torstai 19. lokakuuta 2017

Quotes about Awakening and Practice from Zen-teachers with Comments

Quotes about Awakening and Practice
from Zen-teachers 
with Kim's Comments

By James Ford, Soto Zen and Sanbo Kyodan Zen

"In the Western Zen scene today words like enlightenment, kensho, and satori have been pushed to the background. Any emphasis on the experience of awakening has been minimized. There are reasons for this. And I think some of them are legitimate.
However, that acknowledged, the great project of Zen is nothing less than awakening. And, sliding over that, shifting the point to something else, is making a terrible mistake...
As it happened this minimizing of kensho was also the general stance within the Soto school. In a delightful illustration of this Huston Smith tells of visiting the “other Suzuki,” the renowned Shunryu Suzuki Roshi:

When, four months before his death, I had the opportunity to ask him why satori didn’t figure in his book, his wife leaned toward me and whispered impishly, “It’s because he hasn’t had it”; whereupon the Roshi batted his fan at her in mock consternation and with finger to his lips hissed, “Shhhh! Don’t tell him!’”When our laughter had subsided, he said simply, “It’s not that satori is unimportant, but it’s not the part of Zen that needs to be stressed.”

Kim's Comment: While jokes and laughter are wonderful, an older zen-master (roshi) admitting never having had an insight (awakening, opening of the 1st bhumi) is quite alarming. It is a direct indication of admitting not understanding the essence of buddhism. How can you say that you are Buddha Shakyamuni's follower if you never saw the morning star? How can you call yourself a buddhist teacher, not to even mention a master, if you never had a single insight into the selfless nature of the mind? This has been warned by generations of rinzai zen and dzogchen masters. Bhumi-analysis on Suzuki Roshi confirms that he was not awakened so when he said he never had a kensho he was not joking.
In his book "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, says, "If you feel that you are somebody, you have to practice zazen harder". I wonder what Suzuki Roshi might mean with practicing zazen, or "just sitting" harder, if he never had a kensho? If by practicing harder he means "paying more attention" which will bypass being an entity, or "someone", the whole practice becomes reduced into calmness meditation (shamatha) of beginning stages (see nine stages of shamatha meditation). This is not at all what "just sitting" (shikantaza) actually means. Teachings of pioneers such as Suzuki Roshi is better than nothing but clearly his message suffers from great confusion.

"In fact others practicing within the Soto school would go much farther, denying the experience itself or denigrating it or its pursuit as nothing but a “gaining thought,” another dualistic trap...
So, in a reaction to D. T. Suzuki’s many writings, and in particular the focus found in that first book on Zen practice the Three Pillars a baby was thrown out with the bath water. Zen without awakening is a hobbled eagle. I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."

Kim's Comment: What many Soto Zen Buddhists don't seem to understand is that kensho is not an experience in the same way as other experiences. Kensho means to see one's true nature, one's buddhanature and by definition it is not a kensho if it has no irreversible effect. Zen Buddhism, like dzogchen, is correct in it's view that the buddhanature cannot be created or generated but it makes a horrible mistake in it's attempt to "just sit" without any kensho which for all samsaric beings is an impossibility.

"Zen is a spiritual process completely bound up with the actual world; it is not meant to be a philosophy. Nor is it psychology. It is about our awakening. And when awakening is brought together with our practices and the precepts, we begin to see the contours of what Zen actually offers to the world..."
"Kensho means “to see,” and its related term is Satori, which means “to know.” Both point to the great opening of heart and mind. Sometimes, in Zen mostly, they’re synonyms for that big thing. Although I’ve seen kensho to be used for lesser insights and satori for either the big one or sometimes even for the cumulative place that one on a path that attends to these things may at some point find themselves.
The reality is dynamic, even messy. And I like the term to be a bit messy, as well. I suspect it cannot be fully described. But we can take a stab at it. At least I’m going to here.
First, I would like to hold up the big thing that is awakening as I understand it. The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
The rhetoric attached to this awakening is that it is a once and forever. I have a sense of that. And at the same time I’ve seen in others who have been recognized for their awakening as well as in myself that it isn’t an escape from one’s place in karma. As the famous Fox koan reminds us, awakening does not free us from the consequences of our actions. It doesn’t even free us from taking actions in the future that will have negative consequences. What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

Kim's Comment: We have to be clear about a couple of things: 1. The need for insights into the empty nature of the mind, 2. The range of our self-delusion and psychology so that 3. We can understand how our self-delusion (dukkha) and the path of insight meet each other. If these three points are not understood it becomes very difficult to understand our position in reference to the ultimate attainment of buddhahood. And it is precisely this lacking in knowledge that has been depicted by many zen- and other buddhist masters through their harmful actions and scandals. 

- James Ford, Zen-teacher of Soto and Sanbo Kyodan schools

Quotes from:


By Sheng Yen, Chinese Chan-master of Caodong and Linji-schools

So they (the students) hoped I can give them a way to sudden enlightenment. It seems to them that, given the way to sudden enlightenment they would get enlightened immediately. I told them, ”I'm sorry. If there is such a way, I would have used it first. But up until now I have not invented it.” Up until now no Chan Buddhism literature has shown who had used it. It's like making a pill from a thing called sudden enlightenment and then once you swallow it, you'd be enlightened immediately. Or like getting a morphine injection. You want enlightenment? No problem. I have this thing that you inject and you become enlightened at once. Or how about something like an acupuncture needle? One needle at the acupuncture point and enlightenment at once. All these are sudden enlightenment, aren't they? I say, what a pity, no one has yet made the discovery... Some attain enlightenment gradually while others attain enlightenment at once.”

Sheng Yen's quote from: The difference between gradual and sudden awakening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQSJ5WFtKLM&index=14&list=WL

Kim's Comment: It is extremely unfortunate that someone as influential as master Sheng Yen spreads such misleading views. Certainly the view of there not existing practices that directly generate sudden awakening is very very wide spread. However, such practices do exist.  I feel that it is a great pity that such techniques have been kept secret in small lineages in Tibetan dzogchen but such techniques do exist, although not outside Tibetan vajrayana buddhism as far as I know. 
Refer to Daniel Brown's instruction given here and The Two-Part Formula openly shared by Open Heart.

By Shinzen Young, Rinzai Zen, Shingon and Theravada

Shinzen Young, who trained extensively in Rinzai Zen, was interviewed by the Buddhist Geeks in 2010,

BG: ”
How common is that dramatic, sudden experience of enlightenment as
compared to the more gradual and even integration?”


Shinzen Young: ”
The sudden epiphany that’s described in many books about enlightenment, that has definitely happened to some of my students. And when it happens, it’s similar to what is described in those books*. How frequently does it happen? I don’t know. I don’t keep statistics, but maybe a couple times a year.”

*Visuddhimagga and Three Pillars of Zen were mentioned earlier in the interview

By Robert Aitken Roshi, Sanbo Kyodan

Aitken Roshi's student wrote: ”Aitken Roshi often noted that awakening doesn't happen by a one-size fits all formula and is as unpredictable as a lightening strike, but that while there is an "accidental" quality to the timing of one's awakening, we can make our selves "accident prone" by our cultivation of samadhi power”. 

Kim's Comment: I know zen-practitioners who had their first kensho on their first retreat, who had it after 8 years of dedicated practice and retreats or who never had it, despite of the practice aiming at it. It is very unfortunate that Robert Aitken Roshi, a great prioneer of American Zen spreads this misleading view, just like many other holders of the authentic buddhist lineage, because it is wrong. It may be the case in zen buddhism that awakenings are "unpredictable" and "accidental" but from the point of view of the dzogchen method, it is like saying that "We don't know what we are doing". To better understand my criticism which I admit is bluntly delivered here, read this. The bar of the dharma of the present world is regrettably low. When dharma holders and their respective methods are inable to assist the confused people coming to them and help them to awaken within a reasonable time frame and with a reasonable effort, I feel it is logical to question some of the validity of the concerned tradition. Principally, the methods of dharma should meet the needs of those who come to them, not that those seeking help are made followers of the old ways that are dead inside but posh and pomp on the surface.
Refer to instructions that directly generate awakening here (Daniel Brown) and here. 

By Sokuzan Bob Brown, Soto Zen and Tibetan Kagyu

"There is only one awakening. There is not a shikantaza awakening, mahamudra awakening, zen awakening or tantric awakening. There is only reality. If you awaken to it, you know it. You are not in doubt, you are in certainty."

By Denko John Mortensen, Rinzai Zen

Rinzai zen-teacher called John Denko Mortensen, who took up dzogchen after decades of getting trained as a zen-teacher, said in dharma talk given in 2012, "While zen-masters say weird things, dzogchen-people actually explain things"


Kim's Comment: Please refer to my long article on Pedagogy of Dharma here

By Kobun Chino Roshi, Soto Zen

Someone wrote: "My first buddhist teacher was Kobun Chino Roshi. In one class, someone asked him how to get closer to his lineage or more involved with his lineage. His answer was to look into dzogchen." 

Kim's Comment: Kobun Chino's openness is like a breeze of fresh air! A teacher who openly admits the weak points of one's own method of dharma, is a promising one because all methods can make one blind for itself. It is a very common trait that a follower of a certain buddhist method is very self-sufficient and in general has no interest in studying other paths out there. Perhaps this is because all buddhist lineages trace their origin generation by generation to Buddha Shakyamuni which make them feel confident because of its "authenticity". A blog about the authenticity of a dharma teacher can be found here.  

By Meido Moore Roshi, Rinzai Zen

"If I were to critique some aspects of Western Zen I have observed, though, it would be that in some quarters a misunderstanding of words like "just sit" and "ordinary mind" leads many practitioners to go off in a mistaken direction, often for years or decades. Their "just sit" is, in fact, just sitting there within the habitual arising of stale habit, and their "ordinary mind" is really just ordinary, delusional mind. Yet they are immune to correction, as they have read and been told for years that "just sit" is sufficient, that "practice IS enlightenment," etc... and have interpreted those words according to their own understanding/experience, rather than as goads to genuine realization and descriptions of the radical confidence/faith that arise within the fruition of practice."

Kim's Comments: Unless we have become perfect in our realisation of selflessness of the mind, and therefore are living buddhas, we are beings (samsaric entities) at the mercy of karmic winds... We might have unshakable confidence about our lineage, our teacher and our practice but actually we might be wasting our time while creating incredibly powerful harmful habits with our dedicated practice that we are told by our samsaric teachers is correct. Here is something to consider. Step out from your beliefs for a moment and consider what is it that you really want. Use or don't use buddhist language in describing your deepest wish but understand that you are trying to find out why you are involved in this. Don't say something like "I'm in it for all sentient beings", in a habitual manner. Reflect on it and come up with what you really want. If you come up with something like, "I want to become free of all the hassle and deluded notions on my mind and become fully and truly what I really can be while hoping the same for all those confused everywhere around me", you are hitting the mark which is bodhicitta.
If you find this motivation, say a prayer to a buddhist master or a buddha figure that you feel some familiarity or affinity with. If you have never done this before, that is OK, just do it with open mind. It can be Shakyamuni, Guru Rinpoche, Milarepa, Amitabha, Buddha of Compassion/Avalokiteshvara, Kuntuzangpo, Buddhanature or anyone like that. Understand that you are dealing with fully enlightened masters and buddhas who, like you, are alive and present, and available to you, if you only tune into them. Then sincerely, with total involvement, from your heart, express a wish along these lines,  

"Dear X. Please guide me. Please help me to understand my confusion. Please guide me to teachers and teachings that can help me to get to my goal, to the same goal that masters have arrived. Please, from the depths of my being, help me in any way possible"

If you wish you can repeat the prayer several times. After the prayer understand that you did something that probably will bring something to you or make you feel otherwise about the choices you have already made. You clarified your own motivation and brought it to a fully enlightened being and asked his or her help in making it a reality. This needs to be done in alive and fresh manner, not merely as lip service. For making new decisions as new options eerge, recall your motivation and follow what feels right and what makes sense. In this way, you will get an opportunity to avoid the downfall and ramifications of faulty practice.