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March 26, 2013

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Susan:

Just guessing but your wonderful temple sounds very Asian, not like - say - a Zen temple around my 'hood that studies Stephen Batchelor. Feel free to post information about it on this blog.

Back to getting kicked out for asking about "Mind" it sure happened. I knew I was in deep doo-doo when this Western dude stood up and said that all of us should ask questions others understood.

Hello, Zenmar. You write: "Buddhist temples are not in the habit of teaching Buddhism" Maybe not most, but ours does. There are continuous Buddhism lessons in both English and Mandarin languages. I take the official notes for two of the English classes--Level 2 and Sutra Study. This is our third semester in "The Vimalakirti Sutra". We've studied "The Sutra of 42 Chapters" and "The 8 Realizations of Great Beings" and "The Sutra on Impermanence." And--of course--"The Heart of Prajna Paramita". Before I came (8/12) they were studying the "Surangama Sutra" for several years. Our current Abbot has a double PhD. One in "Religious Studies".

As far as churches not teaching Christianity I'm unsure which ones you're talking about, but the ones I attended taught from the Bible--verse by verse, in both the classes and in the sermons. (And--you know--stuff like how to live the Christian life & share your faith, etc.)

In every single class--and in one-on-one teaching as well--beyond the first couple at elementary level (which of course must deal with basic sitting and concentration techniques and the philosophy and history of Buddhism) Mind, that is, the realization of Mind and freeing oneself from illusion is always discussed. Not just mentioned, discussed in class. I myself have been given very specific, personalized information about how to "search for the Pure White Ox."

To be perfectly honest with you, I seldom participate in the religious services, and don't even feel particularly comfortable bowing to statues--I just "go along." I'm not a vegetarian. I've never been solicited for money. There is no price on anything here--not even a suggested donation--and if I had no money I could take any of the classes and eat two meals a day here free.

I think Zen, or any religion is what you make of it. There are different levels of dedication, contribution & volunteerism here just like anywhere else. (Some members only come on Lunar New Year or for funerals! Others practically live there.)

As I am sure you know, a monk who misrepresents his attainment can get kicked out of a monastery. (The other Big Two offenses are stealing and sex.) In general, I think that someone with any degree of attainment could help me. The books I read are the classics from Zen masters of the past & recent past.

It puzzled me very much to hear that you were kicked out of a Tibetan group for asking a Lama about Mind--I would think that is exactly the question he'd want you to ask! (Maybe you should have asked about sand mandalas or levitation or spells?)

Whatever trouble you get into, I trust the Zenmar!!

This is a great starting point for a beginner - it warns them what to *not* do.
The next question is, what *to* do?

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