Torn between soto zen and thai forest

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AlaskanDhamma
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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by AlaskanDhamma » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:40 am

To me it always seemed that when Mahayana buddhists talk about bodhisattvas and saving the world,etc., it just meant that by working towards reaching enlightenment they would eventually be helping others someday. Does that make sense? But don't worry, I have met plenty Mahayana buddhists who, despite it being harmful to them, have seemed very egotistical.
"Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace." -Buddha

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by jcsuperstar » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:11 am

well in the mahayana sutras they are "real" guys who vow to come again and again to help people, some were even at one point buddhas who regressed(?) into bodhisattvas to help people. there are also buddhas that create worlds and offer salvation to people who "pray" to them... its all "very real" in the sutras, though there are some zen preists who turn it all into metaphor... which is how i used it

kannon is karuna
monju is panna
fugen is sila
jizo is vows or practice...

so i still have those statues and i use them that way.... they are not however on my main altar... although a statue of daruma(indian monk who brought zen to china) is
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: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by christopher::: » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:26 am

AlaskanDhamma wrote:To me it always seemed that when Mahayana buddhists talk about bodhisattvas and saving the world,etc., it just meant that by working towards reaching enlightenment they would eventually be helping others someday. Does that make sense? But don't worry, I have met plenty Mahayana buddhists who, despite it being harmful to them, have seemed very egotistical.
Buddhists on ego trips? Sure. That's a trap everywhere, and Mahayana Buddhists can fall into that just as easily as anyone else. But I don't see that as a problem with the path of Zen, or the ideals of bodhisattva, as much as the usual games the mind plays. As for saving the world, and helping others I've never heard anyone phrase it in terms of something we'll do "someday."

There is no someday. There is only today, right now, the flow of moments. You have an opportunity to help someone, you do it now or you've missed that opportunity. Beginner bodhisattvas have to practice "helping" others every single day. Small acts. Many of us actually view this as being less about "me" as about everyone being bodhisattvas. You may not call yourself that, but if you are constantly doing things for the benefit of others (as most folks in this forum are) then from one perspective you are already walking the bodhisattva path.

BUT, there are many different views on this. We've been having a couple of different discussions on the topic over at ZFI, such as this one here. Some view the bodhisattvas as real, some as metaphors, some as ideals and role models. The vow to save all beings is a kinda koan, imo. There is no way you or I is going to save all beings. Right there is an opportunity to break through, questioning who are "you," who am "I," who are "all beings"? The diamond sutra teaches that if you believe there actually are real beings that need saving one is not viewing things as a bodhisattva.

The Bodhisattva's Vow
The Buddha said to Subhūti: "The bodhisattvas and mahāsattvas should subdue their thoughts like this: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they be born from eggs, born from a womb, born from moisture or born spontaneously; whether or not they have form; whether they abide in perceptions or no perceptions; or without either perceptions or non-perceptions, I save them by causing them to enter nirvana without remainder. And when these immeasurable, countless, infinite number of sentient beings have been liberated, in actuality, no sentient being has attained liberation. Why is this so? Subhūti, If a bodhisattva abides in the signs of self, person, sentient being, or life-span, she or he is not a bodhisattva."
:heart:
"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

PeterB
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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by PeterB » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:44 pm

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:

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:55 am

Greetings Munki,

So what are your thoughts about your dilemma at the moment?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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:

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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.
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Re: Torn between soto zen and thai forest

Post by 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."

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