Torn between soto zen and thai forest

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:24 am

PeterB wrote:Is the breath going into and going out of your nose Soto, or Forest Tradition, or is it it perhaps Dzogchen ? :?:
Is it Japanese or Thai or Tibetan ?
All I know is that if we follow it , it can take us home.

:anjali:

to be fair, in soto i was taught not to meditate, to just sit, this breath meditation was not zen...

i believe dzogchen is similar... im not sure,

but what that points to is a difference in technique not doctrine, we could say hindus meditate just the same as buddhists therefor hinduism and buddhism are the same right?

the main points we have to look at here would be right view , right samadhi and right concentration

does soto have those? i would say in some cases yes. zen isnt like other schools, zen depends very much on the teacher youre studying under.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:42 am

jcsuperstar wrote:
PeterB wrote:Is the breath going into and going out of your nose Soto, or Forest Tradition, or is it it perhaps Dzogchen ? :?:
Is it Japanese or Thai or Tibetan ?
All I know is that if we follow it , it can take us home.

:anjali:

to be fair, in soto i was taught not to meditate, to just sit, this breath meditation was not zen...

i believe dzogchen is similar... im not sure,

but what that points to is a difference in technique not doctrine, we could say hindus meditate just the same as buddhists therefor hinduism and buddhism are the same right?


I was first taught to meditate Hindu style. I figured, that's how Buddha learned to meditate, so its got to be effective. I've also received Soto Zen instruction, and while I haven't had formal instruction from a Theravadin teacher I've listened to dhamma talks and read writings by the Vipassana instructor, Jospeh Goldstein.

The most dramatic improvement in my experience is when I bought my first meditation cushion. The Hindu instructor who first taught be to meditate didn't use a cushion. The day I first slid that pillow under my butt, everything changed, sitting suddenly became much more comfortable and meditation became easier.

Someone with deeper experience (and training in multiple traditions) probably would have something to say on this, but I couldn't notice any major differences, at least for a beginning student.

I think Anders also held the view that vispassana and zazen are quite similar, and said so over at our new Zen Forum. Unfortunately, the view wasn't well received.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:03 am

jcsuperstar wrote:
PeterB wrote:Is the breath going into and going out of your nose Soto, or Forest Tradition, or is it it perhaps Dzogchen ? :?:
Is it Japanese or Thai or Tibetan ?
All I know is that if we follow it , it can take us home.

:anjali:

to be fair, in soto i was taught not to meditate, to just sit, this breath meditation was not zen...

i believe dzogchen is similar... im not sure,

but what that points to is a difference in technique not doctrine, we could say hindus meditate just the same as buddhists therefor hinduism and buddhism are the same right?

the main points we have to look at here would be right view , right samadhi and right concentration

does soto have those? i would say in some cases yes. zen isnt like other schools, zen depends very much on the teacher youre studying under.


As you say it depends on the teacher.
I sat for a while with the Soto teacher Sensei Kennett, and she started all of us on a simple form of anapanasati.
Likewise if one reads about dzogchen ( particularly on Certain Forums not unknown to many here ) it appears that one simply jumps into that state, after viewing specific webcasts. in theory at least. In practise though if one attends a dzogchen retreat the most likely form it will take are practises which would be perfectly familiar to any student of the Theravada.

:anjali:
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby dojhana » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:57 pm

May I speak about myself? I don't know if I'll answer your question, but this thread touches a lot of what I've gone through.

I've also been involved in both zen and theravada traditions but never have felt torn. This is because when I studied zen it was zen and when I turned to theravada it was theravada. I've spent three years reading the suttas, reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu and listening to his dhamma talks. Also practicing breath meditation more or less according to his teachings. Now I'm very involved with zen and I'm not reading any sutta nor listening to Thanissaro Bhikkhu anymore.

The point is that I don't feel like being "zen" or "theravada". When I follow these teachings is not for their own shake but for the shake of liberation. That's all. For me the teachings are no more than tools that serve a pourpose -I know, I'm not the devotional/emotional type. Practising zen now doesn't mean I've done with theravada, nor the opposite. It can be considered a journey in which one visits many different countries and not remains in any of them, because the goal is other.

So may you all attain liberation, whether with a soto nose or a theravada nose or a dzogchen nose
:bow:
david
User avatar
dojhana
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:59 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:42 am

Here, on the left, is a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama meditating. His sitting position doesnt look that different from Leonard Cohen, a Soto Zen priest and great songwriter, in the middle, although if His Holiness were in a Zen context, his head tipping slightly to the side might be viewed as a request from the attending priest to slap his shoulder with a bamboo stick. Their mudras look pretty similar. On the right is Ajahn Chah, his hands are set differently, but is that really going to make such a big difference? From my reading of Ajahn Chah's dhamma talks, seems to me the results attained from long-term meditation are very very similar...

ImageImageImage

A page on Zazen meditation instructions, for anyone interested...

How to Practice Zazen

:meditate: :meditate: :meditate:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:30 am

here's what soto-shu buddhist are supposed to be doing when sitting
via dogen

FUKANZAZENGI
by Eihei Dogen

The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent upon practice and realization? The Dharma-vehicle is free and untrammelled. What need is there for concentrated effort? Indeed, the whole body is far beyond the world's dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from one, right where one is. What is the use of going off here and there to practice?

And yet, if there is the slightest discrepancy, the Way is as distant as heaven from earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the Mind is lost in confusion. Suppose one gains pride of understanding and inflates one's own enlightenment, glimpsing the wisdom that runs through all things, attaining the Way and clarifying the Mind, raising an aspiration to escalade the very sky. One is making the initial, partial excursions about the frontiers but is still somewhat deficient in the vital Way of total emancipation.

Need I mention the Buddha, who was possessed of inborn knowledge? The influence of his six years of upright sitting is noticeable still. Or Bodhidharma's transmission of the mind-seal?--the fame of his nine years of wall-sitting is celebrated to this day. Since this was the case with the saints of old, how can we today dispense with negotiation of the Way?

You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.

For sanzen (zazen), a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Cast aside all involvements and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros and cons. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. Sanzen has nothing whatever to do with sitting or lying down.

At the site of your regular sitting, spread out thick matting and place a cushion above it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, you first place your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, you simply press your left foot against your right thigh. You should have your robes and belt loosely bound and arranged in order. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left palm (facing upwards) on your right palm, thumb-tips touching. Thus sit upright in correct bodily posture, neither inclining to the left nor to the right, neither leaning forward nor backward. Be sure your ears are on a plane with your shoulders and your nose in line with your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips both shut. Your eyes should always remain open, and you should breathe gently through your nose.

Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking? Non-thinking. This in itself is the essential art of zazen.

The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.

When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both unenlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength (of zazen).

In addition, the bringing about of enlightenment by the opportunity provided by a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the effecting of realization with the aid of a hossu, a fist, a staff, or a shout, cannot be fully understood by discriminative thinking. Indeed, it cannot be fully known by the practicing or realizing of supernatural powers, either. It must be deportment beyond hearing and seeing--is it not a principle that is prior to knowledge and perceptions?

This being the case, intelligence or lack of it does not matter: between the dull and the sharp-witted there is no distinction. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is negotiating the Way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward (in practice) is a matter of everydayness.

In general, this world, and other worlds as well, both in India and China, equally hold the Buddha-seal, and over all prevails the character of this school, which is simply devotion to sitting, total engagement in immobile sitting. Although it is said that there are as many minds as there are persons, still they all negotiate the way solely in zazen. Why leave behind the seat that exists in your home and go aimlessly off to the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you go astray from the Way directly before you.

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not use your time in vain. You are maintaining the essential working of the Buddha-Way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from the flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning--emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not be suspicious of the true dragon. Devote your energies to a way that directly indicates the absolute. Revere the person of complete attainment who is beyond all human agency. Gain accord with the enlightenment of the buddhas; succeed to the legitimate lineage of the ancestors' samadhi. Constantly perform in such a manner and you are assured of being a person such as they. Your treasure-store will open of itself, and you will use it at will.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby bodom » Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:36 pm

Ajahn Chah has said "Do not be a Bodhisattva you will suffer. Do not be an Arahant you will suffer. If you are anything at all you will suffer." I have long been faced with this same dilemma. These words from Ajahn Chah have always brought me peace of mind in times of doubt. May they do the same for you.


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4615
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Laurens » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:04 pm

Munki wrote:Hi There,
I have been practising in the Soto Zen tradition for just over a year and was planning to take the precepts fairly soon. However, I was recently introduced to Thai forest and now feel kind've torn between the two. I feel drawn to both traditions for different reasons, and feel that there are alot of similarities,but at the same time do not know enough about Thai forest to make an informed decision. I know that you are not supposed to "mix" traditions, and feel that perhaps it would not be right to take precepts in Soto Zen when I am also leaning towards Thai Forest. I would truly appreciate any advice you have to offer.

Munki :namaste:


Well if you're gonna go for you're precepts in Soto Zen, go for it! None of those precepts state that you can't learn from the Thai Forest tradition, and none of their precepts say that they can't learn from Soto Zen.

I don't think you need to worry, the only real difference anyway are the names of the traditions and some cultural additions here and there.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
User avatar
Laurens
 
Posts: 388
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:56 pm
Location: Norfolk, England

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Bankei » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:25 pm

I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Dan74 » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:36 pm

Bankei wrote:I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.


Though there is no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan due to some historic events, some priests do live very exemplary lives and there is certainly a Bhikkhu lineage in China and Korea where Chan/Son is very much alive and kicking.

If you go and stay in some of these monasteries or even study with a monastic trained there, perhaps you may change your mind about it being "far removed from the teachings of the Buddha."

And if you throw such a accusation, you should at least as Tilt says "Back it up."

_/|\_
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2644
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:51 am

Dan74 wrote:
Bankei wrote:I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.


Though there is no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan due to some historic events, some priests do live very exemplary lives and there is certainly a Bhikkhu lineage in China and Korea where Chan/Son is very much alive and kicking.

If you go and stay in some of these monasteries or even study with a monastic trained there, perhaps you may change your mind about it being "far removed from the teachings of the Buddha."

And if you throw such a accusation, you should at least as Tilt says "Back it up."

_/|\_


I never knew there wasn't a lineage in Japan! learn something everyday
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5751
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Bankei » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:40 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Bankei wrote:I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.


Though there is no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan due to some historic events, some priests do live very exemplary lives and there is certainly a Bhikkhu lineage in China and Korea where Chan/Son is very much alive and kicking.

If you go and stay in some of these monasteries or even study with a monastic trained there, perhaps you may change your mind about it being "far removed from the teachings of the Buddha."

And if you throw such a accusation, you should at least as Tilt says "Back it up."

_/|\_


hi Dan

In Japanese Zen there has been a development of ordination of a person after death - Kaimyou. Family members pay an outrageous amount of money to some Zen priests for a little ceremony to ordain their dead relative and give him/her an ordination name. This is one modern practice that is far removed, in my opinion, from the teachings of the Buddha.

Another modern practice (or maybe not so modern) is the passing of the temple down from the father priest to the son. Temples in Japan are usually run by a male priest and his wife. This includes Zen temples.

However, there are a few good training monasteries there, such as Eiheiji one of the head temples of Soto Zen. But most of the monks here are usually sons of a family temple doing a 1 or 2 year stint before going back home to run the temple, get married and earn a large tax free income.

On the doctrinal side there are many teachings which are far removed from the teachings of the Buddha - this doesn't necessarily mean they are not Buddhism. Examples are:
Hongaku Shiso = inherent/original enlightenment thought
Tathagatagarbha (womb of the Buddha) thought
Busshou Buddha nature

All of these theories arose long after the death of the Buddha.
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:15 am

Hi Bankei,

Bankei wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Bankei wrote:I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.


Though there is no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan due to some historic events, some priests do live very exemplary lives and there is certainly a Bhikkhu lineage in China and Korea where Chan/Son is very much alive and kicking.

If you go and stay in some of these monasteries or even study with a monastic trained there, perhaps you may change your mind about it being "far removed from the teachings of the Buddha."

And if you throw such a accusation, you should at least as Tilt says "Back it up."

_/|\_


hi Dan

In Japanese Zen there has been a development of ordination of a person after death - Kaimyou. Family members pay an outrageous amount of money to some Zen priests for a little ceremony to ordain their dead relative and give him/her an ordination name. This is one modern practice that is far removed, in my opinion, from the teachings of the Buddha.


I haven't heard but I guess this is the sort of dodgy fund-raising that happens in various forms in all Buddhist countries. I recall a Thai variation discussed here some time ago.

One seeks out genuine teachers like always.

Another modern practice (or maybe not so modern) is the passing of the temple down from the father priest to the son. Temples in Japan are usually run by a male priest and his wife. This includes Zen temples.


Yep, this happens from what I've heard. Temples serve communities in various ways and this arrangement seems to work. But again, one seeks out good temples with good teachers.

However, there are a few good training monasteries there, such as Eiheiji one of the head temples of Soto Zen. But most of the monks here are usually sons of a family temple doing a 1 or 2 year stint before going back home to run the temple, get married and earn a large tax free income.


Most but not all. Depends what you are after.
On the doctrinal side there are many teachings which are far removed from the teachings of the Buddha - this doesn't necessarily mean they are not Buddhism. Examples are:
Hongaku Shiso = inherent/original enlightenment thought
Tathagatagarbha (womb of the Buddha) thought
Busshou Buddha nature

All of these theories arose long after the death of the Buddha.


I am no expert, but an exchange with Pannasikkhara led me to believe that this is not the case, ie these are not necessarily new doctrines but interpretations of existing teachings. But I am no scholar.

_/|\_
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2644
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby catmoon » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:37 am

If you go to a smorgasbord, are you torn between choices? Or do you simply choose what works for you?

I do not think you are under any obligation to select a single path and follow it dogmatically. There are many well defined paths out there, and while they are somewhat more self-consistent than what you might assemble for yourself, it is entirely possible that rigid adherence will not work for you. Come to think of it, I know of no practioner anywhere who has not selected and adapted his beliefs to some degree.

My view, (and it is only a view, note well) is that the most beneficial way is to build around those texts, teachers, and practices that inspire you. Seek checks and balances. For instance, I can't see why anyone would wholly abandon Zen, because it offers a hard clarity that is almost impervious to delusion. It's a marvellous counter to irrational flights of fancy. OTOH Tibetan Buddhism offers great scope for the imaginative mind and can harness the talents of such a mind for benefit.
User avatar
catmoon
 
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:59 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:09 am

Dan74 wrote:
Bankei wrote:I too started off in Zen and still love it, but as it is now it is far removed from the teachings of the Buddha. I could never understand those later mahayana sutras and was disappointed with the state of modern Zen discipline - no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan at all. So I just take the idealised aspects of Zen/Chan from books. Similar with Theravada - it is also far removed from what the Buddha taught, but perhaps closer to it than modern Zen.


Though there is no Bhikkhu lineage in Japan due to some historic events, some priests do live very exemplary lives and there is certainly a Bhikkhu lineage in China and Korea where Chan/Son is very much alive and kicking.

If you go and stay in some of these monasteries or even study with a monastic trained there, perhaps you may change your mind about it being "far removed from the teachings of the Buddha."

And if you throw such a accusation, you should at least as Tilt says "Back it up."

_/|\_


Hi Dan

I don't want to split hairs just for the sake of it, but there is still some difference between the Japanese Zen, Korean Son and Chinese Chan, though, and how they are practiced in the West is not always identical, either. Of course, this doesn't mean that there are not great teachers in any tradition, for there are! But I wouldn't be too quick to put Chan and Zen in the same category for a lot of stuff (except some historical connections, obviously).

For example, Bankei also states:

In Japanese Zen there has been a development of ordination of a person after death - Kaimyou. Family members pay an outrageous amount of money to some Zen priests for a little ceremony to ordain their dead relative and give him/her an ordination name. This is one modern practice that is far removed, in my opinion, from the teachings of the Buddha.


As far as I know, this never happens in Chan.

Another modern practice (or maybe not so modern) is the passing of the temple down from the father priest to the son. Temples in Japan are usually run by a male priest and his wife. This includes Zen temples.


This certainly is not the case in China, and may happen only is some Korean traditions, but not all.

However, there are a few good training monasteries there, such as Eiheiji one of the head temples of Soto Zen. But most of the monks here are usually sons of a family temple doing a 1 or 2 year stint before going back home to run the temple, get married and earn a large tax free income.


As above.

On the doctrinal side there are many teachings which are far removed from the teachings of the Buddha - this doesn't necessarily mean they are not Buddhism. Examples are:
Hongaku Shiso = inherent/original enlightenment thought
Tathagatagarbha (womb of the Buddha) thought
Busshou Buddha nature

All of these theories arose long after the death of the Buddha.


These are all originally from Chinese schools, but because most of the Japanese schools have a much heavier dose of Tendai - which is where a lot of these ideas got developed in depth - than China, some of the arguments about "inherent enlightenment" that you'll hear from Soto and Dogen in particular, are just nowhere near as important in China.

Chinese Chan has basically never heard of Dogen, and is not that interested on the whole. And considering most Soto Zen forms in the West - which is what the OP is referring to - rely a lot on Dogen, then obviously this shows a difference. There also seems to be a lot of Theravada influence in Western Zen, at least, and I haven't seen this really happen in Chan.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Bankei » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:23 am

Don't get me wrong, I still have a high regard for Zen and Chan - especially the idealised classical version. We just have to be critical of some aspects of it.

There are some great articles out there by some Soto Zen priests from Komazawa University in Tokyo, Hakamaya and Matsumoto - who argue that Zen is not Buddhism (nor is the rest of Japanese Buddhism). There is a book in English called Pruning the Bodhi Tree with some good articles by these and other scholars.

Bankei
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:00 am

Bankei wrote:Don't get me wrong, I still have a high regard for Zen and Chan - especially the idealised classical version. We just have to be critical of some aspects of it.

There are some great articles out there by some Soto Zen priests from Komazawa University in Tokyo, Hakamaya and Matsumoto - who argue that Zen is not Buddhism (nor is the rest of Japanese Buddhism). There is a book in English called Pruning the Bodhi Tree with some good articles by these and other scholars.

Bankei


It is known as the "critical buddhism" movement.

One of the main ideas, is that most of east asian buddhism (not just Zen, or Soto Zen, but very dominant there) follows the idea of "dharmadhatu" causation. This is from the Huayan / Kegon school, with it's ideas of Buddha nature, and Tathagatagarbha. They argue that this is not in accord with the notion of dependent origination, and is more akin to Brahmanic ideas of causality, focused on a self viz brahma. And, wrong ideas about practice, social ethics, and all manner of common Buddhist notions in Japan, follow as a result. They are often focusing on Japan and it's social ills, and how Buddhism merely emphasizes the status quo.

At the high point, they argue that this "is not Buddhism!" It then gets pretty intense, as you could imagine.

Some of the arguments would also apply to (parts of) Chan, and some other forms of Chinese buddhism too. But certainly not all. There are a couple of reasons. For a start, the basic notion of Buddha nature as it is expressed in Japan is stronger than in China, I think. In Japan, it seems to be the basic "explicit / ultimate teaching", whereas in China, many still say that it is just a provisional teaching, and that the ultimate is dependent origination / sunyata / not self, cf. Nagarjuna style.

An example of this can be seen, in that before the Critical Buddhism made it's hit in Japan, in Taiwan, Yinshun wrote a book called "Studies in Tathagatagarbha", and concluded that Tathagatagarbha is Brahmanic influenced, but is still buddhist as an expedient means alone, but not as an ultimate teaching, whereas he always puts dependent origination and emptiness / not self as the core teaching. This is interesting too, in that one of the most well known Chinese buddhist scholars before Yinshun was Taixu, and he put them the other way around, with Tathagatagarbha on top of the doxographical heap. Nowadays, in China, I think that the large majority would agree with Yinshun over Taixu.

This is not just a different conclusion from the Japanese, because it also shows that the Japanese and Chinese ways of understanding Tathagatagarbha, and Buddha nature, etc. are still a bit different.

It also shows that scholars in japan at least are now reconsidering their basic buddhist tenets in the light of both early buddhism (Pali Nikayas and Chinese Agamas) and also other literature such as the Abhidharma, and Tibetan sources of Mahayana (which tend to put Madhyamaka as ultimate over expedient Tathagatagarbha).
Last edited by Paññāsikhara on Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Postby Bankei » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:34 pm

Thanks ven Paññāsikhara. This is a fascinating topic.

We what need now is a critical Buddhism movement in modern Theravada!
-----------------------
Bankei
Bankei
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:40 am

Previous

Return to Discovering Theravāda

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests