zen masters...

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:53 am

marc108 wrote:very simple... if he was beating people up or drinking, he simply was not enlightened.


according to the pali canon yes, exactly! that's what's so strange. yet some of these guys have amazing writings and teachings that have helped thousands learn the dharma... it's quite a puzzle. seems like beating people and therefore not enlightened would equal shoddy teachings but that's not always the case. linji for one had some really great stuff to say. but then there's other like ikkyu, for example, perhaps he tasted enlightenment for a moment when he heard the crow call but after that his life is a testament to NON enlightenment, yet he was still considered a "master"... puzzling indeed.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:59 am

alan... wrote:according to the pali canon yes, exactly! that's what's so strange.


Not at all; they weren't using the pali canon.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4272
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:40 am

daverupa wrote:
alan... wrote:according to the pali canon yes, exactly! that's what's so strange.


Not at all; they weren't using the pali canon.



it's strange if you accept the buddhas teachings from the pali canon as authoritative: violence and booze equals non enlightenment. ten things an arahant cannot do, etc, etc.

i generally accept this and i think it's odd when i also feel that some of these zen masters had to have been enlightened. make more sense from that perspective?

regardless of what they used (mahayana sutras, teachings of contemporary masters of the time, etc.), if a master seems to be enlightened, but then uses violence, i'm wondering how could he be so insightful and seemingly enlightened and still be violent? and how could society accept this considering it's generally a non violent philosophy?

if you don't accept the pali canon ideas then it doesn't really matter. without those guidelines this discussion is pretty much null and void as the lotus sutra justifies violence and pretty much everything else if you stretch out the "skillful means" idea. from a mahayana standpoint it's all good. albeit the nonviolent aspect is still puzzling even considering the lotus sutra and what not...

this is why i posted this on a theravada forum, knowing zen doesn't use the pali canon from studying zen for many years (and common knowledge in buddhist circles) i assumed a zen forum would just give the zen explanation that i already know (skillful means). although they might give some ideas about chinese history, philosophy, and law that would clear things up a lot as well and perhaps that's what i should do.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:17 am

alan... wrote: but then there's other like ikkyu, for example, perhaps he tasted enlightenment for a moment when he heard the crow call but after that his life is a testament to NON enlightenment, yet he was still considered a "master"... puzzling indeed.


Well then i guess you would be the judge. Probably worthy of a tweet, this will come as a suprise to many no doubt.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
User avatar
m0rl0ck
 
Posts: 1031
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:44 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
alan... wrote: but then there's other like ikkyu, for example, perhaps he tasted enlightenment for a moment when he heard the crow call but after that his life is a testament to NON enlightenment, yet he was still considered a "master"... puzzling indeed.


Well then i guess you would be the judge. Probably worthy of a tweet, this will come as a suprise to many no doubt.



? is this a jab at me or...? i don't believe we've even spoken before. kind of odd that you are addressing me this way. i don't even have a twitter account.

i have no idea what your comment means, considering there is no background between us perhaps this is a jab at my character based on my other threads? or you're mistaking me for someone who you speak to on twitter? bottom line though, from a pali canon perspective, ikkyu was definitively not an arahant. personally do i think he could have seen nibbana? yes absolutely. some of his poetry i believe shows a deep understanding of reality at points, glimpses that were not permanent. however from the vinaya and sutta pitaka standards, he was not enlightened. he drank, slept around, and was generally a party animal. these are not characteristics of an arahant according to the suttas.

as i have already said though, from a mahayana, skillful means kind of perspective one could argue that he was enlightened.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby Ben » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:08 am

Hi alan...,
I don't understand why you are so interested in Zen masters.
If Zen is not for you, then so be it.
The alleged behaviour of the long dead is of what practical value?
May I suggest you concentrate on doing what needs doing.
Develop sila! develop samadhi! develop panna!
with metta,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16260
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:27 am

Ben wrote:Hi alan...,
I don't understand why you are so interested in Zen masters.
If Zen is not for you, then so be it.
The alleged behaviour of the long dead is of what practical value?
May I suggest you concentrate on doing what needs doing.
Develop sila! develop samadhi! develop panna!
with metta,

Ben

Understood. Ceasing and desisting.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby dude » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:37 am

asking a zen person this will get a reply such as: "that's just zen. all things are one, non dual, so sleeping with women is zen, so is beating people up

Would anyone care to address this point head on? It's an ubiquitous attitude among American followers of Zen, and I've heard a lot of things in the same vein.
I could make a case for it in the light of the sutras, and I could also make a case that it's wrong.
dude
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:18 am

Re: zen masters...

Postby Dan74 » Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:14 pm

dude wrote:asking a zen person this will get a reply such as: "that's just zen. all things are one, non dual, so sleeping with women is zen, so is beating people up

Would anyone care to address this point head on? It's an ubiquitous attitude among American followers of Zen, and I've heard a lot of things in the same vein.
I could make a case for it in the light of the sutras, and I could also make a case that it's wrong.


Some time ago I posted on Zen Forum in relation to this attitude.

http://zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=64&t=5677&hilit=emptiness+label

I've certainly not come across a teacher who advocated this attitude nor have I heard this expressed away from the Internet fora which leads me to believe that this is confined to e-zen.

The short of it is that everything is suchness and neither inherently good nor bad, but everyone is heir to his/her karma. So if our actions are driven by selfish intention, the consequences will follow accordingly.

There is a related koan called Hyakujos Fox, but I am not qualified to comment on it.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2677
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:35 pm

Dan74 wrote:
dude wrote:asking a zen person this will get a reply such as: "that's just zen. all things are one, non dual, so sleeping with women is zen, so is beating people up

Would anyone care to address this point head on? It's an ubiquitous attitude among American followers of Zen, and I've heard a lot of things in the same vein.
I could make a case for it in the light of the sutras, and I could also make a case that it's wrong.


Some time ago I posted on Zen Forum in relation to this attitude.

http://zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=64&t=5677&hilit=emptiness+label

I've certainly not come across a teacher who advocated this attitude nor have I heard this expressed away from the Internet fora which leads me to believe that this is confined to e-zen.

The short of it is that everything is suchness and neither inherently good nor bad, but everyone is heir to his/her karma. So if our actions are driven by selfish intention, the consequences will follow accordingly.

There is a related koan called Hyakujos Fox, but I am not qualified to comment on it.



i think that's an excellent point. something odd happened when the five houses were squished into one idea for the west. a lot of people don't understand that you can't just mix and match ideas and make it a whole. taken separately the five houses ideas are quite cohesive and you don't get weird statements like that but once it's one big blob it's easy to make sweeping generalizations like that. similar to including all schools of buddhism as a whole, you could say nearly anything about it and find some text, by some one, from some school to make it true. whereas if you really understand it you know that each school is very unique and not easy to fit into extreme generalization.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby dude » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:04 pm

[b][/bThe short of it is that everything is suchness and neither inherently good nor bad, but everyone is heir to his/her karma. So if our actions are driven by selfish intention, the consequences will follow accordingly.]

I think we're pretty much on same page here. I think the viewpoint we're talking about is rooted in this principle, and it's a reasonable interpretation. My primary objection to it is along the lines of your comment on the zen blog :"Emptiness teachings which are teachings of a very high order that one has to be ready for. This is how one was traditionally taught in Chan, I believe, and monastic life still goes some way towards building up the foundation for successful practice."
dude
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:18 am

Re: zen masters...

Postby marc108 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:14 pm

alan... wrote:according to the pali canon yes, exactly! that's what's so strange. yet some of these guys have amazing writings and teachings that have helped thousands learn the dharma... it's quite a puzzle. seems like beating people and therefore not enlightened would equal shoddy teachings but that's not always the case. linji for one had some really great stuff to say. but then there's other like ikkyu, for example, perhaps he tasted enlightenment for a moment when he heard the crow call but after that his life is a testament to NON enlightenment, yet he was still considered a "master"... puzzling indeed.


i think there are a lot of great teachings by people who have not reached any stage of enlightenment. sometimes even just your average grandparent can be chocked full of really great wisdom and insight.

i think generally teachers are considered enlightened depending on how people FEEL about them... the more emotional attachment to the teacher, the more likely they are to feel the teacher is enlightened. you can go to a talk and be extremely emotionally moved by the talk, even come out with some life altering insights... but that doesnt mean the teacher has fallen into the schema of enlightenment as defined by the Buddha, ya know?
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
User avatar
marc108
 
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:42 pm

marc108 wrote:
alan... wrote:according to the pali canon yes, exactly! that's what's so strange. yet some of these guys have amazing writings and teachings that have helped thousands learn the dharma... it's quite a puzzle. seems like beating people and therefore not enlightened would equal shoddy teachings but that's not always the case. linji for one had some really great stuff to say. but then there's other like ikkyu, for example, perhaps he tasted enlightenment for a moment when he heard the crow call but after that his life is a testament to NON enlightenment, yet he was still considered a "master"... puzzling indeed.


i think there are a lot of great teachings by people who have not reached any stage of enlightenment. sometimes even just your average grandparent can be chocked full of really great wisdom and insight.

i think generally teachers are considered enlightened depending on how people FEEL about them... the more emotional attachment to the teacher, the more likely they are to feel the teacher is enlightened. you can go to a talk and be extremely emotionally moved by the talk, even come out with some life altering insights... but that doesnt mean the teacher has fallen into the schema of enlightenment as defined by the Buddha, ya know?

Absolutely. Good point
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: zen masters...

Postby Alobha » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:41 pm

alan... wrote:correct me if i'm wrong but if a bhikkhu in the buddhas time or even today in the theravada tradition was well respected and thought of as a stream enterer or higher and then started getting wasted on booze, got married and started beating people up, wouldn't they generally be understood to have fallen away from the dhamma at best or at worst to have been total frauds in the first place? i recall one sutta (somewhere in the vinaya i believe) in which the buddha created a new rule, because a bhikkhu slept with his own wife, that bhikkhus could not do this, so i'm fairly confident that i'm right in this regard.


As for the marriage-issue: It has already been pointed out that Zenabbots don't necessarily follow the vinaya. I somewhere read one of the reasons why marriages happen in the zen tradition and found the answer again on some sites (e.g. http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/kimyou/2007/eng-0303.html, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congr ... en_en.html)

To quote the important part from the first source:
Now, what changed so that monks and priests started to marry? Funnily, it is not the Buddhist code that changed or was re-interpreted by the clergy in a new way, it was simply the Japanese law that changed. It was the Japanese government that decided in 1872 that it was up to the monks/priests themselves if they want to marry or not, want to eat meat or not. So unlike the Chinese Cultural revolution or the Japanese occupation of Korea, no-one was forced to get married or disrobe. Monks and priests were just given the freedom to decide for themselves what to do. The Meiji Restauration was a time when the Japanese government shifted from supporting Buddhism, on which the Tokugara regime had largely relied for controlling the country between 1600 and 1868, to Shintô - indiginous Japanese shamanism - which put the emperor back into a position of power. Especially during the first years of the Meiji area Buddhism was actively suppressed, with some temples being burned or sold for ridiciously cheap prices to the publc (for use as firewood).

So why then should this anti-Buddhist government give freedom to the Buddhist monks/priests? It is usually said that this was done to strip them off their privileged status. By telling the monks to stay celibate, the government excempts them from the obligation of filial responsibilty as well as the responsibilities and duties of taking care of a family. Celibacy can be interpreted as a privilige as well. By telling the monks to think for themselves, the government expelled them from the shelter of the warm womb that it used to be for the Buddhists clergy during the Tokugawa era. This in itself should have been a great chance for Japanese Buddhism, but it happens to be one reason for its decline. When told to think for themselves, most monks/priests eventually ended up marrying and turning their temples into family homes.


So it seems that the Sangha had quite some status and influence before 1872, partly because the Sangha was supported by the ruling power of Japan and served as a stabilizing factor for society. (more can be read up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period). I'm no expert on japanese history but when the government changed in the Meiji Era and the politics went anti-buddhism and pro-secularization, some monks seem to have taken the bait for various reasons. It would be interesting to know more about the circumstances during that time - whether the laity supported that monks get married, whether temples have been set under pressure by being stripped off of previous financial privileges or whether there was some kind of government propaganda going on that led monastics into going down that route. I can't reconstruct how the politicians got so much influence on the Sangha in Japan in the first place, but there seem to be historic and cultural conditions which facilitated that process.

On another note: From my point of view, the impact various Zen Masters had on the contemporary understanding of the noble eightfold path got bigger in japanese society and the japanese Sangha than the word of the Buddha at some point and it stayed like that well after that. The Buddha was very clear in his instructions how the monks are to handle women and who is the teacher to abide to after the Buddha would pass away. Any proclamations of people who are preaching the opposite of what the Buddha taught are well - doing just that.

I'd stick with Ben's advice and would like to add the following: If you have confidence in what the Buddha taught, follow the word of the Buddha. If you have no confidence in the teachings or interpretations of teachings as taught by other people, then do not follow those people. It doesn't matter which title they're given or how other people perceive them - if you have no confidence to begin with, there is simply no use.

Best wishes,
Alobha
User avatar
Alobha
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:27 pm
Location: Germany

Re: zen masters...

Postby alan... » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:If you ask me, assuming I am an experienced and realized teacher, a question about a particular aspect of the Teachings, and because of the nature of the question, because I know you and your particular level of practice, and I give you an unexpected whack, and as a result you have a startling insight into the question you ask, a genuine realization, not just an intellectual, conceptual notion, what is the problem?



i fully agree with this!

alan... wrote: i'm willing to bet that a whack with a cane at the right time and place might help one reach nibbana.


alan... wrote: i truly believe that a whack with a cane at the right time can help one have satori.


is there a problem? not for me! i'm just wondering how it fits in with a deeply non violent belief system as a whole. if my teacher whacked me over the head and i had an awakening because of it i would be forever grateful. i think people keep seeing this thread as some kind of anti zen thing when really it's just curiosity. i love zen very much! i have many zen books and have gone to zen retreats and absolutely loved them! i'm really just pondering the teachers of old for fun. and most of these teachers i fully respect and believe they likely were enlightened.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Previous

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bhikkhu Cintita, Bhikkhu Pesala and 7 guests