"The fire"

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  • Stephanie

    "The fire"

    Note: this post arose in relation to the thread I just posted, "Why do you practice?" and I thought it better to make this into its own thread, so as not to dilute the other thread.

    It is so easy to fall into "groupthink" when asked to justify or explain why we do something, but it's so much more fascinating and profound to see what drives us from within ourselves. I think the true answers to these questions of why we practice can only be found in the language of each of our individual lives; I believe when we shape answers to such fundamental questions according to dogma and tropes of a group with which we identify, we are burying the embers of our inner fires in the wet dirt of words and feelings that are not quite our own.

    Years ago, a phrase that John Daido Loori used became a koan for me: "Trust yourself." I have returned to this phrase again and again over the years, noting how the way I understand it has shifted. At first, I had a lot of questions about what it meant to trust oneself, especially as the self is so deceptive. But what I understand now is that part of the Great Faith necessary to endure on this path is to be able to respond to and be guided by one's own feelings, instincts, and way of being, which may or may not conform to what others label, enshrine, and institutionalize as "right." Because it is only in looking to and being led by these forces within the self that we can connect to the true aspiration to practice.

    I am slowly starting to reconnect with my own drive to practice and I think this drive or motivation is intensely mysterious and fascinating in itself. It brings up questions such as, "What exactly are we, that after the carrot has long fallen off the string, we keep moving forward anyway?" I was struck by something that I recently read in Shohaku Okumura's Living By Vow, commenting on a koan that hits me right where my practice is right now:

    Baizhang asked Guishan, "Who is it?" and Guishan replied, "It's me, Lingyou (Guishan's dharma name)." Baizhang said, "Would you dig in the firepot to see if there is fire or not?" It was winter and the firepot was their source of heat. Guishan stirred the firepot and said, "No fire." Then Baizhang got up and came over, dug deep into the ashes, and found a tiny ember. He showed it to Lingyou and said, "What is this? Is this not fire?" And Guishan was enlightened.

    The fire in this story refers to the fire of the buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something solid or immovable, but rather an energy that motivates us to practice--and not just zazen or Buddhist practice. Buddha-nature is the fire of our life force that enables us to aspire to be better persons, to be more helpful to others, to settle into a healthy way of life, and to practice the Way. It's difficult to find the fire of buddha-nature inside of us, but we must. It's there. We are alive, so we have this force that drives us to practice and to wake up to the reality of life. It may only be an ember, but all of us, without exception, have it. When we practice with others, we gather together small fires. If we try to build a fire in a hibachi or firepot with a single piece of charcoal, it soon dies out. But even one tiny ember, fed with charcoal, becomes a big fire. This is the meaning of sangha. Each one of us has a small fire, which alone, will die out sooner or later. Together we become bigger than ourselves.
    This is an inspiring vision of sangha, and one I find to be true, but only in part. I am drawn to the metaphor of the will, or the drive, as fire, spark, or ember. Sometimes, the cold rain of life can put out the flames in us until there are only the tiniest embers left in the ashes. And in times like those, it is only connection with another being or beings with a living inner fire that will rekindle our own fires. This is sangha at its best. And yet, sangha can also have a dampening effect, if we turn to the comfort of group identification and reassurance over the very particular drive, passion, question, or suffering that brought us to practice. In middling times, the identification with a group can be enough to keep us going. But in the most trying times, it is only that inner fire that will keep us going.


    I recently watched the movie The Road, which I had been meaning to watch for some time. I was struck by how much it evaded my expectations, based on reviews I had read that it was going to be a bleak "downer" of a movie. I sat expecting something that was going to leave me feeling the hollow grief I felt after watching The Plague Dogs, especially after having experienced how bleak and dark John Hillcoat's other movie The Proposition was. Instead, I was inspired, touched, and moved.

    The movie takes place in a very bleak world indeed--one in which some great cataclysm has killed all plant and animal life on Earth, so that nothing grows any more. This has left the remaining humans with the question of how to survive in this barren wasteland. The harsh reality of this world has driven many people to cannibalism, as other humans are the only reliable food source; in this world, if you don't eat other people, you have to rely on endless work and luck to find reserves of canned food, sodas, and other 'leftovers' from the world before, with the high likelihood of starvation or depredation from cannibals as a reward for your efforts.

    The father and son who are the central characters in the movie are guided by what the father calls "the fire." He repeatedly encourages his son through the traumatic, harrowing events of their lives by reminding him that they are "carrying the fire." The nature of this "fire" is never plainly spelled out in the movie, but is related to the vow of the father and son not to resort to cannibalism. So I think it is the same fire, the same vow, of which Okumura speaks - the fire of hope and human goodness. The movie shows how something we hope we would all do--refuse to terrorize and kill others to ensure our own comfort and survival--would actually be very difficult in such a world, even for the most morally upright. Much of the movie shows how the son acts to remind his father of the fire when the father loses his way and lets the bleak, exhausting nature of life in this world overwhelm his desire to "carry the fire" and not become one of the "bad guys."


    The movie ends on an uncertain note, as it's not clear whether, in the dying world of the movie, humanity can make and keep a foothold, especially a humanity that holds onto "the fire" to do and be good, to help others rather than exploit and hurt them. But what the movie shows so beautifully, and perhaps bleakly, is that even if it was impossible to preserve the fire of human goodness in a world we had reduced to a grave through our endless greed, hatred, and ignorance, it would still be worth refusing to let go of the fire, even in the face of the impossible nature of the effort and the sovereignty of death. I think of another quote from Okumura in Living By Vow:

    There is a contradiction inherent in these [bodhisattva] vows: we vow to do things that are impossible. This means our practice is endless and that we cannot completely fulfill the four vows. Our practice and study are like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon, one spoonful at a time. It is certainly a stupid way of life, not a clever one. A clever person cannot be a bodhisattva. We are aiming at something eternal, infinite and absolute. No matter how hard we study, practice, and help other people, there is no end to it all. When we compare our achievement to something infinite, absolute, and eternal, it's like nothing.
    I think we cannot fully appreciate this until we have held onto "the fire" - Baizhang's ember - through times of great hardship. Because it is only when we have been brought to our knees that we can see past the trivial and into our truest heart. That is one of the things I really enjoyed about The Road - by painting a picture of a world that is so bleak, it shows what really is at stake, and what it can mean - which I think can be lost in the rush of entertainment, convenience, and relative ease that is modern life, in which our actions and efforts can seem so insignificant. (I think this is the draw of many movies and television shows, actually - to be able to vicariously experience the life of a character whose actions mean more than ours seem to mean, and who is capable of what we wish we were capable. The nice thing about The Road is that it plays to this need but also turns it on its head, as there is nothing glamorous about these fragile, vulnerable characters.)

    Fire, embers - there was a while I thought I had lost mine, because of the lackluster nature of my practice and the rote, uninspired feeling of my daily life. But as those embers start to crackle and build again, I realize - the fact there was even one ember left, after the cold rain put out the fire that sustained the early days of my practice, is testament to the power of that fire. As Ian Astbury (who is interestingly Buddhist-leaning these days, as you can read about in articles like this and this) sings, "Cinder ash becomes a spark, watch your embers turn to flame..."


  • alan.r
    Member
    • Jan 2012
    • 546

    #2
    Lovely post to read on a rainy, colder evening while working in a bookstore. Nothing to add except that, if you liked the movie, check out the book (which is much better in my opinion), and then if you liked the book, McCarthy's best (masterpiece) by far is Suttree (seriously, it's not Blood Meridian, no matter what the critics say) - about a guy who leaves his affluent life to live among derelicts on a houseboat (a thing which McCarthy essentially did). Here's the opening:

    Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.

    Also, that fire image in The Road is carried over from No Country for Old Men:

    I had two dreams about him (his father) after he died. I dont remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn they way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.

    And really that last line I think is about what we're doing here. Making a fire for all sentient beings out there in all that dark and all that cold and though it may be impossible for all to get to that fire, or impossible for us to make one large enough for all, or impossible it seems to even make anything but just a flicker, really we are all that fire and all are like coals scattered from that fire, and so we are all lighting our own little ones and in that lighting coming together.

    Many thanks for a lovely post.

    Gassho,
    a
    Shōmon

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39075

      #3
      Hi Stephanie,

      Beautiful and powerful words.

      Originally posted by Stephanie
      Years ago, a phrase that John Daido Loori used became a koan for me: "Trust yourself." I have returned to this phrase again and again over the years, noting how the way I understand it has shifted. At first, I had a lot of questions about what it meant to trust oneself, especially as the self is so deceptive. But what I understand now is that part of the Great Faith necessary to endure on this path is to be able to respond to and be guided by one's own feelings, instincts, and way of being, which may or may not conform to what others label, enshrine, and institutionalize as "right." Because it is only in looking to and being led by these forces within the self that we can connect to the true aspiration to practice.
      I would also guide you to get beyond your self ... completely, thoroughly, absolutely free of your little self. That does not mean that you lose your self, and the burning embers that drive you forward in life. Not at all!

      It simply means that you also be completely, thoroughly free of 'your' self, knowing the True Home ever here whether standing still or moving forward. That's what Guishan was pointing to in the hot fires.

      That True Self is present in a world of peace and plenty and in a world of cataclysm and cannibals. All the same, the very same True Home and Hungry Ghosts. Cannibals are simply Buddha with an appetite. There is nothing lacking, nobody to eat or be eaten ... even as we do as we can to uphold the Precept not to kill, even as we try to survive and not to be eaten. Even as we try to build a world where everyone has enough to eat.

      Bleakness or Buddha is Buddha eating Buddha. Cannibalize your small self, then run like hell from (or into) sharp teeth.

      Gassho, Jundo

      Ps -

      Alan,

      Making a fire for all sentient beings out there in all that dark and all that cold and though it may be impossible for all to get to that fire, or impossible for us to make one large enough for all, or impossible it seems to even make anything but just a flicker, really we are all that fire and all are like coals scattered from that fire, and so we are all lighting our own little ones and in that lighting coming together.

      Yes.
      Last edited by Jundo; 09-30-2012, 02:38 AM.
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Mp

        #4
        Originally posted by Jundo
        ... That True Self is present in a world of peace and plenty and in a world of cataclysm and cannibals. All the same, the very same True Home and Hungry Ghosts. There is nothing lacking, nobody to eat or be eaten ... even as we do as we can to uphold the Precept not to kill, even as we try to survive and not to be eaten. Even as we try to build a world where everyone has enough to eat.
        Thank you Jundo.

        Gassho
        Michael

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39075

          #5
          By the way, not too many cannibals appear in our just open discussion of

          PRECEPTS III - To Refrain From Taking Life


          ... but they are covered as well.

          A Koan: Who is truly the Walking Dead?
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Stephanie

            #6
            Alan - thank you for a lovely reply! Gassho. And yes, McCarthy is definitely on my "to read" list now, having heard so many good things about his books and now having immensely enjoyed two films based on them, The Road and No Country for Old Men. I will probably end up reading The Road first, but will keep my eye peeled for Suttree too now =)

            Jundo - thank you, and yes, of course a central piece of this Great Matter is seeing and getting beyond the self, beyond the ideas of "who I am and who I am not," mental boxes, habit patterns, arguments, beliefs, preferences... This is why "Trust yourself" was such a perplexing phrase for me at first in the context of Zen training.

            But what I have learned - it's not so much a matter of "big self" vs. "small self," a pair of concepts that has never really resonated with my own experience, but a matter of what in oneself one is trusting. It's not my limited ideas, view, and karma, but something in me that can recognize the path.

            The essential point of "trust yourself" as it has revealed itself to me over the years, is learning how to slow and quiet down and receive the transmissions from this sense that I believe you refer to in your post as "True Self." Why the phrase is "trust yourself" is that no one else can find or recognize that for you. A passive student who looks to others for instruction will never connect with it.

            And I find it becomes most clear when it is not in agreement with what a teacher or someone else is saying. For example, there have been many times in our interactions that you wanted to steer me away from something, but this instinct in myself knew I had to go toward it. And by trusting my instincts, the path was revealed. I'm not singling you out, other teachers and peers on the Way have had their "hits" and "misses" too in interview and conversation. I think this often happens and is the poetry of studying the Way. Building faith in one's own fire, one's own buddha-nature, recognizing that your own True Way may not look like or follow the same landscape as someone else's.

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39075

              #7
              Originally posted by Stephanie

              And I find it becomes most clear when it is not in agreement with what a teacher or someone else is saying. For example, there have been many times in our interactions that you wanted to steer me away from something, but this instinct in myself knew I had to go toward it. And by trusting my instincts, the path was revealed. I'm not singling you out, other teachers and peers on the Way have had their "hits" and "misses" too in interview and conversation. I think this often happens and is the poetry of studying the Way. Building faith in one's own fire, one's own buddha-nature, recognizing that your own True Way may not look like or follow the same landscape as someone else's.
              Well, if something seems to work for you, try that and stick to it. I am just a coach, offering tips on improving your pitching arm. In the end, it is your arm and your pitching.

              And if it doesn't end up working, come back here and we can try it this other way.

              Gassho, J
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Risho
                Member
                • May 2010
                • 3179

                #8
                All I can say is, Wow what an awesome, awesome post!

                Gassho,

                Risho
                Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                Comment

                • Dosho
                  Member
                  • Jun 2008
                  • 5784

                  #9
                  Stephanie,

                  How often do you sit?

                  Gassho,
                  Dosho

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39075

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Stephanie

                    Jundo - thank you, and yes, of course a central piece of this Great Matter is seeing and getting beyond the self, beyond the ideas of "who I am and who I am not," mental boxes, habit patterns, arguments, beliefs, preferences... This is why "Trust yourself" was such a perplexing phrase for me at first in the context of Zen training.

                    But what I have learned - it's not so much a matter of "big self" vs. "small self," a pair of concepts that has never really resonated with my own experience ...
                    However, Stephanie ...

                    I am afraid that until one does unpierce and resonate this "big self" "small self" Truth (however Thus is expressed through any number of other imperfect images in and throughout Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism, such as True Face Before One's Parents Were Born, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Great Doubt Great Knowing, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Mind and all the rest ... ultimately wordless beyond and through words) you may be practicing something ... you may even be practicing a good thing that is helpful in your life in some way ... but I would not say you were truly walking a path of Zen Buddhism, nor can I say that one is then capable of tasting the real Fruits of Zen Practice. Sorry. Nor do I feel that one will know the true Peace and Liberation that can only be known by 'unbecoming' completely, thoroughly, and absolutely free of your "little self" and its games. No doubt, end of story.

                    One might be walking a path that has good psychological, health, personal expressive, calming or stimulating, philosophical and all manner of good things ... but it is not a path of Zen Buddhism. People sometimes misunderstand that ours is a Free, Freeing and Boundless path, but is not a free, unrestricted and "do whatever you want, and that's still 'Zen'" path.

                    Of course, you can listen to the advice of me and the other Buddhist teachers you spoke with ... or not, and instead toss all the lovely words and (literally) 'self'-justifying prose at the question until the 'Mu-cows come Home'. As you please, a free universe.

                    Gassho, J
                    Last edited by Jundo; 10-01-2012, 12:09 AM.
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Stephanie

                      #11
                      Jundo - you are the one that is caught up in your little self here, and you can't even see it. I suppose it's human to feel insulted and want revenge when someone disagrees with you, but even in my much less idealistic perspective these days, it shouldn't come so easily to a Zen teacher. For a long time, your approach with me has been to imply I am "not really practicing Zen" and to use the fact I think and write posts that feature ideas and thinking as your evidence. But no one on these forums has produced nearly as much text - or laborious, concept-laden explication - as you. Nor do you seem to see the irony that you alone among Zen teachers has decided that the textual discourse of an online forum can be treated as a "zendo," or Buddhist practice place.

                      I can be your boogieman if it suits you - you can make a straw man argument and use me as the case against which you set yourself. Whatever works to firm up your sense of pride and "rally your base." It does not make a difference at all in my practice. And twist my words and imply all you like - for all of the Zen teachers I've met and worked with, none other than you (and perhaps Taigu) have taken issue with me, or told me that I'm practicing "wrong," or tried to argue me into submission. I've never been made to feel like Frankenstein in front of a horde of torch-wielding villagers at any other sangha. And I've sat with a lot of sanghas and done a lot of daisan.

                      There is no evidence that you or your favorite pupils have gotten any more beyond the self than anyone else. Any time a person posts about his or her experience or ideas, it is navel-gazing and self-involvement. We are all guilty. As for your choice to jump on the fact that I have never gotten on with the concepts of "small self" and "big self," how silly. These are just words. And words that I find to be sticky and encouraging of a certain kind of back-door concept of self. How can you say, in all seriousness, there is really such a thing you can delineate as a "small self" and another as a "True self"? No, it all boils down to experience. Only living, experiential awareness can respond beyond the rigid parameters of the self idea. And this is what "trust yourself" is all about.

                      You know, I went through it with myself when I recently started posting here again. Why am I doing this? I wondered. I have a sangha, I can read Chet's posts without chiming in, I have done away with most of my Internet posting, what is my agenda? I think truthfully my experience here left a residue I haven't yet quite been able to evade. A bad taste. So perhaps some part of me still tries to make sense of it; perhaps I hoped that some sort of peace could be made. But I see now it is only a rehash that reactivates the old bad taste and discord. Maybe this time I can finally learn my lesson and move on.

                      Comment

                      • Taigu
                        Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                        • Aug 2008
                        • 2710

                        #12
                        Your rhetoric is excellent Stephanie ( take this as a compliment from an old scholar-lecturer) and I can see in you amazing qualities and a great determination, second to none, a true inpiration for us all. What Jundo is pointing out is a word of kind warning that any teacher would here utter, the persistant illusion of a small self can take many shapes and forms, it is a very deceptive stuff the world is made of, made of the belief this small self views are real. The Big self, when all things come forth in Dogen s words, has nothing to do with the dharmic DIY we find around these days. As to Daido s words, they may just point at the ability for everyone to make this, or rather undo this.
                        You are very much experimenting and this takes courage and time and might be a lot more of a bumpy way you now imagine.
                        Your say is Wonderful and adventurous anyway, and you may let a bunch of old cruffy teachers invite you to be a bit more cautious.

                        Gassho


                        Taigu
                        Last edited by Taigu; 10-01-2012, 06:43 AM.

                        Comment

                        • disastermouse

                          #13
                          I thought that the 'one-mind' school was thoroughly destroyed, rhetorically - the idea being, "If it's all 'one' how can it see itself?" No, I think I have to disagree that there is a 'true self' or a real 'big-B-Buddha' at the root. I don't disagree with using the concepts to point at certain things - but there's a reason that so much of Buddhism is explicated via negation, in order specifically not to erect anything to which the student can cling. Unfortunately, that also paints realization as being a ginormous void and a rather sterile place, and I think that until you get a glimpse of realization and see how alive emptiness is, that's just sort of a necessary hazard. I think it's the less dangerous hazard and certainly the more unique path. It's something that Buddhism offers that few other practices offer.

                          There's this strange caricature of the 'danger of emptiness' being that it can somehow be morality free or egoically strengthening. My own brushes with emptiness have imparted a very deep sense of responsibility and compassion - non-local, though they may be. It has never been the emptiness of blunting all edges and fixing all problems - but rather a freedom to see possibilities. That is, my own brushes with emptiness have not been the 'end-point' of a path or an answer, they have been a beginning and an inspiration to work with situations instead of trying to negate them with some pale intellectual construction of 'emptiness'.

                          All right then, with that diversion aside I think that some things need addressing.

                          Jundo, I think your attempts to de-legitimize Stephanie's practice are misguided and rooted in a misunderstanding of what she's actually saying. There is indeed within each of us something about Zen that resonates - that rings like a bell when struck by the truth. Sometimes it takes a long time before the bell is struck, but certainly there is within us some truth-recognizing is-ness that is unconnected to ego or sense of self. There's something there free of striving and competing and engineering an advantage. In fact, I think that acquaintance with 'emptiness', 'truth', or 'big-b-Buddha' (just because it's not ultimately valid doesn't mean I'm not going to use it to point to something, LOL!) de-magnifies striving and drama simply because the drama of competing, advantage-gaining, and conniving are all so very similarly boring. All of these struggles are one struggle, and the struggle never achieves the goal that is, of course, always to be achieved via the next struggle.

                          Stephanie, I think you tend toward what can often appear as a grandiosity or a tendency to elevate your internal struggles to much larger and nobler ones. When I was first getting to know you, this was quite puzzling, and it also made me look at myself with mortified horror because I have often had the same tendency myself. It's only as I've gotten to know you that I've seen that it has a lot to do with your aesthetic sense and the way you appreciate your world sensorily and emotionally. The quasi-sensational 'rightness' of how these universal, often struggling themes resonate with you are indeed what drive you forward. These grand arching themes can be like meteors that are pulled in by the gravitational pull of big-T-Truth. We are pulled into truth by our delusions and they break up in low-orbit. I think that your prior spiritual crisis was, in fact, a witnessing of these grand arching themes breaking up in orbit of the Truth and the bafflement that concepts that had been so useful were breaking down. Every attempt to resurrect them has fallen short and you are struggling to find an impetus to practice zazen and the Zen path without these meteoric rocket-ships. The good news, in my opinion, is that the very fact that these arching themes have broken apart and are not easily resurrected is a wonderful sign that you are nearer to realizing unmediated reality than you have ever been. Your path has been a path of disillusionment and humiliation. They have been your friends and they are still your friends, if you can figure out how to embrace them.

                          Both Jundo and Stephanie - I apologize for whatever misunderstandings I may have about either of you. I am aware that I am far from 'sorted out' and that I have my own vast delusions that have not yet been seen through by myself that may be as plain as day to each of you. Neither of these critiques has been offered in an attempt to hurt or to cause suffering of any kind.

                          One last note for Jundo: I believe that perhaps the dynamic and history of Dogen Sangha have left a mark on you that causes more mistrust than you might otherwise have regarding a person's motivations. I think this is aggravated by the somewhat removed nature of the way our wonderful Sangha connects. Sometimes you express distrust of my motivations or the motivations of others that have had difficult dealings with you in the past. I'd like to invite you to question the utility of carrying those battles into future discourse. I'm certain, for instance, that if you and I were to meet in person, you'd probably be quite inclined to attribute my unbelievably harsh prior dealings with you as being the expressions of ineptitude and confusion that they were, and not the acts of malice that they very easily appeared to be.

                          Gassho

                          Chet

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39075

                            #14
                            Hi Guys,

                            Sorry, I am not impressed. Stephanie, if you are convinced that you have found a good path for yourself, then please walk it. It may be right for you, but it is not our approach here. I think you should take your own good advice and go where you can practice as you wish if this does not suit you. Some other Zen Teachers may have encouraged you to engage in some kind of angsty existential struggle and thought filled intellectual and emotional inner drama as your "Zen Practice" ... rather than dropping or breaking through all the mental shit as part of Zen Practice (either through Shikantaza or Koan Practice etc.) ... but I would doubt any such teachers. This Practice ... Rinzai, Soto, all the Mahayana, really all Buddhism I am aware ... is about sitting and dropping and/or breaking through all the mental sewage and soap opera.

                            But, find your own path, and walk it, Stephanie. You write ...

                            Why am I doing this? I wondered. ... what is my agenda? ... Maybe this time I can finally learn my lesson and move on.

                            I don't know why you keep coming back here with the same story every few months. If you don't like what we're cooking, stick to your own kitchen. Plenty of folks around this Sangha have found a good Path to clarity, insight, balance, Freedom right in/as this messy, struggling, binding life. I hope you find what you need. I wish you clarity, insight, balance, Freedom right in this messy, struggling, binding life ... or whatever else the heck it is you seek.

                            Chet, I hope you find what you are looking for too.

                            Gassho, Jundo

                            PS - Chet, almost every Zen Master of old, from Bodhidharma to Huineng to Dogen to Honzhi to Hakuin to everyone in between spoke of "True Self/small self, True Face, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Capital "M" Mind etc. etc." ... although each as "fingers pointing to the moon" (the "moon", by the way, yet another metaphorical finger pointing at the moon of Enlightenment"). This has to be unpierced, realized (made real in living) through sitting and all Practice.

                            However, though "fingers pointing at the moon", that does not take away the central point of their teachings of Zen Practice was not ... to a man ... anything but the need to realize (grock and bring to life) and and break free of the self/other, the Relative/Absolute. Sorry, find me someone through the centuries who taught something else in the classic literature. I will eat my Zafu on toast. Even Dogen was about that through his jazzed up, vibrant vision of how the relative and absolute interpenetrate and totally exert as each other. No exceptions, and the only thing the Soto and Rinzai folks (and other Mahayana Buddhists) really disagree on is the specific methods to do so. Even Shohaku Okamura, in the wonderful book that Stephanie mentions in her opening piece (soon to be on our recommended list as soon as I get through the last few pages) says so. Please read pages 214-218, and also (for a little on Dogen's take on this) page 50 here if you think I am fooling ...

                            Last edited by Jundo; 10-01-2012, 03:06 PM.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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                            • disastermouse

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Jundo

                              Chet, I hope you find what you are looking for too.

                              Gassho, Jundo

                              PS - Chet, almost every Zen Master of old, from Bodhidharma to Huineng to Dogen to Honzhi to Hakuin to everyone in between spoke of "True Self/small self, True Face, Dharmakhaya, Relative/Absolute, Mu, Emptiness, Shobogenzo, Big 'B' Buddha, Mirror Mind, Capital "M" Mind etc. etc." ... although each as "fingers pointing to the moon" (the "moon", by the way, yet another metaphorical finger pointing at the moon of Enlightenment"). This has to be unpierced, realized (made real in living) through sitting and all Practice.

                              However, though "fingers pointing at the moon", that does not take away the central point of their teachings of Zen Practice was not ... to a man ... anything but the need to realize (grock and bring to life) and and break free of the self/other, the Relative/Absolute. Sorry, find me someone through the centuries who taught something else in the classic literature. I will eat my Zafu on toast. Even Dogen was about that through his jazzed up, vibrant vision of how the relative and absolute interpenetrate and totally exert as each other. No exceptions, and the only thing the Soto and Rinzai folks (and other Mahayana Buddhists) really disagree on is the specific methods to do so. Even Shohaku Okamura, in the wonderful book that Stephanie mentions in her opening piece (soon to be on our recommended list as soon as I get through the last few pages) says so. Please read pages 214-218, and also (for a little on Dogen's take on this) page 50 here if you think I am fooling ...
                              Jundo,

                              I don't think we're really disagreeing here - unless you believe that the big/small 'mind' are pointing to actual ontological facts - and I don't think you are. Are you?

                              Most of my criticism was for Stephanie - although by reducing what she's talking about to mere 'inner drama', I think once again you're going out of your way to misunderstand her. Honestly, I did not expect this sort of reaction, rather just a clarification. I'm not disregarding relative and absolute as teaching tools. But by even trying to integrate 'relative' and 'absolute' Dogen was already on a fool's errand. You can't bring together things that have never been separate to begin with, can you?

                              I'm kind of weirded out because I don't disagree with a single thing you said, and yet somehow I feel like I've been swatted, so to speak.

                              I think we're imagining insults on all sides that weren't originally intended. Certainly, I didn't intend to give any.

                              Chet

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