« A disingenuous picture of Zen | Main | Polishing a tile is making a Buddha mirror? »

August 08, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The whole Caodong/Soto idea is that practice is not a WAY to attain enlightenment, not a TOOL, but an EXPRESSION of enlightenment; it is enlightenment that pulls us to it, not that we create it or realize it. That explains fully the view of zazen Soto has and why Zennist's Rinzai viewpoint can't accept it. From my point of view, both views of zazen, the non-instrumentalist Soto and the instrmentalist Rinzai, have their merits, still I think the Soto understanding is more fully complete, because it resolves - at least for me - a contradiction between two concepts: Buddha-nature and "need to practice". That's what dragged Dogen to China, the question if we are already originally enlightened, why practice? - The "original enlightenment" is not strictly a Zen idea but a Tendai one, still, I think it can be interpreted that it follows from the Mahayana doctrine of Buddha-nature.

The reason why Dogen's instructions on Zen are more focused on posture than mind (except giving us the koan of "think of not thinking ... how do you think of not thinking? non-thinking") is that he doesn't want to mix anything with zazen.

"Once there were 500 monkeys in the service of 500 Buddhist saints. One day the monkeys decided to mimic everything the saints did, so they did zazen copying the saints with their eyes, noses, mouths and whole bodies. They say that in this way a thousand saints practiced zazen and realized satori. This is why it’s my wish to preserve – even if it’s only through imitation – the seed of zazen."

It is true what Zennist says, this stress on zazen is not present in original Buddhism, but that doesn't mean anything. Our historical Buddha is not the only Buddha, and there were countless other Buddhas, and there many ways to practice.

Just talking about posture means we don't mess around with zazen and our ideas, it's about just doing for ourselves what the Buddha did.

"Everyone believes they have to add something to their zazen. You shouldn't add anything. It's good as it is. You don't need to fool around with it. If there is even a bit of individuality left over, it isn't pure, unadulterated zazen. We've got to practice pure, unadulterated zazen, without mixing it with gymnastics or satori or anything. When we bring in our personal ideas - even only a little bit - it is no longer the buddha-dharma. Being watched by zazen, cursed by zazen, blocked by zazen, dragged around by zazen, every day crying tears of blood - isn't that the happiest form of life you can imagine?"

(Quotes by Kodo Sawaki)

Kojizen; No, that is not my logic, nor did I write that. Do you, Kojizen, meditate? If you do, please describe your meditation practice.

Clyde, Okay here is your logic. The Buddha did dhyana and while doing it crossed his legs, thefore, if I, Clyde, cross my legs, I am doing dhyana.

Yes, let’s take the subject of meditation. The Buddha practiced meditation, awakened while meditating (sitting under the Bodhi Tree), and taught meditation as part of the Path. You may have noticed that the image of the Buddha in sitting meditation is ubiquitous. So perhaps we can agree that meditation, including sitting meditation, is integral to the Buddha’s Dharma and to Buddhism.

Regarding contemporary Soto Zen as taught and practiced in the West, my experience with Soto (and Rinzai) Zen teachers is that they teach the traditional postures (full lotus, half lotus, Burmese, etc.), but emphasize taking a position (seated or lying down, standing or walking) that one can comfortably maintain for a period of time. So we can agree that a particular posture is not the point.


The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo