Zen Equivilant to "God's Will"

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  • SyntaxJO
    Member
    • Aug 2011
    • 72

    Zen Equivilant to "God's Will"

    Just to quell, I understand that we in Zen do not refer to any God.

    It is in my experience that a dedicated practitioner of most faiths end up with the same awareness; only the language or approach is different. If we can agree in that then allow me to continue...

    How the mystic Christians talk of dropping the will or ego, and acting through the will of God. I get it, I dig it, and I can relate to it in my Zen practice. My question comes from having had the word "God" tainted in my own mind; upon hearing it I immediately associate Him with the first Catholic Father I had ever seen.... ie. IDing Him with an external thing.

    As I come close to being free of 'myself' from time to time I feel as though my body and mind are in accord with whatever is in front of me. Every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done, and there is giddiness, joy, and absolutely no need to be certain of anything. I equate this to the Christian's "God's will."

    My question is: how would a Zen practitioner refer to the God that Christians, fellow walkers in the Way, speak of? What is it that they/we are giving our wills up to? How, in relation to Zen verbiage, is a true Christian perceiving God?

    It it not my intention to get metaphysical here, nor am I asking advice on my practice. This is, more or less, simply a question about the difference of language between the two practices. Purely theoretical and academic.
    My name is: Jordan.
  • Shokai
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Mar 2009
    • 6391

    #2
    If your first father was Catholic it will never change a s long as you think about it
    合掌,生開
    gassho, Shokai

    仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

    "Open to life in a benevolent way"

    https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

    Comment

    • Hans
      Member
      • Mar 2007
      • 1853

      #3
      Hello SyntaxJO,

      I really appreciate your thorough questioning...but since there is no one single authority in Zen Buddhism, there's no one answer. Personally I stopped caring about questions that don't relate to practise directly a while ago....but I know how important it feels at times to chew on certain thoughts.....just be sure not to choke on those questions but to drop them at some point. Better sooner than later actually.

      With regards to your question: The two extremes would be for some teachers to stress the universal nature of true opening to what is...basically saying they are really seeing the same, doing the same just using different words (Sanbo Kyodan comes to mind)....and the other extreme would be to have teachers who would point out to you that whatever the Christians are seeing ultimately has to still be delusion (though a subtle form), since they do not have the e.g. Madhyamaka and/or Prajnaparamita teachings to help them to really cut through the delusion of atman. They still see an essential something, which contradicts the teachings of emptiness (depending on how you interpret them) and also anatta...at the same time when one looks at the Mahaparinirvana-Sutra it's a whole different story again.

      Kodo Sawaki once remarked that we cannot even exchange farts.

      How could I ever know with certainty what another being's individual experience is like, let alone judge it intimately?

      Do not waste too much time with questions like these, we will all die some day and no theory or academic answer will help us then.


      Gassho,

      Hans Chudo Mongen

      Comment

      • disastermouse

        #4
        Originally posted by SyntaxJO
        Just to quell, I understand that we in Zen do not refer to any God.

        It is in my experience that a dedicated practitioner of most faiths end up with the same awareness; only the language or approach is different. If we can agree in that then allow me to continue...
        We can't agree.

        So....how 'bout the weather lately? Pretty crazy, huh?

        Chet

        Comment

        • SyntaxJO
          Member
          • Aug 2011
          • 72

          #5
          Originally posted by disastermouse
          We can't agree.
          We, ehh? Maybe there is a single authority in Zen Buddhism *wank wank!* I love the smell of online forums in the morning.

          But yes, I'm glad my conditional worked. Don't agree? Don't answer the question. Please, though, don't get off topic about the weather. OHHH MAN, I've got a bag full of them! Metta, and oh so much more metta.
          My name is: Jordan.

          Comment

          • disastermouse

            #6
            Originally posted by SyntaxJO
            We, ehh? Maybe there is a single authority in Zen Buddhism *wank wank!* I love the smell of online forums in the morning.

            But yes, I'm glad my conditional worked. Don't agree? Don't answer the question. Please, though, don't get off topic about the weather. OHHH MAN, I've got a bag full of them! Metta, and oh so much more metta.
            I meant you and I. I'm only an authority on my own dogma.

            I should have put a winky emoticon in or something - my post was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

            Comment

            • andyZ
              Member
              • Aug 2011
              • 303

              #7
              It's probably my ignorance speaks here, but for me Zen practice is about loosing notions such as God or anything of similar grandeur. If you look at the 10 oxherding pictures, at some point the bull disappears altogether from the picture. So you're really left on your own - there's nobody/nothing to call "God". But I'm not entirely sure if the same thing happens/suppose to happen in Christianity. (but again I may be totally ignorant here). There's a saying by master Rinzai - "Don't put another head on top of your own". To me using concepts such as God or Buddha nature is exactly that - putting another head on top of my own, useful at some point but very heavy to carry both all the time
              Gassho,
              Andy

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39477

                #8
                JUNDO NOTE: I WROTE AN APOLOGY FOR MISREADING HERE, AND BOBBLING THE RESPONSE TO IT IN THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS HERE, SOME OF THE WRITER'S ORIGINAL POST. THE APOLOGY CAN BE FOUND ABOUT 10 POSTS DOWN

                Hi Jordan,

                First things first ...

                As I come close to being free of 'myself' from time to time I feel as though my body and mind are in accord with whatever is in front of me. Every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done, and there is giddiness, joy, and absolutely no need to be certain of anything. I equate this to the Christian's "God's will."
                Your self assessment of what seems to be some kind of high or "peak experience" is dangerous for you to make, and it is also dangerous for me or anyone to try to assess what you are experiencing from a distance. You must find a teacher you can work with in person and regularly. Since you are in Japan, I do not think it hard for you to find one ... although a good Teacher might also hesitate to assess you unless they had observed you over the long term. Also, most Zen Teachers might tell you to get past the giddiness and the "acting without intent" and come back down to Earth. Frankly, looking at what you have written here in past postings on other threads, and at ZFI, I do not feel there is a stability, clarity and solid insight in how you are expressing things ... sounds very scattered, jacked up and unfocused. So, be careful in jumping to conclusions about what you are experiencing.

                May I boldly ask you (and you can write me privately if you wish, as an open forum is not the best place to discuss such things), if there has been any use of mind altering substances or any psychological or medical condition you have been diagnosed with that may be contributing to this experience? If so, that has to be pointed to first and ruled out.

                Now, on your general question ...

                As some here have pointed out ... Zen Buddhists generally learn to yield to life, and merge into how things are. We see and experience clearly the deep interconnection of all phenomena of this world, and express deep gratitude, trust and a willingness to allow all to be ... without necessarily defining clearly or caring who or what (if anybody or anything) we are expressing that gratitude to! I sometimes compare our attitude to that of innocent babes with a deep trust in this source and world that birthed us, that feeds us and which somehow allows us air to breathe, and we are "one" with that. Perhaps what we have is a deep faith in "god" ... but without the need or demand to know her name, her story or all that she wishes of us. We place no demands upon her, even the demand that she be a "god". (That's not to say that we can't if we wish believe in God, and one can be a Zen Buddhist or Zennist while a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist or Agnostic or the like. We can. We neither require a "god", nor push any god away.).

                But one thing to emphasize is this ...

                "Yielding to life" and "thy will be done" does not mean that we necessary start acting where (in your words) "every action is followed through with no thought of intent. Everything is simply beng done." I mean, there are moments when we act so ... but most of life is pretty normal.

                I am reminded of a story (perhaps made up) told to me by a friend who used to live in Saudi Arabia. He says that the Saudi highways are filled with wrecks because people do not drive carefully, or honor traffic lights well, believing that "All Is In Gods Hands".

                So, for me, to "yield to God's will" means to do the following each day: Get up, eat breakfast, go to work (obeying normal driving care), go to the toilet, laugh, cry, play with my kids, read a book or watch a movie, go to bed ... lead a pretty ordinary life. I think that, if there is a God, that's probably why He bothered to give us these miraculous-oh so ordinary lives.

                Gassho, J

                PS - I sometimes say ...

                If there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.

                If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.
                Last edited by Jundo; 07-18-2012, 03:13 PM.
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39477

                  #9
                  This reminded me of one of my favorite jokes of all time ...

                  A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The religous man replies, " no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle. I will follow God's will."

                  Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause "God will grant me a miracle. I will follow God's will."

                  With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down." St. Peter chuckles and responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter."
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • SyntaxJO
                    Member
                    • Aug 2011
                    • 72

                    #10
                    I'm on a week long retreat and I'm using this as my questions come up.

                    I respect everyone trying to help me out, but I did not mean to get into a psycho analysis such as this. Personally, Jundo, I think you have a lot of balls asking me that on a public forum. So, for all the world to see:

                    Gave up mind altering substances 10+ years ago (sans a nip of the bottle from time to time). No prolonged medical condition, ever. Love my Mom and Dad. I can still get an erection. Messed up in the head? I guess, so. Workin on it! And here we are:

                    These giddy experiences come to me from prolonged meditation, and they do not contrast a dark morose I have otherwise, as I don't. They are the times when it all makes sense to me and all is clear, and that always comes from sitting on my zafu. It's hard to write in the forums. Evey single word used is a booby trap - I say the word giddy, joy, intent, and I'm caught in the "don't go there-snare" It seems to make these boards kind of pointless. The internet is like reading a book. Nothing you read in a book will teach you anything, you must have already experienced it. Books are for confirming. Internet words included. You can't experience things for me. I think we all get too caught up in the rhetoric of our own memories of experience that we latched onto Zen, and maybe we're missing out on the discussion. If you're beyond discussion, you shouldn't come on the boards. You're already there!

                    Specifically, my question arose from reading Meister Eckhart, shit's right on the nose. Even Jesus himself is considered a Buddha and he won't shut up about God. Everyone telling me to "don't go there", or "I stopped asking these questions..." I think it's great that you're there! There's this problem I have, though, I haven't stopped asking those silly questions and have not had the experience to bother stopping (except when I'm giddy). Essentially, I am on my own with my experiences, just like disastermouse. Anything less than a teacher isn't going to do much. That's the only place my real deep inquiries get to anyway on these boards, "find a teacher." That's why I just asked the question from a purely academic standpoint. I'm sure we can learn from all enlightened beings, yea?

                    Are we to simply ignore non-Zen works? There must be some relation, in fact I'm certain! If one goes through a certain path, has some experience, and then stops themselves because it is contrary to Zen language... idk, seems kinda limiting. My freedom comes from when my opinions, language, etc. do not occur to me and it makes me feel giddy; giddy when I consider what's happening and how silly I've been. Giddy is an option, and it's an option that is fleeting.

                    If someone comes to me and hits me upside the head with some real communication, I'm on board! Until then, it's all good, I am practicing without a teacher. As I don't take advice, I know that last thing one should do is give advice. But don't take my advice.

                    In regard to ignoring traffic lights, because it's in God's hands, I appreciate this point, and I believe that's where most are getting hung up when regarding "God's Will." I'm in the middle of editing a Radio documentary I recorded during a month stay at an American Zen temple. The closest moment I had with the master was when we tried to out-fart each other while I was interviewing him, but that's just for giggles (he won god damnit). Anyway, I asked most of the practitioners if they think they can just "hand it over to God" or the Universe or blah blah blah and they mostly said no but some said yes. Their explanations did show an interesting coin with two sides. Most looked at is as: like saying that Jesus forgives you no matter what so just go do what you want. Obviously, that's not His point. That is ego serving. I also believe that, in this same way, the people who ignore traffic lights don't really understand the notion of "handing it over to God." In that I agree with you, Jundo. I think this is MASSIVE delusion and extremely dangerous. But I also think that it's not Meister Eckhart's idea of "handing it over to God" either. In my mind, when the light turns red, "God's" talking to you, or whatever you wanna call it. It's just awareness. I think most people are tied up in the traffic-light-ignoring/Jesus-forgives-you-no-matter-what example of "God's will." In my experiences, the ones that cause me to be giddy, I see the red lights, I have no desire to "sin," so I stop.

                    Don't you remember? When you got so sick of all the rules, all the advice, all the guidance? When you sat there in red hot frustration trying to hold all of these warnings, and cautionary tales, and wise insight that you were about to explode, punch the ino in the balls, kick down the door, and dive into a 2 inch thick 10 second seared slab of beef? Let's hope you didn't; I actually love my ino. But then, upon sitting in that fire, maybe, you realized it was the attachment to the rules, the rhetoric, the advice, and BOOM! they are dropped. Empty space, full of potential, is all that's left. Remember? And then all the rules, advice, and rhetoric are confirmed?! All the crap Jesus said, anyone else for that matter, suddenly makes sense? Almost better not to take advice. Many people scowl at that, but it's been my way. Advice is a tricky business, que no? I always have to drop it before I can take it.

                    Not my will but thy will. I feel like it's a reminder. It's like bowing. Meh, if we can't find the Zen equivalent, so be it. However, anyone else have an idea of a Zen equivalent to "God's will?" The Three Treasures, maybe? Zen Master Rinzai's "That One Shinning Alone" or "the puppet master?" (as another suggested)
                    Last edited by SyntaxJO; 07-18-2012, 06:34 AM. Reason: Typos Typos (see any others?)
                    My name is: Jordan.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39477

                      #11
                      Hi Jordan,

                      You should be practicing with a Teacher. Playing with a lot of fire there, which may burn up Ignorance ... or just burn. Up to you, but always best to have a "coach" and companions when pushing the limits in some intense activity.

                      You say you are on a week long retreat. I gather that it is by yourself, not with anyone else?

                      If God (or Whatever) is talking to you or shining within, and the message/feeling seems pretty wholesome and good and peaceful ... then best to listen. Simple as that. If the when is not wholesome, good and peaceful ... then best not to listen. Nothing much more anyone could say about it.

                      Gassho, J
                      Last edited by Jundo; 07-18-2012, 06:36 AM.
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • SyntaxJO
                        Member
                        • Aug 2011
                        • 72

                        #12
                        So... when "God" says to kill the barking dog right outside the wall, don't do it? Ok, gimme a mulligan on that one.

                        Yea, by myself. Silence, bout 4 hours meditation a day, no TV, booze, no extra fun stuff, only Zen Reading (including other 'spiritual' stuffs), and I allowed myself this forum for questions.

                        Finding a teacher is a bitch, and I can always sit. Teachers can tell me how I'm playing with fire, but I rarely relate to it. What fire? Am I burning? If I am, it's been so long I haven't noticed. Having a teacher takes time, and in a lot of cases $$. Even the Zen temple I was at in CA charges roughly $350 per year for membership, which that allows you dokusan on Sundays. And trust me, these guys are not cashing in, they're one of the good ones. Otherwise you have to be a resident and/or in session. Yes, there are exceptions, but I believe we are primarily on our own.

                        I have been practicing for many, many years; since before the days of my mind altering substances. This is probably the biggest debate there is–teacher vs. no teacher–and, of course, sexual scandals in the Americas *yawn*. Personally I don't think there are enough teachers to go around. You think the American public school system is over crowded? I'm not against teachers, but I am a lay practitioner through and through; just doesn't seem to work very well in my case. A teacher, spiritual friend? Bring it, please! But a teacher and student relationship goes both ways. There has to be a relationship. I'll know if I find it. If, when I find a teacher, knowing is not a necessary step, then everyone and everything is my teacher; let the games begin!

                        Buddha had no teacher. Jesus had no teacher. I'm not against teachers, for all intensive purposes I have a teacher (I have the receipt back in America), a teacher I'm so close with we try to out fart each other. Any huge breakthroughs with him? Naw, not really. You just get the "this is your life" deal and "that's what's happening." Not saying all teachers are like this, but a lot of people are. I guess I just want a little discussion with the hopes of some sort of relationship forming. I'm against the road block when I get the "find a teacher" bit. Let's talk for a change, you all be my teacher! If you see my faults, and you see how I'm tripping over myself, you wanna tell me I've lost my way, if you're out there, PM me and let's dance!!! I'm serious, I would love it!
                        My name is: Jordan.

                        Comment

                        • disastermouse

                          #13
                          I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with what you're doing, Syntax. Just as bankers tell you that you need a loan, Doctors tell you that you need a surgery or a pill, and alcoholics tell you that you look like you need a drink - teachers will tell you that you need a teacher. It doesn't make them wrong, of course, but to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You're not the first person Jundo has subtly told to see a shrink, but then again - it hasn't always been bad advice. Maybe I'm just one of those weird people who doesn't think that meditation on your own is necessarily dangerous. Back when I did that the first time, it went sour....but I'm starting to wonder if it was just something I needed to go through.

                          So...I'm curious about why you're on retreat and for how long.

                          As to your original question:

                          No, I don't personally think all roads lead up the mountain. I think the vastly overwhelming majority of what we do on any spiritual path is mainly just ego-maintenance. It's the status quo putting on a different face. So yeah, that's the score. I think it's always been like that and it may always be like that.

                          Mind you're reactions....don't try to change them, just pay attention to them. If you're getting free of yourself, then why would it upset you whether people believe that or not? If it does, how are you free? Suffering is a bad habit, but it's really hard to kick. 'I' is a bad habit too.

                          All just IMHO. I'm certainly not an authority - and even if I was, what good would that be?

                          Chet

                          Comment

                          • RichardH
                            Member
                            • Nov 2011
                            • 2800

                            #14
                            Chet.

                            There is an essential side to the Buddha Dharma that many people would prefer to forget. It is the “devotional” side. Without it we never take off our suit of armored intelligence. Opening to a teacher is not easy. It is literally heartbreaking..... but it is an essential part of “the unshakable liberation of the heart”. There has been only one teacher up until now who I opened up to unconditionally, and it was completely life changing.. and opening up, being naked with teachers, is an ongoing process for me, and still not easy. A lot of people remain too clever and cheat themselves, and remain suited up in armor. Don't be so sure...

                            Comment

                            • Hans
                              Member
                              • Mar 2007
                              • 1853

                              #15
                              Thank you Kojip.

                              Gassho,

                              Hans Chudo Mongen

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