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Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Discussion of Japanese Rinzai Zen (臨済宗) including Obaku Zen (黄檗宗).

Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby island on Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:02 am

Apparently so! Maybe I'll start a new sect of Buddhism called Psy Buddhism, you know with the Greek letter, for all those that need therapy or are therapists. Does this mean like Anders, I've quit Zen? I'll have to wait till after my therapy session tomorrow.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... erapy.html
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Dan74 on Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:33 am

Thanks, island.

At the end, Dosho Port writes:

In the early years of my practice, I might have found all this disillusioning. Now, though, through years of bumbling around, bumping into my own delusions, bitching and arrogance again and again, I find it quite sweet and reassuring.

We are all really in the same boat.


My question is whether this reassuring is a sweet balm for the sense of a bitten failure at eliminating greed, anger and delusion, as the Buddha and many ancestral masters advised?

Yes, it is always reassuring to tear down the plaster saints and say that they too were flawed. But what does it serve?

We are where we are and stipulating that we shall for ever stay flawed is just as unhelpful as beating oneself over with guilt. Isn't it best to put all these preconceptions down and plunge in headlong?

Yes, we can say that santa doesn't exist, grown-ups lie and the world is a f***ed up place. And yet, I can now see the beauty of it all. I am at peace with it just as it is, including all my delusions. Well, that's good, but this is just another story, another narrative one clings to.

And I thought the point was to let them all go. But maybe I missed the point...?
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Jage on Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:50 am

In the early years of my practice, I might have found all this disillusioning. Now, though, through years of bumbling around, bumping into my own delusions, bitching and arrogance again and again, I find it quite sweet and reassuring.

We are all really in the same boat.


We are in the same boat.

“These are the words of an old man whose strength is steadily waning. As you are well aware, I haven’t a single person here who I can count on to assist me. No one even to properly attend to me. In all earnestness, I call on you to be prepared to lay down your life in this cause.”

It isn’t so clear what the cause is – Hakuin’s personal plans or the “true” dharma. These two are so frequently entangled.


So what do you think?
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Oushi on Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:57 am

Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Provocative title.
"You have always been One with the Buddha.
So do not pretend that you can attain this Oneness by various practices" - Huang Po
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Jage on Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:08 am

I noticed that in the western world they think if a Zen Master like Hakuin Zenji was acting as he was he was insane. They seem to put a Zen Master to a box of good moral behavior. Some Zen Masters were shouting and beating at students. And it seems that is outrageous to the western mind. I think that is a reaction from holy people.

Actually Zen Masters are unpredictable. They do this and that as if they have no moral code at all. But how come they were Great Zen Masters and many of their students and their successors revered them so much... :dance:
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Oushi on Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:32 am

They seem to put a Zen Master to a box of good moral behavior.

Not only a Zen Master.
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So do not pretend that you can attain this Oneness by various practices" - Huang Po
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby ground on Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:07 am

Jage wrote:But how come ... many of their students and their successors revered them so much... :dance:

Because people are attached to their fantasies ... or to put it differently: because consciousness clings to itself
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:50 am

I like this discussion. In my view as practice through Zazen matures we tend to act more and more impulsively, based on pure instinct. The same goes for our interpretations. They just arrive; that person is hurting, this person is lonely e.tc. Therefore we cannot overlook the possibility that apparent violent actions by masters have no real aggressive undertone. They do not think over what to say to a stupid question, or one such from one believing themselves to have ‘broken through’. The reaction just comes POW! Does this make any sense?
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby sunyavadi on Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:21 pm

I have an idea that there are conditions that are beyond normality, as well as conditions that fall short of it. 'Normality' itself, which is, obviously, the state most of us are in, is obviously preferable to being sociopathic or unable to integrate. But I think that Buddhism is critical of normality. The sages go beyond normality, or break out of it. Both sociopathy and enlightenment are outside the normal state. So sages are beyond normal. Us 'normal people' would seem crazed, from their perspective (although they seem very patient with us.)

Here is how I envisage it. This is based on my reading of Abraham Maslow's 'Peak Experience' and his 'heirarchy of needs', and has not been verified or validated by anyone whatever. I just like the idea. :)

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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Oushi on Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:48 pm

sunyavadi wrote:The sages go beyond normal, or break out of it. Both sociopathy and enlightenment are outside the normal state.

Rinzai wrote:You foolish people, if you want to get out of the Three Worlds, where then can you go? The Buddhas and patriarchs are only phrases of adoration.
Do you want to know the Three Worlds? They do not differ from the sensation of your listening to the Dharma now! One of your passionate urges, however fleeting, is the world of desire. A momentary anger is the world of form. And a second's foolish ignorance is the formless world. These are the furniture of your own house.


So as I see it, it has nothing to do with normality. This scale will not determine anything. You can have an awakaned person that is quite normal, and another one that is a total madman.
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Luminous Heart on Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:04 pm

Nothing supernormal about religious rituals. We should just be thankful that Zen masters do not talk in tongue.
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Anders on Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:41 pm

Dan74 wrote:santa doesn't exist

:EEK:

Really hope you mean that in a 'dharmas neither exist nor non-exist' kinda of way. Else... :cry:
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Dan74 on Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:46 pm

Yes, I know it must come as a terrible blow. The Finns have been feeding you lies for years! Those basterds...
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Linda Anderson on Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:56 am

Well, before I got too far, it occurred to me that it's nearly impossible for a post modern mentality to get what zen was like being placed on a saturated consciousness of old tradition even before one took up zen (all of which we lack as modern egos) .... and that it's nigh on impossible for us to grok it. This is akin to anthropomorphizing in the way it zenopomorphizes the whole delusion, as if we know. ick!

Then I read the article, which I think takes it to the extreme mind fu^&$k and arrogance that we presume to interpret the old stories according to our modern mind set and delusions. Perhaps we should be impressed and send donations, I don't think so.

gee whiz, I wish I could be nicer. I'm not even a scholar but this stinks to me.

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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:48 am

Oushi wrote:
Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Provocative title.

I agree. I'd go further and say the title is really quite ridiculously provocative.

It rests upon the supposition that anyone who acts human needs therapy.

I don't see the helpfulness of such inuendo.

_/|\_
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:54 am

Anders Honore wrote:
Dan74 wrote:santa doesn't exist

:EEK:

Really hope you mean that in a 'dharmas neither exist nor non-exist' kinda of way. Else... :cry:

Heh! Santa does exist. It is the characteristics of Santa that are in controversy, that is, it is the chacteristics of Santa's existence that are disagreed about.

As I see it, Santa is a samboghakaya bodhisattva whose existence is every bit as real as Kuanyin or Manjusri or Putai.


_/|\_
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby island on Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:11 am

Gregory, first of all it was posted on April Fool's Day, so in partial jest. But you raise something else, that therapy is somehow negative. That may be implied in the jest, but in reality? Therapy is undertaken rather like Zen as an investigation of the self. I'm biased but I actually think that everyone could benefit from therapy, even joking that it should be required. After all how many people out there just don't know how to work something through in a talking. How many people live by projections and illusions. How many people are fixed in identities that were formed in less than ideal circumstances and even though not functional in some ways they cling to this identity anyway.

Zen is chosen by some people to cut through illusions, but therapy is also chosen. And there are countless people who are masters of both who say that both are a good idea.
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Luminous Heart on Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:19 am

It is an interesting question whether modern psychology may be more effective in curing Zen Sickness (Hakuins self diagnosis) than any guidance within the Zen sphere. Indeed, some Zen teacher say that they cannot cure some Zen afflictions.
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby island on Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:30 am

Barry Magid, who has dharma transmission and is also an analyst with an active practice and married to a very prominent analyst, has a book called Ending the Pursuit of Happiness, which is the clearest account so far that I've read of the limits of Zen and where therapy takes up the slack. Particularly important is spiritual by-pass, but just general problems of expectations about Zen implied by the title of Magid's book.

Zen wakes you up. What you do with that might require more help. Similarly Zen can trap you up unknowingly. I've heard many many accounts both from therapists and ethically minded Buddhists that you can have all the credentials you want and still be a psychopath.

So in a way it's safer to assume that the myriad of ways of dealing with psychology are potentially helpful to anyone seriously engaged in Zen than to just shut down on that possibility.
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Re: Did Hakuin Need Therapy?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:34 am

Linda Anderson wrote:Well, before I got too far, it occurred to me that it's nearly impossible for a post modern mentality to get what zen was like being placed on a saturated consciousness of old tradition even before one took up zen (all of which we lack as modern egos) .... and that it's nigh on impossible for us to grok it. This is akin to anthropomorphizing in the way it zenopomorphizes the whole delusion, as if we know. ick!

Then I read the article, which I think takes it to the extreme mind fu^&$k and arrogance that we presume to interpret the old stories according to our modern mind set and delusions. Perhaps we should be impressed and send donations, I don't think so.

gee whiz, I wish I could be nicer. I'm not even a scholar but this stinks to me.

Linda

For real Linda!
Take this exerpt of what Dosho has written:

But for the normal messed-up human side, his personal letters show a guy who was really ambitious and focused on getting his stuff published, pushing his disciples to get off their dead butts and get the work done. He also scolds and judges a well-known scholar who had promised to write the preface to one of his works but then gets cold feet because Hakuin insists on including a text that berates Shinto. The scholar was concerned about the Shogun’s censors and possible repercussions for all involved, including Hakuin.

“You should take no account,” Hakuin tells his disciple engaged in getting the work published, “of the objections of a dull, ignorant scholar who lacks the eye of kensho, has no real understanding of Zen, and who merely bandies words about while feeding on the dregs of the ancients.”

This scholar was a apparently a good friend of Hakuin so imagine how he speaks about those he’s not close too!

I fail to see anything "messed-up" in that. Getting his stuff published is not "ambition", it is love of the Dharma. Pushing his disciples to get off their butts and get the wrok done is not "ambition" either.

What is odd about getting critical of a scholar who backs out of the project for fear of the Shogan's censors? Basically the oddness is in not maintaining the usual social obliqueness of Japanese etiquette. Clearly, there is nothing that seems erroneous about Hakuin's assessment (not judgment) of a scholar "who lacks the eye of kensho, has no real understanding of Zen, and who merely bandies words about while feeding on the dregs of the ancients."

I was at a used book store yesterday in Fort Bragg CA and picked up a copy of JC Cleary's Zen Dawn wich is his translation of three of the earliest works of Zen dating from the first half of the 8th Century and found in the Tun Huang caves: "Records of the Teachers and Students of the Lanka", "Bodhidharma' Treatise on Contemplating Mind" and "Treatise of the True Sudden Enlightenment School of the Great Vehicle, Which Opens Up Mind and Reveals Reality-Nature."

Most remarkably, JC Cleary provides an astute analysis of the modern scholars of Buddhism that reminds me very much of Hakuin's assessment above. Without naming names, Cleary poinnts out the failure of modern criticism that results in "pseudohistory, crippled by basic errors of method."
JC Cleary wrote:Rather than derive from the sources an adequate paradigm for the human dimensions of Buddhist history, this type of approach simply transposes onto Buddhist history the set of human motivations and the limited range of human experiences considered normal or possible in our 'modern world.' As a consequence of such arbitrary presuppositions, the main factors seen at work in the formulation of Buddhist teachings are things like personal ambition and rivalry, greed for patronage, political intrigues, propaganda contests, and ideological manipulation and self-delusion through myth and fantasy. filtered through such limiting preconceptions, which elevate the mere common sense of today's world to a universal, objective stand-point, the vision of the intent and manner of operation of the Buddhist teaching preserved in the primary sources completely escapes from view. (from the introduction, p. 5)


This observation by JC Cleary fits exactly with my view of the blog post "Did Hakuin Need Therapy?" Filtering Hakuin's letters through the lens that elevates "common sense" to a universal perspective is at the heart of what I see is the "weak sauce" Zen too often poured out today. It is symtomatic of how many Zennies can't tell the difference between "common sense" and "ordinary mind." People "think" mountains and rivers are mountains and rivers and are self-satisfied with that when they have never experienced "mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers." Scholars who have no eye of kensho are exactly in this category of mistaken persons.

_/|\_
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