Faith in Zazen...

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  • dharmasponge
    Member
    • Oct 2013
    • 278

    Faith in Zazen...

    Hi everyone,

    Someone suggested to me recently that a part Shikantaza is 'faith'. If this is so could you elaborate?

    I understood it as a faith in the efficacy of sitting without necessarily looking for the fruits. Maybe?

    Thanks...


    Didn't sit this morning as I have toothache and tried the JD solution last night and felt a bit worse for wear this morning.....I'm bad I know...
    Sat today
  • Jishin
    Member
    • Oct 2012
    • 4819

    #2
    Originally posted by dharmasponge
    Hi everyone,

    Someone suggested to me recently that a part Shikantaza is 'faith'. If this is so could you elaborate?
    This is so.

    Originally posted by dharmasponge

    I understood it as a faith in the efficacy of sitting without necessarily looking for the fruits. Maybe?

    Maybe.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

    Comment

    • Mp

      #3
      Hello Dharmasponge,

      When sitting, just sit! I feel when we have faith in something, especially at the beginning, we are looking/expecting a pre-determined outcome. The benefits of Shikantaza will reveal themselves in time ... all that is needed is for us to open our hearts and minds and just sit. =)

      Gassho
      Shingen

      SatToday

      Comment

      • Nenka
        Member
        • Aug 2010
        • 1238

        #4
        There's a really good discussion of faith in How to Raise an Ox by Francis Dojun Cook.

        The idea is that faith is a kind of preliminary idea that will, in time, be replaced by knowledge through direct experience--not a "blind" faith or adherence to orthodoxy or something you rely on throughout your entire life. Your very practice is an act of faith--that act of dropping off efforts and trusting our own Buddha nature.

        I'd recommend checking out the book. I haven't finished it yet, but so far it's a great primer on Dogen and possibly the most clear book on Zen Buddhism I've seen so far.

        Gassho

        Jen

        ST

        Comment

        • Yugen

          #5
          Faith in Zazen...

          Hakuin taught that there were three essentials to zazen - great faith, great doubt, and great determination.

          They all exist in creative tension with one another. What faith means to you will change and evolve over the course of practice. What does it mean to you? Nenka and Shingen speak very wisely.

          Among other things, Faith to me means spiritual and existential self reliance - doubt and determination support and challenge this statement every step along the way.

          Interesting - as I typed Hakuin's name autospell corrected it to Bakunin, who believed that anarchy is the mother of order. And so with our exploration of the great void we ultimately encounter the reality of things, when we allow our mental structures, narratives, and facades to fall away.

          Faith, Doubt and Determination are required to sustain ourselves on this path with few landmarks, few traces. It is a wilderness in which each of us is an explorer.

          Deep bows
          Yugen


          PS - the JD got your attention off the toothache it seems? The cure is worse than the ailment!





          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
          Last edited by Guest; 04-09-2015, 04:01 PM.

          Comment

          • Kokuu
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Nov 2012
            • 6750

            #6
            Hi Tony

            Faith can be a useful support until practice is based on direct knowledge and experience of sitting.

            Faith is not just faith in the practice, but also in the teachers and sangha members who sit with you. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

            I agree with Nenka that the Faith section in How To Raise an Ox is very good. Faith often gets a bad rap from being conflated with blind belief. Buddhist faith, in my experience, is more nuanced and not unlimited. If faith in something is not supported by experience in the end, it tends to wither.

            Gassho
            Kokuu
            #sattoday

            Comment

            • Kyotai

              #7
              Thank you Yugen, thank you all.

              Gassho, Kyotai
              Sat today - with great doubt as of lately

              Comment

              • Byokan
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Apr 2014
                • 4279

                #8
                Originally posted by Kokuu
                Faith can be a useful support until practice is based on direct knowledge and experience of sitting.

                Faith is not just faith in the practice, but also in the teachers and sangha members who sit with you. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
                I agree with this. Very nicely and simply said, Kokuu!

                Nenka, thank you for the book recommendation, sounds like a good one.

                Tony, much metta for your toothache! (No better time to sit, if you ask me, which no one did. ) I asked a similar question about faith a while back and there was a great discussion, here:

                Hi All, I’ve been thinking about something the last few months. I’m going to have to use the F-word here. Faith. It used to be a dirty word to me. It’s something I rejected in religion, and part of the appeal of Buddhism for me in the beginning was that faith did not seem to be required. You do the work and


                Gassho
                Lisa
                sat today
                展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39211

                  #9
                  The following point is very very VERY important!

                  There are two aspects of "faith" (perhaps "trust" is a less loaded word for many Western people) vital to Shikantaza.

                  First is the kind alluded to by several folks above: The "trust" one must have in the doctor and his prescription at the outset of therapy ... The student should have trust in the teacher and teachings, at least for the months or longer until the teachings begin to prove themselves.

                  But there is another "trust in Shikantaza" that is ABSOLUTELY VITAL! I describe such as follows: Strange as it may sound at first blush, if one sits with a radical trust that the mere act of sitting Zazen is a complete action ... it is! But on the contrary, if one sits with the feeling "something is missing" ... then it is! So, a thorough trust in the former is vital!

                  Quoting myself ...

                  Please understand what I am about to say fully:

                  If you simply sit with the attitude that your Zazen in that moment is "perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... then IT IS! IT IS because you learn to treat and taste it as so. Your learning how to treat it as so, makes it so. If you can learn to sit there feeling about Zazen, and all of life, that "there is not one thing to add or take away" ... then, guess what: there is not one thing to add or take away precisely because you feel that way. Each moment is perfectly whole when you can see each moment as perfectly whole. Time stops when you stop thinking about time. Each instant of time is perfect when you think it perfect.

                  Strange, huh? But you are in the driver's seat.
                  What is a good analogy to explain this? Well, suppose you were looking at or climbing a mountain, and you said to your self "this mountain, and this experience, is whole and complete ... there is nothing to add or take away from this ... there is nothing more I need to do now, no other place I should be now, but this ... this is total fulfillment" ... then your simply having such attitude lets you realize the moment as so. A wonderful experience.

                  But on the other hand, if you say to your self "I need a better mountain, there are more impressive mountains, I did not climb fast enough, the day is not as I dreamed, I still feel that something is missing in my heart, I yearn and hunger for something else, some other mountain" ... then it is so, and you make it so by your attitude.

                  So why is the former vital? Sitting with such attitude allows us to realize this whole universe, and our place as it, with the same wholeness and total fulfillment. It is ignorant human beings who are prisoners of the latter way of always feeling need, desire and lack.

                  The mountain itself sits in its place ... and all the rest is what one pours upon it in judgement of the human mind. Truly, in Shikantaza we come to recognize each mountain and each grain of sand and each day and each moment and each action ... and each sentient being, and you and your life too ... and each tooth and every toothache too ... as occupying its own sacred place, a kind of Jewel shining in Indra's Net. Thereby, as Nenka said ...

                  Your very practice is an act of faith--that act of dropping off efforts and trusting our own Buddha nature.

                  Got the point?

                  Gassho, Jundo

                  PS - I rather disagree with the point Yugen raises about Hakuin's "three essentials to zazen - great faith, great doubt, and great determination." In pointing to those, Hakuin was speaking about his particular flavor of Koan Centered Zazen in which one focuses on a Koan with such intensity that Great Doubt erupts into an experience of Kensho. It is not directly applicable to Shikantaza Practice.
                  Last edited by Jundo; 04-09-2015, 08:00 PM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Yugen

                    #10
                    Faith in Zazen...

                    Hi Jundo,
                    You are correct regarding the historical and method context of Hakuin's remark. Since we all practice life as a Koan however I don't think it's much of a stretch to apply this to Soto practice and Shikantaza - I find the common view of Rinzai/Koan study as distinct from Soto as a non-Koan discipline to be weak. We certainly do not focus on Koan study during zazen or otherwise in he Rinzai context, but Dogens use of Koans and their influence upon his work is accepted in contemporary scholarship. Shinji Shobogenzo is a case in point, even if he didn't transcribe it in one night [emoji57].

                    You are the teacher and I am the student. My opinion only!

                    Deep bows
                    Yugen


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                    Last edited by Guest; 04-09-2015, 06:05 PM.

                    Comment

                    • Jishin
                      Member
                      • Oct 2012
                      • 4819

                      #11
                      Originally posted by dharmasponge
                      Hi everyone,

                      Someone suggested to me recently that a part Shikantaza is 'faith'. If this is so could you elaborate?

                      I understood it as a faith in the efficacy of sitting without necessarily looking for the fruits. Maybe?

                      Thanks...


                      Didn't sit this morning as I have toothache and tried the JD solution last night and felt a bit worse for wear this morning.....I'm bad I know...
                      Hi Tony,

                      I think one of the things we try to do in Zen is move away from the pain caused by the phenomenal/dualistic world and move more into the peaceful essential/oneness world. I get the feeling you expect phenomenal answers. For example: "If this is so, could you please elaborate?" If someone starts going blah blah blah answering your question, you are going to formulate more phenomenal questions expecting another phenomenal answer which is just going to cause you more confusion. Answers like "This is so" to your "If this is so?", "Maybe" to your "Maybe?", "Hard to say." "Don't know." "Rock and Roll." "Bugger." "Spaghetti Monster!" or anything that cuts your thinking mind off for a bit and bring you back to here and now (essential world) are better answers than a phenomenal/dualistic answer in my opinion in your case. Its that simple man. I think Taigu once said that Zen begins when the questions stop. Take this advice. Pull up a Zafu and have a sit.

                      Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_
                      Last edited by Jishin; 04-09-2015, 06:07 PM.

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39211

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Yugen
                        Hi Jundo,
                        You are correct regarding the historical and method context of Hakuin's remark. Since we all practice life as a Koan however I don't think it's much of a stretch to apply this to Soto practice and Shikantaza - I find the common view of Rinzai/Koan study as distinct from Soto as a non-Koan discipline to be weak. We certainly do not focus on Koan study during zazen or otherwise in he Rinzai context, but Dogens use of Koans and their influence upon his work is accepted in contemporary scholarship. Shinji Shobogenzo is a case in point, even if he didn't transcribe it in one night [emoji57].

                        You are the teacher and I am the student. My opinion only!

                        Deep bows
                        Yugen


                        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                        Hi Yugen,

                        Yes, of course one can find some place for such words in Soto Practice too. We all have time we doubt (me too, though not now) and need to trust and stick on with determination. Of course.

                        But Hakuin was speaking of his intense work with Koan Phrase Zazen, like this famous quote ...

                        Night and day I did not sleep; I forgot both to eat and rest. Suddenly a great doubt manifested itself before me. It was as though I were frozen solid in the midst of an ice sheet extending tens of thousands of miles. A purity filled my breast and I could neither go forward nor retreat. To all intents and purposes I was out of my mind and the mu alone remained. Although I sat in the lecture hall and listened to the master’s lecture, it was as though I were hearing a discussion from a distance outside the hall. At times it felt as though I were floating through the air.

                        This state lasted for several days. Then I chanced to hear the sound of the temple bell and I was suddenly transformed. It was as if a sheet of ice had been smashed or a jade tower had fallen with a crash. Suddenly I returned to my senses. I felt then that I had achieved the status of Yen-t’ou, who through the three periods of time encountered not the slightest loss [although he had been murdered by bandits]. All my former doubts vanished as though ice had melted away. In a loud voice I called: “Wonderful, wonderful. There is no cycle of birth and death through which one must pass. There is no enlightenment one must seek. The seventeen hundred koan handed down from the past have not the slightest value whatsoever.” My pride soared up like a majestic mountain, my arrogance surged forward like the tide. Smugly I thought to myself: “In the past two or three hundred years no one could have accomplished such a marvelous breakthrough as this.”
                        We also "non-get" to (because one never has left) this place beyond birth and death ... but we tend to use a finer approach.

                        Gassho, J

                        SatToday
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Yugen

                          #13
                          Faith in Zazen...

                          You are completely correct Jundo. Thank you for the teaching!

                          Deep bows
                          Yugen


                          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                          Last edited by Guest; 04-09-2015, 06:31 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Kyosei
                            Member
                            • Feb 2012
                            • 356

                            #14
                            My dear friend, I can tell you something that happened when I asked - during a Dokusan (private interview with a Zen teacher) - how to do Zazen properly.

                            The monk said: "Zazen will teach you by itself."

                            Since then Zazen is teaching me; when I sit incorrectly, Zazen leads me to the correct posture (altough there is no correct or incorrect here). When many thoughts arise, Zazen shows me my breath flow. It seems to me a gate without gate: a door that opens inwardly (although there is not a door) for I to realize "myself". Sometimes I feel more "flowing with the flow", then seems to me there's no space to manifestations of the thoughts "I" call "myself". Then finished its time, I ask "myself" who's practicing, and then I feel again that "self" of mine.

                            I agree when we are beginning this practice (always?!) we need to have some faith in order to establish practice and maybe begin to grab the "fruits" of it. Although there is no practice, and there is no fruit.

                            Maybe this practice is just a training, a way to gradually widen the usual self-centered thought to...

                            But why to be like that, sitting in front of a wall (or whatever) most times in unconfortable positions, legs hurting...?

                            That leads me to think maybe because of it, Master Dogen Zenji - founder of Soto School - said "One day without work, one day without food."

                            Maybe that "food" (that shift of conscience) isn't really "there" in the Zazen but in order to get it we have to work to open that door which leads Nowhere.

                            One day without work, one day without food. We have to do the efforts. Sometimes door is heavy!

                            Maybe first we'll se a glimpse of light, then... well, I don't know really.

                            Then I sit again, pursuing that state of consciousness I thought I'd experienced someday; again self-centered, again struggling with my lack of posture, struggling with my feelings...

                            Until Zazen comes again, silently between thoughts and the door is open again: then I see

                            Nothing.

                            Although most times it is a glimpse, it is a true ray of light which illuminates my way... and of every and one being.

                            I beg you keep practicing.

                            Sometimes I hear in the wind: everything is practicing with you.

                            I am just a practicer like you. Please consider this is just opinions on my actual state of knowledge of what is Zen practice to me...still much much much to learn (and practicing!)
                            _/|\_

                            Kyōsei

                            強 Kyō
                            声 Sei

                            Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

                            Comment

                            • Byokan
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Apr 2014
                              • 4279

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Jundo
                              Sitting with such attitude allows us to realize this whole universe, and our place as it, with the same wholeness and total fulfillment.
                              Holy guacamole! Read it backwards, forwards, standing on your head, turn it inside out, examine each individual word carefully, then just dive into it and swim around in it. This one sentence is packed so densely with truth, it could go off like a supernova. May we all be consumed by the explosion! Thank you Teacher, deepest bows.

                              Gassho
                              Lisa
                              sat today


                              p.s. Regarding faith, doubt, and determination: clearly we Soto folks don’t apply these ideas as a means to make enlightenment happen or to chase after kensho. But I do agree with Yugen that the creative tension they bring can support, challenge and sustain us on the path. I guess it depends on how you define and use these words. I think of faith as faith in the 3 Jewels, allowing yourself to manifest as the whole universe; doubt as healthy skepticism to find out and experience what the nature of reality is, what shikantaza is, and how it answers or renders moot my questions: and determination as dedication to sit and to the precepts. I’m an uneducated newbie, so these are just my subjective and, I’m sure, flawed concepts that reflect my current understanding.
                              展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                              Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

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