I would like to use this space to chronicle the bigotry and misinformation regarding the teachings and practice of Soto Zen Buddhism which are a regular feature at DharmaWheel.Net under its owner Dr. David Snyder.
Why here? No reason, except that the sometime person heading to or from there may pass through here.
What I will chronicle reaches back years, and typically involves a newcomer or someone who is seeking information or advice about Soto Zen Buddhism who posts in the Zen or Soto Zen sections at DharmaWheel. Very soon, non-Soto Zen practitioners, including administrators and moderators of the site, will pour into the thread to tell the inquirer their opinions about Soto Zen (usually either inaccurate or negative), or to direct them toward other forms of Buddhism. The opinions of Soto Zen practitioners and clergy are regularly drowned out or deleted, and Soto Zen clergy are regularly excluded from participation at DharmaWheel (I am aware of two recent cases), often under the pretext that their views are too "liberal" in the eyes of the more conservative factions which wield control of moderation there. The only voice representing Soto Zen regularly tolerated there is that of one person who, although a Soto Zen practitioner in Japan, represents a small and unorthodox corner of Soto Zen in Japan, and regularly casts aspersions on other Soto Zen teachers and her concept of "modern" teachings, especially in the west.
An example is now ongoing in a thread entitled, "This simply doesn't make any sense..... "
The thread was begun by someone confused and struggling with an aspect of their practice and understanding of Soto Zen:
Of course, it would be best to have a Soto Zen teacher available to offer clarification and assistance in remedying these misunderstandings. Instead, what we have are the following:So whats the difference between me (unenlightened) and my friend (also unenlightened) other than I can tell myself that I really am enlightened but just don't know it (delusional?) and you are also enlightened but you don't know or remember it (tediously convenient). I am really trying to understand this. But I can't, despite many years of trying to reconcile what seems (and I apologise in advance) nonsense.....literally, no sense.
... Its frustrating to hear the following:
"...you are already enlightened but just ignorant to the fact. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do but equally Zazen needs to be done in order for you to experience the fact that you are enlightened..." This is riddled with contradictions and fundamentally flawed and the latter part of the statement no different that any other tradition.
I really am not trying to be provocative, but I am finding the lack of a coherent and rationale explanation to this without ambiguity hugely frustrating, to the extent that I am on the verge of abandoning this practice altogether.
[Dan74] I would avoid tying myself in knots. If the teaching doesn't resonate with you, why do you keep hacking at it? Makes more sense to practice what works for you.
... They say there are 84000 dharma doors. No point to keep banging your head against one of them, while other ones open more easily for you. In another lifetime, perhaps.
[Astus] Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata. [Mazu]
[Schrödinger’s Yidam] Enlightenment is retroactive. Once achieved you can look back and see it was there the entire time. Until then it is present, but inaccessible.... I’m particularly fond of the analogy where there’s a treasure hidden underneath a poor man’s house. First he must be told it is there, and next how and where to dig for it. But it already his.
There are a number of such analogies in the Uttaratantra, like the sun behind the clouds, and a Buddha statue wrapped in rags. You should check them out.
[PadmaVonSamba] In Tibetan (Vajrayana) Buddhism the way to realize Tathâgata-Gharba is to visualize it within yourself as various deities. ... I think a zen master (which I am not) would ask you, “So, you can see the mind’s original true nature? Tell me, where is it?”
I think a Lama (which I am not) would ask you to look at the mind which is experiencing the frustration, and look at the frustration itself to see if it has any substance to it.
A priest in the Pure Land tradition (which I am not) might tell you to abandon all your ‘foolish’ efforts, as these are all ego-based and thus useless, and to instead just recite the name of Amitabha Buddha, whose infinite light is the nature of your true original mind.
[Genjo Conan] The "arouse the great ball of doubt" line gets used most often by Rinzai practitioners, but I think it extends equally to Soto practice -- it's just that our entire practice is the great ball of doubt; is the koan. ... So I think we have two options. One, we can write it off as nonsense and find another practice. I personally think Zen practice is beautiful, but we don't have inquisitors; no one's going to get mad if you say "this is stupid, Thai Forest is the way," or whatever. Option two is to balance your doubt with some faith in the practice and in the lineage, and to arose great determination to answer the koan.
The unambiguous rationale is to resolve the ambiguity for yourself. If you had perfect clarity about practice you'd be an actualized Buddha right now. Remember the Three Essentials: Great doubt, great faith, great determination.
[ItsRaining] Most of your concerns would be resolved if you read the Awakening of Faith and Sutra of Perfect Awakening. Studying Zen can be difficult without a background in the Mahayana.
These all may be marvelous answers, especially in other traditions, but most have little to do with Soto Zen practice, and are quite misleading and harmful to the inquirer wishing to understand his or her Soto Zen practice.[Johnny Dangerous, Global Moderator] ... Not Zen (although he had some Zen influence), and perhaps controversial, but Trungpa used to say that meditation is experiencing "the ape ego" as it is, which accords with the above explanation.
However, it is typical of the way the game is played at DharmaWheel,
More stories to follow.