2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39026

    2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi,

    We continue with the SECOND TALK in Suzuki Roshi's talks on the Sandokai ... "WARM HAND TO WARM HAND", pages 39 to 48.

    Let's start of with a Koan like question ...

    This section of the Sandokai touches upon an ancient rift between schools of Zen, the 'Northern School' of Jinshu and the 'Southern School' of Eno, each with their own interpretation of how the Way should be pursued. Suzuki Roshi write

    If you have the eyes to see or the mind to understand the teaching, you will see that it is not necessary to be involved in such a dispute. Because some of the descendants of Eno and Jinshu didn't completely understand the teaching of Buddha they got into a dispute. From Sekito's point of view there is no need for contention.

    Jinshu's teaching is good, and the Sixth Ancestor Eno's teaching is good. Jinshu's way is good for someone who studies things slowly and deliberately, and the Sixth Ancestor's way is good for a quick, sharpminded person. ... A great teacher's way of explaining the teaching will be unique. But there is no difference in true understanding.
    So here's the question:

    Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?

    I don't think so. (Here's a clue: perhaps it has to do with the perspective of the relative and the perspective of the absolute)

    Just as in driving a car, there are many ways to do things, and ultimately, each has its own value as itself. However, we can safely say that driving down the wrong side of the road, headlights off and eyes closed, is probably not a good way.

    Anyway, I will just leave the question there.

    For folks who would like more on the actual historical background of the "dispute" between North and South (including the fact that several of the participants such as the Master Hui-Neng, the 6th Patriarch himself, and his famous poetry battle may be largely a fictional composite), this is from "A Dictionary of Buddhism" by Damien Keown; p. 200) ...

    A controversy that arose between two factions of pre-classical Ch'an during the early 8th century whose polemics centred on the positions of ‘sudden enlightenment’ (the ‘subitist’ position) (see subitism) and ‘gradual enlightenment’ (the ‘gradualist’ position). The traditional account of the controversy is found in the Platform S?tra of the Sixth Patriarch. According to this Chinese text, both Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng were disciples of the fifth patriarch Hung-jen (601-74). As Hung-jen was preparing to pass the title of sixth patriarch to his successor, he asked his disciples to compose a poem that would demonstrate their level of enlightenment (bodhi). All the other monks deferred to Shen-hsiu, the senior disciple. Shen-hsiu composed a verse which Hung-jen publicly praised while telling Shen-hsiu in private that it fell short of the mark. When Hui-neng heard about the contest, he instantly knew what to write and, being illiterate, had a temple page inscribe his verse on a wall. Hung-jen, hearing of this, said publicly that this verse was lacking, but late that night called Hui-neng to his room and ‘transmitted his Dharma’ to him, naming him as his successor and sixth patriarch, and giving him the robe and bowl of Bodhidharma as tokens. In traditional Ch'an literature, Shen-hsiu's verse puts forward the gradualist position while Hui-neng's expresses the subitist position, and Hung-jen's approbation of the latter's verse is meant to demonstrate that the subitist position is the true teaching of the patriarchs.

    Thus, in Ch'an documents, the Northern School (the name given to the line of disciples coming from Shen-hsiu) is represented as teaching the position of ‘gradual enlightenment’. From a philosophical viewpoint, ‘gradual’ here does not necessarily mean taking an extended period of time to achieve enlightenment, but indicates the dualistic view that differentiates enlightenment from ignorance or practice from attainment. No matter what length of time one specifies from the beginning of practice to the attainment of enlightenment, it becomes ‘gradual’ only because the two are separated. According to teachings of Buddha-nature that had been current in China from the 4th century onwards, all sentient beings have the capacity to be Buddhas. Teachings of ‘sudden enlightenment’, which became standard doctrine within Ch'an after the controversy, posit Buddha-nature as an already fully endowed Buddhahood inherent in all beings, in light of which enlightenment takes literally no time at all, since practice and attainment are collapsed. Thus, on this reading, the Northern School adhered to a position of untenable dualism, and so fell out of the mainstream.

    A historical examination of the controversy reveals many problems with the traditional account of both the events themselves and the views ascribed to each side. There is good reason to think that the two protagonists in the poetry contest, Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng, never resided at Hung-jen's monastery on Tung Shan at the same time. Furthermore, the Northern School's views on practice and enlightenment reveal a subitist position, while Southern School literature written during less heated moments frankly acknowledges the need to spend time preparing oneself for the moment of ‘sudden’ enlightenment. Ironically, during the Council of Lhasa held in Tibet in 792 to debate the subitist and gradualist positions, Indian monks argued the gradualist position, and a Northern School monk represented the subitist position.

    In China, the controversy appears to have been politically motivated. Both Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng lived out their days peacefully enjoying great success in their own spheres. Shen-hsiu in particular had been highly prominent at the court of the infamous Empress Wu of the T'ang dynasty, and is one of only three Buddhist monks to have a biography in official court records. However, in the year 732, some 24 years after Shen-hsiu's death, a disciple of Hui-neng named Ho-tse Shen-hui (670-762) denounced Shen-hsiu's lineage for espousing a gradualist position and claimed that his own master had received and maintained the true position of sudden enlightenment. While he received a sympathetic hearing from some court officials, the Northern School had some powerful allies in court who convinced the throne to have Shen-hui exiled. He and his school might well have come to nothing but for the outbreak of the An Lu-shan Rebellion in 755. This rebellion lasted for many years and put a severe strain on the imperial treasury, and so Shen-hui was called back to the capital and put to work selling ordination certificates, a task at which he succeeded brilliantly. The court, in gratitude, granted him his own temple in the capital, providing him a base from which to recruit his own disciples in competition with the Northern School, which also remained active. His lineage was known at the time as the ‘Ho-tse School’, after the monastery in which he resided, but was also called the Southern School because of the southern provenance of his master Hui-neng. While neither the Northern nor the Southern School survived the persecution of Buddhism in 845, Shen-hui's rhetoric of sudden enlightenment became the norm for all subsequent Ch'an schools and literature, such that no master could espouse what appeared to be a gradualist position without fear of being accused of holding to a false dualism. In addition, the lineage of Shen-hui succeeded in having the mantle of ‘sixth patriarch’ transferred from Shen-hsiu to their own progenitor Hui-neng, so that all Ch'an monks from that time to the present trace their enlightenment lineage back to the latter.
    Also, please listen to this 26 minute film of Suzuki Roshi delivering various portions of these Sandokai lectures (I have not seen many of these excerpts before other than in this film. It was filmed at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and also includes some biographical material on Suzuki Roshi. The talks on the Sandokai start at about the 10 minute mark in the film

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7umcFZEb7c&hl=ja[/video]]

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Bansho
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 532

    #2
    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

    Hi Jundo,

    Originally posted by Jundo
    So here's the question:

    Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?
    Yes and no. A misguided teaching for one student may be a perfect fit for another. The tricky bit for the teacher is to find out where the student stands and to teach from a perspective which the student can relate to. For example, Buddha Shakyamuni's discourses vary widely in focus, depth, etc. depending on the audience. A speech delivered to his own Bhikkhus was invariably much different to one delivered to politicians, Brahmans, Jains, etc., and even within his own Sangha the flavor of his teachings was always adapted to the inclinations and level of understanding of the addressee. One Bhikkhu was alledgedly at such an intellectual level that he could not even remember one 4 line gatha. (And I can't even remember his name! :roll: ). Ananda, on the other hand, had a great memory, but was unable to grasp the teachings in their full depth until after the Buddha's death. For Mahakashyapa, the twirl of a flower said it all. Despite their differing capacities, the 'expedient means' the Buddha employed imparted his understanding to each of them, like the lid fits the jar, as Sekito Kisen would say. The same goes for all of our Dharma ancestors who were truly able to impart their understanding. And as you've implied, the teachings are relative, situative, many, but at the same time that which is being imparted is absolute, the same, one. Same...but different, as if each student were looking at the same starry sky, but through lenses of differeng color, one red, one blue, one green...

    I think that's one of the reasons why it's important to have a teacher to interact with as opposed to trying to learn everything from books. Books are hit-and-miss. Some teachings may resonate, others will not. They don't demonstrate anything, they don't correct you when you're wrong, and if you don't read them over and over and over they don't repeat themselves. I often have an 'aha' experience only after being corrected or hearing you say the same thing for the 100th time, Jundo. So go ahead and tell me I'm all wrong!

    Gassho
    Bansho
    ??

    Comment

    • Bansho
      Member
      • Apr 2007
      • 532

      #3
      Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

      Hi again,

      Originally posted by Jundo
      For folks who would like more on the actual historical background of the "dispute" between North and South (including the fact that several of the participants such as the Master Hui-Neng, the 6th Patriarch himself, and his famous poetry battle may be largely a fictional composite), this is from "A Dictionary of Buddhism" by Damien Keown; p. 200) ...
      On that note, I thought I'd also recommend Legends in Ch’an: the Northern/Southern Schools Split, Hui-neng and the Platform Sutra, which I think also offers a very interesting perspective.

      Gassho
      Bansho
      ??

      Comment

      • BrianW
        Member
        • Oct 2008
        • 511

        #4
        Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

        Originally posted by Jundo
        Does Suzuki Roshi mean that he'd approve of teaching Zen and Buddhism in just any old way, no standards, never wrong? Would he say that there are no misguided ways to teach or practice that, when seen, are worth to point out and debate?
        I would answer no because...

        The spiritual source shines clear in the light; (absolute)
        the branching streams flow on in the dark. (relative)

        Gassho,
        BrianW

        Comment

        • Tony-KY
          Member
          • Nov 2007
          • 63

          #5
          Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

          One of the main things that I've always appreciated about Buddhism is the recognition that everyone is different and he or she has to walk his or her own path. To me, this talk hits on that in "equality is differentiation". Teachers and texts are very important. But each person has to internalize these teachings with her/his own being. But, the teachings are pointing to the "same potential" that is in everyone (and everything). But, they have to arrive there differently.

          Gassho,

          Tony

          Comment

          • Jenny
            Member
            • Jan 2008
            • 62

            #6
            Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

            Susuki Roshi mentions in this chapter that the main purpose of the Sandokai is to explain reality from
            two sides. In the article Jundo recommended Sekkei Harada quotes this poem which I find helpful;

            Even though it separates
            Into rain, hail, snow and ice,
            When it falls, it is
            The same valley river water.

            Jenny

            Comment

            • will
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 2331

              #7
              Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

              I believe what he's getting at, from the quote that you posted, is that both of these schools lead to the same point. However, some practices might accommodate certain students better. For instance Buddha held up the flower. Only one person in the crowd got it. BAM!! Realization. What about the others in the crowd? Well, another practice might be needed or suit them better.

              He's talking about arguing as being useless. The Buddha would not argue what practice is better, but accommodate individuals according to the situation. That's why there is hundreds of precepts in the Tripitaka, and as many teachings, and practices.

              Gassho

              Will
              [size=85:z6oilzbt]
              To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
              To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
              To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
              To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
              [/size:z6oilzbt]

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39026

                #8
                Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                Originally posted by will
                He's talking about arguing as being useless. The Buddha would not argue what practice is better, but accommodate individuals according to the situation. That's why there is hundreds of precepts in the Tripitaka, and as many teachings, and practices.
                Hi Will,

                Good comment.

                The Buddha also used a lot of those hundreds of precepts to kick a lot of precept-breaching monks out of the Sangha on their behinds.

                Gassho, J
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • CinnamonGal
                  Member
                  • Apr 2008
                  • 195

                  #9
                  Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                  Hello everyone,

                  My understanding of the quote Judo used is in line with what Will wrote.

                  Just as in driving a car, there are many ways to do things, and ultimately, each has its own value as itself. However, we can safely say that driving down the wrong side of the road, headlights off and eyes closed, is probably not a good way.
                  Jundo, I don't see your example as contradicting to Suzuki Roshi's reasoning. I don't see anything morally "right" or "wrong" in different ways of driving but we have to comply with the rules we ourslevs set up to avoide hurting oursleves and others. Someone might want to practice driving with closed eyes and with no lights in the open field and then it is no longer an issue for other people but maybe for other living forms.

                  I see the argument between South and North (from what I read from the talk) more in terms of driving on the right or on the left side of the street. To some of us visiting say London it seems crazy and even signs in huge block letters reminding us to look to the right does not help (we are "wired" by years of practice to look to the left!). Yet left-hand traffic was a predominent rule of the road in most parts of the world, Europe including for quite some time (I believe it the origin goes to Napoleon and some reasoning around riding a horse and using a weapon, correct me if I am off the base here) and so there is nothing "wrong" with driving either way (as long as we follow the rules in this particular country :lol: to avoide head-on collision) because we still reach the destination. Left-hand or raight-hand traffic - we are still doing the same thing, just using a slightly different method to take us where we are heading.

                  I have difficulty understanding the following passage though:

                  Another way to explain reality is by differentiation. Differentiation is equality, and things have equal value because they are different. If men and women are the same, then the distinctions between men and women have no value
                  I do not hand up on "men" and "women" here in the example, it could just as well be "pears" and "apples". I do not understand the way to reason here, using the kind of logic I know. I think it is dawning on me - EVERYTHING is the same in that (or because of?) everything is different? So "apples" and "peers" are "equal" because they are different? Is this what he is trying to say? Are "the same" and "equal" synonyms here?
                  Can someone help me with this one?

                  I think I got the second part where he says that because "men" and "women" are different, they have value.

                  Thanks in advance! My brain might offer a different undrstanding after the morning cup of coffe. :wink:

                  Gassho,

                  Irina

                  PS Just want to thank Jundo and everyone fot this opportunity to study together. I no longer yield to the temptation to skip the difficult for me passages when I know I can reflect on it and then ask others and the teacher and it gives so much more for the understanding. Thank you!
                  http://appropriteresponse.wordpress.com

                  Comment

                  • CinnamonGal
                    Member
                    • Apr 2008
                    • 195

                    #10
                    Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                    I think I now get more where exactly I got stuck:

                    I do not hand up on "men" and "women" here in the example, it could just as well be "pears" and "apples". I do not understand the way to reason here, using the kind of logic I know. I think it is dawning on me - EVERYTHING is the same in that (or because of?) everything is different? So "apples" and "peers" are "equal" because they are different? Is this what he is trying to say? Are "the same" and "equal" synonyms here?
                    I GET that everything is the same in that everything is different. (I never thought of it this way! What a great logic platform for unitying people!)
                    It is the word "value" that threw me off the wagon, I think. Because I interpret "value" as including "more" or "less" of something. More in economic terms, I guess, when we speak of comparisson. Oh, boy...

                    Gassho,

                    I. ops:
                    http://appropriteresponse.wordpress.com

                    Comment

                    • jrh001
                      Member
                      • Nov 2008
                      • 144

                      #11
                      Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                      Hi,

                      Here's an attempt to unravel the discussion of equality and difference:

                      All things are different (in some way).
                      All different things have value.
                      Seen from our usual perspective, value is comparative: good, bad, best, worst.
                      Comparison involves judgement.
                      Judgement measures value against some (arbitrary) standard.
                      Seen from another perspective, value is absolute - not comparative or relative.
                      All things are different.
                      All different things have equal absolute value.
                      Seeing "things as it is" = observation without judgement.

                      JohnH

                      Comment

                      • prg5001
                        Member
                        • Apr 2008
                        • 76

                        #12
                        Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                        Until I read this topic I thought I understood about Northern and Southern schools and gradual and sudden enlightenment. Now I don't, now I'm confused. That's great. :P

                        I was thinking in terms of sudden and gradual, but the quote talks of relative and absolute. But then again, that's the point, the sudden school is both relative and absolute and the gradual school is both absolute and relative. So both are good.

                        Thanks,

                        Paul

                        Comment

                        • Shogen
                          Member
                          • Dec 2008
                          • 301

                          #13
                          Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                          Hi Northern School or Southern School who cares? The most important issue is your own practice of Zazen and self-realization or enlightenment if you prefer. The intellect and it's judgemental positions is what we are all trying to get rid of in our practice so we can clearly be face to face with our own true nature. So how are we to do this if we get caught up in intellectual banter about Northern or Southern methodology. Perhaps the intellect will exhaust its self and die a natural death.(Rinzai) Or perhaps we will get tired of the B.S. and retire to the peace of the Zafu to ripen like a peach. (Soto) Zazen is the true standard of Zen Buddhism it is where your true nature is waiting to say hello. What else matters? Thank you Jundo for this teaching and for constantly pointing us to the Zafu! Gassho Zak

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                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39026

                            #14
                            Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                            Originally posted by zak
                            Thank you Jundo for this teaching and for constantly pointing us to the Zafu! Gassho Zak
                            Your welcome Zak. I always avoid intra-Buddhist disputes. :roll:
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Tb
                              Member
                              • Jan 2008
                              • 3186

                              #15
                              Re: 2/20- Branching Streams: 2nd Talk - Warm Hand to Warm Hand

                              Hi.
                              Just a short one, as i'm out the door...

                              Many mind, many matter.
                              One mind, one matter.
                              No mind, no matter.

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

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