Special reading - once born twice born zen (part not 1)

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39452

    Special reading - once born twice born zen (part not 1)

    Hi All,

    I thought to post some special reading topics. The theme is "readings that will help in understanding Zen readings". 8)

    For years and years, after first starting Zen practice, I would read many "Zen Books" but not quite understand why so many seemed to be saying rather different things (or the same things, but seemingly with very different emphasis). In other words, it too me a long time to realize that "Zen Books" (not to mention "Buddhist Books" in general) come in several flavors, often by different teachers within even the same school. Buddhism has evolved over the centuries, and various teachers do emphasize teachings in ways employing particular perspectives. My attempts to "harmonize" in my mind all these differences, and resolve how everyone was really "saying the same thing somehow" often worked, but sometimes also left me quite confused. It was only when I had some historical background, and understood better where these various approaches were coming (and coming not coming) from, did I see that not all "Zen Books" were of one kind ... not one, not two.

    (it is early in the morning ... I hope the above makes sense too!)


    My point is, not at all, to say which approach is better than any other (although, of course, I have my own approach and way of presenting the practice too). My intent is merely to help people understand the context of all these different teachings, teachers and teachers' books. All are just slightly varied paths up the same mountain (and, anyway, ultimately "what mountain"?).

    Our first reading is from a book (that, unfortunately, goes in and out of print) called "Once Born Twice Born Zen" ... about the two most common "different flavors" of Zen one will most likely encounter in the West today: the "Just Sitting" Shikantaza flavor most usually associated with Soto Sangha such as Treeleaf, and the "Kanhua" Zazen flavor most often associated with Rinzai (or mixed Soto-Rinzai) lineages (PDF).



    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-13-2020, 05:45 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Tobiishi
    Member
    • Jan 2009
    • 461

    #2
    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

    Gassho.

    My first impression was "If I had encountered Rinzai as the representative of Zen, I would likely have passed it by." But there's more to it than that. It probably takes a certain type of personality to get the most from Rinzai, or from Soto. Then again, I have no experience to make that assumption from.

    It seems there would be a greater danger of 'false realizations' with Rinzai. All that emotion and pressure, extreme mental states.

    Thanks for the reading Jundo- it will help I'm sure with navigating the vast amount of information and differing opinions available to us on the subject. It was also informative in a general way on the tenets of Soto Zen that are good to be reminded of occasionally.

    Gassho
    tobiishi
    It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.

    Comment

    • Tb
      Member
      • Jan 2008
      • 3186

      #3
      Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

      Hi.

      An old comic that has been around for a while here in sweden has a good saying about this: "only Noah knows how it tastes in Noahs mouth (when noah want some beer, and not lemonade, to the cake at a birthdayparty...)

      Otherwise it think it very important to keep an open mind, look for the origin and see for yourself.

      Mtfbwy
      Tb
      Life is our temple and its all good practice
      Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

      Comment

      • Shonin
        Member
        • Apr 2009
        • 885

        #4
        Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

        Would like to read through it agin before commenting tooo much. But I have to give props to Rinzai as it was the initial form of Zen I have encountered which has then led me here to Treeleaf. I can see the value in both really. They both kind of say the same thing but come at it from different angles.

        I'd say in some ways I am Soto minded and in some ways I am Rinzai minded.

        Dave

        Comment

        • Shogen
          Member
          • Dec 2008
          • 301

          #5
          Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

          Rinzai Zen or Soto Zen,without judgement, both have their value. My practice is Shikantaza and Treeleaf Sangha. My teacher is a Soto Zen Priest. I also like vanilla ice cream rather than chocolate. I don't know why I like Soto Zen and vanilla ice cream but they both just make me happy. Many thanks Jundo. Gassho Zak

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39452

            #6
            Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

            Hi,

            Just to emphasize again, both paths of Zen practice ... running side by side and often merging, crossing, on the way to here & no where ... are WONDROUS. Please do not let the chapter be taken to mean otherwise, as the point is merely to educate on the somewhat different flavors found in "vanilla" and "chocolate" Zen books, teachers and writings.

            Perhaps one is more suited for certain people than others, but both are powerful and effective, not one and not two. I think that the description he uses of "once born twice born" is not very precise, but those categories are just wide baskets by which we may make generally valid descriptions of differences and similarities.While his description in the book may be a bit simple and broad brush, it may also be truer than not ... and, certainly, each form of Zen Practice better suited to some folks than others. In the end, we must each find the path up the mountain that suits us (and, anyway, "what mountain"?).

            Gassho, Jundo
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Jen
              Member
              • Feb 2008
              • 166

              #7
              Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

              Isn't there also a third zen sect in Japan? The name escapes me at the moment but I remember reading of it at some point or another.

              When i first began reading about zen in library books, I was more interested in Rinzai because it just seemed more gung-ho and get up and at 'em. I stumbled upon Soto because that was what the group at my college was. I looked in the phone book but not much was listed, and this was back in the dark ages of AOL 3.0 so googling for Zen centers wasn't a possibility These days I am content with Soto practice and think it is the better choice for me, but I wouldn't turn down an opportunity to practice for a short time with a Rinzai group. Like Padre mentions, I think I have 'twice born' tendencies and Soto is a way to put myself beyond my own tendencies as opposed to dwelling in them.

              Gassho,
              Jen
              Joshin
              Not all those that wander are lost- JRR Tolkien

              Comment

              • Igor
                Member
                • Dec 2008
                • 18

                #8
                Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                Thank you for this reading.

                Gassho,
                Igor

                Comment

                • Shonin
                  Member
                  • Apr 2009
                  • 885

                  #9
                  Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                  Jen, the reading mentions Obaku. It says that it is a very small sect that practices near Kyoto.

                  Dave

                  Comment

                  • Jen
                    Member
                    • Feb 2008
                    • 166

                    #10
                    Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                    Thanks Dave, I must have overlooked it!
                    Joshin
                    Not all those that wander are lost- JRR Tolkien

                    Comment

                    • Tb
                      Member
                      • Jan 2008
                      • 3186

                      #11
                      Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                      Hi.

                      Isn't the text dividing zen in Gradual /sudden enlightment, Being enlighted/becoming enlighted, Koanemphasis/shikantazaemphasis asf

                      If thats the case, there is only the division between the two otherwise there is as many sects as there is schools/zendo's...

                      Mtfbwy
                      Tb
                      Life is our temple and its all good practice
                      Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39452

                        #12
                        Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                        Originally posted by ZenDave
                        Jen, the reading mentions Obaku. It says that it is a very small sect that practices near Kyoto.

                        Dave
                        Yes. Actually, the sect was introduced by Chinese masters who came to Japan in the Ming Dynasty, about 300 years after the time of Dogen and the Rinzai school too. The school is closely affiliated with the Rinzai school, and its major characteristic is that it is a blend of Zen-Pure Land (Amida Buddha worship. Even now in China, most sects are Zen-Pure Land)

                        You can read a little more here:

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obaku_(school_of_Buddhism)

                        Isn't the text dividing zen in Gradual /sudden enlightment, Being enlighted/becoming enlighted, Koanemphasis/shikantazaemphasis asf
                        Yes, same but different ... different but same.

                        Gassho, J
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Shokai
                          Treeleaf Priest
                          • Mar 2009
                          • 6391

                          #13
                          Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                          It doesn't matter what your donkey's name is; just as long as he/she can climb a mountain.

                          I spent some time yesterday googling the Presbyterian minister that wrote this stuff. It fascinates me to think that he comes down so hard on Rinzai when it seems his only contact with zen is through reading. My understanding is that Rinzai is more exclusive to monasteries. Whereas, Soto is very accessible in Temples; which is where I became exposed to it in Japan. One of my fellow workers invited me to join him at a Temple in Urawa. But then I was transferred to Hiroshima and I started attending a zazen group at zen Pukuji but, it wasn't all that convenient and after an ichimangoju parking fine, I was delighted on Newyears eve 1995 to hear a zen priest say in perfect English, "Welcome to my Temple". After partaking in a cup of amezake and some small talk, he invited me to join his early morning zazen sessions and I never looked back. I especially enjoyed the rap on the shoulder the elder priest, Todo-oso, would give us each first session of the new year. It was done as such a token of love that you felt his entire spirit envelop you.

                          gassho, rj
                          合掌,生開
                          gassho, Shokai

                          仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                          "Open to life in a benevolent way"

                          https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

                          Comment

                          • Jen
                            Member
                            • Feb 2008
                            • 166

                            #14
                            Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                            Thank you Jundo. I attended a Pure land temple for a short time. The Amida worship personally made me uncomfortable, but it is interesting that it can be incorporated into Zen.

                            Gassho,
                            Jenny
                            Joshin
                            Not all those that wander are lost- JRR Tolkien

                            Comment

                            • shogyo
                              Member
                              • Aug 2008
                              • 44

                              #15
                              Re: 0606 - SPECIAL READING - ONCE BORN TWICE BORN ZEN - CH 1.

                              thank you for this reading Jundo and your comment which I found very helpful. Having previously studied with John Daido Loori I find myself on the part of the mountain where I do not find these approaches mutually exclusive and in contemporary practice there does seem to be an approach which is trying to integrate these two ways.

                              as perhaps one of the leading practitioners taking this route I'd be grateful for the sanghas comments on Daido's article Dogen and Koans available at http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/24-2/arti ... daido.html in which Daido states:

                              Not as popular as Dogen’s Kana Shobogenzo is his Mana or Sambyakusoku Shobogenzo (The Shobogenzo of Three Hundred Koans), a collection of three hundred cases that Dogen collected during his travels in China from 1227 to 1230. This seminal work, which was to influence all of Dogen’s other teachings, remained in obscurity for many centuries. It wasn’t until 1934 that it was rediscovered and made available to the general public by Professor Tokuju Oya, and only recently was its authenticity finally verified.

                              The Mana Shobogenzo, unlike Dogen’s other writings, was written in Chinese. And though these three hundred cases were culled largely from Zen texts of the Sung era—The Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku), and The Book of Serenity, (Shoyoroku)—unlike the koans in these collections, these cases are not accompanied either by a title or commentary, yet Dogen used them frequently as seeds for his other writings, particularly the Kana Shobogenzo and the Eihei Koroku.

                              However, because Dogen was an outspoken critic of koan study, some people insist that he would never have collected or used koans. What seems closer to the truth, is that he opposed the superficial treatment of koans, not koan introspection itself. Legend has it that before he left China to return to Japan, the young Dogen stayed up all night and hand-copied The Blue Cliff Record. Dogen’s early teachers, Eisai and Myozen, both taught koan introspection. In fact, Dogen received Rinzai transmission in the Oryu line from Myozen before leaving for China, and though that lineage died out in both China and Japan, it is preserved within the Soto school to this day.

                              Brian

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