SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Why Zen Folks FAIL!! (1) - A New Video & Podcast Series

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39221

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Why Zen Folks FAIL!! (1) - A New Video & Podcast Series

    Zen folks fail because we're IGNORANT, DELUDED sentient beings, of course! But more specifically, because of several common mistakes and misguided assumptions among many Zen students new and old (and by so-called Zen Teachers too).

    This is the first of a NEW VIDEO/AUDIO PODCAST SERIES and, over the coming weeks, I will look at many of the reasons that Zen students, Teachers, Zen groups and Buddhism in general are EPICALLY FAILING in the West (and why they are also doing quite well in so many ways, thank you!) My observations come from my 35 years of this Practice, watching countless students come and (mostly) go from the many Zen groups I have visited and come to know in Japan, America and Europe. Even many of those who stay seem frequently to have some strange ideas and bad habits.

    I will pull no punches in this series of talks. I may step on a few toes. We Zen folks may be our own worst enemies.

    Today, we will look at how many students over the years have had terribly idealized images and expectations about Zen, Zen "Masters", "Enlightenment", their life after even years of Practice, about Buddhism ... even about Buddhas! They have OVERSOLD themselves about Zen. Maybe it was oversold to them.

    But also, many folks (often in reaction when the picture turns out to be more complex), head in the opposite direction, becoming overly skeptical and critical of Zen, Zen Teachers, Communities and all the rest. These folks are making an equally serious error, and have their heads up their Zafus! They have UNDERSOLD the promise of this Way.

    What all such folks miss is the real Treasure, the Liberation, the Promise which jumps right beyond and right through both "OVER" and "UNDER" ... as this sometimes beautiful, sometimes so ugly world of Samsara proves to be the Pure Land all along. The hype and all the hoopla turn out to be true! Maybe students do not believe in Zen enough! This Path delivers all that was promised, just what the doctor ordered, but not always how, what and where folks might expect.

    We might sometimes fail, yet there is no way to fail and no place to fall.
    THE DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO PODCAST VERSION IS HERE:

    http://treeleaf.podbean.com/e/may-20...ks-fail-part-i





    (By the way, a shoutout to David Chadwick, long time Practitioner and author of the best, funniest book on Westerners practicing in Japan, THANK YOU AND OK, AN AMERICAN ZEN FAILURE IN JAPAN, who invented the logo above for some t-shirts and such here)
    Last edited by Bion; 05-14-2024, 08:55 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Cumminjd
    Member
    • May 2013
    • 183

    #2
    Hope the podcast for this gets posted soon, we all need to hear these things.

    -James
    Gassho
    Sat Today

    Comment

    • Sekishi
      Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
      • Apr 2013
      • 5670

      #3


      Sekishi
      #sattoday
      #failedtodaytoo
      Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

      Comment

      • Kyonin
        Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
        • Oct 2010
        • 6739

        #4
        Thank you Jundo!

        Will sit with this.

        Gassho,

        Kyonin
        #SatToday
        Hondō Kyōnin
        奔道 協忍

        Comment

        • Shinchi

          #5
          SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Why Zen Folks FAIL!! (I) - A New Video & Podcast Series

          Thank you, Jundo. I love podcasts and look forward to listening to this series.

          Gassho, Jim

          #sattoday

          Comment

          • Nengyo
            Member
            • May 2012
            • 668

            #6
            muchisimas gracias senor jundo

            _/\_
            If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

            Comment

            • Sekishi
              Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
              • Apr 2013
              • 5670

              #7
              Hi all, the audio version is now linked above, or should auto-magically appear in your podcatcher if you are subscribed.

              Gassho,
              Sekishi
              #sattoday
              Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

              Comment

              • Geika
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Jan 2010
                • 4977

                #8
                Thank you, Jundo. Will be listening.

                Gassho, sat today
                求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
                I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

                Comment

                • Shugen
                  Treeleaf Unsui
                  • Nov 2007
                  • 4535

                  #9
                  Gassho,

                  Shugen

                  #sattoday


                  Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                  Meido Shugen
                  明道 修眼

                  Comment

                  • Sekishi
                    Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                    • Apr 2013
                    • 5670

                    #10
                    First off, let me say again, thank you Jundo for this talk (and the promise of more to come). I think it is a wonderful opportunity to have an ongoing discussion about what the real "promise" of Buddhist practice is, and how we engage with practice for "the long haul". Particularly in the Soto school, where the carrots of nirvana, enlightenment, and kensho go into the soup instead of being dangled in front of us as goals to strive for. There are aspects of this talk that are very timely and applicable for my own practice.

                    I wonder if we could talk here a little about the idea of "failure" in practice. I am experiencing real aversion (in both the Buddhist and non-Buddhist senses of the word) to the term and idea of "failure" (or even "epic fail" from the talk). I think I understand the overall message; the Buddha's teachings on the greed, anger, and delusion of sentient beings points to how we all "fail" due to unskillful actions and perceptions - we "fail" to see our true nature.

                    However, going into the talk with a description of sitting in the Buddha hall with a dozen people, or thirty people, knowing that many more have sat for a while but have either left the Sangha, or left practice all together, are we to consider that a failure as well? I sometimes encounter the idea that there is "no bad Zazen". Is there "bad practice"? Can we "fail" at practice? I'm curious what others think about sitting for a few weeks, or months, or years, and then quitting (either continuing as solitary practitioners, or perusing a different path entirely). Is this "failure"?

                    Am I just hopelessly obtuse?

                    Gassho,
                    Sekishi
                    #sattoday
                    Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

                    Comment

                    • Risho
                      Member
                      • May 2010
                      • 3179

                      #11
                      Thank you

                      Gassho,

                      Risho
                      -sattoday
                      Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                      Comment

                      • Seimyo
                        Member
                        • Jan 2012
                        • 861

                        #12
                        Much to sit with. Thank you Jundo.

                        Gassho
                        Seimyo

                        #sattoday

                        明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39221

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Sekishi
                          I wonder if we could talk here a little about the idea of "failure" in practice. I am experiencing real aversion (in both the Buddhist and non-Buddhist senses of the word) to the term and idea of "failure" (or even "epic fail" from the talk). I think I understand the overall message; the Buddha's teachings on the greed, anger, and delusion of sentient beings points to how we all "fail" due to unskillful actions and perceptions - we "fail" to see our true nature.

                          However, going into the talk with a description of sitting in the Buddha hall with a dozen people, or thirty people, knowing that many more have sat for a while but have either left the Sangha, or left practice all together, are we to consider that a failure as well? I sometimes encounter the idea that there is "no bad Zazen". Is there "bad practice"? Can we "fail" at practice? I'm curious what others think about sitting for a few weeks, or months, or years, and then quitting (either continuing as solitary practitioners, or perusing a different path entirely). Is this "failure"?
                          Hi Sekishi,

                          First, there is no place to "fail" ... even when we fail. It is rather as I say, there is no "bad Zazen", even the bad Zazen (that "good Zazen" is sitting beyond all judgements of "good and bad" and any other place to be or thing to do in that moment, while "bad Zazen" is sitting asking "Am I doing this right, and is it a waste of time?") It is rather as I say that, ultimately, there is no "place to fall off Buddha mountain", and yet some paths lead into the mud, in circles and others right off a cliff!!

                          I also believe that even many of the folks who leave the Practice ... whether after a minute, a month or a year ... will be influenced in their life, touched by it in some way. One may leave, but it doesn't quite leave one's heart. Nor do I believe that there is one path suited to all folks, or the "Zen" is "one size fits all". To each their own.

                          However, over the years, I have come to see that that there are some strange ideas about Zen Practice, "Enlightenment", methods and the goals of all this madness. They tend to get in the way, and often keep people going in circles, falling off the Zafu if not off the cliff.

                          It may not be true in this Sangha (where the message is a bit different, and we are all "bozos on the bus" ... although some are more experienced "bozos" guiding the other bozos ), but all long time Zen folks should read some of the essays by Stuart Lachs about attitudes toward the "Roshi". Note that Stuart way, WAY WAY overstates his case, paints with a broad brush and throws the Baby Buddha out with the bathwater (and that attitudes have improved in some ways with time), but these attitudes really exist to various degrees in many, many Sangha and for many practitioners even now.

                          Richard Baker, in perhaps the best selling Zen book in the English language, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind describes the term roshi in the following manner,

                          A roshi is a person who has actualized that perfect freedom which is the potentiality for all human beings. He exists freely in the fullness of his whole being. The flow of his consciousness is not the fixed repetitive patterns of our usual self-centered consciousness, but rather arises spontaneously and naturally from the actual circumstances of the present. The results of this in terms of the quality of his life are extraordinary-buoyancy, vigor, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, security, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity and unfathomable compassion. His whole being testifies to what it means to live in the reality of the present. Without anything said or done, just the impact of meeting a personality so developed can be enough to change another's whole way of life. But in the end it is not the extraordinariness of the teacher that perplexes, intrigues, and deepens the student, it is the teacher's utter ordinariness.
                          It should be noted that this was written as the introduction to the words and teachings of Mr. Baker's teacher, Suzuki- roshi. This introduction was meant to describe a real person, and by extension, as is clearly stated, all people with the title roshi. It is not an idealized reference to a heavenly being or some distant or mythological religious figure.

                          Zen Master Seung Sahn, who is the most famous Korean Zen Master in the West, in Dropping Ashes on the Buddha , one of his better selling books, related the following exchange of letters that indicates his view of the Zen Master. In a letter to the Master, someone asked, "If a Zen Master is capable of doing miracles, why doesn't he do them?... Why doesn't Soen Sunim do as Jesus did- make the blind see, or touch a crazy person and make him sane? Wouldn't even such a showy miracle as walking on water make people believe in Zen so that they would begin to practice..." The Master (that is, Seung Sahn) replied, "Many people want miracles, and if they witness miracles they become attached to them. But miracles are only a technique. They are not the true way. If a Zen Master used miracles often, people would become very attached to this technique of his, and they wouldn't learn the true way..."

                          ...

                          The well known Chinese Ch'an teacher, Master Sheng-yen also said of the Zen Master, "it should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure... and even if the master tells lies, steals, and chases women..., he is still to be considered a true master as long as he scolds his disciples for their transgressions."

                          http://terebess.hu/english/lachs.html
                          One merely has to go around the internet to find how common such attitudes are in Buddhism in general, even today.

                          To see how such idealized images have thrived in some Zen and other Buddhist communities, one would also be well advised to look through "OBC Connect", a forum dedicated to recollections of long term members and alumni of Kennett Roshi's Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (an organization with many wonderful qualities, but also some particular views too) ...

                          i talked and counseled well over 1,000 people who had been in various religious / spiritual /cultic organizations, what became overwhelming apparent was that the shadows of the gurus were running rampant and causing all sorts of suffering in the lives of their devotees and students. And Shasta was a prime example of this strange and convoluted drama.

                          In all cases, the main narrative in these organizations and communities was that the roshi / rinpoche / guru / perfect master had no self, no ego, no persona, no personal desires or wants, no shadow and that everything the master did was an expression of the divine, of the Buddha Nature, of selfless perfection, of God.

                          ...

                          ... Over the next postings, I am going to talk directly about Kennett's personality, her unresolved issues, her history, ego, self, and how her personality affected her students and her legacy -- all the aspects of her life that were not supposed to exit anymore -- after she became an official Zen "master." She had a kensho, she received transmission, she was certified by a Zen abbot -- and from that moment on, the story goes, she had no self, no personality, no shadow, no negative aspects. Well, maybe she was still a tiny bit "human," maybe she had a few eccentricities or slight flaws, but for all practical purposes, she was a living Buddha and not really human.

                          So, in this topic, I am going to address the my reflections on her personality / shadow / human nature as I experienced it, not the fantasy, not the myth. I am going to talk honestly about what I saw and what I experienced in living closely with Kennett for those seven years.

                          http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t15...s-and-shasta-s
                          Gassho, J (Bozo driving this Bus)

                          PS - There is a Precept cautioning against criticizing the Buddhist Practice of others. I honor that, but also believe that it does not prevent constructive and "non-angry" criticism of endemic problems and excesses. The Buddha himself, Dogen and most of the other ancient masters had some opinions about what was right and wrong with the state of practice in their day!
                          Last edited by Jundo; 05-23-2015, 03:31 AM.
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • Myosha
                            Member
                            • Mar 2013
                            • 2974

                            #14
                            "The Buddha himself, Dogen and most of the other ancient masters had some opinions about what was right and wrong . . . ." JC

                            Hello,

                            It's all practice. Have fun.

                            "People with opinions just go around bothering each other." Shakyamuni Buddha




                            Gassho
                            Myosha sat today
                            Last edited by Myosha; 05-23-2015, 04:06 PM.
                            "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                            Comment

                            • RichardH
                              Member
                              • Nov 2011
                              • 2800

                              #15
                              Just want to comment on this guff from the above quote within a quote..uh... within a quote.

                              The well known Chinese Ch'an teacher, Master Sheng-yen also said of the Zen Master, "it should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure... and even if the master tells lies, steals, and chases women...,
                              Well who's mind aint? The proof of the pudding is how he lives. One thing Jundo has said that had a strong impact on me (can't locate the thread sorry) was not to expect perfection from a teacher but to watch how she/he recovers from his/her human mistakes. That's beautiful. Just sayin. Thank you for the video.

                              Gassho
                              Daizan

                              sat today

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