Zen Vs Therevada

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:37 am

Monkey Mind wrote:The Zen are influenced by the Lotus Sutra. The Theravada are not.
And that is a big difference.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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OcTavO
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by OcTavO » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:47 am

I've recently sat in various Zen centers around my local area and they are a world apart from the local Theravadin Wat. The first I attended was an affiliated school of Kwan Um (which is a bit of a mix of Rinzai and Pureland). They were a very pleasant school, but deeply focused in ritual and with an emphasis on Koan and a meditation that was quite similar to that described in the Satipatthana sutta.

Then I sat with a Soto school who don't do Koan but practice Shikantaza ("Just Sitting"). I didn't find this method to be effective at all for me... it had practically zero structure and most of the sesshins were spent in overly complicated ritual.

Zen is tremendously diverse, no two schools I've visited have been the same. As for how it differs from Theravada - I've never heard much of an emphasis placed on the teachings of the Pali Canon in any of the schools. The emphasis is always on some kind of practice, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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EricJ
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by EricJ » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:02 am

Theravadins seem to practice with a wider array of meditation objects and methods (vipassana and samatha as practices with objects such as the brahmaviharas, breath, kasina objects, jhana, etc.). This seems to be a major difference from "single-practice" traditions such as Soto Zen with shikantaza. I don't know whether or not Ch'an Buddhism encourages a wider variety of meditation practices. Would anyone like to comment on that?
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:57 am

convivium wrote:Honestly Zen seems very similar, orthopraxic like Thai Forest, and I am wondering where it goes off from Therevada. I'm also wondering about other traditions of Buddhism too. Thanks for any clarifications.
I think Zen and Therevada both focus on simplicity and mindfulness.

P
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by nameless » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:38 am

My knowledge about Zen is from reading stuff here and there, so if anyone has more accurate information please correct me:

Zen has a lot of unique practices that don't necessarily reflect traditional Buddhism, or at least, are very different from the way the Buddha taught his disciples as portrayed in the suttas. And I suppose there's a variety of different Zen schools with different practices too. Some places the teacher takes a stick to whack students when they are meditating.

There was a book written by a Japanese Zen monk where he described his path from ordination onwards, he said that his master said that if he cannot trust him absolutely, don't bother training. Then he also described a part where he tried to talk to someone and his master said "he does not know his own nature, he is not fit to talk!". So in this case at least, there doesn't seem to be a lot of compassion or interest in developing compassion (if he wanted the pupil to be silent there are better ways to say it). There is the sense the teacher gives that "I am enlightened and if you want to train under me you should aim to be enlightened too otherwise don't waste our time". Which is all fine, and the monk who wrote the book was satisfied with his experience in the end, but it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Some schools of Zen also emphasize "sudden" enlightenment, whereas it seems that in Theravadan suttas a gradual achievement is emphasized.

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by Sobeh » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:12 am

Are there extant comparisons of their Vinayas?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:05 am

Sobeh wrote:Are there extant comparisons of their Vinayas?
Whose Vinaya? Japanese Zen does not have a Vinaya.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Sobeh
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by Sobeh » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:23 am

tiltbillings wrote:Japanese Zen does not have a Vinaya.
:jawdrop:

I expected something.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:38 am

Sobeh wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Japanese Zen does not have a Vinaya.
:jawdrop:

I expected something.
There is a fairly complicated history around that. Part of it has to do with the japanese government putting an end to the Vinaya. Other "Zen" school monks do follow Vinaya rules. There are extensive comparative studies of the Vinayas. If Ven Paññāsikhara were still posting here, he could direct you to them.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:15 am

if you take the Thai forest tradition of the 20th century and compare it to some zen, you'll get many similarities. some think that maybe this is because Chan monks may have wandered into thailand and that Thai thudong monks may have bumped into Chan monks on their journeys as well. also Thai Buddhism especially in the north and north east (where we get most of our famous forest monks) prior to modernization was an area with many many different Buddhist groups, (in Thai nikaya) now we just have the 2: dhammayut and mahanikaya, but the reason it is called the maha nikaya is because it is made up of all those other nikayas, 100 years ago or so there where 18 in chaing mai alone, all with their own customs and practices. Thai Buddhism is by no means a monolithic institution now, but compared to the past it may seem so. anyways what this may point to is that at some point in the past a Chan (zen) influence may have been introduced into Thai Buddhism. also yogacara ideas may have been introduced (or the fact that zen has some of these may explain the similarities too?).

and as for zen, my personal views on the school is that it didn't start out as a Mahayana school. Bodhidharma was from southern India, and traveled to shaolin temple, a "hinayana" temple at the time. the idea that he taught the lankavatara sutra is odd, as he takes on students, trains them, then only as he is leaving them, fully trained, does he mention anything about this sutra. seems like something just tacked on.
also in Dogen's works he has a different take on arahants than is standard Mahayana but whatever after 1500 plus years of cultural and mahayana influence it matters little . but there are some similarities.
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

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:26 am

Sobeh wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Japanese Zen does not have a Vinaya.
:jawdrop:

I expected something.
The Soto school founded by Jiyu Kennett in the west follows the Vinaya. I think in order to do so it was necessary for them to receive initial ordination from an authentic source. I dont recall of the details off hand.

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:39 am

PeterB wrote:
Sobeh wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Japanese Zen does not have a Vinaya.
:jawdrop:

I expected something.
The Soto school founded by Jiyu Kennett in the west follows the Vinaya. I think in order to do so it was necessary for them to receive initial ordination from an authentic source. I dont recall of the details off hand.
i cant find any info on it :shrug:
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

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:46 am

No, I checked once before...I dimly remember it all happening at the time, and the report in the Buddhist Societys " Middle Way" journal...but I dont remember the details. I could ask So-On Mann over at ZFI. She is knowledgeable about Jiyu Kennett.

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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:30 am

i used to wonder why the Japanese sangha didn't just go ordain in a Chinese or Theravada lineage, and reintroduce the classic monastic institutions, seems simple enough right? but then i realized after spending time with Japanese Buddhists, that my view is just that of an outsider and they are for the most part perfectly happy with their forms of Buddhism.
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

PeterB
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Re: Zen Vs Therevada

Post by PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:38 am

I think it may have been like that with Jiyu Kennett JC. It could even have been a Sri Lankan connection...So-On might know.

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