Great Doubt, or "The Question"

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  • Stephanie

    Great Doubt, or "The Question"

    During my involvement here at Treeleaf, I was struck again and again by the strong feeling that for all I liked about Treeleaf, there was some essential difference in my approach to practice and the one taught here that was not a matter of something I was "doing wrong." But up until some months ago - long after my departure as a member of the sangha - I was not able to articulate what that was. My instinctive reaction was that the practice at Treeleaf was "too soft," but I have since come to the conclusion that is not what it was.

    It may very well be a softer approach was exactly what I needed at a time so much else around me was hard and unforgiving. But what I realize I was instinctively reacting against was attempts to shut down the process of questioning that brought me to a point of what I would describe as spiritual despair. To me - and to Chet, who served as my guide through the darkness - this point of despair was an opportunity, an opening for further questioning, not an "illness" to be medicated or a place to flee or avoid. And because I was able to embrace and go deeper into the darkness, I ultimately came out freer and more healed than had I tried to turn away from it or let it go.

    I know, thankfully, my journey is just that - my journey - and not a way everyone must follow. But what I think was more significant than my affinity for, and willingness to push into, this darkness, was another component of what was going on then - what I have learned to recognize as the Zen virtue of "Great Doubt." I used to feel very confused as to what set "Great Doubt," the virtue, apart from "skeptical doubt," one of the traditional Five Hindrances of Buddhism. I have since learned from my experience that skeptical doubt is more of an automatic resistance to things, a destructive tendency to pick apart and reject even what is good, that bats away and refuses to entertain anything that comes along and does not fit within parameters of what has been determined to be acceptable or true. Whereas Great Doubt is the presence of a question or questions that push us beyond the normal boundaries of our thought processes, beyond the answers that usually comfort and reassure us.

    I now like to think of "Great Doubt" as "The Question" - a turn of phrase I picked up from a John Daido Loori talk. Chet likes to use a turn of phrase he said he picked up from Steve Hagen: "the pure interrogative." These phrases point to the part of us that, restless, pushes us deeper into inquiry. The Question is what saves us from inertia, like a golf ball that only rolled half way down the Putt-Putt green and has no additional force to keep it rolling. Daido Roshi said that without this "Question," a spiritual practice is dead. This Question is like a beast that stalks you; it can chase you out of your house and eat all of your money and possessions. When stalked by a Question powerful enough, you can quite easily walk out of your home and walk away from everything you know. This is what the Buddha did.

    I have come to see koans as expressions of The Question that were personally meaningful to the ones asking and dealing with them. The traditional questions poised in the classic koans may or may not connect with the forms and phrases that we would use today to express our experiences of The Question. But while I do not formally practice with koans, I can see the value of a practice that keeps the Great Doubt alive and working in you, in which you gulp Mumon's "red hot iron ball that you cannot swallow or spit out."

    Being in the midst of "Great Doubt" is unnerving; I have come to believe that much of religion is made of the answers we come up with to reassure ourselves when faced with The Question. But I don't believe our attempts to hold it at bay ever fully resolve it, which is why so often the people we see who insist they have found "The Answer" later reveal themselves to have acted opposite to their expressed convictions, or seem so driven to convince others of their version of the truth.

    I wonder if this is where "Western Buddhism" is getting it wrong in general - churning out ream after ream of reassurance, of platitudes and comforting words, when the true way to freedom is stirring up, and making a person confront and inquire into, her own mind, her own doubt, her own Question. I think that the quality of "grit" it takes to face the hordes of Mara is a much underrated virtue in modern, Western Zen.

    We all love answers. We love it when someone else seems to offer us one, and perhaps love it even more when we can rattle off a nice sounding answer of our own. But I think this is something Buddhism gives us an opportunity to go beyond, allowing us to see the folly in our hunger for answers to the ultimate questions of life - questions that do not permit us to give an answer without leaping into conjecture, hope, and wishful thinking. Worldly answers are wonderful - they can give us keys for how to live in our world - but spiritual answers often act to kill in us the very thing that draws us to the spiritual path in the first place. The more I live and practice, the more I see that The Question must always be lived; it can never truly be resolved. It is that uneasy fire that makes us come alive in what we do, that makes us truly look at what is before us and wonder.

    A teacher once told me that simply sitting in the posture of zazen is the expression of a question. I agree that The Question can come just as much alive in shikantaza as in formal koan practice. But I do not believe this is always the way shikantaza is taught. Sometimes, it is taught in a way that abandons the fire of inquiry and instead settles into passivity. And this is the "flavor" I get here at Treeleaf, where Jundo will offer paragraph after paragraph of lovely explication, with the result of tranquilizing those stalking questions. I have seen little here of the Great Doubt being raised, though it does happen sometimes; yet, when it does happen, it seems it is quickly abandoned.

    I have wondered if my thoughts in this area are similar to those that drove some of the raging debates between students of the Rinzai and Soto schools throughout the years, with me leaning more toward the Rinzai point of view. I have found in my own life that habit or routine or gentle faith in the activity of sitting is not enough to sustain my practice - which is just as well, as it is only when I sit with the Question that something is alive on the cushion.
  • Geika
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Jan 2010
    • 4980

    #2
    I feel as if this is something I might have posted myself a year ago. However, now I don't feel the same. The difference could be blind acceptance, or it could be increased confidence in the practice taught here. All in all, where I once seemed to have so many words now there don't seem to be as many, but the great doubt still lives. Maybe I am stuck in emptiness. Anyway, good post.
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39472

      #3
      Originally posted by Stephanie

      A teacher once told me that simply sitting in the posture of zazen is the expression of a question. I agree that The Question can come just as much alive in shikantaza as in formal koan practice. But I do not believe this is always the way shikantaza is taught. Sometimes, it is taught in a way that abandons the fire of inquiry and instead settles into passivity. And this is the "flavor" I get here at Treeleaf, where Jundo will offer paragraph after paragraph of lovely explication, with the result of tranquilizing those stalking questions. I have seen little here of the Great Doubt being raised, though it does happen sometimes; yet, when it does happen, it seems it is quickly abandoned.

      I have wondered if my thoughts in this area are similar to those that drove some of the raging debates between students of the Rinzai and Soto schools throughout the years, with me leaning more toward the Rinzai point of view. I have found in my own life that habit or routine or gentle faith in the activity of sitting is not enough to sustain my practice - which is just as well, as it is only when I sit with the Question that something is alive on the cushion.
      Hi Steph,

      Questions never end. As Taigu sang recently ...

      Don't believe you have got it, and it can be spoken about, owned and tagged, put into a treasure box. ...

      Questions never end, nor should they end. To be human is to question, seek reasons, trace stories, asks where we came from, how we got here, where we are going, why are things so screwed up, looking for answers to life's sometimes terrible problems ... questioning even why often there are no answers, no way out of the trap. That is good, and separates us from the stones and trees. In our very center there must always be questioning, and an openness to the mystery of whatever life is, why it is so, and what's next. Who are we? Never give up our questioning, curious side ... nor the existential wrestle with life's WHY?

      However, there is a difference between being open, alert, alive and questioning, and wallowing in thoughts, fighting with self made ghosts, and wheel spinning fictional questions. That's different from just openness, curiosity, healthy questioning of the simple "what's what and what's next" of life. In fact, the purpose of the "Great Doubt" spoken of by Rinzai Masters is precisely the over-feeding of the mind's games, pushing doubt to such an existential precipice, that it finally falls into itself as "Great Knowing" ... the central questions dropping away, resolved. Rinzai Master Boshan wrote long ago ...

      In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening;no doubt, no awakening.”

      The Great Doubt must shatter! The point is not to stay twisting and drowning in the mind games of made up questions, tangled thoughts and storms of emotions.

      But nor is it to become an unquestioning drone, without thought or curiosity, lobotomized, numb and tranquilized, too passive to rage at the unjust machine! We are about vibrant living! As in so many perspectives of our Zen Way, it is not an "either/or" proposition: For so many questionings and searchings for answers remain, as they should at the heart of this rich human life. Yet, simultaneously, hand-in-hand, as another side of a no sided coin ... all (and that means "ALL!") questions and searching is resolved in wholeness and stillness. Questioning-non-questioning. It is much like a hard climb up a mountain, step by step on the sharp rocks in search of a destination ... where simultaneously each step is total arrival in stillness, no place in need of going. One can have one's questions, drop some, keep others ... and Drop Them All Away at once! It is like being caught in a maze or a trap, no way out, hopeless ... yet finding even the maze AMAZING and the hopeless as Home ... seeing the maze as Wholeness when viewed above.

      Our Shikantaza approach is a bit different from the Rinzai hard drive straight into the wall of MU! and such ... for we do not blast the mountain apart with TNT, but stop perfectly still (even as we move) and merge into it's very heart. Shikantaza is thoroughgoing, intense, to the marrow dropping of all searching (even as we search), whereby there can be no thought of doubt even as we doubt. Do we doubt or free ourselves of doubt? NO DOUBT! Sitting itself is Great Doubt Awakening realized, the mystery of the Genjo Koan come to life ... the great constantly answered-unanswered Koan that is right before our eyes.

      Who will win the World Series next year? What is God's shoe size? What is the cure for cancer? Not even a Buddha knows for sure. Why do bad things happen, why is life and this world the way it is? Some possible Buddhist answers, yet more questions. But what is the Answer shining in/as/through-and-through all the questions? Buddha (Big "K") Knows.

      If it is of help, I just published a little essay that is the mirror image of your question ... about the various flavors of Knowing Not Knowing Knowing in our Way ...

      I wanted to give this its own thread because a big question ... Ha! In our Zenny ways, Batchelor's not knowing or Master Seung Sahn's "only don't know" and Steve Hagen's telling us that we "always know (though not always realizing we know)" are not different at all. Each are making the point that when


      And maybe this talk on sitting with the Interrogative ... Questioning as an Affirmation!

      . Today's talk (WHAT) was presented (WHEN) during our August Zazenkai (WHERE) at Treeleaf Sangha by (WHO) Jundo ... 4-Hour AUGUST ZAZENKAI (http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4069) ... and (HOW) riffs on this WHY Koan from the Book of Serenity ... WHY indeed! Sometimes what appears a QUESTION is truly


      Gassho, J
      Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2012, 02:57 AM.
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Hogen
        Member
        • Oct 2009
        • 261

        #4
        Originally posted by Jundo
        .....


        However, there is a difference between being open, alert, alive and questioning, and wallowing in thoughts, fighting with self made ghosts, and wheel spinning fictional questions. That's different from just openness, curiosity, healthy questioning of the simple "what's what and what's next" of life. In fact, the purpose of the "Great Doubt" spoken of by Rinzai Masters is precisely the over-feeding of the mind's games, pushing doubt to such an existential precipice, that it finally falls into itself as "Great Knowing" ... the central questions dropping away, resolved. Rinzai Master Boshan wrote long ago ...

        In Zen practice, the essential point is to arouse Doubt. What is this Doubt? For example, when you are born, where do you come from? You cannot help but remain in doubt about this. When you die, where do you go? Again, you cannot help but remain in doubt. Since you cannot pierce this barrier of life-and-death, suddenly the Doubt will coalesce right before your eyes. Try to put it down, you cannot; try to push it away, you cannot. Eventually this Doubt Block will be broken through and you’ll realize what a worthless notion is life-and-death – ha! As the old worthies said: “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening;no doubt, no awakening.”

        .....
        Gassho, J
        This reminds me a of clip I viewed a ways back about the Great Doubt in contrast to self-doubt. From what I can tell, Great Doubt is that "what is it?" observation about our practice (our life), or as Stephanie says, "The Question". To me, it is not the beast in my head, but splinter under my fingernail. But I'm not sure it is "THE Question", which if so, could be answered by "THE Answer".

        That all said, it seems to speak of the Great Doubt when so much of it involves "I" and talk of you self misses the point. It seems to me that Jundo and Taigu don't shy away from the questions or the answers, but that our practice is not concerned with "What is it?" but as Kuzan Peter Schireson put it aptly on his blog (which helped me think on this), "It is this."

        Last edited by Hogen; 09-10-2012, 03:30 PM.
        Hogen
        法眼

        #SatToday

        Comment

        • Jinyo
          Member
          • Jan 2012
          • 1957

          #5
          Hi Stephanie - thank you for this thread.

          I joined Tree leaf nine months ago - and in trying to find my bearings read some of the earlier threads where you had posted. I thought it was a shame that you had left - you raised many interesting, pertinent questions. Please forgive me if I'm misquoting but something that stayed with me was a comment along the lines of 'Tree Leaf is a place where questions come to die'. I thought that was a very powerful statement and whenever I felt niggled - or not quite satisfied with an answer/explanation - this statement would come to the forefront of my mind.

          But somehow - perhaps as Amelia has said - this sense of disatisfaction has reduced and I feel differently now.

          Now it could be that I've been softened up - anaesthetized in some way - but I honestly don't think so.

          Firstly - I don't believe that the virtue of 'Zen Doubt' is the same as existential angst - though we can never escape the 'big' questions of life. I do agree with you that Great doubt may push us beyond the answers that usually comfort and reassure. The big questions are indeed so powerful that we can never adequately answer them with our meagre semantics. This is why I am drawn to this practice as being beyond words and letters - as Jundo often teaches. I do not feel that this teaching is some simplistic, quietism that leads to passivity.

          I'm also not sure that we sit 'with' the question. Our living, breathing lives are the question. To think otherwise feels dualistic and doesn't equate with the 'wholeness' that is taught here.

          But as you so rightly say - this is your journey.

          My journey is definately the better for being here - not necessarily easier - but I am not looking for easier.

          Anyway - these are just a few subjective thoughts.

          Gassho

          Willow
          Last edited by Jinyo; 09-11-2012, 07:43 AM.

          Comment

          • Rich
            Member
            • Apr 2009
            • 2603

            #6
            Hogen, thanks for that video. I believe that was Zen Master Bon Soeng of the Kwan Um School.

            Stephanie, you may want to check if there are any Kwan Um groups/teachers near you. What is this? Don't know. is a big part of their practice along with koans.

            All the teaching styles have at least one thing in common - sitting.
            _/_
            Rich
            MUHYO
            無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

            https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39472

              #7
              Originally posted by willow

              I'm also not sure that we sit 'with' the question. Our living, breathing lives are the question. To think otherwise feels dualistic and doesn't equate with the 'wholeness' that is taught here.
              I have long felt this way too ... and though a word is just a word ... and "with" is "are" is "as" ... and "we" precisely "that" .... all simply "sitting" ...

              ... from henceforth "shall we sit with that", as heard on many a sit-a-long talk, shall be "shall we sit as that" (pardon me if I forget from time to time). We might also say "shall sitting sit with sitting" "shall that sit as us" "shall sitting us as that" "shall sitting that as us" "shall us us as us" "shall that that as that" "shall Jundo Stephanie as Willow" "shall shall as shall" etc. etc. etc. ...

              ... sitting as/in/beyond/right-thought-and-through that.

              Gassho, J
              Last edited by Jundo; 09-11-2012, 12:39 AM.
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Omoi Otoshi
                Member
                • Dec 2010
                • 801

                #8
                Hi Stephanie!
                Nice to see you again!

                I tried Mumon's "red hot iron ball that you cannot swallow or spit out" when I was younger and first started to practice Zen in some self-taught Rinzai style. I spent years with the damn Mu koan!
                And I didn't reach any greater understanding. All the red hot iron ball ever gave me was anxiety and frustration. The silver mountain only grew heavier, the iron walls only thicker. Perhaps with a teacher things would have been different, I don't know. But my first real understanding of Mu came after I started practicing Shikantaza. The Question still lives, the Investigation continues.

                /Pontus
                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

                • disastermouse

                  #9
                  I don't think she's talking about koan practice. I think she's talking about the questionless question. Hagen calls it the pure interrogative because there is no really accurate English term for it.

                  Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.

                  It's antithetical to the part of you that thinks you grow in the practice, that one gets 'better' at it, or seeks a comfortable proficiency in Zen as though it's any other type of endeavor. It's the doubt about whether you really understand. It's meeting that insecurity with a direct, unencumbered connection to reality without insisting it be a certain way. Most of all, it's looking until you know you're really not shitting yourself.

                  I've come to the point where I don't think that sort of practice is for everyone. Some people are content with the simple comforts of a Hallmark Card Zen - and that's okay. That's how the religion penetrates the culture.

                  And yet, there is something unique to Zen that can't be found in most popular religion and for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound. This is the part of Zen (I think) that resists comparison to all other religions. It resists the whitewashing required to make the 'many paths up the mountain' metaphor so common in reconciliatory overtures to inter-faith dialogue.

                  IMHO, truly no offense is meant.

                  Chet
                  Last edited by Guest; 09-11-2012, 03:21 AM.

                  Comment

                  • Nindo

                    #10
                    Hi Stephanie,

                    good to hear from you!
                    I think the questions are here and do get articulated. However, an honest pursuit of any koan-type question, especially real life koans, quickly goes beyond what we can express in words, especially written words without a chance to add our face, hands, tone of voice to what is being said. Speaking strictly for me, Taigu's talks sometimes make me feel very unsettled, like a punch in the hara. Poof, the question is right there: Who am I? To describe that experience would take so many words and still not hit it. So I take it and use it, and that's practice.

                    I don't feel among tranquilized zen zombies here. I've been part of a brick-and-mortar sangha where I had very little opportunity to even get to know other people because the time together was used for sitting. The energy of the shared sitting was still incredible. That's what I'm looking for in mutual support, and I find it here, too.

                    I hope you give us another chance. If you don't like the talks, listen to the "ordinary folks". If you need a punch, we can do that, too.

                    Respectfully,
                    _/\_ Nindo

                    Comment

                    • Jinyo
                      Member
                      • Jan 2012
                      • 1957

                      #11
                      Originally posted by disastermouse
                      I don't think she's talking about koan practice. I think she's talking about the questionless question. Hagen calls it the pure interrogative because there is no really accurate English term for it.

                      Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.

                      It's antithetical to the part of you that thinks you grow in the practice, that one gets 'better' at it, or seeks a comfortable proficiency in Zen as though it's any other type of endeavor. It's the doubt about whether you really understand. It's meeting that insecurity with a direct, unencumbered connection to reality without insisting it be a certain way. Most of all, it's looking until you know you're really not shitting yourself.

                      I've come to the point where I don't think that sort of practice is for everyone. Some people are content with the simple comforts of a Hallmark Card Zen - and that's okay. That's how the religion penetrates the culture.

                      And yet, there is something unique to Zen that can't be found in most popular religion and for the truly curious, I think it itches like a scar for which you don't remember the original wound. This is the part of Zen (I think) that resists comparison to all other religions. It resists the whitewashing required to make the 'many paths up the mountain' metaphor so common in reconciliatory overtures to inter-faith dialogue.

                      IMHO, truly no offense is meant.

                      Chet
                      Chet - reading through the replies I can not sense an 'amazing amount of deflection'. This implies an intention to not understand/side step. I think there are honest and heartfelt answers here and in this jumble of words we all do our best to communicate.

                      I agree that inter-faith dialogue can bring forth many disatisfactions - but whether we like it or not 'the many paths up the mountain' metaphor has to stand. We each choose our own path/journey - and in advancing years I have become less hot headed in thinking any one religion/belief sysytem has the ultimate answer/approach.

                      We fashion what we may from all that is out there, in the areas of ethics, human relationships and our relationship to our planet - and this human race relies on such reconciliatory overtures in every area of life.

                      IMHO

                      Gassho

                      Willow

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39472

                        #12
                        Originally posted by disastermouse
                        Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.
                        Yes, but the point is Clarity. Not greeting cards, not tranquilized dullness, not a foresaking of vibrant curiosity and questioning, not numbness ... but Crystal Clarity and Wholeness.

                        There is no Zen Teacher I know who would say that one should simply allow oneself to spiral into an endless whirlpool of questions, doubts, emotional dramas, self created soap operas, self-psychologizing, angsty existential searching, self-flagelating philosophizing on artificial mysteries. Even if pushed into the whirlpool by this Practice, the point is to arrive at the storm's still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness ... not to wallow drowning in the shit storm.

                        Anyone who says otherwise seriously misunderstands the point of this Zen enterprise and Buddhism. Some of us have a bit of Crystal Clarity Wholeness amid the chaos of life ... even as we savor the questions and mysteries that this rich life naturally offers in each fresh moment.

                        Some other folks just like their angst as an anchor to cling to. They don't get their own mental game that they are caught in like a treadmill or a comfortable addiction, or are afraid to see through it. They do not understand this Path, only what they imagine it to be. They simply appear to lack True Clarity and Wholeness.

                        Gassho, J

                        PS - Rich wrote ...

                        there are any Kwan Um groups/teachers near you. What is this? Don't know. is a big part of their practice along with koans.

                        The Kwan Um Path is wonderful, but that is a very misleading statement if it implies that the purpose of their path of "Don't Know" is "don't know" and anything but an ultimate arrival at solid, unshakeble "Big Knowing" ... Clear Holy Wholeness. The point of their "Just Don't Know" is NEVER just not knowing.
                        Last edited by Jundo; 09-12-2012, 12:34 AM.
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Shokai
                          Treeleaf Priest
                          • Mar 2009
                          • 6391

                          #13
                          Don't ya just gotta love it.
                          I think the questions are here and do get articulated. However, an honest pursuit of any koan-type question, especially real life koans, quickly goes beyond what we can express in words, especially written words without a chance to add our face, hands, tone of voice to what is being said. Speaking strictly for me, Taigu's talks sometimes make me feel very unsettled, like a punch in the hara. Poof, the question is right there: Who am I? To describe that experience would take so many words and still not hit it. So I take it and use it, and that's practice.
                          ditto, like she said, dammit! (thank you Nindo and Jundo )

                          gassho, 生海 Shokai
                          Last edited by Shokai; 09-11-2012, 12:06 PM.
                          合掌,生開
                          gassho, Shokai

                          仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                          "Open to life in a benevolent way"

                          https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

                          Comment

                          • Hogen
                            Member
                            • Oct 2009
                            • 261

                            #14
                            Originally posted by disastermouse

                            Also, in the replies I sense an amazing amount of deflection or not letting what she wrote really penetrate. That is likely the frustration she's talking about. The question need not be uncomfortable, it need not be a 'red hot iron ball'. Overall (and I don't mean to speak for her), it most definitely is not using the practice to comfort oneself. It could be as simple as wondering why you struggle, or who it is that struggles, who is asking the question? At some point, there can be pure interrogative without even subtle senses of self-or-other. It is determination free of goal, a precise arrow-shot without a target.


                            Chet
                            with all due respect, exactly what response are we to give when faced with a post which calls what we do "passive" and "soft". My response at least attempts to articulate how I see our approach to zen: sitting with "what it is". So what is it then: us not engaging in the debate or are we simply not responding in the way the poster wishes we did?

                            As I see it, what "it is" can be the scratch that cannot be itched or the hot ball in the throat or all things in between. Perhaps what we do is not question the why we have the hot iron ball in our throat but to sit with the existence of the iron ball. I will mull over the Youtube vid I posted above again, because I think it speaks about the "Great Doubt" not being "my Great Doubt".

                            I appreciate Stephanie's posts because they are direct and uncompromising, but I feel as though (especially in light of the thought that we were all deflecting), that its all mental gymnastics fashioned to somehow turn it all into an introspective exercise.
                            Last edited by Hogen; 09-11-2012, 12:41 PM.
                            Hogen
                            法眼

                            #SatToday

                            Comment

                            • disastermouse

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Jundo
                              Yes, but the point is Clarity. Not hallmark, not tranquilized dullness, not a foresaking of vibrant curiosity and questioning, not numbness ... but Crystal Clarity and Wholeness.

                              There is no Zen Teacher I know who would say that one should simply allow oneself to spiral into an endless whirlpool of questions, doubts, emotional dramas, self created soap operas, self-psychologizing, angsty existential searching, self-flagelating philosophizing on artificial mysteries. Even if pushed into the whirlpool by this Practice, the point is to arrive at the storm's still still center of Crystal Clarity and Wholeness ... not to wallow drowning in the shit storm.
                              No one is advocating this view. That's a straw-dog, Jundo. Sometimes one is simply in the shitstorm. Pretending it isn't there is pointless when one is in pain. Leaning into it with curiosity may indeed be the correct medicine.

                              Anyone who says otherwise seriously misunderstands the point of this Zen enterprise and Buddhism. Some of us have a bit of Crystal Clarity Wholeness amid the chaos of life ... even as we savor the questions and mysteries that this rich life naturally offers in each fresh moment.

                              Some other folks just like their angst as an anchor to cling to. They don't get their own mental game that they are caught in like a treadmill or a comfortable addiction, or are afraid to see through it. They do not understand this Path, only what they imagine it to be. They simply appear to lack True Clarity and Wholeness.
                              And some other folks never acknowledge the uncomfortableness realness of that angst because it hits too close to home - and acknowledging the realness of that angst in others requires facing it in oneself.

                              The thing is - in the end, only you can really know whether you're just shitting yourself - and it will manifest in the form of doubt and the cladding of tradition. I, personally, am not accusing Treeleaf of this. This sangha and its teachers have awakened me from deep delusion more than once.

                              Chet

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