non-dual philosophy

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  • Oheso
    Member
    • Jan 2013
    • 294

    non-dual philosophy

    I recently read "Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are" by J Jennifer Matthews. I thought it excellent, very thought-provoking and completely consistent with the perspective I discern in Zen teachings. actually, when I read it, I didn't think of it being other than a Zen Buddhist point of view. through her I was led to the work of Greg Goode and read his "Standing as Awareness", in which I became aware of the (existence of) Adavaita Vedanta teachings. they seem very similar and compatible with Zen philosophy for the most part, but they seem to soft-pedal the importance of meditation, which is, of course, essential to Zen practice. this seems a difference that makes all the difference.

    can a Zen Buddhist learn from the study of writings of Adavaita Vedanta proponents? any thoughts or familiarity with this philosophy or Greg Goode?

    thanks, -O
    and neither are they otherwise.

  • JohnsonCM
    Member
    • Jan 2010
    • 549

    #2
    In the words od Robert Aitken roshi:

    "Clouds move across the pure blue sky of my mind, and the Chinese thrush sings in my heart; all things are my teacher."

    Simply be careful, shikantaza zazen is the body and soul of our way, one reason amongst many is that by sitting the Buddha came to realization of the Truth. All things teach us, but sometime that teaching is which path NOT to take too far. Still all ways up that crazy mountain.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher
    Sat today

    Comment

    • Dave Schauweker
      Member
      • Jan 2013
      • 5

      #3
      Zen and Non-dual Vedanta, etc.

      I read "Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are" a couple of years ago and found it an excellent book.

      I have been reading books about Non-Dual Vedanta and related thinkers like Krishnamurti and Adyashanti (influenced by both a Zen background and Non-Dual Vedanta) for about the last 5 years.

      I'm familiar with Greg Goode's books, but find them a little dry for my taste.

      Personally, I would say Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi were the towering spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. And Krishnamurti is particularly valuable as a free spirit who stands outside all traditions.

      Can we learn from these folks? Absolutely! I very recently had a powerful realization that meditation is an expression of enlightenment rather than a means to enlightenment by studying and meditating upon these teachings, and almost immediately after stumbled upon Treeleaf Zen and Dogen's teachings.

      At the same time, the question arises, how do we implement these spiritual insights in practice?

      That's where I think Zen particulary excels. I think Krishnamurti's "meditation is simple awareness" translates directly into Dogen's "Shikantaza is undivided activity." But where Krishnamurti, ever fearful of having his thoughts being turned into a mechanical method, only gives hints, Zen teachers have discussed shakantaza in detail without turning it into a straightjacket.

      Gassho,
      Dave
      Last edited by Dave Schauweker; 02-09-2013, 05:49 PM.

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      • Jakudo
        Member
        • May 2009
        • 251

        #4
        The Dharma can be seen in everything if we have opened eyes. Not only in so called "spiritual" things but more importantly IMHO, the everyday mundane occurrences that are all around us everyday. Everything and everyone can teach us something so meet all with an open mind. I myself try to do this, but not usually with immediate success. I mostly realize lessens well after the teaching, but I am working on it.
        Gassho, Jakudo Hinton
        Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
        It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
        "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
        寂道

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        • Mp

          #5
          Originally posted by Jakudo
          Everything and everyone can teach us something so meet all with an open mind.
          Nicely said and so true Jakudo.

          Gassho
          Shingen

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39450

            #6
            Hi,

            I have not read Jennifer Mathews or Greg Goode, so need to respond very generally.

            I often say that one can Practice Shikantaza and Zen Buddhism while also a Republican, Democrat or apolitical, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, Atheist or Agnostic. I would say that, so long as it is a belief system that avoids hate, violence, excess greed and such (e.g., a "Zen Buddhist Nazi" will go a dark way ), all can mix. I sometimes write ...

            If there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

            If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

            Whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ...


            A special aspect of Shikantaza is that, for one of the rare (if not the only) times in life, we radically free our self of its hungry need to "get somewhere" or feel some state. However, strange as it seems, that really gets us somewhere and free. I often write like this ...

            --------------
            To the marrow sitting free of seeking ... is a dandy way thus to find that which can only be found by sitting radically free of seeking. Realizing that there is no where to "get to", and no place you can get or need get ... is finally getting somewhere that will revolutionize life, and put your "you" out of a job. One gets very far, one finally arrives ... by sitting still.

            Being the "Buddha" all along, and having not a thing about you that is in need of change ... that does not mean you don't have some work to do to realize truly that you are the Buddha without need of change. To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a VERY BIG CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two) to add or take away, and tasting that there is "nothing to add" is an irreplaceably important addition!

            By being "goalless" we hit the goal ... a goal which is hit by being thoroughly goalless.

            In seeing the ordinary as sacred ... we find (as Hakuin Zenji wrote) "this earth where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land, and this very body the body of Buddha". This very life is it!

            Yes, the key is "not me" ... because that "me" is a trouble maker of frictions with the "not me" world. But depriving the "me" of its fuel, dropping body-mind, the friction vanishes. The way to "drop body-mind" is to drop all thought of achievement of "dropping body-mind" and all other need for achievement ... which results in a very major achievement, namely, the "dropping of body-mind."

            And, yes, finally ... this practice makes me happy, joyful, deep down and pervading. It is an abiding happiness and joy at a life in which I do not need to, and will not, feel happy and joyful all or much of the time. And that makes me happy! It is a Peace which sweeps in all peace and war, is at home with all ... at peace in, as and with a life that is oftimes anything but peaceful, thus True Peace.

            See how that all works?

            -------------

            So, to the extent that one does not practice Shikantaza as radical seeking by non-seeking, and instead is seeking to "find God" "attain some peaceful or extraordinary mental state" "Bliss" "feel Oneness" ... then it is not the same.

            To the marrow, radical non-seeking ... not running after all that ... is Shikantaza. And, strange as it may sound, one may thereby Find and Attain Truly One ... and one, two, three, four too. One may merge into a Peace which holds and -is- all the broken pieces of life with no jagged edge. One may attain a Bliss which holds fully the happy days and the sad, the broken heart and celebrations ... a Bliss so Blissful that one does not even need to feel Blissed Out as the goal.

            My feeling is that many Vedantic Teachings are emphasizing too much that "Oneness-Peace-Bliss-Brahma" feeling in meditation ... and how to feel that. The True Peace comes when one radically drops all attempt to change, escape or feel some joy-joy-everlasting-blissful-blissed out way. That dropping of need is True Peace and Freedom, the Buddha's Smile that holds all of life ... both smiles and times of tears.

            We don't label it ... but sense some great Wholly Holy Whole Flowing Everythingness Emptyness Dance ... and one might call that God, Vishnu, Stanley or, best, no label or box to stick it in at all. However, we have little need to "merge with that" because we already are (even though not realizing the fact), and such holds and -is- all this world ... the beautiful and ugly, the high peaks and low valleys, the desserts and inner cities and seas. Something like that. Sometimes we can see this fact, sometimes not ... no matter. It is like the moon, always present seem or unseen. No need to see and stare at the moon all the time.

            BOTTOM LINE:

            Zen is so "Non-Dual" that it does not need or seek even a feeling of Oneness ... but is TOTALLY AT ONE with the world ever manifesting as Oneness, Twoness or Everythingness! That's REAL ONENESS!

            Gassho, Jundo
            Last edited by Jundo; 02-10-2013, 03:55 AM.
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • JohnsonCM
              Member
              • Jan 2010
              • 549

              #7
              Another thing Aitken roshi said was something along the lines of:

              If it should be proved that Buddha never existed, I will still sit and still live as though nothing has changed.

              Even if Buddha ended up to be a fabrication, this Way, to me, is so complete, so... correct, that I will continue to live according to his teachings.
              Gassho,
              "Heitetsu"
              Christopher
              Sat today

              Comment

              • Oheso
                Member
                • Jan 2013
                • 294

                #8
                obviously I was mistaken about the similarities between the philosophies. thank you for directing me to dig deeper. -O
                and neither are they otherwise.

                Comment

                • RichardH
                  Member
                  • Nov 2011
                  • 2800

                  #9
                  Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

                  For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

                  All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

                  There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

                  Gassho. Daizan

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39450

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Daizan
                    Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

                    For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

                    All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

                    There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

                    Gassho. Daizan
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Kyonin
                      Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                      • Oct 2010
                      • 6742

                      #11
                      Just today my girlfriend told me how much I have changed since I begun sitting with much more discipline.

                      She says I am more patient and that I don't get annoyed by a lot of things anymore.

                      I don't know about that. All I can say is that when I sit, if only for a moment, I disappear and blend with the external noise, the weather and the gravity that holds everything tied to the Earth.

                      Jundo, thank you for this teaching.

                      Gassho,

                      Kyonin
                      Hondō Kyōnin
                      奔道 協忍

                      Comment

                      • Heisoku
                        Member
                        • Jun 2010
                        • 1338

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Daizan
                        Sitting has ended all those questions that were really one desperate question, rooted in a sense of exile and loss of grace. ... of being a warm particle in a cold mysterious universe. What am I? What is this?

                        For the first 35 years the taste of life was that background fear. Now that fear is gone.

                        All the ideas of Truth and Oneness, Beingness, were artifacts of yearning and reaching.. as much a hinderance as an inpiration. In finally giving up and just sitting and not reaching, and giving up reaching all the way down, all the questions and all the answers were resolved at their root.

                        There is still upset over this thing or that thing.. there is always weather, but that single great fear and question, is gone.

                        Gassho. Daizan
                        You are so eloquent!
                        The only realisation I have had along these lines was a moment when I was explaining to a colleague about the routes of professional development she could try and what it meant in terms of her practice. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense that I am just living my practice. It only lasted a moment and that feeling of being a practice, being 'my' field just created a huge silence. She had to ask if I was OK ....
                        .....It was nothing special but a moment of realisation that has changed things for me.
                        Yours in just sitting.
                        Heisoku 平 息
                        Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

                        Comment

                        • Hans
                          Member
                          • Mar 2007
                          • 1853

                          #13
                          Hello everyone,

                          thank you for your wonderful posts in this thread.

                          Ever since having been introduced to Lex Hixon's work, my outlook on different approaches and practise forms has become extremely inclusive, however having said that I personally (and that's just my two cheap Unsui cents) would actually strongly discourage substantial cross-tradition-reading as long as one doesn't have a firm grip on a particular tradition that is one's main practise tradition.

                          Obviously if you're still trying to figure out what your own main practise tradition might be ,that is another story.

                          My comment is not aimed at anyone in particular, but just a reaction to my seeing ever more and more people (both on the internet and in general life) who have have been superficially introduced to a number of approaches, but who have failed to grow roots in any particular one. What follows is often enough a sub-conscious search for the most pleasing common denominators, resulting from the lack of in depth knowledge and a wish for peace and inclusiveness. I also feel that a lot of differences are artificially turned into big and major obstacles just because we humans often want to feel like we're right and the other folks are wrong. However it is precisely the small details that can shape one's own practise-depth in the long-term.

                          I can fully relate to Jundo's and Daizan's postings in particular and do agree with their contents, but I just felt like writing a little party-pooper posting here to add some spice to this topic

                          Advaita Vedanta and Zen are both beautiful and deep practise traditions, and they both lack nothing from their own point of view, but to really enter them deeply, we have to commit to their practise and study for years. And there are differences, and some of them may be (or may be not) vital to our own individual journey.

                          I am the first to admit that ancient writings and teaching lineages do not have to be important to us just because they are there, but the iceberg that is a practise tradition can only survive long-term because of the massive "base" below the surface. A collection of iceberg tips will melt rather quickly in the sun that is a modern day consumerist age.

                          To fully appreciate, integrate and/or criticise a certain tradition, we have to dive deep again and again, against the current and also in icy waters which we might not find appealing at all.

                          To fully enter life and experience you need nothing however. In our case a cushion might help


                          Gassho,

                          Hans Chudo Mongen


                          P.S. Before getting too much into modern Neo_Advaita teachers (no matter how great they might be) it might make sense to familiarise oneself with some good classical Shankara translations and Vedanta+Advaita Vedanta commentaries, then maybe look at Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna and Sri Nisargadatta. After that it's a lot easier to see where some of the modern teachers get their stuff from.
                          Last edited by Hans; 02-10-2013, 01:56 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Oheso
                            Member
                            • Jan 2013
                            • 294

                            #14
                            gassho, Hans, thank you for directly addressing my question. thanks all, for your input.

                            I was raised in a Christian family and for most of my life never felt compelled to look beyond the Anglo-Catholic tradition for spiritual nourishment. Later, approaching maturity, my attachment to (and belief in) a Paternal Creator Deity began to dissolve and after a somewhat cursory perusal of "the alternatives", I had the incredible good fortune to come into contact with (be contacted by?) the bountiful Buddhadharma. In Zen Buddhism, and specifically in Dogen's Soto Zen, I was once again able to establish a spiritual still-point, from which I felt no need to look elsewhere for supplimentation.

                            In Catholicism I was taught that God draws nearest to His people in the sacraments. Shikantaza is this intimacy with the Absolute. Somewhere along the line I heard that all "legitimate" religions have an ejection seat as their goal, which catapults the devotee away from all religious/ sentimental attachments- like Meister Eckhart's "God beyond God", I suppose. this concept seems to be both the beginning and end in Zen.

                            truly, humbly, gassho,

                            -O
                            Last edited by Oheso; 02-10-2013, 06:10 PM.
                            and neither are they otherwise.

                            Comment

                            • Dave Schauweker
                              Member
                              • Jan 2013
                              • 5

                              #15
                              Vedanta/Advaita(non-dual) Vedanta

                              Just want to point out that there are big differences between Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta and other schools of Vedanta, with Advaita-Vedanta being closer to Zen.

                              For anyone interested in Advaita Vedanta, see Dennis Waite's "Back to the Truth: 5000 years of Advaita" plus his encyclopedic website, advaita.org.uk.

                              Gassho,
                              Dave

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