Split Thread: Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment and Everything!!

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  • Nengyo
    Member
    • May 2012
    • 668

    Split Thread: Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment and Everything!!

    I just downloaded a copy of the Shobogenzo. Maybe I will get a chance to read it before school starts and personal reading time disappears.

    I do have a quick question about tradition. I was looking over some of this stuff and I was wondering about the meaning of the terms kensho vs satori vs enlightenment vs dharma transmission. I've looked them all up on wikipedea at one time or another, but I'm really just looking for a definition within the context of soto zen and what we do here at treeleaf (versus the Wikipedia 600 year and every sect ever run down)

    Gassho
    Nengyo

    <if this is all answered in the FAQ or somewhat incoherent, please disregard. I am quite sleepy and heading to bed at this very moment
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-05-2013, 08:21 AM.
    If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39474

    #2
    Originally posted by catfish

    I do have a quick question about tradition. I was looking over some of this stuff and I was wondering about the meaning of the terms kensho vs satori vs enlightenment vs dharma transmission. I've looked them all up on wikipedea at one time or another, but I'm really just looking for a definition within the context of soto zen and what we do here at treeleaf (versus the Wikipedia 600 year and every sect ever run down)
    Oye vey! A question that one could either write 10,000 words on ... or, better, NONE!

    However, I will do my best to respond slightly between silence and Wikipedia a little later today. I will move this to its own thread.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39474

      #3
      Hi Catfish,

      Well, the only real answers to these questions are to be found in Practice, not words.

      However, "ya gotta say something" ... so let me put my foot in my mouth. In a nutshell:

      "Kensho" literally means "Seeing (One's Original) Nature" ... grocking-piercing the subject-object divide, finding (though here and everywhere all along) the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness that washes away and washes up the separate appearances of you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then/etc..

      "Satori" literally means "Knowing/Understanding" ... i.e., the same grocking-piercing.

      "Enlightenment" ... i.e., the same.

      All the Zen Schools are in accord on that.

      Furthermore, both of the major Zen Schools (Soto and Rinzai) are in accord that a timeless moment of deep and earthshaking "Kensho" (in which the you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then instantly radically drops away, while the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness manifests) is pretty nifty, a treasure. However (both schools agree) such a momentary seeing is not itself enough, not compared to the work that follows in which "Kensho" gets into the bones, gets legs and starts walking, breathing and living your life in this divided, mixed up, complex world of you/me/this/that/here/there/now/then. In other words, the "grocking" is not enough without putting it into action and bringing it into daily life.

      Where the Soto and some Rinzai folks may disagree a bit is whether the "momentary timeless Kensho experience" (though nifty) is really that important and necessary, because (say the Soto folk) it is quite possible to have "Kensho" (grocking-piercing the subject-object divide) that powerfully, deeply, profoundly and thoroughly goes right to the marrow subtly and with less momentary notice. That is also "Kensho". It is sometimes compared to walking through a mist of dew which, in the end, will saturate one's sleeves as much as dipping them directly in a river. What is more, either way, the really vital part remains whether it is brought into the rest of your life or not. One can easily have some "timeless moment of deep and earthshaking Kensho" (or 100's of em) and still be a fool at how one brings Wisdom and Compassion into life.

      Dogen tended to speak of "Enlightenment" ... not as some momentary experience to attain ... but as "Practice-Enlightenment", emphasizing that how we make Buddha Wisdom and Compassion manifest in our actual words, thoughts and deeds in this life is the real "Kensho".

      Now "Dharma Transmission" from generation to generation may occur when Teacher Grocks, and Student Grocks .... and Teacher Grocks that Student Grocks that Teacher Grocks ... piercing the subject-object divide that even separates "Teacher" from "Student". That's a fancy answer anyway.

      But more important for me is that the Teacher believes the Student has now sufficiently gotten his sleeves wet ... and mastered these Traditions, Practices and Teachings enough ... to carry things on for another generation, introducing folks to the Peace of the Flowing Dance of Wholeness-Emptiness.

      Something like that.

      Should have stayed quiet.

      Gassho, J
      Last edited by Jundo; 02-08-2013, 01:40 AM.
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39474

        #4
        By the way ... for those who do not know the word ...

        To grok/grock (pronounced GRAHK) something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself. In Robert Heinlein's science-fiction novel of 1961, Stranger in a Strange Land, the word is Martian and literally means "to drink" but metaphorically means "to take it all in," to understand fully, or to "be at one with."

        As one character from Heinlein's novel says:

        'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed - to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means as little to us (because we are from Earth) as color means to a blind man.
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Daitetsu
          Member
          • Oct 2012
          • 1145

          #5
          Hi Jundo,

          Thanks a lot for this!


          Originally posted by Jundo
          Dogen tended to speak of "Enlightenment" ... not as some momentary experience to attain ... but as "Practice-Enlightenment", emphasizing that how we make Buddha Wisdom and Compassion manifest in our actual words, thoughts and deeds in this life is the real "Kensho".
          IMHO Sawaki Kodo Roshi's books are excellent to illustrate this. A few weeks ago I finished reading "To You" and there are several remarks about this.
          If I may quote:

          We don’t practice in order to get satori. It’s satori that pulls our practice. We practice, being dragged all over by satori.
          You don’t seek the way. The way seeks you.
          You study, you do sports, and you’re fixated on satori and illusion. So that even zazen becomes a marathon for you, with satori as the finish line. Yet because you’re trying to grab it, you’re missing it completely.
          Only when you stop meddling like this does your original, cosmic nature realize itself.
          You say you’re seeking the way, but what does it mean if you’re seeking the way just to satisfy yourself?
          You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
          Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
          We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.
          And another neat quote:
          No illusion is as hard to cure as satori.

          Don’t take pride in your practice. It’s clear that any satori you take pride in is a lie.

          You’ve got it backwards if you talk about stages of practice. Practice is satori.

          Satori is like a thief breaking into an empty house. He breaks in but there’s nothing to steal. No reason to flee. No one who chases him. So there’s nothing which could satisfy him either.
          You can find some parts (not all though!) in English on the Antaiji website:


          In another thread on Treeleaf someone mentioned that there will be a new translation of his texts in English soon.
          I think Sawaki Roshi's teachings are incredibly valuable to understand the Soto side of our practice.

          Gassho,

          Timo
          no thing needs to be added

          Comment

          • Nindo

            #6
            Originally posted by Jundo
            .... the word is Martian [/I]
            LOL I thought it was yiddish because Tetsugen Glassman also uses it!!

            Comment

            • Komatsu
              Member
              • Jul 2012
              • 6

              #7
              Thank you Jundo

              Comment

              • Nengyo
                Member
                • May 2012
                • 668

                #8
                Thank you Jundo! It certainly answers my question without adding too many more!

                Well, the only real answers to these questions are to be found in Practice, not words.
                Ahhh, the reason I stick around this place I think I shall go sit for a while to both ponder and not ponder all of this

                Gassho,
                Nengyo
                If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

                Comment

                • ZenHarmony
                  Member
                  • Feb 2012
                  • 315

                  #9
                  1961, huh? I wasn't even born for another 5 years and it's one of my favourite Heinlein books. He was a genius.

                  Gassho,

                  Lisa

                  Comment

                  • Toun
                    Member
                    • Jan 2013
                    • 206

                    #10
                    A very interesting and profound thread…

                    I guess most of us have experienced a fleeting moment of oneness with everything around us. Some sort of “natural high”.

                    For example I might be sitting on the beach being absorbed in a very dramatic sunset, feeling the ocean breeze against my skin totally absorbed with nature, when all of a sudden I feel a sensation of oneness with everything around me. The sensation lasts for only a brief moment and then it’s gone.

                    Another experience might be when we are engaged in helping others and unexpectedly experience a very deep, but momentary feeling that we are all one. It might be an extremely profound sense of universal love.

                    Can these experiences be considered as Kensho?

                    I once read that Kensho can be described as great or small (great kensho and little Kensho) and that Satori is a much more profound experience then Kensho.

                    Can Kensho be described as momentary glimpses of enlightenment, whereas Satori might be considered as actual enlightenment?

                    Not sure if I am making much sense at all …but once again a very interesting thread.



                    Gassho
                    Mike
                    Last edited by Toun; 02-06-2013, 01:49 AM.

                    Comment

                    • Brian Roessler
                      Member
                      • May 2012
                      • 25

                      #11
                      From "Opening the Hand of Thought": ...if you call those times we can't help but chase thoughts delusion, and clear-minded zazen satori, then delusion and satori are essentially like conditions caused by changes in temperature and humidity.

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39474

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Takoda
                        A very interesting and profound thread…

                        I guess most of us have experienced a fleeting moment of oneness with everything around us. Some sort of “natural high”.

                        For example I might be sitting on the beach being absorbed in a very dramatic sunset, feeling the ocean breeze against my skin totally absorbed with nature, when all of a sudden I feel a sensation of oneness with everything around me. The sensation lasts for only a brief moment and then it’s gone.

                        Another experience might be when we are engaged in helping others and unexpectedly experience a very deep, but momentary feeling that we are all one. It might be an extremely profound sense of universal love.

                        Can these experiences be considered as Kensho?
                        These momentary Kensho experiences can be light and deep and beyond light or deep. This can be much more profound and enveloping than a sensation of "I" feeling oneness or awe. HOWEVER, that does not matter because, generally in Soto, we consider all such experiences as passing scenery ... just a visit to the wonders of the Grand Canyon. One cannot stay there, as lovely as it is. Nice and educational place to visit ... would not, should not, could not truly live there. One can even live perfectly well never having visited the vast Canyon at all. The most important thing is to get on the bus, get on with the trip, get on with life from there. In our Soto Way, the WHOLE TRIP is Enlightenment when realized as such (that is the True "Kensho"!) ... not some momentary stop or passing scene or some final destination .


                        I once read that Kensho can be described as great or small (great kensho and little Kensho) and that Satori is a much more profound experience then Kensho.

                        Can Kensho be described as momentary glimpses of enlightenment, whereas Satori might be considered as actual enlightenment?

                        Not sure if I am making much sense at all …but once again a very interesting thread.
                        The following is important, so BOLDFACE and UNDERLINE ...

                        Different folks approach and define all this in their own way. In our Soto View, some folks way way way overvalue an experience of timelessly momentary "Kensho" ... as the be all and end all (beyond being or ending) of "Enlightenment" ... and chase after it like some gold ring on the merry go round. For Soto folks, that is like missing the point of the trip. For Soto Folks, when we realize such ... every moment of the Buddha-Bus trip, the scenery out the windows (both what we encounter as beautiful and what appears ugly), the moments of good health and moments of passing illness, the highway, the seats and windows, all the other passengers on the Bus who appear to be riding with us, when we board and someday when we are let off ... the whole Trip ... is all the Buddha-Bus, all Enlightenment and Kensho, all the "destination" beyond "coming" or "going" or "getting there", when realized as such (Kensho). This ride is what we make it.

                        In the violence, ugliness, anger, greed and clutching, divisive thoughts and frictions of the world, this fact can be hidden, so hard to see. Thus, a key aspect of our Practice is to see and live free of the violence, anger, greed, clutching and all the rest to see this fact more clearly ... and even to realize it was there all along, though so hidden by the storm.

                        Most folks just don't pierce that fact and are lost in delusion about the Nature of the trip. Most sentient being "passengers" on this ride just don't realize that, feeling homesick, car sick, separated from all the other passengers, revolted or attracted to what they see ... filling the whole trip with thoughts of greed and anger, spoiling the journey, making a mess of the bus and harming themselves and the other riders, unhappy until they get to the "promised destination" somewhere down the road. They may even get to the Grand Canyon, snap a picture and buy a sovenier, then wonder "is that all it is"?

                        That is why many Soto folks, like Sawaki Roshi above, think "Kensho Schmensho" ... running after some timelessly momentary fireworky experience of "Kensho" is not True "Grocking the Nature" Buddha-Bus Kensho. He says ...

                        You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
                        Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
                        We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.


                        Something like that.

                        Gassho, J
                        Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2017, 01:46 AM.
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Mp

                          #13
                          Thank you Jundo, I love your analogy of the canyon. You know how I love the mountains and spend any waken time in them. There has been many a time sitting on top of a summit, in ahhhh of the great beauty and saying to myself, " OK, as beautiful as it is, it's time to get back to reality".

                          But walking this path has helped me see that the beauty of the summit is always there ... Even when I am not on top of the mountain.

                          Gassho
                          Shingen

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39474

                            #14
                            YES! Shingen!

                            THAT'S Kensho!
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Shokai
                              Treeleaf Priest
                              • Mar 2009
                              • 6391

                              #15
                              As does the sun shine on a cloudy day.
                              合掌,生開
                              gassho, Shokai

                              仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                              "Open to life in a benevolent way"

                              https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

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