, like any condition in life is just what it is. Somebody having a hang up about it is precisely their own baggage that they invent and carry in their own mind. To learn to put down that baggage is -precisely- Zen practice and Zazen.

But yes they can be of great addition, ... d thing.

We make some modern and western ceremonies too. (We had a funeral for our old computers and peripherals, for example, as the digital Sangha that Treeleaf is). However, what is wrong with honoring roots too? We sometimes Chant the Heart Sutra in English, Sometimes in Sino-Japanese ... but is the true Heart Sutra a matter of words or which words? If you were totally free of your own hang ups, you could chant in English, Japanese or Ukranian (actually, with our international Sangha, we sometimes chant in Ukranian for our Ukranian members).

Gassho, J

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by fuki » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:52 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:59 pm

Hopefully, along the way, folks learn that peace and contentment is not about being handed "what I want." If life gives you a pepsi, drink pepsi. If life hands you vinegar, drink vinegar. Like that.
Yes, it "seems" that sentient beings are so governed by memory (attachment) and create this "false" sense of self/ or a narrative of a person in time, making memory the master instead of the servant. When a child tastes pepsi for the first time they simply enjoy it, but when handed something less tasty it immediately creates an image/narrative "I dont want this, I want that pepsi I tasted before" and if you just complain or desire long enough you can get what you want. Though ofcourse there's no fullfilment for the cyclic/samsaric mind, always grasping and avoiding. But in today's capatalistic "free market" advertizement society, we get "informed" (manipulated) constantly by products telling us "unless you have this you can't be happy/content" But even for thousands of years kids are told at a very young age "if you don't marry and have kids, have a good job you can't be happy" and yet ppl fool themselves in the idea of "personal choice" while most are just conditioned to think/feel the way the do and mistake it for "free will" or "I want"

It's kind of sad, I know ppl twice my age who suffer daily just from the narrative of "wanting and not wanting" "grasping and avoiding" My moms cat was a junkie for getting "wet food" and fish every day, so every morning his junkie mind wasn't satisfied until he got the food of preference, mom thought she made him happy but I told her you are just creating a junkie. Now he only gets one type of dry food and is just a happy and content cat. I know a lot of ppl who say "our loved ones deserve to be spoiled" but it's so selfish, it's about you not about the "loved one" (kids/pets etc) Also it seems ppl mistake excitement for being happy, as if "true happiness" has anything to do with being depended on coming and going, when the "exciting" energy meters down, ppl feel down or depressed and look for the next "fix" to "become happy" again....round and round
In the spiritual marketplace its the same, Zen isn't about becoming this or that, attaining this or that, "just Be"
desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience. It is choices you make that are wrong. To imagine that some little thing-food, sex, power, fame-will make you happy is to decieve oneself. Only something as vast and deep as your real self can make you truly and lastingly happy.
~Sri Niz

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by fuki » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:53 pm

Nothing wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:49 am
Jeff calls it zazen without toys :)
Yes but we know he's a "fundamentalist" :lol:

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Larry » Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:42 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:20 pm
We make some modern and western ceremonies too. (We had a funeral for our old computers and peripherals, for example, as the digital Sangha that Treeleaf is). However, what is wrong with honoring roots too? We sometimes Chant the Heart Sutra in English, Sometimes in Sino-Japanese ... but is the true Heart Sutra a matter of words or which words? If you were totally free of your own hang ups, you could chant in English, Japanese or Ukranian (actually, with our international Sangha, we sometimes chant in Ukranian for our Ukranian members).
There seems to be a whole spectrum of perspectives. From Corporate Mindfulness all the way through to a thousand years of finely honed Energetic “technology”.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Autumnday » Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:16 pm

:waving:

Thank you all for your posts on this wonderful topic. I will have to return and return and return and digest these wonderful lessons!

:115:

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:22 pm

Autumnday wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:16 pm
:waving:

Thank you all for your posts on this wonderful topic. I will have to return and return and return and digest these wonderful lessons!

:115:
Welcome to the forum Autumn and thanks for your posts :hatsoff:
“Here it is--right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”
― Huang Po

https://beingwithoutself.org/retreats/

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:23 pm

fuki wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:53 pm
Nothing wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:49 am
Jeff calls it zazen without toys :)
Yes but we know he's a "fundamentalist" :lol:
:lol:
“Here it is--right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”
― Huang Po

https://beingwithoutself.org/retreats/

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Nothing » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:39 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:20 pm
To play Mara's Advocate, but the "preoccuptation" and getting "hung up," is between their own ears, and not in the ceremony itself. The ceremony, like any condition in life is just what it is. Somebody having a hang up about it is precisely their own baggage that they invent and carry in their own mind. To learn to put down that baggage is -precisely- Zen practice and Zazen.

However, what is wrong with honoring roots too? We sometimes Chant the Heart Sutra in English, Sometimes in Sino-Japanese ... but is the true Heart Sutra a matter of words or which words? If you were totally free of your own hang ups, you could chant in English, Japanese or Ukranian (actually, with our international Sangha, we sometimes chant in Ukranian for our Ukranian members).

Gassho, J
Yes Jundo, well said.
Imo, All rituals, ceremonies are fine as they are, they can deepen, enrich one's practice, but at the same time lack of them does not diminish or water-down the practice. And of course there is nothing wrong with honoring the roots, the issue with ceremonies and rituals is when one is doing them because they are traditional and to be ''true buddhist" then their import is missed.

Yes, good example with the chants in different languages. On retreats i go, the four vows are recited in japanese, the language of the country where the retreat is held and in English.

I have not been taught , instructed to do any rituals and ceremonies and in general they are not my cup of tea, but do not have any issue to do them, follow them in a zendo or retreat, but rarely do any of them while sitting at home, but of course that can change :)

Gasshou,

Viktor
“Here it is--right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”
― Huang Po

https://beingwithoutself.org/retreats/

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:42 am

IS SHIKANTAZA ZAZEN 'QUIETISM'?

Someone wrote to ask how we can avoid turning Shikantaza into an exercise of mere "quietism" and stress release. They said that they had heard "Just Sitting" criticized in some quarters as just quiet and purposeless sitting.

This is an excellent question. It is vital to sit with the subtle conviction deep in the bones that Zazen is the whole universe sitting, a jewel of sitting, a sacred ritual of sitting, the pinnacle and purpose of life attained simply in the simple act of sitting, all destinations reached just by sitting, all goals achieved by sitting, all Buddhas and Ancestors sitting as your body sitting, not one drop missing from sitting nor atom to add to this moment of sitting, no before or after sitting, with nothing more required than crossing the legs and sitting upright here and now, letting thoughts go and in equanimity. Yes, that's a lot to say and keep in mind, so no need to say or keep it all in mind :) , and enough to have an unspoken trust deep within. It is so on those days when our sitting is peaceful and quiet, but also on those days in which life might be storming and the world on fire.

Why?

Because human beings live our days feeling that the world is broken into pieces, fractured, to be measured by our wants, consisting of wins and losses and in betweens, the only jewels in life but those which are signs of financial gain, the pinnacle never reached as we wander birth to grave through endless hills and dark valleys, always somewhere else to be and more work to do, ever something to add and much to take away, caught in memories, regrets or longing for yesterday, entranced by dreams or fears for tomorrow, convinced that we are rarely good enough, that life consists of those things and times we want and those we do not, the peace we want hidden in a world smashed into sharp pieces, with the equanimity, wisdom and compassion of a Buddha rarely sensed. We are driven by excess desires, anger, jealousy and other "me vs. you, me/not me" thinking in the mental divisions of ignorance.

The Buddha, after years of searching, saw the simplicity of the morning star shining just to shine, and realized the natural wholeness and completion of it all. There are no separate pieces, all flows into all else flowing, every instant is all instants, and all the instants are fully held inside each one instant.

In fact, it is not just sitting Zazen, for all things, people, places and seconds, from sunrise to sunrise, is and are the whole universe, a jewel with scars and all, a sacred doing just for its doing, a pinnacle unto itself, its own destination reached, its own goal achieved of being what it is itself, not one drop to add or take away from just what this is, no before or after its flash of existence, nothing more needed. Yes, that includes the things we love and the things we don't, the things we want and those we run from, the good times and bad, the beautiful and ugly to our eyes, the places of life and the places of death, war and peace ... if we can come to know something so whole and unbroken that it shines right through all small human judgments of love and loss, want and rejection, good and bad, even birth and death, sickness and health, violent human acts of war and temporary lulls of peace. It is a Light and Beauty which shines through all worldly light and dark, beauty vs. ugliness, a sacred that is both golden temples and the most ordinary rusty tin can. We sit for a moment simply to realize that it is not just about the moment of sitting, but about EVERYTHING and ALL MOMENTS.

Then, getting up from the cushion, we might return to a life and world where, this time, there are still places to go yet also no place but here, things to do but nothing more in need of doing, wins and losses while not one drop lacking or possible to lose, suffering sentient beings yet no suffering nor separate beings, the ticking clock of past and future timeless, wars to end in a cosmos beyond conflict, diseases to cure though no sickness, death to mourn and babies to bounce yet so much more than birth and death. Like that. There is so much work which we have yet to do to fix this often unjust world of poverty, hungry children, loneliness and burning fires ... and yet it still shines right through all this even as we set to work. Likewise in our own lives where we must continue to strive to improve, be better people, avoid the choices of excess desire, anger, violence and division ... yet there is nothing ever lacking, even our flaws just the priceless jewel. Striving yet not striving as one, at once. This is Master Dogen's vision of Practice-Enlightenment in each act, word and thought of each moment.

So, no, Shikantaza Zazen is not quietism.
.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by avisitor » Sun Jun 21, 2020 3:27 pm

Thank you JundoCohen for this topic.
The question about Shikantaza being quietism is a good one
And from your statements, it is not quietism.
What about stillness?
We have all hear the story of the water in the bucket and the moon
Are we trying to find stillness??

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Turtle Clan » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:04 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:42 am
IS SHIKANTAZA ZAZEN 'QUIETISM'?

Someone wrote to ask how we can avoid turning Shikantaza into an exercise of mere "quietism" and stress release. They said that they had heard "Just Sitting" criticized in some quarters as just quiet and purposeless sitting.
I know that, in my own experience, it can feel quiet and inert. I sometimes wonder what purposeful shikantaza would entail. The Rinzai clan seems to have and or cultivate purpose as an essential component and, as critics, appear incapable of appreciating a zazen lacking in purpose. Are Shikantaza and purposeful intent somehow incompatible?

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:41 am

Turtle Clan wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:04 pm

I know that, in my own experience, it can feel quiet and inert. I sometimes wonder what purposeful shikantaza would entail. The Rinzai clan seems to have and or cultivate purpose as an essential component and, as critics, appear incapable of appreciating a zazen lacking in purpose. Are Shikantaza and purposeful intent somehow incompatible?
Oh no! Not at all. Master Dogen's vision of continuous Practice-Enlightenment is an active, energetic, vibrant, immediate dedication to practice, work, life and whatever is being faced, and even Soto folks have goals, preferences, hopes and ideas of the future.

What might make it a bit unique, however, is the focus on having goals (as if out of one eye) and the thorough dropping of all goals combined with total satisfaction in current state (as if out of the other eye) with both eyes open together providing great wisdom and clarity, one view perfuming and permeating the other. Likewise, one has natural human preferences from one outlook, yet all "aversions and attractions" simultaneously dropped away from the other ... hopes yet the dropping of all expectations ... ideas of the future yet a sense of timelessness ... etc. etc.

So, one can have purposes and the dropping of all purposes at once. When we sit Shikantaza, we are practicing our clear, goalless, complete, timelessness by which the only "purpose" and fruition of our purpose is sitting itself.

Gassho, J

STLah

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:41 am

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:41 am
Turtle Clan wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:04 pm

I know that, in my own experience, it can feel quiet and inert. I sometimes wonder what purposeful shikantaza would entail. The Rinzai clan seems to have and or cultivate purpose as an essential component and, as critics, appear incapable of appreciating a zazen lacking in purpose. Are Shikantaza and purposeful intent somehow incompatible?
Oh no! Not at all. Master Dogen's vision of continuous Practice-Enlightenment is an active, energetic, vibrant, immediate dedication to practice, work, life and whatever is being faced, and even Soto folks have goals, preferences, hopes and ideas of the future.

What might make it a bit unique, however, is the focus on having goals (as if out of one eye) and the thorough dropping of all goals combined with total satisfaction in current state (as if out of the other eye) with both eyes open together providing great wisdom and clarity, one view perfuming and permeating the other. Likewise, one has natural human preferences from one outlook, yet all "aversions and attractions" simultaneously dropped away from the other ... hopes yet the dropping of all expectations ... ideas of the future yet a sense of timelessness ... etc. etc.

So, one can have purposes and the dropping of all purposes at once. When we sit Shikantaza, we are practicing our clear, goalless, complete, timelessness by which the only "purpose" and fruition of our purpose is sitting itself.

Gassho, J

STLah
Oh important insight to add, however, is Master Dogen's vision that the universe is ALWAYS "Totally Exerting" in all aspects of the universe, even if we don't usually realize so. Thus, blades of grass are totally exerting as blades of grass, breezes are totally exerting as breezes. That means that the universe is even "totally exerting" when lazy or confused ... all of reality totally exerting as our being lazy, and totally exerting as our being confused. Part of Buddhist insight is to realize this totally exerting nature of Buddha that does not necessarily appear as what humans call "total exertion" in ordinary terms. Steve Heine writes about this in a recent book on Dogen:
"In philosophical passages at the beginning of the fascicle “Sustained Exertion,” Dōgen depicts gyōji as a cosmic power that supports buddhas and beings, life and death, and right and wrong each and every moment. This represents an all-encompassing principle embracing its opposite, “Since all activity is a manifestation of dedicated practice, any attempt to avoid dedicated practice is an impossible evasion because the attempt itself is a form of dedicated practice” (Gyōji: Dōgen 1.146, Nearman 376, Tanahashi 333)."
― from "Readings of Dōgen's "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye" (Columbia Readings of Buddhist Literature)"
Sometimes we totally exert in our practice, such as Zazen, in order to realize that the universe is totally exerting ALWAYS and EVERY PLACE, even when we don't totally exert.

Gassho, J

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Turtle Clan » Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:01 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:41 am
Part of Buddhist insight is to realize this totally exerting nature of Buddha ...
Any additional thoughts about the often heard criticisms that shikantaza is about quietism and stress release? Why/how do the critics, most (all?) of whom are already in the zen school, not see or appreciate the full potential of shikantaza zazen?

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Larry » Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:50 pm

This is a perspective from Meido. From his excellent “Rinzai Zen Discussion” Facebook group....

“Rinzai Zen also has the equivalent of shikantaza, though it does not use that term. This is the hidden practice of hokkyo zanmai, the jewel mirror samadhi. But this is something one must arrive at with assistance from one's master, who embodies the qualities of that experiential realization, provides kuden (oral instruction) revealing it, and can confirm that one's direction of practice is correct. "Just sitting" as an idea of not-doing for beginners is not going to approach that fruition, and in fact most beginners benefit more from other methods to first integrate the body-mind and give rise to the basic samadhi that is the foundation of all Zen practice. In this regard Hakuin, quoting Bodhidharma, warns about the kind of false practice for which we have to be on guard. Though it can feel clear and calm, it in fact is really just a sitting and stewing in one's deeply habituated, subtle delusion: "If someone without kensho tries constantly to make his thoughts free and unattached, he commits a great transgression against the Dharma and is a great fool to boot. He winds up in the passive indifference of empty emptiness, no more able to distinguish good from bad than a drunken man. If you want to put the Dharma of non-activity into practice, you must bring an end to all your thought-attachments by breaking through into kensho. Unless you have kensho,you can never expect to achieve a state of non-doing." Traditionally Soto Zen has held the same view, that Shikantaza is not so much a practice but the very embodiment, fruition, and manifestation of realization, and that a master was absolutely essential for one to actualize this (and incidentally right there is the place that Rinzai and Soto paths become one). RE the kind of practice Hakuin warns about, some modern takes on meditation that stress "observing the observer," or "resting in one's fundamental awareness," fall into the same trap: what is forgotten is that that basic fundamental awareness, and that observer, are precisely the seat of dualistic delusion, and they are exactly what has thrown one into the cesspool of samsara again and again.”

As I’ve mentioned before, my personal quibble with Soto is based on two friends. One gave up Zen altogether after 18 years because he didn’t feel he was getting anywhere. The other switched from Soto to Rinzai after 30 years for the same reason.

My root teacher was a Taoist Master who flipped me over with a live koan. Hence my personal affinity with Rinzai.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:26 pm

Hmmm. I do not feel that Meido truly understands Shikantaza in Master Dogen's way.

What he writes there is very misleading, ill informed and prejudiced about Soto practice. He poses as an expert on Soto Zen, but imposes his own views about Soto Zen. It simply is not right.

I celebrate and honor the path he walks and the ways of practice he feels right for himself and his students, but his descriptions like the one you post show that he has blinders about other ways. It is very narrow minded about the many approaches to Zen practice.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:39 pm

PS - Larry, sorry about your friends. I have no idea their background, who their teacher was or what they were practicing as "Shikantaza."

Let me add that Rinzai ways are better for some people, Soto for others, maybe some other path for still others.

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Re: Wonderful, No Place to Go

Post by Turtle Clan » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:44 pm

Larry wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:50 pm
This is a perspective from Meido. From his excellent “Rinzai Zen Discussion” Facebook group....

“Rinzai Zen also has the equivalent of shikantaza, though it does not use that term. This is the hidden practice of hokkyo zanmai, the jewel mirror samadhi. But this is something one must arrive at with assistance from one's master, who embodies the qualities of that experiential realization, provides kuden (oral instruction) revealing it, and can confirm that one's direction of practice is correct. "Just sitting" as an idea of not-doing for beginners is not going to approach that fruition, and in fact most beginners benefit more from other methods to first integrate the body-mind and give rise to the basic samadhi that is the foundation of all Zen practice. In this regard Hakuin, quoting Bodhidharma, warns about the kind of false practice for which we have to be on guard. Though it can feel clear and calm, it in fact is really just a sitting and stewing in one's deeply habituated, subtle delusion:"If someone without kensho tries constantly to make his thoughts free and unattached, he commits a great transgression against the Dharma and is a great fool to boot.He winds up in the passive indifference of empty emptiness, no more able to distinguish good from bad than a drunken man. If you want to put the Dharma of non-activity into practice, you must bring an end to all your thought-attachments by breaking through into kensho. Unless you have kensho,you can never expect to achieve a state of non-doing." Traditionally Soto Zen has held the same view, that Shikantaza is not so much a practice but the very embodiment, fruition, and manifestation of realization, and that a master was absolutely essential for one to actualize this (and incidentally right there is the place that Rinzai and Soto paths become one). RE the kind of practice Hakuin warns about, some modern takes on meditation that stress "observing the observer," or "resting in one's fundamental awareness," fall into the same trap: what is forgotten is that that basic fundamental awareness, and that observer, are precisely the seat of dualistic delusion, and they are exactly what has thrown one into the cesspool of samsara again and again.”
And yet, it seems to me, the Rinzai school is constantly trying to make. Shikantaza is not about doing anything with one’s thoughts so how is that a useful point of criticism?

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