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December 17, 2013


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No one should be too surprised that the confused standard bearers of aberrant views proliferate all forms of ignorance. It is lamentable that some Buddhists think the self depends on the avers of the conditioned mind, and insist on a mere psychological arising to define self, because the arising of physical form is but the temporal condition of the atman. The atman survives physical transformation of death and is present in and permeated by nirvana. The samsara stream of illusion, which ends when we awaken to this principle, is no self, or residues of habit energy and grasping for form.

Here is a quote from Hakuin's Wasan Zazen (Song in Praise of Zazen), which Zen students should be familiar with:

"And when we turn inward and prove our True-nature,

That True-self is no-self, our own Self is no-self

We go beyond ego and past clever words."

Now was Hakuin just deluded? Or is the translation of his Song here maybe not correct? I believe that the "no-self" folks are misunderstanding something, and I think you have taken it to mean that they are denying a central teaching of the Buddha. I get the idea that "No self" as used in Zen texts from Japan and China really means "No *Separate* Self". After all, Buddha Nature means simply Awakened Nature, and for it to be awake it has to be conscious being or awareness of some kind. I agree with you that the Soto folks in the US are very namby-pamby and willfully silent about what the intent and purpose of their practice is. Hui-neng, 6th Patriarch, is supposed to have had some pretty harsh words for the Zen quietists of his day (it was called "silent illumination" in China then), and that split in the attitude to practice led to the divisions that became Soto and Rinzai Zen, as the other 3 houses of Zen died out. The Soto-ists are a much bigger crowd in the US now, for fairly obvious reasons - the kind of deep searching advocated by Rinzai is very hard work, is a mystical, non-common-sensical kind of effort, something that very few people anywhere, *ever*, have the will to pursue. The Rinzai search for true Being can hardly ever become a popular pursuit...Nevertheless, Yasutani Roshi, founder of the Sanbo Kyodan (Philip Kapleau's line, which I am now a part of), and who was transmitted in both Soto and Rinzai lineages, wrote a talk in which he declared that shikantaza will indeed lead to full enlightenment, EVENTUALLY. One gets the idea from the paper that he had in mind about 20 years. That essay is in John Daido Loori's *The Art of Just Sitting*, if anyone is curious. And as for Master Dogen and his "just sitting", one should note that the monks in his monastery sat for 6 hours a day, every day (they woke up in the middle of the night for one session, every night), and all day long during sesshin, which occurred about once every 1.5 months. "Just sitting" at that level produces an effect somewhat different from that achieved by the average American's 30-40 minutes a day. Zen practice is NOT just like doing an aerobics class. On that, I am in full agreement with the Zennist.

Fundamental matters cause agitation and apathy in most, because they do not believe anyone is capable of realizing the absolute.

Rather I try and fail to realize the essence, than get tangled in transitory hedonism; whose fruits are unsatisfactory at close inspection.

There are those of us who appreciate in silence. Thank you.

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