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Re: A Zen-Shin question

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  • lotusaware
    ... Hi, Most excellent laughing. The writings of the early Chan and Zen Masters is most interesting with respect to your question. I personally have no problem
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 10, 2006
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      --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "jonspayde" <jonspayde@c...> wrote:
      >
      > Thanks to all for these thoughts. I'm particularly glad to reminded of the East
      > Asian tendency to see paths as complementary. I've always loved the tradition
      > of paintings called "Three Laughers," where Confucius, Sakyamuni, and Lao-
      > tzu chuckle together.
      >

      Hi,
      Most excellent laughing.

      The writings of the early Chan and Zen Masters is most interesting with respect to your
      question. I personally have no problem mixing the two and have found the following three
      books most helpful:

      1. Taigen Dan Leighton, CULTIVATING THE EMPTY FIELD: The Silent Illumination of Zen
      Master Hongzhi, Tuttle

      My most favorite quote which directly ties to Shin Buddhism is from Hongzhi.

      "Despite a hundred uglinesses or a thousand stupidities, the upright cauldren is naturally
      beneficent."

      This says to me that the "cauldren", filled with nourishment, feeds anyone who come to eat
      and be nourished no matter what their state of being. Isn't this source of nourishment the
      same as Amida = Amitabha = Amitayus as described in Shin Buddhism? The cauldren does
      not judge who comes to eat, it just serves!

      2. J. C. Cleary, trans., ZEN DAWN: Early Zen Texts from Tan Huang

      3. Shunryu Suzuki, NOT ALWAYS SO

      This is a book of Dharma talks given by Shunryu Suzuki at the end of his life. I believe
      most of what is written in this book is compatible with anyone's experience in any branch
      of Buddhism and speaks to the Shin in me as well as anything. He points out that if you
      "meditate" seeking enlightenment, then seeking something is distancing ourselves from
      enlightenment. The "Just Sitting" without intention is simply stopping ourselves so we can
      experience what is here and what we are as we are. Seeing clearly opens th door to
      realizations. In the Nembutsu we stop in our focus and trust in Amida, letting go of "self-
      power" the same thing happens. Realizations are the doorway to the Clear Land.

      Comment.
      There is a lot of formalism in some Zen groups, even Suzuki insisted on specific forms of
      posture, etc. That borders on a direct violation of the Buddha's First Sermon in which he
      pointed out that he taught the Middle Way between ascetism and self-indulgence. As I see
      it I "just sit" whether with a group or not. Sometime I use eyes open, sometimes eyes half-
      open, sometimes eyes closed - each allows me to experience "what is" from that state.

      Eyes open I see outside;
      eyes half-open I am on the border between outside and inside;
      eyes closed I see inside.
      That's all.

      Also I grew up with chairs; I did not grow up in a culture without chairs, so I "Just sit" in a
      chair. That's it.

      The trick is to maintain a balanced, comfortable but erect posture so the body doesn't
      distract. The other side is to maintain a position in which we do not fall asleep.

      Needless to say, I am not into pain, and I am tired of a bunch of "rules" so as a Shin
      Buddist I "Just Sit" as I feel is right for me and bless the rest.

      Sometimes I sit with breath, sometimes with counting, sometimes with "Namu Amida
      Butsu", sometimes with a visualization of an "empty" place.

      Sometimes for a minute, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes as long as it takes.

      So enjoy your practice. Hongzhi points out that we must live in our own home, we can not
      live in the home of someone else. To live in our own home is to live in our own practice.

      I hope this foolishness is a little helpful,
      lotusaware (John)
    • toraginus
      ... What wonderful and wise advice, not only to jonspayde, but also very supportive of some conclusions I have reached. A cause of major difficulties in
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 28, 2006
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        --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "lotusaware" <lotusaware@y...> wrote:
        >
        > --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "jonspayde" jonspayde@c... wrote:
        > >
        > > Thanks to all for these thoughts. I'm particularly glad to reminded of the East
        > > Asian tendency to see paths as complementary. I've always loved the tradition
        > > of paintings called "Three Laughers," where Confucius, Sakyamuni, and Lao-
        > > tzu chuckle together.
        > >
        >
        > Hi,
        > Most excellent laughing.
        >
        > The writings of the early Chan and Zen Masters is most interesting with respect to your
        > question. I personally have no problem mixing the two and have found the following three
        > books most helpful:
        >
        > 1. Taigen Dan Leighton, CULTIVATING THE EMPTY FIELD: The Silent Illumination of Zen
        > Master Hongzhi, Tuttle
        >
        > My most favorite quote which directly ties to Shin Buddhism is from Hongzhi.
        >
        > "Despite a hundred uglinesses or a thousand stupidities, the upright cauldren is naturally
        > beneficent."
        >
        > This says to me that the "cauldren", filled with nourishment, feeds anyone who come to eat
        > and be nourished no matter what their state of being. Isn't this source of nourishment the
        > same as Amida = Amitabha = Amitayus as described in Shin Buddhism? The cauldren does
        > not judge who comes to eat, it just serves!
        >
        > 2. J. C. Cleary, trans., ZEN DAWN: Early Zen Texts from Tan Huang
        >
        > 3. Shunryu Suzuki, NOT ALWAYS SO
        >
        > This is a book of Dharma talks given by Shunryu Suzuki at the end of his life. I believe
        > most of what is written in this book is compatible with anyone's experience in any branch
        > of Buddhism and speaks to the Shin in me as well as anything. He points out that if you
        > "meditate" seeking enlightenment, then seeking something is distancing ourselves from
        > enlightenment. The "Just Sitting" without intention is simply stopping ourselves so we can
        > experience what is here and what we are as we are. Seeing clearly opens th door to
        > realizations. In the Nembutsu we stop in our focus and trust in Amida, letting go of "self-
        > power" the same thing happens. Realizations are the doorway to the Clear Land.
        >
        > Comment.
        > There is a lot of formalism in some Zen groups, even Suzuki insisted on specific forms of
        > posture, etc. That borders on a direct violation of the Buddha's First Sermon in which he
        > pointed out that he taught the Middle Way between ascetism and self-indulgence. As I see
        > it I "just sit" whether with a group or not. Sometime I use eyes open, sometimes eyes half-
        > open, sometimes eyes closed - each allows me to experience "what is" from that state.
        >
        > Eyes open I see outside;
        > eyes half-open I am on the border between outside and inside;
        > eyes closed I see inside.
        > That's all.
        >
        > Also I grew up with chairs; I did not grow up in a culture without chairs, so I "Just sit" in a
        > chair. That's it.
        >
        > The trick is to maintain a balanced, comfortable but erect posture so the body doesn't
        > distract. The other side is to maintain a position in which we do not fall asleep.
        >
        > Needless to say, I am not into pain, and I am tired of a bunch of "rules" so as a Shin
        > Buddist I "Just Sit" as I feel is right for me and bless the rest.
        >
        > Sometimes I sit with breath, sometimes with counting, sometimes with "Namu Amida
        > Butsu", sometimes with a visualization of an "empty" place.
        >
        > Sometimes for a minute, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes as long as it takes.
        >
        > So enjoy your practice. Hongzhi points out that we must live in our own home, we can not
        > live in the home of someone else. To live in our own home is to live in our own practice.
        >
        > I hope this foolishness is a little helpful,
        > lotusaware (John)
        >

        What wonderful and wise advice, not only to jonspayde, but also very supportive of some conclusions I have reached. A cause of major difficulties in religious or spiritual practice, certainly in Buddhism ---for many persons---if the constant holding up to oneself and mental yardstick or set of "shoulds" and "oughts". Some persons feel that unless they conform to some set of outside standards, often in a very literal and precise manner---they will never reach liberation, enlightenment, the Pure Land etc. And, I was one of these compulsory conformists. I say "was".

        toraginus (bob)
      • toraginus
        ... of the East ... tradition ... and Lao- ... I composed a reply to your initial posting shortly after it was posted, but, for some reason ( bouncing ) I have
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 28, 2006
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          --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "jonspayde" <jonspayde@c...> wrote:
          >
          > Thanks to all for these thoughts. I'm particularly glad to reminded
          of the East
          > Asian tendency to see paths as complementary. I've always loved the
          tradition
          > of paintings called "Three Laughers," where Confucius, Sakyamuni,
          and Lao-
          > tzu chuckle together.
          >

          I composed a reply to your initial posting shortly after it was
          posted, but, for some reason ("bouncing") I have been unable to be
          active in Shinlist.

          So here is what I wrote after you posted:

          After studying , reading, practicing (sporadically) since 1974: Zen,
          Theravada, Vajrayana (Tibetan)---I discovered Jodo Shin Shu when I
          bought the book, "River of Fire, River of Water" by Taitetsu Unno.

          I usually do a Shin daily devotion using the small Daily Service book
          published by BCA with a short quiet sitting. In the evening, I
          sometinmes do zazen, i.e. just sitting. During the day, on occasions I
          find myself saying, "Namo Amida Butsu".

          I feel comfortable in that I have found a way that works for me and
          that I am capable of following.


          As far as book recommendations:

          #1 would be: "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold", the
          second book written by Professor Taitetsu Unno.

          I also liked: "The Promise of Boundless Compassion" by Dr. Alfred Bloom
          (I like Taitetsu Unno and Alfred Bloom: everything I have read has
          been very good.)

          Both of the books above are expository in nature, but very clear and
          interesting.

          When it comes to "devotional" books, i.e ones that inspire, my
          absolute favorite is "The Great Natural Way," by the late Hozen Seki.
          To my knowledge, it is only available through the American Buddhist
          Study Center in NYC run by his son, Hoshin.
          Their online address: http://www.americanbuddhist.org/home2.htm

          Another good source of Shin books is the BCA (Buddhist Churches of
          America) bookstore.
          The url is http://www.buddhistchurchesofamerica.com/shopping/
          You will have to order by phone after getting to their online site
          because the online site doesn't have purchasing set up. If you call,
          ask for Jerry Bolick; he's the manager, and is excellent.
          (The small booklet, "Daily Service, Buddhist Churches of America"
          should be available through this bookstore.)

          -------
          Finally, as for your question about spreading yourself too thin vs.
          sticking to one path with Buddhism, there is a saying both in Buddhism
          and Hinduism: "Dig your well, and dig it Deep." This cautions one
          against Not settling into one path.

          However, if you can't seem to settle into one path, I, personally,
          think settling in mainly with one path, let's say Shin, but have some
          Zen would not be a bad combination. For example, you could have Shin
          devotions in the morning, and sit zazen in the evening, perhaps,
          recite The Heart Sutra.


          Hope this helps.

          BTW: I read Socho Ogui's book: "Shin Zen Talks" sometime ago. It's
          good. 95% Zen, 5% Shin, and very accessible.
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