A Small Mischaracterization ..

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jundocohen
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A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:01 am

Dear All, Dear Rev. Meido ...

I hope that I may respectfully demur and raise objection to a comment you made elsewhere which not only mischaracterizes modern Soto Zen practice, but the Buddhism of some other western teachers ...
FWIW, in my conversations with Chan, Zen, Son, and Thien folks I've discovered no fundamental doctrinal differences...just inheritances of different collections of practice methods (e.g. integration of Pure Land practices in later Chan that didn't make it into Japanese Zen).

The only exceptions to this I might possibly note are among some Western Zen folks who affirm a so-called secular view negating large chunks of Buddhist teaching, and some Soto Zen folks who interpret non-seeking and Dogen's famous "practice = verification" statement to mean that there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization. But neither of these viewpoints is what I would consider a classic or mainstream Zen one.https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?p=455549#p455549
I wonder if it is appropriate for you to comment on these "some Soto Zen folks" and who is "negating large chunks of Buddhist teaching." Would it be acceptable if we might open a discussion of these points here, as there does not seem to be any Soto Zen teacher or the like in the other place to challenge these perspectives? Of course, I do not question, and only honor, the right of anyone to hold such viewpoints or any viewpoint, although I am a little concerned about your comments on Soto practice and who is "negating" Buddhist teaching. I am also concerned that readers might encounter such a viewpoint, see your Buddhist robes, and consider it definitive.

Thank you, and I hope that polite discussion of these matters and questions would not overstep.

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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Meido
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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by Meido » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:26 am

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:01 am
I hope that I may respectfully demur and raise objection to a comment you made elsewhere which not only mischaracterizes modern Soto Zen practice, but the Buddhism of some other western teachers ...
You may certainly demur. But in reaction to what?

I am uncertain where in this...
The only exceptions to this I might possibly note are among some Western Zen folks who affirm a so-called secular view negating large chunks of Buddhist teaching, and some Soto Zen folks who interpret non-seeking and Dogen's famous "practice = verification" statement to mean that there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization. But neither of these viewpoints is what I would consider a classic or mainstream Zen one.
...you see me to be making any characterizaton at all RE modern Soto Zen/practice as a whole. I described an interpretation or view I have observed is held by some Soto Zen folks, that is one departure from mainstream Chan/Son/Thien/Zen teaching (including Soto) that I thought worth mentioning.

Regarding teachers that negate large chunks of what we may call classical Buddhist teaching, such certainly exist today in more than one tradition. I expressed no judgement RE that approach at all. I named it as a second departure from mainstream Chan/Son/Thien/Zen teaching that I have observed, and thought worth mentioning.

What moved you to lift that quote out of the context of another forum's topic - a discussion RE doctrinal unity in Chan/Zen/Son/Thien - and bring it here? Did you think I was talking about Soto Zen as a whole, or about you? I was not.

If you disagree that those departures from the mainstream I've observed exist, or that they ARE departures from the classical/historical mainstream, it might be better for you to enter the discussion there within the context of the larger topic.

But in short: i think you mischaracterize my post over there as a mischaracterization of Soto Zen. It was not meant so broadly...
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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:36 am

Hi Rev. Meido (would you mind sometimes calling me Rev. Jundo or the like? It is just nice to do so.)

Thank you for responding.

I did provide a link to the full discussion, so anyone can judge the context. Alas, I am unable to join in there, but since the topic is Zen, I hope we might continue a bit in this Zen forum. Thank you.
I described an interpretation or view I have observed is held by some Soto Zen folks
I really don't know any such Soto Zen folks (which, of course, does not mean that they are not around, and perhaps I am simply unaware). Can you point out such an example? You mentioned your viewpoint on some aspects of Soto Zen, so I found it interesting and thought to discuss it.

I would also point out that since Zen ( Chan/Son/Thien ), if not the entire Mahayana, represents centuries of organic growth, developing interpretations and change, I wonder where we can nail the jello on the wall regarding what, and in whose eyes, is orthodox and mainstream? I say this, for example, as one member (as are you) of the marrying Japanese clergy, seeking to bring these teachings into the 21st century and to folks outside monastic settings. I would dare say that so much considered "orthodox" by someone is actually somebody's very radical and once controversial innovation down the line, and that even today it is hard to find a united idea of "orthodoxy." The Chinese, for example, might be hard pressed to find much which is "orthodox" in Japanese funeral practice and the like. All things are change, including some aspects of Buddhism.
Regarding teachers that negate large chunks of what we may call classical Buddhist teaching, such certainly exist today in more than one tradition. I expressed no judgement RE that approach at all. I named it as a second departure from mainstream Chan/Son/Thien/Zen teaching that I have observed, and thought worth mentioning.
Where I might demur here is in seeing, for example, skepticism of many teachings as "departures" from the mainstream and orthodox. As I have attempted to point out in the past, whenever that one particular "hot potato" of post-mortem rebirth has come up that (from one reading of history and doctrine) ancient Zen masters all said that such was ultimately a mind created figment and a dream ... so best to stop dreaming it. Of course, we cannot "ignore Karma" either, so had best act nicely now nonetheless. Many (not all) old Masters sometimes taught rebirth, but did not overemphasize it, as they themselves may have felt that most people were caught in the self-created dream, and worked hard hoping that their students would escape from the self-created dream and the effects of their own greed, anger and ignorance. For that reason, I just fail to recognize that many skeptical "Buddhist modernists" are not good Buddhists (I know you are not saying that), nor anything but orthodox and mainstream as Zen teachers. (I might even challenge any Zen teacher who did emphasize the reality of rebirth too much as actually -counter- to traditional Zen teachings, but then again, I and nobody but Buddha ... and our vision of Buddha ... is the last word on such matters, so let us honor all good and sincere teachers for whatever they teach on this matter.) In any event, we can let the "hot potato" rest, no need to pick it up.

I hope this finds you well, and that your plans for your new Zen Center are developing.

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundocohen on Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:01 am, edited 3 times 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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michaeljc
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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by michaeljc » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:00 am

and some Soto Zen folks who interpret non-seeking and Dogen's famous "practice = verification" statement to mean that there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization. But neither of these viewpoints is what I would consider a classic or mainstream Zen one.
This is clearly an expression of personal opinion

The only remaining question is: Are there Soto folks that believe that "there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization" ?

Anything else is just huff and puff - IMO

m

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by clyde » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:13 am

(Please, not another rebirth thread. And not a food-fight. ;) )
michaeljc wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:00 am
The only remaining question is: Are there Soto folks that believe that "there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization" ?
This is an interesting question. Living in Northern California, there are many Soto Zen teachers and their students, and I’ve had the good fortune to meet some.

Of course, I’ve never thought to ask any of the Soto teachers or their students that question, but I have heard teachers’ Dharma talks and spoken with their students. My observation is that there isn’t an emphasis placed on kensho or satori, so it may seem that there is no need for awakening; but I don’t think that’s the case as all the teachers and students talk about the fruits of practice, even if they don’t use that phrase or even view it as that.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:21 am

Hi Clyde,

Yes, yes, no "food fights," and happy to leave discussions of rebirth for the next life.

Perhaps better to discuss what is "mainstream" or "orthodoxy", and in which living person's eyes. Perhaps we also need to be very careful in pronouncing on others' traditions, much like a Catholic priest publicly commenting on the Christianity of a Baptist or visa-versa. Let us all be very open minded.

I think, Clyde, that part of the problem might come from some variety in understanding of what is "kensho" or "satori," very much cherished by all Soto folks although the meaning may vary and the non-road to non-get non-there, so folks talk past each other. I may write more on that later.

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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by Larry » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:20 am

jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:21 am
I may write more on that later.
That would be interesting. Would you be willing to talk about your Kensho as an example? Or other descriptions of Soto Kenshos? Obviously taking into account what you say about the varieties of understanding & meaning.

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jundocohen
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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:53 am

Larry wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:20 am
jundocohen wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:21 am
I may write more on that later.
That would be interesting. Would you be willing to talk about your Kensho as an example? Or other descriptions of Soto Kenshos? Obviously taking into account what you say about the varieties of understanding & meaning.
Hi Larry,

That's all I every talk about, until folks here are sick of it. :cat:

Anyway, I have been meaning to post something about the "Soto Approach to Kensho/Satori" for a long time (although, again, that's all I write about really anyway.)

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundocohen on Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:29 pm, 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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by boda » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:07 pm

“Meido” wrote:... some Soto Zen folks who interpret non-seeking and Dogen's famous "practice = verification" statement to mean that there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization.
I’m forced to agree with Jundo that this is a mischaracterization. No biggie though... and thanks for the opportunity to agree with Jundo about something. :105:

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by Meido » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:07 pm

A mischaracterization of who or what?

Of the people I encountered who described their views to me in detail, which I then reported as an example of doctrinal departure from the norms of Zen...including the norms of Soto Zen?

That of course is why they were mentioned at all, since departure from doctrinal norms was the topic of that discussion at Dharma Wheel.
michaeljc wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:00 am
The only remaining question is: Are there Soto folks that believe that "there is no need for awakening, fruition of practice, or realization" ?
Yes: the group I encountered at least, whose members explained to me they were taught that what occurs during practice is utterly unimportant because "everything is already Buddha"; that practice itself need not be done, and no instruction is given about how to practice, for the same reason; that awakening and realization are myths for children and do not exist; and that the full fruition of the path is simply understanding the idea that everything is Buddha.

This group happens to belong to a larger Soto Zen organization...hence I described them as "some Soto folks." The only mischaracterization here is the recasting of my report of those views as a broad statement about Soto Zen as a whole.

As I do not believe my original words or intent were unclear, i assume this has been done out of eagerness to raise or rehash broader questions. Not my interest, but folks may feel free to do so if they like.

I will bow out unless there are specific questions regarding the views I encountered and about which I had originally reported. Or, please do comment in that topic at Dharma Wheel if there is interest in the discussion there that gave rise to this one.
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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by boda » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:26 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:07 pm
Yes: the group I encountered at least, whose members explained to me they were taught that what occurs during practice is utterly unimportant because "everything is already Buddha"; that practice itself need not be done, and no instruction is given about how to practice, for the same reason; that awakening and realization are myths for children and do not exist; and that the full fruition of the path is simply understanding the idea that everything is Buddha.
I suppose it's just hard to imagine a group this misguided. When you say 'group' do you mean an organized group or individuals who you're grouping together who have this view?

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by Meido » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:32 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:26 pm
I suppose it's just hard to imagine a group this misguided. When you say 'group' do you mean an organized group or individuals who you're grouping together who have this view?
I agree, which is why the encounter came immediately to mind in a discussion of departures from norms. At the time i was a little shocked.

By group i mean a sangha, a group of folks practicing together regularly.
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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by clyde » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:49 pm

Meido;

I don’t doubt your observation as I’ve heard similar remarks. But I attribute it to: 1) some Soto Zen students misunderstanding their teacher and Zen; and 2) occasionally Soto Zen teachers saying such remarks in an effort to help their students avoid grasping for attainments or becoming attached to attainments. I did not think Soto Zen teachers dismissed awakening as “utterly unimportant”.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:08 pm

s' long as we can sit together in sesshin and share the one-mind, or no-mind, All's swell.

--Joe

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by Meido » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:11 pm

clyde wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:49 pm
I did not think Soto Zen teachers dismissed awakening as “utterly unimportant”.
Nor did I, Clyde. If we find these views set up as literal "views", as I did...and assuming the teacher is legitimate...i would think it to reveal a deep misunderstanding or miscommunication of some sort.
s' long as we can sit together in sesshin and share the one-mind, or no-mind, All's swell.
Keep your mind to yourself Joe, mine is hard enough :D
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: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:19 pm

Meido wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:11 pm
Joe wrote:s' long as we can sit together in sesshin and share the one-mind, or no-mind, All's swell.
Keep your mind to yourself Joe, mine is hard enough :D
You've got a point there, Roshi. But, if you'd comb your hair to the other side, it wouldn't be so peaky. :106:

:bow2:

--Joe

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by boda » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:11 pm

“Meido” wrote:
boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:26 pm
I suppose it's just hard to imagine a group this misguided. When you say 'group' do you mean an organized group or individuals who you're grouping together who have this view?
I agree, which is why the encounter came immediately to mind in a discussion of departures from norms. At the time i was a little shocked.

By group i mean a sangha, a group of folks practicing together regularly.
This could perhaps serve as a cautionary tale for not overplaying the ‘practice is enlightenment’ concept, aye Jundo?

It’s a seductive idea. Maybe so seductive that it has as much potential to undermine our practice as it does to inspire it.

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:46 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:11 pm
It’s a seductive idea. Maybe so seductive that it has as much potential to undermine our practice as it does to inspire it.
The only thing-a-ma-bobber to undermine our practice is not to practice: Don't give in to it. ;-)

--Joe

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by boda » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:08 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:46 pm
boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:11 pm
It’s a seductive idea. Maybe so seductive that it has as much potential to undermine our practice as it does to inspire it.
The only thing-a-ma-bobber to undermine our practice is not to practice: Don't give in to it. ;-)

--Joe
No, people could be mislead or there could be psychological issues, etc.

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Re: A Small Mischaracterization ..

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:13 pm

boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:08 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:46 pm
boda wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:11 pm
It’s a seductive idea. Maybe so seductive that it has as much potential to undermine our practice as it does to inspire it.
The only thing-a-ma-bobber to undermine our practice is not to practice: Don't give in to it. ;-)

--Joe
No, people could be mislead or there could be psychological issues, etc.
Sure, people can always be misled. And, psychological issues may always "issue". Are you really saying anything new?

Anyone with a teacher -- and a practice -- is relatively immune to such b.s.

Hail!

--Joe

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