Questions on Zazen and TM

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  • John
    Member
    • Sep 2007
    • 272

    #16
    Hi Marina,

    In our mindfulness group we sometimes do a bodyscan meditation, where you focus on each part of the body in turn and notice any sensations. We use this one and find it very relaxing: http://www.archive.org/details/MCullenB ... Meditation

    This is a type of vipassana meditation I think?

    Gassho,
    John

    Comment

    • Marina S
      Member
      • Nov 2007
      • 17

      #17
      Vipassana and Zazen

      Hi John,
      Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American psychologist, uses the body scan meditation in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program he developed. From my understanding the body scan meditation is an adaptation of a form of Vipassana Meditation, body sweeping, as taught by U Ba Kin and his successor, S.N. Goenka. This form of Vipassana focuses in on body sensation, gross and subtle energies. I had attended Goenka's intensive Vipassana retreat a few months ago for ten days. This style of meditation wasn't for me (too goal oriented and limiting--I equate it to living in a house and only getting to explore one room). The Vipassana I practice is more in the style of Ajahn Chah and Mahasi Sayadaw, in which awareness is given to not only body sensations, but also mental states, thoughts, feelings, sounds, etc. It's really just bare attention, being aware of whatever presents itself in the moment. I love Norman Fischer's idea that Zazen is life itself. Very true of zazen and isnght meditation. The breath is used as an anchor, so to speak. Vipassana (Insight) meditation has its roots in the Anapanasati Sutta and the Satipatthana Sutta, both involve mindfulness training.

      You know, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to include both Zen and teachings from the Theravadan tradition in my life. They really complement each other, and have deepened my own spiritual growth.

      Metta and Gassho,
      Marina

      Comment

      • Marina S
        Member
        • Nov 2007
        • 17

        #18
        Sorry John and Treeleaf folks, I misquoted Norman Fischer. He said that zazen/meditation is being itself.

        Comment

        • Kelly M.
          Member
          • Sep 2007
          • 225

          #19
          Re: Vipassana and Zazen

          Originally posted by Marina S
          You know, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to include both Zen and teachings from the Theravadan tradition in my life. They really complement each other, and have deepened my own spiritual growth.
          I find this theme keeps popping up from again and again. I hit upon this question a bit above, but now that I understand the difference between Zazen and Vipassana, I would like to revisite this: There seems to be a sort of blending of Therevada and Zen thought; and Vipassana seems to always be at or near the center of it.

          Originally posted by Kely M.
          If I’m not mistaken, although Gil is now a Vipassana teacher in California, he has a Zen and a Theravada background. I have also seen this elsewhere, a sort of mixing of Zen, Theravada and Vipassana practice. Could anyone comment on this? Is this a common theme for these traditions to mix and overlap?
          Another example is the book “Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation” that is co-authored by both a Zen and a Theravada teacher.

          It is almost like Vipissana is taking on a tradition of its own. Does anyone have any, umm… insight, on this trend?

          Cheers, and Gassho,
          KElly
          Live in joy and love, even among those who hate
          Live in joy and health, even among the afflicted
          Live in joy and peace, even among the troubled
          Look within and be still; free from fear and grasping
          Know the sweet joy of living in the way.

          Comment

          • will
            Member
            • Jun 2007
            • 2331

            #20
            You know, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity...

            Metta and Gassho,
            Marina
            Yes. This question popped up this morning. We are tremendously lucky to be able to be alive at a time when this practice, teachers, and teachings are accessable, or atleast that's my feeling. It beats getting caught up in all the confusion that History is loaded with and what we could have become.

            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

            • Ankai
              Treeleaf Unsui
              • Nov 2007
              • 895

              #21
              Another example is the book “Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation” that is co-authored by both a Zen and a Theravada teacher.

              It is almost like Vipissana is taking on a tradition of its own. Does anyone have any, umm… insight, on this trend?


              I have a further question along the same lines... anyone know anything about or have any ideas regarding mixtures of Pure Land and Zen?
              Gassho!
              護道 安海


              -Godo Ankai

              I'm still just starting to learn. I'm not a teacher. Please don't take anything I say too seriously. I already take myself too seriously!

              Comment

              • Jun
                Member
                • Jun 2007
                • 236

                #22
                Originally posted by KvonNJ

                I have a further question along the same lines... anyone know anything about or have any ideas regarding mixtures of Pure Land and Zen?
                In Sydney there is Chinese Cha'n (Zen) temple which teaches that Pure Land is Cha'n (Zen) practice, only they claim it is a higher level (?). They also claim the Buddha is a god residing in the Pure land (some mystical heaven realm) and can hear your prayers and answer them!

                I've mentioned them here before, I visited there out of curiosity a while back, they were all about dividing the Chinese and foreign practitioners into two groups. They claimed that only the Chinese could ever understand the teachings of the Buddha, and had some very bad things to say about Japanese practitioners. So much for compassion, understanding and love among Buddhist sects.

                Pure Land and Zen are practised together in China.
                Gassho
                Jun
                The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39273

                  #23
                  Hi Guys,

                  Pardon these rather long comments, as it is an important topic.

                  As you may have guessed by now, I am pretty much a purist for "Just Sitting" Shikantaza as taught by Master Dogen.

                  In my view, mixing styles can be beneficial sometimes, but also can lead to a "jack of all trades, master of none" situation if not done very carefully and skilfully. The latter case is especially a danger in this modern age, in which folks "spirituality shop", choosing the religion and guru of the week. I don't think anybody here on this thread is doing that by the way (our Treeleafers are too sensible for that!!), but there is still the danger of not seeing one practice through until it makes available all the rich fruits it has to offer, and instead, doing two practices in a half-way or conflicting manner. That is especially the case in mixing Shikantaza (which is about attaining radical non-attaining, which has a non-goal of goallessness, which is about not seeking any special state ... about attaining the sweet fruits right here all along by not searching for them) with a form of meditation that seeks to attain something, especially, a special state (which, by the way, seems perhaps --NOT-- to be the case in the types of Insight Meditation described on this thread ... please see discussion below).

                  Mixing meditation styles is not like choosing food off a cafeteria menu, in which about anything will mix with anything else. Instead, it is more like trying to train to be a professional footballer and baseball player at the same time: Not only are you trying to get the body-mind acclimated to mastery of two very different skills, but there may even be conflicts by trying to attend both training sessions at the same time or giving one's full energies to one or the other. One cannot play football while wearing a catcher's mitt.

                  That being said, I do not see anything wrong in dabbling in the kind of goalless Insight Meditation described, but only as a secondary practice to Shikantaza and once in awhile, e.g., once a week. Shikantaza has to be the central practice because, truly, it is not just Zazen meditation, but instead, a whole philosophy that becomes a way of life (the non-seeking of Shikantaza is training on the cushion for taking the Shikantaza attitude off the cushion and into all aspects of our daily lives). (By the way, we study all the "insights" on body sensations, mental states, thoughts, feelings, sounds, etc. of "insight meditation" in Soto Zen, but just not during the act of Zazen itself.)

                  That does not mean that I disapprove of "Insight Meditation", by the way. I am a fan. Especially, I am a fan of the kind of "Insight Meditation" that resembles goalless "Just Sitting". I am less of a fan of traditional "Theravada" practices focused on a "blow out" Nirvana, or extinguishing desires and the senses, but modern "Insight Meditation" seems to often resemble "Just Sitting" more than its Theravadan roots in that regard. I am also not completely comfortable with the practice (as a main practice) of focused awareness of body sensations, mental states, thoughts, feelings, sounds, etc. (to repeat, it is a good and necessary part of our Practice even in Soto Zen, just not during Zazen itself as our main and central Practice. The main and central Practice should be non-focused, open awareness)

                  I am in a difficult position, because (to use an analogy) I am a Karate teacher, and I cannot recommend that you mix your Karate training with Judo (both Karate and Judo have similarities, and both are beautiful practices, but ... ESPECIALLY UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED ONE OR THE OTHER ... you should not casually go mixing or switching back and forth. Pick one that suits you, and a teacher that suits you, and stick with that. When you master it, you will know if you need to continue your training elsewhere). So, in this Karate Dojo, we only practice Karate, and this Sangha needs to stay focused on "Just Sitting" Zazen primarily or only. If you want to mix and match, you alone must be the final judge of what is right for you (we are each the final judge of what practices work in our own lives). However, I have to put up a "Do So At Your Own Risk" sign at the swimming pool, and I cannot give it an official sanction.

                  Again, that does not mean that I think Insight Meditation is bad in any way. Quite the contrary. It is just that I am not teaching any mixture here as the main Practice. Also, ABSOLUTELY, I hope everyone will always feel welcome at Treeleaf, and to talk about various practices even if the Treeleaf boat is focused on the course of "Just Sitting" only.

                  The situation is even more sensitive with Pure Land Buddhism (also called "Jodo Buddhism"). As you may know, "Zen" is usually considered "Jiriki" Buddhism (self-power) in contrast to Pure Land "Tariki" (other power) Buddhism. The basic difference is that, in Pure Land, the central figure is the supernatural "Amida Buddha" who, very much like Jesus, is a savior who will take you to the "Pure Land" (a heaven) if you but have faith in Him and call upon His name. In fact, the similarities to Christianity are many and fascinating.

                  Now, in fact, folks in China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan have been mixing Pure Land and Zen for centuries. In reality, modern "Ch'an" Buddhism in Taiwan, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh from Vietnam and many others teach a mix of Zen and Pure Land. D.T.Suzuki, toward the end of his life, mixed Rinzai practice with Pure Land:



                  And, or course, there is the truth that there is no "self" or "other", that "going in" is but "reaching out" to the universe, that (as some Zen chants go) the "Pure Land is always right here". Sure.

                  But, frankly, I think that Amida Buddha is a fiction much like the Angel Gabriel. I can appreciate him symbolically, but my Practice is not based on any such mythical creature (at least, I do not have need for that). It is centered on a (probably) historical Shakyamuni, who was a fellow like you and me, a human being of flesh and blood (although a pretty smart one).

                  So, again, in this Karate Dojo, I do not mix styles.

                  No harm in talking about these different practices, however, and comparing them to our own.

                  I hope I made my philosophy clear without making anyone feel uncomfortable, because that is absolutely not my intention. Although Treeleaf is a Karate Dojo, Judo folks are welcome to come here and practice Karate. Their doing so will add to the richness and diversity of our community. I hope that gets across. Please nobody feel unwelcome!

                  Gassho, Jundo

                  PS - I have been urged recently to post a FAQ on the "central practice" at Treeleaf, explaining what the central practice(s) are here. I think it is a good idea, especially for newcomers who may be confused by that.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • paige
                    Member
                    • Apr 2007
                    • 234

                    #24
                    Well, I don't know from Vipassana (never practised it, can't even pronounce it!), but I've been mixing some Japanese and Chinese Zen for years now. I recently re-read David Chadwick's Thank You and OK!, I liked his take (p28):
                    Taizen says Soto is soft, Rinzai is hard. It doesn’t bother me to move from one to the other. In this business you get used to contradictions--even if you stick to one sect or one teacher. If contradictions are in the way, then the Four Vows will be impossible.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39273

                      #25
                      Ah, don't even get me started on the subject of mixing Soto Shikantaza with Rinzai Koan practice!! :evil:

                      Sorry if I come across as pretty inflexible today. I hope most folks who have been hanging around Treeleaf for awhile will know that it is not true for most subjects, I think.

                      Gassho, Jundo of the One Track Mind
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • will
                        Member
                        • Jun 2007
                        • 2331

                        #26
                        If it were a real, Jundo quote : "brick and morter" Sangha, we would "probably" be more focused on one particular practice. From my experience anyway.

                        We could chat about granola though. I just made a great batch using the microwave. Chocolate and cinnamon

                        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

                        • Jun
                          Member
                          • Jun 2007
                          • 236

                          #27
                          An interesting article here regarding vipasyana - http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 86,0,0,1,0
                          Gassho
                          Jun
                          The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

                          Comment

                          • TracyF
                            Member
                            • Nov 2007
                            • 188

                            #28
                            Ah, don't even get me started on the subject of mixing Soto Shikantaza with Rinzai Koan practice!!
                            Oh my yes! I was thinking about visiting a sangha near my home. Jundo warned me that they do Koan practice. Since I'm still learning Shikantaza, the thought of trying to mix in something that appears to be the opposite of "just sitting in the present" seems to be a good way to screw up my learning process.

                            I do practice metta meditation occasionally when I'm super pissed off at my students (oh man, they push my buttons, bless their little hearts). However, when I turn on the daily 'sit-in' with Jundo, I only practice Shikantaza.

                            Really, its hard enough for me to do this. I stinkin' analyze everything! Oh which reminds, me. Jundo, I'm going to ask you about something in the Genjo Koan thread. :lol:

                            Comment

                            • Jundo
                              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                              • Apr 2006
                              • 39273

                              #29
                              Originally posted by TracyF

                              ... Jundo warned me that they do Koan practice.
                              Hi Tracy,

                              I have no time to answer in detail now, and will do so later. I'm just a little concerned that "warned" may be a little strong and give a misleading impression. Koan Practice, all the others, even "Just Sitting" ... all lovely practices with respective good points (and respective demerits too). It is just that one must be careful of mixing and matching, I think. Also, new students should know that there are differences between these various approaches, and that one size does not fit all. Different people may benefit from different means and approaches.

                              Anyway, have to run today. Gassho, J
                              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                              Comment

                              • TracyF
                                Member
                                • Nov 2007
                                • 188

                                #30
                                I'm just a little concerned that "warned" may be a little strong and give a wrong impression.
                                Oops! Sorry about that, Jundo. Warning was the wrong word. I meant to say that you simply informed me that they meditate on Koans. It saved me a trip because I definitely don't want to go in that direction right now.

                                Comment

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