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September 20, 2011


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Naito-chan, Those who take up Soto Zen often are unfamiliar with Buddhism, that is, the Buddhism found in the Dhammapada, for example, the Pali canon and the Mahayana canon. Spending five, ten or twenty years with Soto can be a disaster because, unknowingly, the practitioner has rejected real Buddhism.

It's interesting modern Soto Zennists say the exact contrary.

In a popular Blog post, the German Abbot of the Antai-ji temple in Japan wrote the purpose of Zazen is not detachment, but the contrary: to be(come) one with reality. The title of the post was "Stop being mindful!"

It's not strange somewhere else he also says Zen is not really Buddhism. I've always been suspicious of people who try to separate Zen from Buddhism. I think what he meant to really say is that Dogen Zen is not really Buddhism, which may even be true in a way?

It's a new religion stating that ... reality is already perfect as it is; the only imperfect thing is the being who doesn't realize it ... But he, too, is perfect in a way, since everything is Buddha-Nature. So he should just sit and become an inanimate object. Then, he unites with the perfect reality ("enlightened by the ten thousand things").

That abbot counts hours on his website, and says exactly how many hours of Zazen one needs (he says 10.000 if I'm not wrong; to "master Zazen").

So which Buddhism is correct? The Abbot of Antaiji says the point is in THE OPPOSITE OF DETACHMENT, it's in becoming completely one with our surrounding reality.

Zenmar, the author of the Zennist says it's about detachment from the psycho-physical body.

Well, depends what's the standard ... if the standard are sutras, esp. Mahayana Sutras, then only Zenmar's view is correct: detachment is the way. But true detachment can only come from understanding phenomena are illusion. That means detaching from their supposed reality. There is no greater detachment than that. That's the ultimate detachment: Mind is real, everything else is a dreamlike illusion.

The weirdest thing is to consider Bodhidharma handed Lankavatara Sutra to the Second Patriarch maintaining there's the essential teaching. How is that compatible with Dogen Zen and modern Soto Zennists? Their view is the opposite: phenomena, everything, is Buddha-Nature. Just sit and do nothing.

Sorry for this long-winded reflection. But one thing is certain: Dogen is far away from the Canon.

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