My Two Cents

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  • Keishin
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 471

    My Two Cents

    hellos to all those visiting here.

    I have been interested in my thoughts and responses to the various threads posted regarding activity, group activity, and engaged buddhism.

    I'm not for it. For me, such activity takes me into places the practice of zazen has gotten me out of.

    There is an idealization going on. I can't put my finger on it or explain it. Words fail me. I can't adequately convey the aspects of conceptualization going on--the very thing zazen practice roots out.

    No, I will not be handing anyone a card or a pamphlet. And no, when I give money to someone who is homeless or begging I won't say 'this is in buddha's name,' or 'this well intentioned action is for your benefit...' no, No, NO!

    I wish I could eloquently explain, but I can't. I wish I could in-eloquently explain, but I can't.

    Maybe there are circumstances in which I will be able to: be able to explain, or be able to hand out a buddhist pamphlet or a 'pass it forward' card about intentions.

    As it is, I do not publically identify myself as buddhist, looking at me, I am just a middle aged woman almost 60. As a middle aged human being I do what I can in what ways I can. Sitting zazen over the years some layers of thought have dropped. What do I know? That what I know isn't what I think I know.

    There already is a group activity occuring in which every member and every guest member and visitor contributes to. It publically identifies itself as buddhist and promotes buddhism in the West (and the ten directions as well). That activity is Treeleaf itself.

    From where I sit to ask about doing more is like someone sitting on the zafu saying--well, don't tell me this is IT, isn't there more? I want a mantra, I want to visualize, I want to ...

    This is a very difficult practice. It isn't for everyone. It is as minimal as it gets. This minimalism leads to a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Stay with them, this very minimalism that leads to uncomfortable feelings also leads through them.


    PS I think each of us wherever it is we find ourselves in the world is free to act in accordance with our situation and circumstances. Act locally.
    It might be nice for folks to share some of their actions--might make me aware of something I otherwise wouldn't be. It might also be nice for folks to not share. Just because I don't post what I do, doesn't mean I do nothing. There are those of us that just 'do' and don't make mental notes about the doing; the doing being devoid (in that moment of action) of any sense of intention---good or otherwise. When I 'do' I certainly don't think or say 'this is done in the name of the buddha.' Unnecessary.
  • ghop
    Member
    • Jan 2010
    • 438

    #2
    Re: My Two Cents

    Thank you, Keishin, for your courageous honesty.

    Very well said.

    gassho
    Greg

    Comment

    • AlanLa
      Member
      • Mar 2008
      • 1405

      #3
      Re: My Two Cents

      I agree with you 99%, Keishin. I also don't expect to participate for all the reasons you state.

      My 1% (if it is a disagreement at all) was that I did want to try and help facilitate a bit those folks who do, for I feel they are free to express their Path as they see fit, so I did some postings to hopefully help move that forward. But I expect to fade into the background on this now.
      AL (Jigen) in:
      Faith/Trust
      Courage/Love
      Awareness/Action!

      I sat today

      Comment

      • Earthling
        Member
        • Oct 2010
        • 39

        #4
        Re: My Two Cents

        Thank you, Keishin... ()

        When sitting, just sit and don't add to it. And so, when giving (in whatever way), just give and don't add to it. There's nothing to add. Don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing, just do it-- whatever "it" might be. At least, that is my own understanding of things at the moment...

        () josh
        [i:2c6lh4g4]Not “Revelation”—‘tis—that waits,
        But our unfurnished eyes—[/i:2c6lh4g4]
        ~ Emily Dickinson

        Comment

        • Hogen
          Member
          • Oct 2009
          • 261

          #5
          Re: My Two Cents

          Keishin.

          I agree wholeheartedly.
          When practice charity, I just do so. I don't do it in the name of anyone but just for charity-sake.
          I see the desire to act collectively in order to make greater gains, but that's not how I see charity.

          I don't begrudge anyone who wishes to build momentum by looking for group action, but that's not me.
          Hogen
          法眼

          #SatToday

          Comment

          • JohnsonCM
            Member
            • Jan 2010
            • 549

            #6
            Re: My Two Cents

            I respect everything you all have said. My only reminder is that simply because you feel there is an idealization going on, doesn't mean there is one. We should all be careful not to super-impose our perception of the situation over the situation itself. Sit zazen, and only sit zazen, if that speaks to you. Sing on the mountain tops if that speaks to you. Hand out a flier (again, NOT a Buddhist flier, but one about a cause to help) if that speaks to you. Only extend your empty hand to hold someone's hand who needs a friend if that speaks to you.

            The group project idea was meant to be an idea for something we could all do, something that might make the Teachings and the Way a little more visible, and something that would truly make a difference for people who needed help. That was it, and that was all.

            Participate in whatever way you feel is most in accordance with the Teachings, even if that means not participating. That's ok. I don't think any one would or should judge another member of this sangha, especially based on whether they would or wouldn't choose to participate in something like we've talked about.

            Thank you for your honesty, Keishin.
            Gassho,
            "Heitetsu"
            Christopher
            Sat today

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39458

              #7
              Re: My Two Cents

              Hi,

              I do not think the question is as cut and dry as Keishin presents, not at all, and that there is another side to this. I very much support Engaged Action, as a group, with Sangha members working together in the ways we can to leave this world a bit better. Of course, that in no way prevents each of us from engaging in other good works on our own. Not all the ideas that were presented this past week on various threads are workable, I feel, but some are very fine, realistic and possible. Not everyone will feel a calling to join in, but some may find such efforts as just one more powerful practice, as ZAZEN!

              I thank Chris so much for pushing this along.

              I do not have time to write much more on this right now, as I have to get a magazine article written today on ... our Sangha. However, we will pick up on this again right after Jukai.

              Gassho, Jundo
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Keishin
                Member
                • Jun 2007
                • 471

                #8
                Re: My Two Cents

                Hellos to all posting here!

                Jundo, I don't believe I am presenting anything other than my own opinion about a topic under lively discussion in several threads.

                However, I see by your post above that you very much support Engaged Action. It is therefore not fitting for me as a guest to voice an opinion which could be viewed as contrary to yours as the teacher here.

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39458

                  #9
                  Re: My Two Cents

                  Originally posted by Keishin
                  Hellos to all posting here!

                  Jundo, I don't believe I am presenting anything other than my own opinion about a topic under lively discussion in several threads.

                  However, I see by your post above that you very much support Engaged Action. It is therefore not fitting for me as a guest to voice an opinion which could be viewed as contrary to yours as the teacher here.
                  Hi Keishin,

                  I just wish to not discourage, and to encourage folks to consider this ... much like those folks who are sometimes hesitant to chant or bow or try some other practice until they see that, it too, is Zazen! ONLY Seated Zazen is Zazen, YET ALL this can be Zazen too ... not two. (funny how that works! :shock: )

                  I think we will undertake some projects here, and some ideas maybe best not. Some folks may become involved, some not. However, for those who do undertake some role in service of others ... both individually and perhaps through some other entity or association of people such as this Sangha ... it can be a rich Buddhist Practice.

                  Gassho, Jundo
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Stephanie

                    #10
                    Re: My Two Cents

                    I appreciate and agree with much of what Keishin is saying. The idea of a group sit where we distribute info about Treeleaf does indeed seem unrealistically idealistic. I agree with Keishin also that I do not believe it is right to "sell" this practice - people come if and when they are ready, no sooner.

                    This practice is not a magic potion or cure. I don't believe getting more people to sit zazen will lead to world peace. Sorry, but no. It can't even cause Zen teachers to drop their foibles or keep sangha members from fighting.

                    When I think back to the days I wanted to tell everyone about zazen I feel silly. I didn't even have my own shit half together, and I was reaching out like I was going to save people. LOL.

                    That said, there is something to the bodhisattva vow. There are people who are suffering that we may be uniquely equipped to help. What do we do? This is a Koan with which each of us must wrestle.

                    I do also agree with Chris and Jundo that there are benefits to group action. I disagree that the action should have anything to do with advertising Treeleaf. But all the same there are things we could do as a group we could not do alone.

                    I believe we are uniquely poised as an Internet based sangha to help others through this medium. And I hope we can find a way to use our talents and energy, even if for a cause that seems small. Not because I think it's a requirement to have a cause, but because we have the means and the will to contribute, and it would be a shame to squander that.

                    Comment

                    • Omoi Otoshi
                      Member
                      • Dec 2010
                      • 801

                      #11
                      Re: My Two Cents

                      I believe a group project that involves the whole Sangha is not realistic. Jundo and Taigu could "force" all members to take part or take their leave, but I don't think that is very realistic either... From what I have seen so far, this is not their style and I'm glad for it. We have to accept that our practices are different and that we manifest the reality of life and our universal self in different ways. I'm not sure walking past a number of people publically sitting and giving out pamphlets would in any way have helped me find my Way, before I found this practice, or rather before this practice found me. Rather, I would instantaneously have applied my dualistic and discriminating mind and placed this activity into the "religious sect" category and moved on with my ordinary life and my illusions.

                      From the few posts I've read from Keishin, I can see that she has accumulated quite a bit of wisdom and insight over her 60 years. I agree very much with her, although I can't put it into words either. I also get an uneasy feeling and I see a risk of getting a socially engaged A-team and non-engaged B-team. Although the B-team might be living their lives as true Buddhas outside of these forums. I feel I am already socially engaged, both locally and on a larger scale, in a way that suits my practice as it is in this present moment. There is also I fear a risk of delusion, idealization, ego bolstering and feelings of inadequacy. Already, although we are for the most part behaving well towards each other, we can see small signs of hurt egos, anger and frustration in the threads on this subject.

                      Good and evil, right or wrong, it's hard to see the truth and we often delude ourselves.

                      http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/goodevil.html:
                      An act of faith or generosity, moral purity, or even an experience of insight during meditation, which are all kusala conditions, can precipitate the arising of conceit, pride and arrogance. Conceit and pride are akusala conditions. This situation is known as "kusala acting as an agent for akusala." Meditation practice can lead to highly concentrated states of mind (kusala), which in turn can lead to attachment (akusala). The development of thoughts of goodwill and benevolence to others (kusala), can, in the presence of a desirable object, precipitate the arising of lust (akusala). These are examples of kusala acting as an agent for akusala.

                      Sometimes moral or meditation practice (kusala) can be based on a desire to be reborn in heaven (akusala). A child's good behavior (kusala) can be based on a desire to show off to its elders (akusala); a student's zeal in learning (kusala) can stem from ambition (akusala); anger (akusala), seen in the light of its harmful effects, can lead to wise reflection and forgiveness (kusala); the fear of death (akusala) can encourage introspection (kusala): these are all examples of akusala as an agent for kusala.
                      On the other hand, I feel that I don't want to criticize any initiative to improve the world. The intent is good. I hope it gives fruit and that the fruit is sweet.
                      In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                      you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                      now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                      the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                      Comment

                      • Tb
                        Member
                        • Jan 2008
                        • 3186

                        #12
                        Re: My Two Cents

                        Originally posted by Omoi Otoshi
                        I believe a group project that involves the whole Sangha is not realistic. Jundo and Taigu could "force" all members to take part or take their leave, but I don't think that is very realistic either... From what I have seen so far, this is not their style and I'm glad for it. We have to accept that our practices are different and that we manifest the reality of life and our universal self in different ways. I'm not sure walking past a number of people publically sitting and giving out pamphlets would in any way have helped me find my Way, before I found this practice, or rather before this practice found me. Rather, I would instantaneously have applied my dualistic and discriminating mind and placed this activity into the "religious sect" category and moved on with my ordinary life and my illusions.

                        From the few posts I've read from Keishin, I can see that she has accumulated quite a bit of wisdom and insight over her 60 years. I agree very much with her, although I can't put it into words either. I also get an uneasy feeling and I see a risk of getting a socially engaged A-team and non-engaged B-team. Although the B-team might be living their lives as true Buddhas outside of these forums. I feel I am already socially engaged, both locally and on a larger scale, in a way that suits my practice as it is in this present moment. There is also I fear a risk of delusion, idealization, ego bolstering and feelings of inadequacy. Already, although we are for the most part behaving well towards each other, we can see small signs of hurt egos, anger and frustration in the threads on this subject.

                        Good and evil, right or wrong, it's hard to see the truth and we often delude ourselves.

                        http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/goodevil.html:
                        An act of faith or generosity, moral purity, or even an experience of insight during meditation, which are all kusala conditions, can precipitate the arising of conceit, pride and arrogance. Conceit and pride are akusala conditions. This situation is known as "kusala acting as an agent for akusala." Meditation practice can lead to highly concentrated states of mind (kusala), which in turn can lead to attachment (akusala). The development of thoughts of goodwill and benevolence to others (kusala), can, in the presence of a desirable object, precipitate the arising of lust (akusala). These are examples of kusala acting as an agent for akusala.

                        Sometimes moral or meditation practice (kusala) can be based on a desire to be reborn in heaven (akusala). A child's good behavior (kusala) can be based on a desire to show off to its elders (akusala); a student's zeal in learning (kusala) can stem from ambition (akusala); anger (akusala), seen in the light of its harmful effects, can lead to wise reflection and forgiveness (kusala); the fear of death (akusala) can encourage introspection (kusala): these are all examples of akusala as an agent for kusala.
                        On the other hand, I feel that I don't want to criticize any initiative to improve the world. The intent is good. I hope it gives fruit and that the fruit is sweet.
                        Hi.

                        Yes intention is a key.
                        In the end, no matter how big project we get rolling, and it looks like we might get a few going about now, its what you do that matters.
                        And remember, it doesn't have to be something big, a smile, an friendly gesture, or a kind word is one step.

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

                        Comment

                        • Stephanie

                          #13
                          Re: My Two Cents

                          Well, as someone who is in favor of a community service project, I never imagined that every single person in the sangha would get involved, or that it would be any sort of requirement. It would just be there for people to participate in if they wanted to do so.

                          I think this whole discussion brings up some interesting aspects about Treeleaf. Some people truly relate to this place as a Zen community, a sangha, and to some people it is just a chat forum and sounding board. Some folks are somewhere in between. I'd imagine that the folks who are only here to bugle their horns or fire off some intellectual rounds would categorically not get involved in an actual hands-on project, while some folks who are serious about the sangha also might not get involved due to time constraints or involvement in other activities.

                          And who knows, some people who originally came here as more casual users might get interested in one of the projects, get involved, and forge a deeper bond with this sangha. As I've said before, interacting with voice and video has really changed how I feel and think about Treeleaf. I can no longer think about it as just some Internet site--it is definitely a sangha to me, one I feel supported by.

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39458

                            #14
                            Re: My Two Cents

                            Originally posted by Stephanie
                            I think this whole discussion brings up some interesting aspects about Treeleaf. Some people truly relate to this place as a Zen community, a sangha, and to some people it is just a chat forum and sounding board.
                            I am going to say something as strong and direct as anything I have ever said here.

                            I feel that the latter group of people should leave here. This is a Sangha, a community for mutual support in Zen Practice and teaching, and a place of actual Practice ... the heart of which is Zazen (both seated Zazen and Zazen in a wider meaning).

                            I am very sincere about this.

                            Gassho, Jundo
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • AlanLa
                              Member
                              • Mar 2008
                              • 1405

                              #15
                              Re: My Two Cents

                              So much for staying in the background, like I really could :roll:

                              I agree that it is what you do that matters, so I encourage people to go and (mindfully) do, instead of talking about doing, yet we are spending lots of time talking about doing on various threads around here lately. All that talking is fine, even good, and whatever happens is whatever happens. Whatever people learn from all this talking and (hopefully at some point) doing, is also great. I just find it all fascinating. I think I've designated my role in all this to be the pebble thrower in the form of reflection questions, so here are some more.

                              What is it with this desire to do more? Who are we doing more for? The people being served in some way? Ourselves? Treeleaf? Some combination of all these?

                              Why does socially engaged Buddhism need to be identified as such? Why does the Treeleaf sangha need to be identified with any socially engaged Buddhist action? How does such an identification add to or take away from any action?

                              Keishin made a point that I want to emphasize. Every action we take here on Treeleaf is a socially engaged Buddhist action. We are a public forum; not everyone can join, but because we are on the Internet everyone can see what we do, how we behave. So just by being present in this sangha, by participating in the threads, you are engaging in a public act of Buddhism. In that sense, we are probably the most socially engaged sangha in the world. But why stop there? People want to do more, and that might be okay.

                              As for me, I do more all the time. I just volunteered one organization I am in for another project last week, and I am about to get some students involved in a service-learning project next week, and the next opportunity that comes up along similar lines I will probably get involved to some extent with that also. But I don't expect to ever publicly identify any of my actions with Treeleaf or even as a valuable aspect of my Buddhist practice. I feel no need, nor do I see any benefit to me or those served or the sangha or to the actions I take with others. If anything, it seems a distraction.

                              All that being said, by all means, people should be encouraged to go out and act in a way that brings benefit to their communities. Being a good role model is one of the most powerful ways to influence others (seriously, I do research on this stuff). But as soon as you start adding something to your good actions you run the risk of creating separation between yourself and that good action. Even if your motives are pure, the perception of others may become tainted, thus potentially thwarting that good action born from your pure intent. So I just urge people to be mindful out there.
                              AL (Jigen) in:
                              Faith/Trust
                              Courage/Love
                              Awareness/Action!

                              I sat today

                              Comment

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