Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gudo's Blog

I'm gonna try not to post here every day. And if you're in So Cal and want something to do on Saturday see the next post below this one for info on our one-day zazen. ALSO, I will be at the Dharma Punx place in Santa Monica on Monday March 2, 2009 at 7:30 PM. The address is 1001 Colorado Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90401. I'll also be at their place in Hollywood on Sunday March 15, 2009 at 11 AM. That's at 4300 Melrose (between Heliotrope and Vermont) Los Angeles, CA 90029.

But I couldn't let this go without mentioning it. The February 25, 2009 post on my teacher Gudo Nishijima's blog has some nice comments about my new book, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. The post is called "Master Dogen's Thoughts on Desire." The blog itself has been very good lately (much better than my drivel here) and I urge you to take a look.

This way of looking at desire is a really key point. The common translation of Buddha's Four Noble Truths has it that the cause of suffering is desire and the elimination of desire ends suffering. This dovetails nicely with Judeo-Christian-Islamic revulsion towards desires of the flesh. The idea sounds remarkably like the church's teaching that we must deny the desires of the body to experience the Heavenly bliss of the soul. I think much of what's taught by Westerners who follow Eastern religious paths, including Buddhism, proceeds from this idea.

But Dogen's point of view was totally different. He states that the suppression of desire and desire itself are one and the same. You might also say that one element of desire itself is our revulsion towards that desire. By fixating on that one aspect of desire, the desire to suppress desire, we only increase desire.

This doesn't mean we should simply give in to whatever lurid cravings cross our minds. That won't help us either. The only thing I've found that works is to be very, very quiet and see desire for what it really is. And the only way to do that is to do zazen every damn day. Seeing desire for what it is, is the first step. Doing what needs doing is another matter.

It kind of reminds me of this riff I heard by one of my favorite local comedians Eddie Pepitone. He talks about how there are world leaders out there torturing babies and he feels like a bad person when he has a pudding at three in the morning (he gets to it towards the end of this video). It's a funny bit that shows how we humans work. Some of us don't have it together to see that the most heinous things we do are wrong while others are sensitive to the most innocuous of offenses. That sensitivity is a generally good thing. But it can be taken too far.

Religious leader types are very much aware that "spiritual" people tend to be very sensitive to the notion of being a "bad person" for even the most minor transgressions. And many of these religious leaders prey upon that, knowing that feelings of guilt among their followers ultimately increase their own power over those followers. Since each member of the congregation has his or her own secret transgressions, it's not even necessary to spell them out. But sometimes it helps to goose the crowd by defining even the most universal of human cravings or transgressions as "evil" in the eyes of the deity, or, in the case of wanna-be Buddhists, as desires that need to be stamped out.

Desire and the desire to be free of desire arise simultaneously. Try as you might you can't fight desire with itself. The only way out is to see what's going on from a completely different angle.

69 comments:

Justin said...

But Dogen's point of view was totally different. He states that the suppression of desire and desire itself are one and the same. You might also say that one element of desire itself is our revulsion towards that desire. By fixating on that one aspect of desire, the desire to suppress desire, we only increase desire.
This doesn't mean we should simply give in to whatever lurid cravings cross our minds. That won't help us either.


I completely agree. (There must be some mistake...)

The only thing I've found that works is to be very, very quiet and see desire for what it really is.

Yes. And this is sometimes referred to as "non-attachment".

Justin said...

Wishing to not have a desire is really another way of wanting things to be different from how they actually are. Both of these are causes of (or actually are) the unsatisfactoriness of existence.

Stephanie said...

This has very much been true in my own experience, and not only with desire, but with emotion as well--that when we become fixated on trying to stop or eradicate states we find troublesome, we end up making even more of a mess. There's a Zen saying, "The medicine is the sickness, the sickness is the medicine." This is not to negate the value of the medicine, but rather to point to the inherent dualism in our approach to these matters. It's been my experience as well when it comes to aversive or difficult states that (pardon the cliche) "The way out is through."

It's nice to see that Roshi Nishijima, a man of a different culture and generation, has a similar understanding and refers back to Dogen, who is so removed in time and culture from people living today, as also having a similar understanding. That trying to throw out or purify what we see as 'unspiritual' is a sickness, that thinking Zen is about 'dusting the mirror' is not full realization.

But of course people who gravitate toward the 'spiritual' / idealistic end of the spectrum (to use Roshi N's highly useful system of classification) are going to focus more of their efforts on trying to purify themselves of all their guilt and badness, which usually makes people more and more sick, not better and happier.

It's my growing conviction that not just personal / 'intrapsychic' problems, but also many of the most entrenched social problems we see, arise out of this fundamental human tendency to try to 'eradicate the sickness.' Because in our oceanic ignorance, we usually fail to know or understand what the real 'sickness' actually is, if there is one at all. So we end up trying to get rid of something we shouldn't be trying to get rid of at all.

This is why so often one segment of society blames a social ill on another segment of society, and thinks that if only we could rid ourselves of or change this segment of society, society would be harmonious. Entire groups of people become 'the bad object'. This happens because we inevitably relate to other people as we relate to our own inner experience. If my attitude toward myself is fundamentally violent--I must destroy or 'kill' my anger, ego, etc.--I will tend to have a similarly violent attitude toward others and be a stronger proponent of restrictive and controlling social paradigms.

This is why the same American culture that emphasizes freedom incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world. In the culture where we assault anything in our own lives that does not fit our idealistic paradigms with medication, special diets, and various therapies, we also are obsessed with continually trying to 'clean up the streets' and get the 'undesirables' out of the social equation. Has this made our society happier and healthier? Or do we still experience extreme rates of violence, mental illness, poverty, etc.? But people are so glued to their paradigms of control that we're not going to realize this any time soon--we're just going to keep on building jails, both with cinderblock and in our own minds.

Moon Face Buddha said...

The tao of Kung Fu Panda;

Oogway: [walking towards Po] Ah! I see that you have found the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom!

Po: [Po turns around with a lot of peaches stuffed in his mouth] Oh! Is that what this is? I'm so sorry! I just thought it was a regular peach tree!

Oh yes, the Dharma is strong with this one;

Po: Maybe I should just quit and go back to making noodles.

Oogway: Quit, don't quit? Noodles, don't noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the "present."

Flor de Nopal Sangha said...

Damn it! Just when I was giving up on Brad "Mr. Bad MoFo"....he comes back with a killer article and funny youtube video. ;) =P

Jinzang said...

The complete poem, from the Shasta Abbey translation, is;

Its brilliant light serenely illumines everywhere amidst worlds as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.
Sentient beings, both the ordinary and the saintly, are within my family.
When not a single thought arose, Its whole Body manifested Itself.
When my six sense organs moved even slightly, my mind was covered with clouds.
Attempting to cut myself free from my defiling passions just added to my heap of spiritual diseases.
To go after the Truth is also the wrong thing.
Submitting myself to worldly connections is not a hindrance.
Nirvana and birth-and-death are simply flowers in Unbounded Space.

Rich said...

Jinzang, thanks for that link, I really like the style of that translation.

Anonymous said...

came across my copy o The Great Failure by Natalie Goldberg which Brad mentioned a while back when ZWKDC was just about to get published.

I always understood the title of the book to mean her own failure at being able to reconcile her two visions of her teacher: as a boundary maintaining teacher and as a transgressor of boundaries.

I also thought she was referring to her one attempt to get her parents to 'understand' zazen with an actual experience of it


sorry for the non sequitur


back to the blog at hand. Like the idea you'll be posting more frequently. Today's piece exceptionally fine.

to see things from a completely different angle--sometimes this takes years, and Natalie gives such an example in her book, 6 years later recognizing her own behavior during a sesshin for what it was.

so I guess it did get to tie in after all

Mysterion said...

The Four Truths for Nobles as viewed from the Cambodian perspective.

"Bhikkhus, it is through not realizing, through not penetrating the Four Noble Truths that this long course of birth and death has been passed through and undergone by me as well as by you. What are these four? They are the noble truth of Dukkha; the noble truth of the origin of Dukkha; the noble truth of the cessation of Dukkha; and the noble truth of the way to the cessation of Dukkha. But now, bhikkhus, that these have been realized and penetrated, cut off is the craving for existence, destroyed is that which leads to renewed becoming, and there is no fresh becoming." -- DN 16 (with dukkha left untranslated)

In theraváda, "monk" is one translation of "bhikkhu". A bhikkhu is really just someone who lives attentive to whatever he does or observes.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said:

"In theraváda, "monk" is one translation of "bhikkhu". A bhikkhu is really just someone who lives attentive to whatever he does or observes."

I'll keep calling you on these pali/sanskrit terms just to redress the balance. Otherwise we can just make up any old fluffy definition that makes us sound "spiritual." Why would we want to do that?

The sanskrit word 'bhikshu' - from the root 'bhiksh': to want to share/partake; beg - pali 'bhikku', means: a beggar; one who lives by alms.

Simple.

Dogen was Celibate said...

There is no evidence that Dogen and all his monks were anything but celibate in their lifestyle. That was expected of Japanese monks of the day, up until the 19th century when the Japanese government forced monks to marry to strengthen Shinto. How does that connect?

Rich said...

"But now, bhikkhus, that these have been realized and penetrated, cut off is the craving for existence, destroyed is that which leads to renewed becoming, and there is no fresh becoming."

When I am hungry (desire for food) I eat (accept the food). But somtimes I crave ice cream and think about it a lot until I get it. I think there is a difference between accepting desires and craving some form of existance.

Rick said...

The desire to get rid of desire is another desire. I guess if we just sit long enough, this sort of unravels on it's own

Scott said...

Hey Brad

Am reading Hardcore Zen at the moment, absolutely love it. Your sentiments there ring so true with me, echoing many of the realisations I have come to lately (and that have pervaded my blog entries.

After a lifetime's admiration for Zen (with a dad as a karate instructor did I have any chance ;-) your book has inspired me to go find a Zen group and in 2 hours I will be getting up to travel there for my first zazen. Unfortunately I read your chapter on demons last thing, slept for an hour and woke up with my own demons racing through my mind - and I haven't even started yet!!!

Thanks for teh inspiration, look forward ot following your blog :-D

Mysterion said...

Mendicant is certainly one translation.

Teacher might be another, albeit later translation.

How about ordained Monk?

"What does bhikkhu actually mean? Does it mean something like 'beggar'? S: Bhikkhu means one who lives on alms or bhiksha. It is usually translated by Woodward as 'almsman'. We must beware of reading meanings back into these terms. There were various terms in use; for instance, I didn't mention this, but in yesterday's chapter what is the term in the verses for the ideal man? It is brahmana. There is no specifically religious term. But, in the later chapters, the term bhikkhu is used, which is more specifically Buddhist. Brahmana tends to be dropped. I don't know if there are any examples in this : At the beginning, it's brahmin, and then it becomes brahmana. S: But brahmin is simply the anglicized word. It is brahmana in Pali and Sanskrit, but in English it is usually brahmin. Yes, at the beginning of chapter III, 'For the monk who hath all karma left behind' - the bhikkhu. Not brahmana but bhikkhu. Here it becomes more specifically, as it were, Buddhist. Though in the Dhammapada, brahmana, sramana, bhikkhu are all equated." source

The meaning of the word word Bhikkhus depends on: (1) time, (2) context, & (3) culture. (However, were an authoritative - e.g. non anglican - scholar to speak up, we could discuss the linguistics.)

A-P said...

"The only thing I've found that works is to be very, very quiet and see desire for what it really is. And the only way to do that is to do zazen every damn day. Seeing desire for what it is, is the first step. Doing what needs doing is another matter."

Amen to that.

nondual said...

This has very much been true in my own experience, and not only with desire, but with emotion as well--that when we become fixated on trying to stop or eradicate states we find troublesome, we end up making even more of a mess. There's a Zen saying, "The medicine is the sickness, the sickness is the medicine." This is not to negate the value of the medicine, but rather to point to the inherent dualism in our approach to these matters. It's been my experience as well when it comes to aversive or difficult states that (pardon the cliche) "The way out is through."
If you don't truly comprehend the nature of reality, how can you really solve your problems? Trying to change your conditional situation is just rearranging furniture. Who is the owner of the house?

Anonymous said...

I'm trying - not hard enough - to avoid being a sanskrit bore, but...

(A very small point for Mysterion: according to Monier-Williams, "brahmin", IS a sanskrit word and means "...relating to brahma; 'possessing sacred knowledge', name of vishnu in the mahabharata". As a result of the possessive suffix "-in". So not "simply the anglicized word".)



My point was that whatever distinctions of meaning time, context and culture might lend to a word, to say "A bhikkhu is really just someone who lives attentive to whatever he does or observes" is just the sort of speculative fluffiness that there's far too much of in what goes for "buddhism".

Anonymous said...

Nondual said:

"If you don't truly comprehend the nature of reality, how can you really solve your problems?"

I give up.

Perhaps you could be a little more specific?

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott!

You're in Kilmarnock? Is this the group you've found? If not, check them out. John Fraser, who runs it, is a dharma heir of Mike Luetchford, who is a dharma heir of Nishijima. And a delightful bloke. So it might be your cup of tea.

http://www.glasgowzen.com

Anonymous said...

Dogen was celibate asked, I assume re desire:

"There is no evidence that Dogen and all his monks were anything but celibate in their lifestyle. That was expected of Japanese monks of the day, up until the 19th century when the Japanese government forced monks to marry to strengthen Shinto. How does that connect?"

I think that's a good question. Dogen was scathing in his criticism of 'householders' (the buddha's 'lay student' Vimilakirti gets short shrift in shobogenzo: "Do you not see that if old man Vimilakirti had left family life, we would be able to meet with one more excellent than Vimilakirti: that is Vimilakirti Bhikshu." - from ch 73).

And from the end of ch 86, "The Merit of Leaving Family Life": "Therefore, the authentic tradition, which is that 'the buddhas of the three times all say that to leave family life is to realize the truth', is supremely valuable. There are no buddhas of the three times who fail to leave family life."

So is it simply that "society has changed"? Perhaps not that much. The choice of living 'family life' in larger society, or dropping out; giving up the pursuit of wealth, fame and sex is still open to us. Dogen clearly thought it was essential in order to "realize the truth".

I'm not gonna do it just coz Dogen told me. But does he have a point?

Anonymous said...

nice article brad.

barry

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Dogen clearly thought it was essential in order to "realize the truth".

I'm not gonna do it just coz Dogen told me. But does he have a point?


No. It's just pro-monk propaganda.

Justin said...

Unless someone has practiced the dharma as both a householder and a celibate monk and compared them, (or even better conducted research on two groups) how can anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Justin:

What is the difference between a monk and a householder. Monks are not born monks.

If a householder realizes the truth then clearly they are not monks and clearly therefore monkdom is not essential.

After that it's a matter of percentages....

Sam said...

Great post, Brad. Thanks for helping to place us at that different angle.

Rich said...

And from the end of ch 86, "The Merit of Leaving Family Life": "Therefore, the authentic tradition, which is that 'the buddhas of the three times all say that to leave family life is to realize the truth', is supremely valuable. There are no buddhas of the three times who fail to leave family life."

This was just a marketing ploy to recruit monks to keep Buddhism from dying out. This was when most communication was verbal and most people couldn't read. IMO

Anonymous said...

Rich said, re Dogen insisting on truth-seekers "leaving family life":

"This was just a marketing ploy to recruit monks to keep Buddhism from dying out. This was when most communication was verbal and most people couldn't read. IMO"

So a bit of cynical manipulation from D? Possible. Was Buddhism in danger of dying out in the first half of the 13th century in Japan? And wasn't Gautama generally of the same opinion?

I guess your reference to illiteracy suggests that access to literature was confined to all but learned monks, in monasteries. Fair point.

There again, Dogen, believing (lots of) zazen to be the gate to the dharma may've concluded that any householder would simply be too busy/distracted to practise.

Of course, it's convenient for those of us enamoured with the modern world, and sex, to believe that we can seek and practise the truth without leaving those things behind. Certainly I've no intention of doing so. I'm just...asking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Plenty of sutras talk about home-leavers who have never left home and some sutras talk about monks who having left home have never actually left home.

Various Koans have highly realized Tea-sellers and other traders featured in them as key parts of the plot and no indication is given that these are retired monks and nuns.

To say that Zazen cannot be sat at home or that mindfulness/Vipassana requires a monastic setting would suggest that external conditions are essential. In that case we would end up worrying about the colour of the bricks on the monastary wall.

Many of Dogen's talks seem to me to be motivational speeches encouraging monks to stick with it.

People like Layman Pang, Hui Neng and Vimlakirti are given iconic status and do suggest that monasticism is not essential. Remember Hui Neng joined the monastary after being awakened.

Rich said...

"Was Buddhism in danger of dying out in the first half of the 13th century in Japan? And wasn't Gautama generally of the same opinion?"

I think monks are the human foundation of Buddhism and without them Buddhism may have ended up as a dead religion like so many others. But the will to the truth doesn't care whether you are a monk or not. And I wouldn't be concerned about leaving anything behind. I like Dogen but need to read another translation to get to know him better.

Celi-brate said...

Nishijima has been celibate for about 40 years. He became celibate several months before he was ordained.

So maybe he sees some value in it?

Anonymous said...

Rich said:
"I like Dogen but need to read another translation to get to know him better."

Here you go Rich -

This is the 1st quote, above, from ch 73 in the Nishijima/Cross translation, as it appears in the Shasta Abbey version (often not a 'literal' translation). The S. Abbey has the same chapter (Sanjushichi-bon-bodai-bunpo) numbered 70:

"Do you not see? If old Vimalakirti had left home life behind, he would have encountered a monastic Vimalakirti who was even superior to the lay Vimalakirti."


And here's the second quote, from the Abbey version (chapter is "shukke-kudoku", which they have as #82:

"Thus, what is most revered is the genuine Transmission of what all Buddhas in the three temporal worlds teach as the Dharma of leaving home life behind. Furthermore, there has never been a single Buddha of the three temporal worlds who failed to leave home life behind."

Anonymous said...

SHOBOGENZO ONLINE -

--Nishijima/Cross Shobogenzo (not all of it quite yet, I think) from the Numata Center:

http://www.numatacenter.com/default.aspx?MPID=81 (scroll down)


--Shasta Abbey version (often not a literal translation, I've reliably heard):

http://www.shastaabbey.org/shobogenzo1.htm


--And the Soto Zen Text Project is working its way through:

http://hcbss.stanford.edu/research/projects/sztp/translations/soto_zen_texts.html

Filip said...

Again your last sentence makes it sound like there needs to be way out..
don't know, does there?

Rich said...

" Furthermore, there has never been a single Buddha of the three temporal worlds who failed to leave home life behind."

Since you spend most of your time in thinking and delusion this is the home life you leave behind.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Rich.

I don't think it holds water. Not least cos I don't see thinking as a delusion to be left behind.

Anonymous said...

...and I may have Dogen on my side.

- Check out "Kuge" (Flowers in Space) from Shobogenzo.

Anonymous said...

...which is where we came in.

You may enjoy this:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/Talks/43_Kuge%20Interpretation.pdf

I highly recommend it.

Mysterion said...

In Dogen's day, Kuge were "Flowers in Space."

The kuge was a Japanese aristocratic class that dominated the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto until the rise of the Shogunate in the 12th century at which point it was eclipsed by the daimyo (this was the very time in which Dogan lived). The kuge still provided a weak court around the Emperor Emperor of Japan right up until the Meiji Restoration (1868).

The word means kuge literally "public house" or "public family" and originally described the Emperor and his court. source

Tänya Katherine Marie said...

desire: "a sense of longing or hoping" -- defining desire as right or wrong is merely human boredom. just feel it and let it go.

Anonymous said...

when my children were young i use to hold the fantasy that when they went off to college i would cease being a householder and retreat to the monastery. the day finally came when they waved goodbye to me and i started living my "dream" of being a "nun" and dedicated myself to the cushion. not long after i started i began to realize that i would never cease being the householder. i found that i could not "drop" my attachment to my children. I simply didn't want to. the monastic path requires that we relinquish our attachment to all things at a most profound level. that is what is asked of us. i live a lay life now. it dose not mean that i can't keep up my practice to the best of my ability. by walking the path above I came to realize that the path of the householder best suits me. I accept it with all of it's suffering , joys and all. my practice is my family now:)

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said:

"The word means kuge literally "public house" or "public family" and originally described the Emperor and his court."

You should know, M, that chinese/japanese is a language of homonyns - the same sound has many different meanings. Those meanings are represented by totally different characters.

The 'kuge' you speak of is made up of two completely different characters to the 'kuge' Dogen writes about. They sound the same. They have nothing to do with each other.

In the title of the chapter from Dogen's shobogenzo 'ku' means 'sky or 'space' and 'ge' means 'flowers'.

Anonymous said...

To anon @ 10.03pm -

Thanks

Moon Face Buddha said...

Master Bankei wrote;

Having created
the demon mind yourself
When it torments you mercilessly
You’re to blame and no one else

When you do wrong
our mind’s the demon
There’s no hell
To be found outside

Abominating hell
Longing for heaven
You make yourself suffer
In a joyful world

You think that good
Means hating what is bad
What’s bad is
The hating mind itself

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said:

"The word means kuge literally "public house" or "public family" and originally described the Emperor and his court."


Oh, Mysterion. The game is up! You are, after all, just Google/Wiki mascarading as an intellectual.

Anonymous said...

But at lest he doesn't hide his sources.

skdasfajkdfkjh said...

Desire

Not Desire

The duality of mind-object relations.

The prison bars.

The open sky.

Zazen.

The jaws of our agreed upon reality and concurrent economic/political/social illusions snapping down and obliterating the fledgling nondual mind.

The nondual mind gets resurrected every morning and evening for approximately 2 tenths of a second during 20 minutes of sitting.

Resurrected(Zazen)

Extinguished(Society)

Resurrected(Zazen)

Extinguished(Economy)

See the pattern?

Another Duality caused by the minute cessation of duality.

This is the pain of Zazen. You keep going, and every day start over again from nothing.

If your Zazen becomes something then it is no different than lifting weights.

This is the teacherless path. Take the teacher and reveal the teacherless path.

The teacher is irrelevant.

The teacher is equally relevant.

See?

Another duality.

Embrace.

Reject.

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Anonymous said...

dogen was celibate:

lay practice: it's different from monastic practice, but a lay practitioner can be every bit as serious a zen student.

Monastic life is a way to cut down on the usual fare of distractions. I say cut down because even in monastic settings distractions exist. (Mind you I've only briefly stayed in monastic settings--sesshins and such--and I've sat zazen at residential centers)

Jean Genet writes about the stir a bumble bee caused by coming in through the bars of his prison cell and the havoc it's appearance created among the inmates--monastery--same thing, when you take most everything away, what little is left rises to fill it.

Lay practice is finding the middle way in the middle of all of where you are without leaving.

From what I've seen doesn't matter where you cook, when a practitioner has 'fully baked' (nod to Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate), he/she can go anywhere-- the monk can leave the monastery and return to 'the world', the lay practitioner can leave 'the world' and enter the monastery. Everything A-OK no matter where they find themselves.

I forget the name of the Catholic order with something similar for 'worker priests' who spend as a culmination of their trainiing, a year living in solitude in the desert and then they are ordained or somesuch and go an live in the city, taking a regular job and living a 'regular' life, with co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc., no church and no 'parish' just daily life encounters.

As a kid when I heard about the worker priests, something resonated within me--it made more sense than anything else I had ever heard about religion, and of course, encountering buddhism, specifically zazen, gave me my own path to this very same approach:
which boils down for me as being: my actions are my beliefs, my religion is this: my everyday, ordinary life. Zazen is the way to get there, even though there is no place to 'get' to.

I do think monasteries are special places and I hope they always continue, but at the same time, and equally zen priests, zen students out and about in the world! Both support each other and each side keeps the other alive, healthy.

dogen's ghost said...

"Hence, there is a mind sitting, and it is not the same as a body sitting. There is a body sitting and it is not the same as a mind sitting. There is sitting with body and mind cast off, and it is not the same as sitting with body and mind cast off. Once you attain this state of suchness and attain the harmonious unity of activity and understanding possessed by the Buddha-patriarchs, you examine exhaustively all the thoughts and views of this attainment."

Shobogenzo,Sammai-O-Zammai, Waddell & Abe, p.100-101

Justin said...

It's normal for monks, roshis and patriarchs to hold the celibate, monastic life as superior to the lay life in terms of realising the Buddha Way. It is supposed to be a lifestyle with fewer distractions and attachments. What Dogen teaches is in line with this. We can be skeptical if we like, but if we're honest we should accept that this is what he's saying rather than distorting it to fit with what we'd like to hear.

celibator said...

A monk must wake early
in order to have time
to jerk off
before the bell rings
for morning meditation.

- DBG

Justin said...

Is that how you spent your mornings as a monk?

celibator said...

You have a problem with that Justin?

earDRUM said...

Brad,
Thank you! Great article. One of the best.

Justin and Stephanie,
Thank you for the helpful comments (at the beginning of the Comments section).

To me, this is one of the most important teachings that zen has to offer us. Most of our societal problems are exacerbated because of this misunderstanding. Especially now, with so much fundamentalist polarity happening.
We all experience this struggle with desire, and we all try to eradicate it through the wrong means. It is so easy to get lost in this.
If only there was some way to get this message out to the general populace… to at least make people aware.
I suspect that many people intuit this, yet don’t know how to deal with it because the solution has absolutely nothing to do with the problem. The solution is merely a byproduct of awareness.
We say we do zazen for no reason. But attaining awareness of this problem, and being able to achieve objectivity is one of the reasons that I sit.

pkb said...

I do not believe my views to be identical with some idea of True Zen or Real Buddhism that all must share.

But you said ...

In my daily life I have tested Brad's contention that 'there is no zen without rituals and ceremony' and found it is not true.

And more statements like it. Sounds to me that you've got your own ideas about what's true Buddhism.


Not at all. It was asserted that True Buddhism is just what you can verify in your own life and practice. It is simulaneously asserted that 'this way of sitting is true zen, this is not, 'rituals and ceremonies are zen, there is no zen without them, etc ' I used this same 'dogmatic tone' in order to point out the contradiction, that's all. The irony didn't come across, apparently.

But still, "I have found it not to be true" leaves little room for discussion. Perhaps if you expanded on the reasons why you feel this way.

We can discuss that, but it wasn't the point. That being ; what "I" have found to be true (N.'s definition of True Buddhism) simply varies from N's and brad's findings. People can practice zazen for years and still have very different ideas and opinions and none of these (including my own) constitute some True Buddhism. I think the whole concept of True Buddhism is silly. My views on this matter seem to be identical to Roshi Nonin's. (sectarianism article)

Maybe it's more a matter of tone than anything else. But tone is important. Like you had to get in a dig by comparing me to fundamentalists at the end of your reply. I don't mind that terribly, but what was the point of it?
All I'm saying is that this has become a very strident, bitter place lately. Not your fault, obviously. But you had an opportunity to make things better or worse and I think you missed it. ....Jinzang


Tone and irony do not translate well in writing. Brad has repeatedly voiced his amazement that people here have misunderstood him or projected all sorts of mindstates based upon his words. As I and others have pointed out though, he is one of the offenders as well. Brad can call people he disagrees with all sorts of names, make declarations about what is and isn't zen without offering any reasons other than his personal authority, tell Jundo to 'F*ck off' in personal emails and none of this seems to arouse ire in many of his followers. Yet when some dare to criticize him or point out that the 'zen master' is wearing no robes, many become upset that we're taking a nasty tone, being strident , bitter and divisive. You honestly don't see that Brad's own comments seem to encourage this sort of tone and us vs. them bitterness?

In your defense of brad & co., you seemed to be saying I was being intorlerant of their views (by pointing out the contradiction of personal verification vs dogma). I see Brad & co. as being extremely intolerant of other viewpoints (obviously not in the sense that he's going to fly planes into buildings or advocate killing heretics). You seemed to be suggesting that I was being intolerant of their intolerance. In that sense (if that is what you meant), then your remarks were very similar to a fundamentalist's. It wasn't a dig at you personally. I respect your views here greatly. If I had to recommend a dharma teacher to a newbie, I wouldn't hesitate to send them to you (or Jundo, for that matter) even though we may disagree on some points.

Justin said...

"You have a problem with that Justin?"

Whatever floats your boat

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it was a celibate monk who first created the Koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

celibator said...

Justin, Good answer.. FYI the poem was written yesterday by Buddhist author/blogger Dogo Barry Graham.

Ruairi said...

But Dogen's point of view was totally different. He states that the suppression of desire and desire itself are one and the same. You might also say that one element of desire itself is our revulsion towards that desire. By fixating on that one aspect of desire, the desire to suppress desire, we only increase desire.

This doesn't mean we should simply give in to whatever lurid cravings cross our minds. That won't help us either. The only thing I've found that works is to be very, very quiet and see desire for what it really is. And the only way to do that is to do zazen every damn day. Seeing desire for what it is, is the first step. Doing what needs doing is another matter


That might be just one of the most insightful descriptions of the desire/suffering thing, and explanation for/justification of meditation I have read in a long time. Nail. Hit. On. Head.

leoboiko said...

Dogen was celibate, and yet Ikkyū couldn't. IIRC he even tried to make do with the homosexual playing widespread among Buddhist monks, but in the end always came back to women:

> Ikkyū was among the few Zen priests who argued that his enlightenment was deepened by consorting with pavilion girls. He entered brothels wearing his black robes, since for him sexual intercourse was a religious rite.

A couple of famous Ikkyū poems goes:

> A Woman's Sex:
It has the original mouth but remains wordless;
It is surrounded by a magnificent mound of hair.
Sentient beings can get completely lost in it
But it is also the birthplace of all the Buddhas of the ten thousand worlds.


>A Man's Root:
Eight inches strong, it is my favourite thing;
If I'm alone at night, I embrace it fully -
A beautiful woman hasn't touched it for ages.
Within my fundoshi there is an entire universe!


Clearly Ikkyū is in league with Brad Warner in condoning sex as harmless! Shall we revoke Ikkyū's credentials as Important Zen Guy?

Scott said...

Hey anonymous, thanks for that, yes it is the Glasgow Zen group I attended. Perhaps a bit too much ritual in it for me, but I guess that's got its place. I have been doing zazen every day since going so I hope I can keep this up for a few decades and do some good lol

Anonymous said...

Here's some zazen for you:

BONG

BONG


BONG


BONG


BONG

Anonymous said...

J'imminy cricket!

Anonymous said...

Dogen was just a dog.

Anonymous said...

Dogen was just a dog.

Anonymous said...

woof

Anonymous said...

mu

Anonymous said...

er, no, woof

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