Is Zen Really Buddhism?

BuddZenNobody’s sent anything in to Ask Mr. Zen! I was serious! Send your questions with the subject heading Ask Mr Zen to bw@hardcorezen.info and I will put together a podcast in which I answer them! The following is an example of what could happen with your question.

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I got the following email the other day:

Hi Brad

Currently I’m in the Ordination process with a group called the Triratna Buddhist Order (formerly the Western Buddhist order) founded in the UK. It is an ecumenical order but they clearly implicitly have their favored and schools, methods and doctrines.

This is perfectly reasonable and understandable, but what I take issue with is the subtle (or not so subtle) putting down of other traditions, which seems totally unnecessary and a violation of speech precepts and slanderous towards the tradition, if there are no grounds for the criticism. 

I hear this kind of talk a lot from others in the order. My main question regards to a statement made by the order’s founder Shangharakshita in print:

“Just because a figure appears on the Refuge Tree doesn’t mean that what he taught can be taught at an FWBO centre. It may be that it can, if there is something that is useful and compatible with our particular presentation of the Dharma, but not necessarily.

“In the case of Dogen, for instance, we must acknowledge that much of Far Eastern Buddhism, especially Japanese Zen, seems to have been greatly influenced by something of a Vedantic character, which therefore calls into doubt the complete orthodoxy of all of Dogen’s teachings in that some may depart from the Buddha’s fundamental teachings of pratītya samutpāda and anātman.”

Sangharakshita (quote from p.7 of following link)

http://sangharakshita.org/interviews/What_is_the_Western_Buddhist_Order.pdf

In my personal view Dogen has one of, if not the, most penetrating and subtle/mystical interpretation of the Dharma. I don’t think he would fall into simple errors.

I would be happy to hear any thoughts you have on this issue!

Here’s what I said (edited and rewritten somewhat):

I’ve often been accused of not following “right speech” or of violating the precept that says not to slander other Buddhists because I’m critical of certain other teachers and sects, most specifically Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind™ stuff. But there have been others. Then again, lots of teachers past and present have been guilty of this sort of thing.

For example, Dogen was very critical of the teacher Ta Hui (called Daie Sōkō in Japanese) and his followers particularly when it came to their use of koans as a method of attempting to induce enlightenment experiences. In a chapter of Shobogenzo called Jisho Zanmai, or “Samadhi as Experience of the Self” he says this about Ta Hui, “He is an extreme case of negligence in practice. Through greed for fame and love of profit, he wants to break into the inner sanctum of the Buddhist patriarchs … Because he is like this, in the lineage of Zen Master Sōkō there is not one true nose ring, or even half of one, but there are many whose basis is unreal.” The reference to nose rings alludes to the ring used to lead a water buffalo by the nose. It means a person of self-control. It does not refer to being a hipster.

This kind of stuff appears all the time in all sorts of Buddhist literature both ancient and current. It can be disconcerting. But consider this. One needs one’s teacher to be confident in his/her teachings. For example, if I didn’t think Soto style Zen and shikantaza style goalless meditation were the absolute best, I wouldn’t be doing them. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to ordain as a teacher of a practice that I thought was only just as good as anything else out there. I wanted the best and I got the best, the hottest meditation in the world, shikantaza, to paraphrase the guy who introduces KISS in concert. So I can forgive others for saying their style is the best even when I disagree with them. It’s part of many teachers’ ways of instilling their own confidence in whatever path they’ve chosen in their students.

A big problem when this happens over here is that our Western tradition has a bad history of moving from statements like “my religion is the best” to “let’s kill everyone who doesn’t believe in it” very quickly. Witness the Crusades and contemporary Islamic terrorism. But Buddhism generally doesn’t go that far, or hasn’t until very recently, such as in the unfortunate cases in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. If you look at the cases of Buddhist violence that Wikipedia lists, they’re not pretty. But they do not even begin to to compare with what has gone on in the West in terms of scale, and most are recent enough that I tend to suspect they’re being influenced by us.

As a result of our own history, we are sometimes a bit overly sensitive to statements coming from our Buddhist teachers that seem to put down other traditions. Theses statements are generally pretty harmless, though. They’re mostly just expressions of deep confidence in the teacher’s chosen tradition. I used to sometimes sign books with the phrase “kill the non-believers” as a joke until I started worrying some psycho out there might take me seriously.

As for the specific contents of what Sangharakshita and the folks in your order are saying, the idea that Zen may not be Buddhism is pretty common. Shambhala even published a very useful book called The Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, whose title indicates their own ambivalence about whether Zen was really Buddhism or not. Personally, I think that Zen is actually much closer in spirit and practice to what Gautama Buddha actually taught than the other forms of Buddhism out there. Then again, I would say that because that’s Zen doctrine. Dogen even argued that it was heretical to call what he taught “Zen” because it was nothing but real Buddhism.

The case could be made either way, depending on what sources you look at. Sometimes Gautama Buddha seems to be advocating something very much like shikantaza style “just sitting” practice with no goal and very minimal technique. Other times he seems to be advocating more technique-oriented and goal-directed meditation practices. So you’re left arguing about which of these versions of the canon is what he really said or if maybe he prescribed different styles to different people. But I think arguments based on this kind of search for historic certainty are doomed to failure. We’ll never all agree on what Gautama Buddha actually said any more than we’ll all agree on who killed JFK. That’s the nature of history.

But going back to the stuff about Dogen, I find the statements you provided from Shangharakshita about Dogen puzzling. Dogen is very clear in his statements regarding the non-existence of the soul (anatman) in Bendowa, Genjo Koan and elsewhere and his strong belief in cause and effect (pratītya samutpāda) is laid out in great detail in the Shobogenzo chapter Shin Jin Inga or “Deep Belief in Cause and Effect” (The Nishijima/Cross translations of Shobogenzo Book 1 and Shobogenzo Book 4 are also available as free PDF downloads from Numata Press). They even sell a t-shirt at Tassajara with 深信因果 (shin jin in ga or “deep belief in cause and effect) on it. I can think of lots of other different reasons one might criticize Dogen as not being truly Buddhist, depending on one’s definition of what “truly Buddhist” means. But to pick out these two as examples seems absurd. I can’t imagine anyone who actually read Dogen would select these particular topics since Dogen’s views on them are extremely orthodox.

If I were going to criticize Japanese Zen as being untrue to classical Buddhist doctrine I’d be more likely to cite things like the fact that Japanese Buddhist monks are not required to be celibate (see the book Neither Monk Nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism or my book Sex Sin and Zen for more on this). If I was going to criticize Dogen as being unorthodox I’d compare his teaching of shikantaza to the much more methodical types of meditation sometimes described in some early Buddhist sutras. So it just seems odd to me he would pick out areas in which Dogen is so orthodox.

To return to whether Zen is “real Buddhism” or not, my personal feeling on the matter is based on experience and (I think) common sense. It seems to me that the story of Buddha’s life is a tale of trying to find a truth that is completely different from absorbing a tradition or parroting what one has been told. In his book An End to Suffering, Pankaj Mishra puts it this way, “the Buddha claimed originally that such knowledge of the eternal self (claimed by his former teachers) was fixed in advance. The meditator had actually trained himself to locate it in the attainment of the deep state… (Buddha’s former teachers) had not realized it from within; it was an abstraction, a product of speculation… Buddha taught that such an experience was samskrta (conditioned)… it sprang from certain clear causes — frame of mind, will, intention, and so it could not be identical with an eternal and unborn Self.”

The only way I can think of to come to an unconditioned realization is the goalless practice of shikantaza or at least something very much like it. I realize that absolutely any method or technique of meditation — including shikantaza — is prone to some sort of conditioning. But I can’t imagine anything that could possibly come closer to truly unconditioned sitting than the practice Dogen talked about. Also, my personal experience with the practice leads me to believe it is all that Dogen says it is.

Now, if you want my advise on ordination, I’d say just do what feels right to you. However, if you think you might end up butting heads with the home office once you start teaching, that could be a problem worth considering before ordaining with them.

Thanks for writing!

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That was a very long piece, much more polished & researched than I usually do for this blog. I enjoyed writing it. If you’d like to see more of this sort of thing please donate! I’d love to make this a full time occupation but I can’t without your support.

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188 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm | |

    Thanks for the info on Dogen & Ta Hui, boubi. I have read Bielefeldt’s book, but I’d forgotten that.

    Impressive teachers, running off and starting their own orders. An old story! Some of these orders persist, and some fade away.

    Didn’t the Chinese have a system of state-supported monasteries open to anyone and not dedicated to any specific strain of Buddism, in the 12th century (and open to foreigners like Dogen)? They had National Teachers for awhile there, I know that. Sounds good, from a distance!

    1. boubi
      boubi April 26, 2014 at 2:39 am | |

      Dogen was a great master.

      My teacher’s teacher had words of praise for him and he was a (the?) top Rinzai guy.
      Just see what my own former teacher said about Soto (it’s the same in a different way).

      The problem i see are the ones who are mimicking his every move, word and idiosyncrasies thus carrying on old grudges through history whitout understanding the origins of it.

      And feeling ohh sooo pure and righteous …

      1. Shodo
        Shodo April 26, 2014 at 4:45 am | |

        boubi said:
        “My teacher’s teacher had words of praise for him and he was a (the?) top Rinzai guy.
        Just see what my own former teacher said about Soto (it’s the same in a different way).”

        That’s a little hard to do, when no one knows who your teacher is boubi, or at least I don’t…;)
        Your teachers teacher has the initials “Y, M” and is Rinzai… So I guess its Yamada Mumon.
        So does that mean your teacher is (was?) Shodo Harada?

        (btw, why do you speak of your teacher in the past tense…?)

        1. boubi
          boubi April 26, 2014 at 6:46 am | |

          Don’t rattle your poor brain, just don’t worry about.

          1. Shodo
            Shodo April 26, 2014 at 6:51 am |

            boubi said:
            “Just see what my own former teacher said about Soto…”

            Well, I’d like to see what your teacher said, since you referenced it.
            How can I do this if you don’t tell me? ;)

      2. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 8:59 am | |

        “The problem i see are the ones who are mimicking his every move, word and idiosyncrasies thus carrying on old grudges through history whitout understanding the origins of it.”

        You’re not one to talk, zealous crusader.

  2. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm | |
  3. roman
    roman April 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm | |

    Sometimes the best way how to show compassion is to be a bit rude – it has definitely helped me in the past and it helped at least a few Zen adepts in the history of zen. But there is a difference between being rude trying to help someone and being rude based on one’s own feeling of greatness and superiority. Sometimes we have to be careful about this – if a teacher criticizes somebody’s ego, we have to know him or her well enough to see if his ego is not a huge baloon flying above the universe. Sawaki was a bit rude – but at the same time, even if I never met him, I feel I trust him that he didn’t put himself in front of others – never speaking proudly about himself, never saying I am greatly enlightened you are not. Just pointing to the truth beyhond words and arguments. He ridiculed people and their opinions a lot, but this is in all kinds of styles the same teaching throughout the history of Buddhism. Ridicule, criticize, analyze, mirror, whatever you call it, Buddhist teaching cannot do without pointing clearly to the foolishness of usual thinking. I have always tried to be nice to everyone in my life, but the older I am the less patient I am with peopole who are not interested in reality of things replacing it with their own twisted views. They will do anything to manipulate you, it is better to listen to the talk of birds and insects than to narrow-minded opinions of people, and the worst if they think they understand Buddhism and only make their own personal versions of Dharma. Dharma has nothing to do with personal versions or attitudes, it flows freely unobstracted from the origins of the universe. So the only talk necessary in Buddhism is the talk about how to see through our limited understanding, which is not done by talking but by practicing and doing things in the real life. It has nothing to do with being clever or winning an argument on the internet.

  4. boubi
    boubi April 26, 2014 at 2:29 am | |

    dharma is the best

    Dharma is the law, not better nor worse than anything else.

    Gravitation is the same, not better nor worse than anything else.

    Zazen is the best because it’s beyond categories …

    Many could say the same about other practices, sorry.

    Btw, what is zazen?

    1. Daniel
      Daniel April 26, 2014 at 3:31 am | |

      You Said: “Zazen is the best because it’s beyond categories …”

      Thats One of those dumb statements…this is true for every word.

      “Shitting is the best because it’s beyond categories …”

      You see…its the Same as Saying nothing at all.

      1. Andy
        Andy April 26, 2014 at 3:38 am | |

        ‘you see…its the Same
        as Saying nothing at all.’
        This is a Haiku.

      2. boubi
        boubi April 26, 2014 at 6:45 am | |

        I have the impression you are barking at the wrong tree.

        The italics are quotes from someone else.

  5. Fred
    Fred April 26, 2014 at 3:45 am | |

    when seeing

    it’s the same
    as saying

    Nothing
    at all
    is seeing
    the all.

  6. Andy
    Andy April 26, 2014 at 4:22 am | |

    Happy new century everyone!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acxnmaVTlZA

    Now I know I’m a little late to the party, but at 10.45pm on the 25 April, I referred to the previous century for the first time in the way that I used to refer to the C19th, and just wanted to share the happy, happy incident of my arrival.

    Big hugs and kisses! No, Mark, don’t get up. You just relax your back there – like sock-puppet consciousness, we’re all here at the sweet spot. Mumbles, let’s strip naked and do an Irish jig around the glasses just because we can. Daniel McCosmicBrainz, come ye and gather all around the blobject to drink in the stars singing tears of infinity for the 7th Patriarch, and etc. Alan, I proclaim you President of the United States – the world is now in good hands. roman, here’s a capital R. Oh – Boubi, a little thing I picked up on my way here for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acxnmaVTlZA. HarryB, Anon#108, Gniz, Mysterion, King Kong, Uncle Penis, Catsareinfinite and so many others, hallowed by thine names in memory…

    and a bow to Brad.

    Yey!

    1. Andy
      Andy April 26, 2014 at 4:25 am | |

      …Oh My, I almost forgot Fred. Let me reach up and tickle your long white beard as it sweeps into foaming breakers of the void.

      Double yey!

    2. Andy
      Andy April 26, 2014 at 4:33 am | |

      Oops! In all the excitement, I went and pulled the wrong gift out of my sweaty sack. Here: http://tinyurl.com/mojta5l

      1. Fred
        Fred April 26, 2014 at 4:46 am | |

        Why Andy, thank you so much for that lovely picture of an Iranian holy man.

        1. Andy
          Andy April 26, 2014 at 4:54 am | |

          Damn! Those two posts were additions to an original post that got stuck in moderation due to two links. The photo was for boubi. I’ll post below and hope the mod deletes original.

          1. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 5:01 am |

            Uncle Penis use to post here?

          2. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 5:18 am |

            Q “Btw, what is zazen?”

            A “it is just the real Action”

          3. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 10:45 am |

            “A sincere question to those of you who consider yourselves zen practicioners: What principles guide you when it comes to commenting on blog posts?”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiYwwL5LbBw

          4. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 1:52 pm |

            Interesting response, Fred. But if I attempt to interpret this song to infer your response I’ll just be considering my own symbol set.

            If you are a sincere Zen practitioner, what principles guide your behavior outside of sitting meditation?

          5. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm |

            Behavior is a manifestation of conditioning. Anything could be a principle, value,
            moral depending on the culture and period of time.

            To think that there is a set of principles guiding behavior is deludedness.

            To grasp conceptual thought is deludedness.

            To place Sam Harris on a pedestal is deludedness.

          6. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 3:04 pm |

            Thank you, Fred :)

            My understanding of your response is that, outside of sitting meditation, no principles guide the behavior of a sincere Zen practitioner. Sincere Zen practitioners, in not grasping conceptual thought, are unprincipled.

          7. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm |

            I never use the word principle. The universe flows, love flows.

            Principle may be a word invented to describe something that involves
            manipulating others.

            What does principle have to do with insight into one’s original nature.

            Can that which is, be pounded into square holes with word hammers.

          8. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm |

            “My understanding of your response is that, outside of sitting meditation, no principles guide the behavior of a sincere Zen practitioner. Sincere Zen practitioners, in not grasping conceptual thought, are unprincipled.”

            These are your words and thoughts, your conceptual slots.

          9. Shodo
            Shodo April 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm |

            Fred said:
            “These are your words and thoughts, your conceptual slots.”

            Then just answer the question clearly and dispel all doubts.
            Don’t leave it up to us to interpret everything you say. ;)

          10. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 5:18 pm |

            Shodo: Thank you, I’ll google that.
            Fred: Even if I walk around barefoot, I’m still using my legs. ‘Legs’ in this case represents my intentions in communication, which are guided by principles such as: kindness, non-harming, etc.

          11. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm |

            Insight leads to kindness, non-harming. The word principle is not a word that
            exists for me.

            Aghoris eat shit. Do you eat shit? Does eating shit exist in your world, in your
            brain. Or is it a non-factor, a non-reality.

            Your ” legs ” are conventions not shared by all humans. Your brain is
            manufacturing assumptions about reality.

            Communication is a myth. Two bags of water vibrating the air.

          12. Fred
            Fred April 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm |

            It’s funny that you use the word ” legs ”

            Jinzang posted before that the meaning of unsupported thought is that it has
            no legs.

            It is this unsupported thought that is shared. Thought derived from and supported by conditioning is devisive.

          13. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm |

            Fred, rock on buddy :)

          14. Fred
            Fred April 27, 2014 at 5:22 am |
          15. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 27, 2014 at 5:55 am |

            Nice!!!

            One for you, with best regards…
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv-knusIj0w

          16. Mark Foote
            Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 10:50 am |

            if anybody’s interested, the next comment in the thread is here:

            http://hardcorezen.info/is-zen-really-buddhism/2694/comment-page-2#comment-62432

          17. Mark Foote
            Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 10:54 am |

            “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

            Yogi Berra

          18. Mark Foote
            Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 11:00 am |

            Boy do I feel silly! I made this comment, but forgot to make it as a reply, so it whisked up the thread… at the risk of repeating myself over and over redundently again:

            Looks like replies to existing comments are added in correct order in the thread. Normally that’s limited to four or five deep, but since this page is not indenting the way a reply to a comment would normally be indented, my assumption is that the replies can be chained indefinitely. Party with Mark and Fred and Andy and Mumbles and Proulx Michel and Cosmic Brainz and Daniel and Shodo and Wedged and Roman and AnneMH and mb and mtto and Stone Mirror and if he shows up, Brad the infamous Warner, just add your reply to the last reply until they start to indent, in which case a regular comment will suffice.

          19. Fred
            Fred April 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm |

            Wedged:

            “I was into everything Buddhist but my heart was with Soto. It’s been kind of a downer. It doesn’t’ feel like the regular highs and lows, it feels like I’ve changed and it’s been about a year, and I just don’t seem to care. ”

            http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB%205.%20Dissolution,%20Entrance%20to%20the%20Dark%20Night?p_r_p_185834411_title=MCTB%205.%20Dissolution,%20Entrance%20to%20the%20Dark%20Night

          20. Mark Foote
            Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm |

            And I’ll repeat that as a reply, so sorry if anybody read it out of order above:

            Proulx Michel, I apologize; first precept, not killing, now your comment about fascists makes sense. Sorry.

          21. Fred
            Fred April 28, 2014 at 10:26 am |

            If you crush a flea, step on a worm, swat a mosquito, you are breaking the first
            precept.

          22. Daniel CosmicBrainz
            Daniel CosmicBrainz April 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm |

            Ask Mr. Zen,

            I’ve never done Zen. If I do Zen, what will I be doing?

            Thanku

          23. Shodo
            Shodo April 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm |

            Daniel CosmicBrainz asked:
            “If you are a sincere Zen practitioner, what principles guide your behavior outside of sitting meditation?”

            The Ten Grave Precepts, guided by the Three Pure Precepts…
            … I fail at it all the time however. :)

  7. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel April 26, 2014 at 4:36 am | |

    And anyway, to get back to the first question: is Zen really Buddhism?, historically, it stems from those fascists who wanted to be able to have Zen without having to do with those annoying precepts (especially the first one). So they started pushing the idea that Zen was separate from Buddhism, and to better make their point, that it could be any religion’s Zen.

    This, I believe, has to be considered…

    1. boubi
      boubi April 26, 2014 at 7:00 am | |

      Hi

      Any link to know more?

      1. Andy
        Andy April 26, 2014 at 7:06 am | |

        Here it is again. http://tinyurl.com/mojta5l

        1. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:03 am | |

          Still better than the Shah which was installed by the CIA.

          It’s like comparing two pieces of turd: one from a malnourished cow stuck up in a barn all day eating grains + pumped with hormones and the other from a cow stuck up in a barn all day eating GMO hay but not pumped with hormones.

          1. Proulx Michel
            Proulx Michel April 29, 2014 at 3:52 am |

            The Shah was not installed by the CIA. He was only “confirmed” as an autocrat by the CIA…

  8. Fred
    Fred April 26, 2014 at 4:49 am | |

    Q “Btw, what is zazen?”

    A “foaming breakers of the void”

  9. Andy
    Andy April 26, 2014 at 4:55 am | |

    [Moderator, I posted two links in the original post, which made it not appear. if it's not too much trouble could you delete the original, when moderating it?)

    Happy new century everyone!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acxnmaVTlZA

    Now I know I’m a little late to the party, but at 10.45pm on the 25 April, I referred to the previous century for the first time in the way that I used to refer to the C19th, and just wanted to share the happy, happy incident of my arrival.

    Big hugs and kisses! No, Mark, don’t get up. You just relax your back there – like sock-puppet consciousness, we’re all here at the sweet spot. Mumbles, let’s strip naked and do an Irish jig around the glasses just because we can. Daniel McCosmicBrainz, come ye and gather all around the blobject to drink in the stars singing tears of infinity for the 7th Patriarch, and etc. Alan, I proclaim you President of the United States – the world is now in good hands. roman, here’s a capital R. Oh – Boubi, a little thing I picked up on my way here for you: [link above]. HarryB, Anon#108, Gniz, Mysterion, King Kong, Uncle Penis, Catsareinfinite and so many others, hallowed by thine names in memory…

    and a bow to Brad.

    Yey!

    (and a yey to eveyone I haven’t mentioned, too!)

    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles April 26, 2014 at 10:51 am | |

      Viva la Andy!! The jig is up!! I was already doing the dance, waiting for you, c’mon! Everybody do a little dance!!…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH1lTYBIUdc

  10. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:05 am | |

    Still better than the Shah which was installed by the CIA.

    It’s like comparing two pieces of turd: one from a malnourished cow stuck up in a barn all day eating grains + pumped with hormones and the other from a cow stuck up in a barn all day eating GMO hay but not pumped with hormones.

    Btw, why are you boiling my heritage down to its current fundamentalist time period which is all America and Britain’s fault for overthrowing the democratically selected leader Mossadegh? Why don’t you play this:

    http://www.cognitocomics.com/operationajax/

    It’s like, what if a country harassed America and a crazy Neoconservative took power?

    I guarantee you this may happen soon, since many Americans are being overtaken by ethnocentric fear.

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 26, 2014 at 9:05 am | |

    “Party Hardy with Andy is the best because it’s beyond categories!”

    The foamy, breaking news (hiya minktoes):

    “The differences between religious concepts in Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions has caused questions for Bahá’í scholarship. Jamshed Fozdar presents the Buddhist teaching about an unknowable reality as referring to the concept of God, for example in the following passage from the Udana (v.81) in the Khuddaka Nikaya: “There is, O monks, an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. Were there not, O monks, this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, therefore is there an escape from the born, originated, created, formed.”

    That from Wikipedia under Baha’i Faith and Buddhism.

    So we are talking about a passage in the Udana in Khuddaka Nikaya. Turning to Warder, I find:

    “According to the consensus of the schools the Sutra Pitaka was arranged in five agamas, ‘traditions’ (the usual term, but the Sthaviravadins more often call them nikayas, ‘collections’). The order is generally agreed to be as follows: (1. long sermons, 2. middle-length sermons, 3. connected or by topic sermons, 4. numbered sermons) 5. Kyudraka Agama (outside the first four agamas there remained a number of texts regarded by all the schools as of inferior importance, either because they were compositions of followers of the Buddha and not the words of the Master himself, or because they were of doubtful authenticity, these were collected in this ‘Minor Tradition’).

    The order of the five ‘traditions’ happens also to be the order of their authenticity, probably because it was easier to insert short texts among a large number or to get a composition of doubtful origin admitted to the already doubtful Minor Tradition of a school. This is soon ascertained by comparing the various available rescensions as we have done in the preceding chapters. It has been suggested that some schools did not have a Minor Tradition at all, though they still had some of the minor texts incorporated in their Vinayas, hence the ‘Four Agamas’ are sometimes spoken of as representing the Sutra.’

    The most notable feature of the Minor Tradition is that its texts are for the most part in verse, as opposed to the prevailing prose of the rest of the Tripitaka. … We have naturally ignored them in investigating the teaching of the Buddha, but they are of much interest in themselves as literature, and in connection with the popularization of Buddhism in the centuries following the parinirvana, when in fact many of them were composed.

    Three other parts of the collection seem at least in origin to have been nothing but anthologies from the Tripitaka of Udana (‘Exalted Utterances’…), Dharmapadas (‘Verses on the Doctrine’), and Jatakas (Stories of Previous Lives of the Buddha…)…

    … If there were monks in distant parts who missed the First Rehearsal it is likely enough that quite a number of discourses remembered by them and handed down to their pupils existed, which were missed at the Rehearsal though perfectly authentic. Under these conditions it would seem reasonable to incorporate such discourses in the Tripitaka later, despite the risk of accepting unauthentic texts. The Mahaparinibana Sutra… makes the Buddha himself lay down a rule to cover just this situation: if someone claims to be in possession of an authentic text not in the Sutra or the Vinaya– again two pitakas only– it should be checked against the Sutra and Vinaya and accepted only if it agrees with them. Such agreement or disagreement may have seemed obvious enough at first. Later it was far from obvious and depended on subtle interpretation; thus the schools came to accept many new texts, some of which surely contained new doctrines.” (A. K. Warder, “Indian Buddhism”, pgs 202-205, second ed. 1980 15pound95 at Books from India London in 1991 according to the sticker here)

    I have read the first four Nikayas, as the Pali Text Society titled them, and there’s nothing about the Unborn, Uncreated there as far as I know.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot April 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm | |

      “And what is the noble search? There is the case where a person, himself being subject to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeks the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. Himself being subject to aging… illness… death… sorrow… defilement, seeing the drawbacks of aging… illness… death… sorrow… defilement, seeks the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less, undefiled, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. This is the noble search.”

      MN 26 PTS: M i 160
      Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search
      translated from the Pali by
      Thanissaro Bhikkhu

      I questioned the strength of your statement that there’s a consensus among historians that the Khuddaka is later than the other Nikayas. You have read more of the canon and about it than I, so I asked for cites. Warder here doesn’t talk about that so much as weight of authority, though later tends to less authoritative.

      Nonetheless, parts may older than the collection itself. I’ve heard the opinion that the Dhammapada may be the closest to the actual words of the Bhagavan. The Udana is sort of like the Hadith of Buddha.

      Hope this doesn’t sound confrontational . . . Just fishing for information.

      1. Mark Foote
        Mark Foote April 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm | |

        I understand what you’re saying, it wasn’t as substantial a case as I had remembered it to be, but I accept that Warder is right when he says the fifth Nikaya was composed of:

        “texts regarded by all the schools as of inferior importance, either because they were compositions of followers of the Buddha and not the words of the Master himself, or because they were of doubtful authenticity.”

        The passage you quoted threw me for a moment, so I ran and grabbed my Pali Text Society translation, which is:

        “… someone, being liable to birth because of self, having known the peril in what is liable to birth, seeks the unborn, the utter-most security from the bonds– nibana; being liable to aging… liable to decay… liable to dying… liable to sorrow… liable to stain… seeks the undying, the utermost security from the bonds– nibbana.”

        This to my mind is fundamentally different, because the unborn, unaging, undecaying, undying, unsorrowing, unstained is identified as Nibbana.

        Where I have heard the passage from the Udana quoted, it was quoted to bolster the contention of the author that Buddhism described a void-nature, something ineffable and undescribable, something beyond any description, very Tao-like. The omission of what the Gautama is describing as unborn, unaging, undecaying, undying, unsorrowing, and unstained (Nibbana) changes the whole message of the passage, in my opinion.

        I’m not fond of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation, either. “Unbinding”? The literal meaning of Nirvana, as I understand it, is “blown out”, so that’s not a literal translation. I think if you are going to offer a translation of nirvana or any other Sanskrit or Pali term into English, positive and substantive is the way to go, otherwise leave it in Pali. My opinion, of course. Thanks for your critical attitude, minkfoot, and I’m fine if there’s some calling of bullshit mixed in with it– be delighted if you’re right, actually, although I turn red rather easily. Oh, you can’t see that?!–

    2. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm | |

      Bahá’ísm is cool.

      It’s a shame how much discrimination they face…

      Mani, Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and Mansur-al Hallaj were all interesting.

      It’s interesting to note how much Mani’s Manichaeism’s strong dualism differs from all of theirs though.

  12. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:06 am | |

    [Comments section is messing up]

    Still better than the Shah which was installed by the CIA.

    It’s like comparing two pieces of turd: one from a malnourished cow stuck up in a barn all day eating grains + pumped with hormones and the other from a cow stuck up in a barn all day eating GMO hay but not pumped with hormones.

    Btw, why are you boiling my heritage down to its current fundamentalist time period which is all America and Britain’s fault for overthrowing the democratically selected leader Mossadegh? Why don’t you play this:

    http://www.cognitocomics.com/operationajax/

    It’s like, what if a country harassed America and a crazy Neoconservative took power?

    I guarantee you this may happen soon, since many Americans are being overtaken by ethnocentric fear.

  13. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:10 am | |

    How would you feel if:

    A country overthrew a democratically selected leader in America. Let’s say someone good like Jill Stein or Ron Paul. America starts to get overtaken by panic and neoconservatives become powerful in the background.

    Then the country install a puppet dictator regime and lots of immigrants, from said country, start to freely on the land acting like all shit is happy and rosy.

    What happens then?

    A revolt would occur, and in the chaos the Neoconservative would gain power. The immigrant would also either be violently deported or held as hostages. THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED TO IRAN THANKS TO WESTERN IMPERIALISM.

    Eat shit and die, Andy.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:10 am | |

      freely live* on the land* while their despotic installed dictator controls things…*

  14. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 9:14 am | |

    Andy, how would you feel if:

    A country overthrew a democratically selected leader in America. Let’s say someone good like Jill Stein or Ron Paul was finally elected. America starts to get overtaken by panic and neoconservatives become powerful in the background.

    Then the war-mongering country installs a puppet dictator in America, which causes a massive gap between rich and poor, and lots of immigrants from the dictator’s country start to freely live on the land acting like all shit is happy and rosy.

    What happens then?

    A revolt would occur, and in the chaos the Neoconservative would gain power. The immigrants would also either be violently deported or held as hostages. THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED TO IRAN THANKS TO WESTERN IMPERIALISM.

    Eat shit and die, Andy. I don’t have time for your bullshit. Zen/Zazen hasn’t even helped you 1% in being a good person.

  15. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 26, 2014 at 9:28 am | |

    This would be a test. I expect it will end up under my last comment, unfortunately.

    If not, and it appears after Fred’s reply to boubi that zazen is just (real) action, then for those that always fast-forward to the latest in the thread I’d like to say “whoa, Nelly!”– I typed a long time to answer the requests for documentation on the lack of pedigree of the “Unborn, Uncreated” attributed to Gautama in the Udana of the 5th Nikaya, so that must mean it’s worth reading, you know.

    Pass the feathers, pass the hat, let’s dance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsK9Sd9956U

  16. Daniel CosmicBrainz
    Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 10:27 am | |

    A sincere question to those of you who consider yourselves zen practicioners: What principles guide you when it comes to commenting on blog posts?

  17. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel April 26, 2014 at 10:30 am | |

    “At the present moment”…

  18. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 11:38 am | |

    I think the fundamental question is how much boubi jacks off to Colin Powell’s picture.

    ;)

  19. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 11:39 am | |

    Just admit it boubi: you have a sanctuary in your house reserved to jacking to pictures of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell.

    Get ‘em towel heads.

  20. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm | |

    Boubi likes to suck Lama Ole’s dick. I hope he chokes on it.

  21. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm | |

    Lama Ole is really a piece of shit charlatan.

    Seems like someone you would get alone with Boubi…

    Since you are no different at heart.

    Eat shit and die.

  22. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm | |

    Between Lama Ole and Sasaki’s dicks, Boubi has a lot of sucking. Both are very similar in their sex scandals too…

    We can only hope Boubi can die painfully and with lots of dukkha, so that way more honorable people have more resources to disperse around.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot April 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm | |

      You can leave the hell you’re in any time you want, you know? Same for Boubi.

  23. Daniel CosmicBrainz
    Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm | |

    Interesting response, Fred. But if I attempt to interpret this song to infer your response I’ll just be considering my own symbol set.

    If you are a sincere Zen practitioner, what principles guide your behavior outside of sitting meditation?

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot April 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm | |

      “Foaming Breakers of the Void”

      I wanna black leather jacket with those colors!

  24. roman
    roman April 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm | |

    zazen is the best because it’s beyond categories

    if it is impossible to understand what this means, and someone argues that anything is best because anything is beyond categories, then it is the situation when one is attached to words rather than listening to directions – people who cannot hear directions in Buddhism and only attach to words and teaching without following the meaning beyond words, they are always stuck in the intellectual world – the teaching is not illogical , but cannot be understood just as words, even 22 years ago when I tried to read my first book about Zen, I could feel the words mean something “else”, I felt immediately there are no arguments, and yet I felt it was not brainwashing or power but caring and sincere actions and words from the masters / even if I didn’t understand what they meant, I was sure they were trying to show me the way to the realm beyond categories, but it took me some time of course before I could follow the direction independently , vividly, as I was for a certain time stuck and confused by words, but at the same time I was trying to see beyond / or see the direction to the truth beyond words, so at that time, if somebody said Everything is beyond categories, or taking shit is beyond categories, such words would teach me nothing. So not anything we say can help us see the direction / on the other hand when I read in a book, what is buddhism, eyes horizontal, nose vertical, I was struck by something beyond common understanding, I am certain if we cannot see what such words really mean, it is basically impossible to make any progress in Buddhism , at least until we are willing to let go of our limited understanding of what is said by Buddhist teachers / teisho is not a lecture or information, but something that cannot be completely expressed by words, something has to be struck beyond words, otherwise it is just a talk explaining nothing

  25. roman
    roman April 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm | |

    Why do you guys lose time arguing about words on the internet, why don’t you study Buddhism, if you are interested and practice Buddhism, who can win an argument on Buddhism? Nobody. Buddhism doesn’t care who is clever who is stupid.

  26. Fred
    Fred April 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm | |

    I never use the word principle. The universe flows, love flows.

    Principle may be a word invented to describe something that involves
    manipulating others.

    What does principle have to do with insight into one’s original nature.

    Can that which is, be pounded into square holes with word hammers.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot April 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm | |

      “Can that which is, be pounded into square holes with word hammers.”

      When you’re hot, you’re hot!

      I also like Susuki’s “The Fundamental Principle of Zen is to discover the Fundamental Principle of Zen!”

  27. Andy
    Andy April 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm | |

    CosmicBrainz. Dear me! I post a photo of the Ayatollah Khomeini sipping Pepsi in front of the moon – and that’s what you make of it? 1 + 1 = 2, remember, not 3.00kangaroo098819988. That would indicate mental issues.

  28. Daniel
    Daniel April 26, 2014 at 4:41 pm | |

    Roman Said “then it is the situation when one is attached to words rather than listening to directions – people who cannot hear directions in Buddhism and only attach to words and teaching without following the meaning beyond words, they are always stuck in the intellectual world – ”

    That again is like Saying nothing at all. You still think zazen is something Special, better than for example Drinking Absinth at a bar for 5 hours in the afternoon which is what i did today. But it is Bullshit, you are Stuck in the World of zazen, Saying someone is stuck in the intellectual World doesn’t even make Sense. Then don’t Argue and read at all. Plus there is no intellectual World that is Seperate from another World. There isnt even a World dude, which all shows u didn’t even grasp zazen on a zazen Level. Beyond zazen…uh well lets not even tRy.

    Ps: I’ll Wonder myself tomorrow about that Text probably. Don’t try to understand it! BTW i Wonder why u guys get so active Here on the Weekend…no retreat?

  29. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm | |

    “Absinth ”

    Daniel, you are crazy.

    1. Daniel
      Daniel April 28, 2014 at 2:53 am | |

      Why?

  30. Daniel CosmicBrainz
    Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm | |

    Shodo: Thank you, I’ll google that.
    Fred: Even if I walk around barefoot, I’m still using my legs. ‘Legs’ in this case represents my intentions in communication, which are guided by principles such as: kindness, non-harming, etc.

  31. Fred
    Fred April 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm | |

    Insight leads to kindness, non-harming. The word principle is not a word that
    exists for me.

    Aghoris eat shit. Do you eat shit? Does eating shit exist in your world, in your
    brain. Or is it a non-factor, a non-reality.

    Your ” legs ” are conventions not shared by all humans. Your brain is
    manufacturing assumptions about reality.

    Communication is a myth. Two bags of water vibrating the air.

  32. Wedged
    Wedged April 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm | |

    I could use help…I seem to have 100% lost all connection to Buddhism other than this site. I’ve even re-read Brad’s books…taken a few extra retreats to try and spark something, which it does while I’m there but gone days later. I’m 4 years into daily sitting. Other than Brad I just seem not to care. I still sit daily but in my mind I agree more with needing to do that like I need to eat clean and exercise. It’s lost it’s spirituality. I don’t care about the truth…I don’t care about enlightenment. It’s sort of cringe worthy now to think I was chasing that. I think people like Brad are a minority and special, in a sense. Like getting a book on a regular dude who figures out how to be crazy ripped, or rich…it feels like you can too. I was into everything Buddhist but my heart was with Soto. It’s been kind of a downer. It doesn’t’ feel like the regular highs and lows, it feels like I’ve changed and it’s been about a year, and I just don’t seem to care. Sitting is still required but it’s because it keeps me sane. It got me thinking…is there a difference between sitting because it makes me feel good vs sitting because Zen says you should.What if the only Zen thing you care about is sitting, is that still Zen? Fuck, 100% lost.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot April 27, 2014 at 9:32 am | |

      I haven’t experienced that state, Wedged, but I’ve heard of similar. Your practice, your whole life, loses it’s flavor. What I’ve heard you should do is just accept the flavorlessness and persevere. Nothing stays the same.

      This could actually be a good thing, helping you to sit without purpose. You’ve already lost the infatuation. Next, could you lose wanting to get the zip back?

      Something wonderful waits down the road, some people say. There is a wonder even to this flavorless moment.

      1. Wedged
        Wedged April 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm | |

        Hey man, thank you very much. i really appreciate your response. I forgot i posted this and sort of dreaded re-reading it tonight. I took my kids to Bodhi school Sunday and i left during the chants…was like nails on a chalkboard. I was talking to my 9 year old daughter saying I just wasn’t feeling it and she was like “wha? why?” haha i started to see via the teachings that i was forcing myself to listen to the teachings even tough i don’t want to. I was strong arming myself…so, i was like ok…something is off. But i came to the same conclusion you pointed out. Maybe my feeling of being lost is just where i am, so, be lost. Trying to make myself not feel lost is furthering the “lostness” haha thanks again man…! I had a big weekend in the Shambhala world booked and i had to cancel. Right now, sitting and leaving it at that is where i’m at. Still has a Zen flavor ;)

        1. minkfoot
          minkfoot April 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm | |

          Glad it was helpful. It isn’t always so.

          Fred posted a link to a discussion of “Dark Night of the Soul” stuff on the Dharma Overground site. I have reservations about their scheme of things, but it’s interesting reading and there might be something to learn.

          Then there’s the Japanese saying that goes with the Daruma doll, “eight times down, nine times up” or something like that.

  33. Daniel CosmicBrainz
    Daniel CosmicBrainz April 26, 2014 at 6:28 pm | |

    Fred, rock on buddy :)

  34. roman
    roman April 27, 2014 at 12:52 am | |

    Daniel said: That again is like Saying nothing at all. You still think zazen is something Special, better than for example Drinking Absinth at a bar for 5 hours in the afternoon which is what i did today. But it is Bullshit, you are Stuck in the World of zazen, Saying someone is stuck in the intellectual World doesn’t even make Sense. Then don’t Argue and read at all.

    Daniel, how do you have a clue what I think or feel about zazen? THere is no zazen at all, it is just your imagination that there is something like zazen. As there is no zazen, there can’t be anything special about it. If you think zazen is something, then of course it may be called useless or special, but in fact zazen doesn’t exist at all. But if you think in terms exist or doesn’t exist, you have no clue what Buddha was enlightened to. That’s what I mean by being stuck in the intellectual world. You say this or that doesn’t make sense but it only doesn’t make sense to you. How do you know what made sense to buddhist patriarchs? How come they realized the truth after hearing what doesn’t make sense to you? How can you decide what is what if you are still imprisoned in the realm of words? Nothing exists, so what is that in front of you? Absinth? Zazen? Buddhism?

  35. roman
    roman April 27, 2014 at 12:57 am | |

    Wedged, it is the most important that you keep practicing every day. Losing interest in Buddhism, but still reading Brad’s instructions is not losing interest in Buddhim. You are doing the right thing, zazen, studying what a Buddhist teacher said and living your everyday life. Then sooner or later you’ll realize these three things are the same essentially. Buddhism is just living your everyday life, nothing more. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the Buddhist philosophy. Just reading what Brad explains is dealing with the Buddhist philosophy. Just dont’ give up. Later you may become interested in different things connected with Buddhism. But now you are doing fine.

    1. Wedged
      Wedged April 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm | |

      sweet, thanks. I guess stuff like the 6 paramitas and the 8 fold path and the Zen voice in my head that points out all the shit i’m doing that isn’t “Zen” is getting on my nerves, consistently. But, even though i understand logically that the teachings are correct, there is a part of me that doesn’t care and is louder than the Zen voice. I don’t care that certain actions will lead to further suffering…even though my experiences confirm this to be correct. I say f*ck it and gossip or get jealous…creating space and allowing that to be as you and others have pointed out is great. It’s sort of where i was headed so i appreciate your response. Help in general when you’re lost is very appreciated. Brad is the man…good point!

  36. roman
    roman April 27, 2014 at 12:59 am | |

    why are my comments not placed at the end based on time sequence? My comments are placed somewhere before people who commented much earlier that I did, just a technical detail, nothing big

  37. Andy
    Andy April 27, 2014 at 1:18 am | |

    I appear to have caused the posts to jump around with my original two-link post (and follow up replies). Sorry about that. I wonder if it is possible to add a feature that prevents a post from being posted if it has more than one link, and with a message to the poster explaining so and allowing them to correct the problem?

  38. Siamfisch
    Siamfisch April 27, 2014 at 6:14 am | |

    whenever i read / hear discussions like the one above it reminds me of a quote from the tv-show picket fences:
    “Religions are like farts. Only your own smells good. all the others stink.”

  39. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 10:48 am | |

    “And anyway, to get back to the first question: is Zen really Buddhism?, historically, it stems from those fascists who wanted to be able to have Zen without having to do with those annoying precepts (especially the first one). So they started pushing the idea that Zen was separate from Buddhism, and to better make their point, that it could be any religion’s Zen.”

    from a distant galaxy, far far up the thread…

    Or maybe not, considering it’s messed. Hey, Stonemirror: can you change the setting on the number of links allowed? Don’t think we’re likely to see any spammers adding multiple levi links anymore, do you?

    As to the annoying fascists, the first Schism split the order completely on the issue of whether or not an arahant could be seduced, in particular seduced in sleep, i.e. whether or not an arahant could have a wet dream. Split, never to be rejoined. Mahayana, as one of the branches came to be known, said yes.

    And still says yes, although according to Shunryu Suzuki the Soto variation is “yes, but…”.

    Thanks for dreamin’ man, Daniel CosmicBrainz whomever. Rockin’ in the free world, “they think I’m Satan”, being seduced around the clock. Or an annoying fascist, ha ha! Thanks for attempting to return to topic, Proulx Michel.

    Wedged, could it be related to this?

    http://www.wired.com/2014/04/no-exit/?hn

  40. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 10:58 am | |

    Looks like replies to existing comments are added in correct order in the thread. Normally that’s limited to four or five deep, but since this page is not indenting the way a reply to a comment would normally be indented, my assumption is that the replies can be chained indefinitely. Party with Mark and Fred and Andy and Mumbles and Proulx Michel and Cosmic Brainz and Daniel and Shodo and Wedged and Roman and AnneMH and mb and mtto and Stone Mirror and if he shows up, Brad the infamous Warner, just add your reply to the last reply until they start to indent, in which case a regular comment will suffice.

  41. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm | |

    Proulx Michel, I apologize; first precept, not killing, now your comment about fascists makes sense. Sorry.

  42. jiesen
    jiesen April 28, 2014 at 12:22 am | |

    like the first council, as soon as something is written down as “law”, it is subject to argument and change. “schism.” http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tool/schism.html

    this whole debate about which sect is right(esp in modern times) is really futile. and the dirt of sex with students, seeking for profit and fame; just keeps piling higher and higher.

    imho, the proof is in the pudding.

    if something works, keep it. if it doesn’t work, toss it.

    in terms of ch’an/zen, Dogen is very much a Patriarch. i personally haven’t really found area to argue with him. but i have with others…but at the same time, i recognize that Dogen is far removed from the modern era. and it’s likely that we only see a select amount of his written work. however, we see the effects of his work. most Buddhist in asia tend to focus on sects that promote chanting. but they never realize that samadhi produced by chanting is no different then samadhi that blossoms in things like exercise, bowing, hiking, etc etc etc….and that it never seems to manifest itself without a goalless mediation practice. and that even without a goalless mediation practice, that samadhi was already there. but the mind has to be taught how to accord with all things. it has to sit still long enough to “see”all things. with more familiarity, things become more obvious.

    how can it be said that a goalless mediation(zou-wang/zazen) practice does not achieve the original effect?

    also, in terms of Chinese Buddhism, it seems that Dogen was very well rounded and studied. he was ordained as a Tendai(T’ian T’ai) monastic. he seems to have had a board knowledge of the historical Sakyamuni, which indicates that he has probity studied Sakymuni’s agamas(such as comments like how Sakyamuni’s feet neither touched nor left the ground as Sakyamuni discovered a sutra of an older Buddha). my understanding is that Buddhist studies/practices in Japan at the time, such as Tendai, were commonly done in Chinese, so he knew Chinese. Therefore he either read the agamas in Chinese, or in Sanskrit. logically, over time, more and more agamas are being translated(as they are not finished yet.) not to mention that he had a very broad knowledge of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. the very fact itself that Dogen was searching for a more authentic form of Buddhism as opposed to what was already in Japan in his time(Buddhism migrated to Japan from Korea, from China to Korea, from India to China) suggests that Dogen knew very well what it was that he was searching for. it’s commonly accepted that HuiNeng returned to a more authentic form of Buddhism. logically speaking, neither sutras nor sutta’s are authentic. they contain aspects of Sakyamuni’s teaching, but they also contain aspects of the “Eternal Buddha.” on both the Mahayana and Theravada side. but that is not to say that the “Eternal Buddha” doesn’t reside in all people. after all, common history accepts that Siddhartha Gautama, and Sakyamuni were the same PERSON. just like there is potential energy, and kinetic energy.

    personally, from a vantage point of about 800yrs later, it seems that Dogen is still very much current. i think this is likely because he was the real deal. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of dirt in the history of Dogen. the same could be said for Hsuan Hua, XuYun. there aren’t stories of these guys drinking booze and picking up chicks. however, that can’t be said of a lot of modern teachers. VM XuYun’s autobiography says that he had two wives(common practice of wealthier Chinese guys), his autobiography says there was no intercourse between him and his wives, and that he left them with a poem.

    it seems to me, that when something can be greatly simplified, and still work, it suggests one of two things. one, that it is the original form of its creation; the natural human tendency is to add more and more on top of the original creation, either for better or worse. secondly, it indicates that the level of comprehension of the subject matter is great.

    i think the reality of the situation is that there is no culture, nor culture difference. only dharma. it’s because of discriminations like “culture difference” that dharma is hard to come by.

    if you read Dogen, what is there to disagree with? the only way that a person can disagree with Dogen is if you probe deeper into the history of what he is talking about, and taking his level and ability of transcendental wisdom into consideration.

    Ch’an is just Ch’an. Dogen was a Ch’an Patriarch that just happened to be Japanese.

    However, to say that Sakaymuni, or HuiNeng became enlightened by themselves, and therefore are the beginning and end of the Patriarchal lineage because they enlightened themselves, is like saying that women cannot/could not have been part of the “Patriarchal” lineage. These concepts are silly. Like, think about it.

  43. Daniel
    Daniel April 28, 2014 at 1:01 am | |

    Roman said: “Daniel, how do you have a clue what I think or feel about zazen? THere is no zazen at all, it is just your imagination that there is something like zazen. As there is no zazen, there can’t be anything special about it. If you think zazen is something, then of course it may be called useless or special, but in fact zazen doesn’t exist at all.


    How can you decide what is what if you are still imprisoned in the realm of words? Nothing exists, so what is that in front of you? Absinth? Zazen? Buddhism?”

    Ah Roman, now it’s even more clear…but anyway maybe one day it will hit you. But let me give you one kind hint…”How can you decide what is what if you are still imprisoned in the realm of words?” -> think about that sentence maybe you will break out in laughter. And I didn’t say nothing exists…far from it! ;)

  44. AnneMH
    AnneMH April 28, 2014 at 9:29 am | |

    I do appreciate the deeper articles, hopefully we can support that!

    This makes me think about the times and ways to express challenges or criticisms of others. I am pretty sure my lack of filter on my mouth is something I cannot quite excuse, however I also stand by some of the things I say. When it comes to practice I get opinionated and that is hard to manage in the group I sit with. I am hesitant to cross over too much with psychology or get into the ‘feel good’ attitude towards meditation. That is great to lower some blood pressure for awhile but when sitting becomes everything it really is then people freak out and get upset that they didn’t get the bliss experience forever. Just like everything else that is not the total bliss we want to attach to it. So when I get to be peer leader I say up front that I think basic meditation is essential, that posture is important, and some of the other things are questionable.

    on a side note, I get confused by all the names of meditation and whether or not I am doing something closer to zazen. I practiced solo for so long that I do just sitting, in any case I will just keep sitting.

  45. roman
    roman April 28, 2014 at 9:55 am | |

    There are two levels of language – the common, or practical, or objective level. That is a tree. This is not a tree. This is a plum.

    In Zen, or whatever you call Buddha’s teaching, there is another level, call it higher or whatever, Daisetz Suzuki called it “higher affirmation”, as dualistic or objective level is not sufficient in Buddhism. As long as we remain on the common level, then we think Zen has some kind of fancy, or crazy, or mystical way of communication. But it is not fancy or mystical or crazy, just using the language in a different dimension. Unfortunately, it is impossible to study and learn Buddhism without stepping up to this new level of language. So when you hear something like “Buddhism is just eyes hirozontal and nose vertical”, on the common level it is nonsense. Buddhism is far more than that. But on the higher function of the language, it says all that is necessary to know about Buddhism. Other such ideas are Zazen is the best or Zazen is useless. It is impossible to get much from these ideas without stepping up and accepting a higher language. Teisho is not a lecture or passing information but trying to say what doesn’t make sense on the common level.

    Personally, I believe in nothing. It’s a lot of fun. Who’d care about Buddha? I just had a delicious bowl of cornflakes.

  46. roman
    roman April 28, 2014 at 10:09 am | |

    Brad uses a common language almost all the time, but he’s not stuck in it, as he has no problem with the other level. He knows words are only half a solution to the truth. Kodo Sawaki liked to use radical claims, but he was not attached to them, so he used them on the higher level. It is possible to explain Buddhism logically, but it is necessary, at the same time, be willing to drop words altogether, so logically we can say – hear the teaching and drop the teaching right away. I used to have a problem with this, how can I drop all understanding if I tried so hard to understand. But that’s the only way / using the language, dropping the language. Just like goint to the toilet, you don’t stay ther for the rest of your lives, reading or listening to Buddhist teaching is an obstacle if it gets stuck in our minds. So sometimes a buddha says something completely different or unexpected, to help us get out. Like saying the opposite what we thought was true. Because the truth cannot be one-sided and one-sided understanding is no understanding in Buddhism. Reality is ineffable, in other words, we can only partly speak about it, help one another to find the truth, but we can never replace it with words. So arguments forever about this or that are useless if they are not cut up and brought into the other dimension. Such discussions brought into the other dimension are called koans. Words have to be broken up and reality has to be revealed.

  47. roman
    roman April 28, 2014 at 10:35 am | |

    AnneMH, people are upset because they want something for themselves, somethign they could boast and keep, like nirvana , and when they dont’ get it, they are disappointed. Dharma is not getting something for oneself, but accepting what is everyone’s , not mine or yours, but ours, what we all come from. Dharma is no self in terms of not forcibly separating myself from the rest of the universe, nor trying to prevent the universe from expressing me. When the self shuts up, everything is clear and fine. When somebody believes in something, there is a problem, as this individual belief prevents them from receiving the truth. But believing in nothing is different from believing in nothing as if everything was dark and useless. Believing in nothing – no religion , no philosophy – leads to intellectual freedom and enjoying things as they are. Then of course we’d like to help others to enjoy this and then we end up using the strange language of Buddha Dharma, sometimes making no sense, but some people get it! Everyone can get it if they really want to get it.

  48. Daniel
    Daniel April 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm | |

    Yes guys you really should try much harder. really, do more zazen and do zazen better…just try harder to become what you can never not be…

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