Discussion of general East-Asian Mahayana Buddhism, Sutras & Shastras.
Yep, but for sure, they are for priests-in-training.
Facing a precious mirror, form and reflection behold each other. You are not it, but in truth it is you.
Gets my vote too
Sorry for all of you guys, a bloke like me has nothing to do around here. My humble Hermitage of concrete, the forest of tarmac and the endless sea of human beings is a far more suitable place than this Buddhist forum.
A I can wish for you is to come back to your beginner's mind, to the place where there is no monastery, no priest, no Buddhism and not even Buddha.
For now, farewell
Taigu, straw sandals on his head, hands sore sewing kesa
Ordained in 1983 by Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage, and received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. Devoted to the sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist Robes), now residing in Osaka, Japan and teaching at Treeleaf Sangha.
ME TOO! And I am still not sure why anyone thinks I am saying otherwise. Oh well, people hear what they want to hear.
I just also personally feel that we can add "out in the world" training for Buddhist clergy, and breaking down the barriers between lay and ordained, and that is why I am proceeding to make it available ... and to knock down those barriers. Nobody else has to follow suit if they don't want to do so (if someone does not want to be Ordained our way, or does not want to be Ordained at all ... it is not like we are forcing folks with a shotgun! Good for them, may they be peaceful and happy). These conversations here of the past days have convinced Taigu and me more than ever that we are on the right path to proceed.
We definitely need to keep the good in monastic practice. However, I will also comment and point out some of the ugly as a constructive criticism, and some possible things that perhaps we can do to fix the "ugly" to make it more "good". I will also add that "out in the world" has some STRONG POINTS THAT MONASTICISM DOES NOT HAVE too (and visa versa).
I also think now that some of my way of saying this is too strong, so I will change it ... something tamer and softer. I think I did get carried away in the face of some of the angry closed mindedness (shooting the messenger so as not to bother to discuss the message) Taigu and I felt, rightly or wrongly, we were encountering here. I should have stayed with gentler speech:
So, from now on I promise that, instead of saying that ...
... I will change my way of saying things. It really was too strong, too pejorative.
So, from now on, instead, I will say that ...
... but which, I fully recognize and respect, may be very beautiful and precious to others, interpreted quite differently by them. Lovely, and many paths up the mountain for different folks (anyway, ultimately, what mountain?) We cherish and honor the right of such folks to practice their religion as they wish in their Sanghas ... just as we cherish and honor the right of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Scientologists, Hari Khrisna, Atheists, Agnostics of all stripes to practice their beliefs as they wish ... and we will practice as we wish in our little Sangha.
The universe is wide enough for all of us, and swallows all our little interpretations whole.
I hope you will respect our right to practice the form of Zen Buddhism which seems the right way for our Sangha, and to openly discuss and share it with you all on equal ground, even if in your heart, you may not approve or even might wish to speak against it. Please do.
(ALSO, I WANT TO THANK THE SEVERAL FOLKS WHO HAVE SENT SUPPORTIVE EMAILS AND PMs. NOT EVERYONE HEARS WHAT WE ARE SAYING, AND THAT IS FINE. SOME DO.)
PS - We are off track here, so I would like to return the focus of this thread to the "ugly" in monastic practice and what can be done to up the "good"
Last edited by Jundo Cohen on Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:56 am, edited 19 times in total.
... priests in training without kids.
So-on do you have any? I think that kids are a little more important than the "salt" you mentioned in your previous post. If you have some, you probably understand that already.
Should anyone wanting to be a priest have to leave their family for a time? That's fine. We don't. That's fine too.
Why, by the way, do you think that what is offered inside monastery walls can only be found there ... and is not located all around and through us? And even if you personally feel that is the case for you and your Sangha, why do you insist on forcing that method of practice and training on everyone who might find a slightly different path calling to them? Is there only one road that all must march down in lockstep? Must everyone eat the flavor of ice cream that you or your Teacher approve?
You would make, perchance, a very fine priest someday should you have the calling, so I very much hope that ... if you ever do ... artificial barriers of life do not prevent it. Shame if you have to leave your kids behind to do that like in the "old ways" ... cause that is a rather selfish, not a very wise and compassionate first step perhaps.
Phew – that was a rough crossing
One form of practice I see very little reference to here is that of the recluse in the wilderness. I say specifically wilderness as I imagine much private practice in urban settings are reclusive over the short term - short-term urban hermits, as such.
A number of references here to the ‘mountain hermit’ are actually negative. Yet clearly, this form of practice is highly valued throughout Zen literature. Either most modern Zen practitioners no longer rank it, or feel it is not for them, or – rather like the practitioner with kids- find it not to be a feasible option.
There may be another factor. According to my (limited) observation, Zen practitioners from a genuine rural background who feel fully comfortable alone in the wilderness are very rare. Yet I am of the view that for some people it is a far more powerful environment in which to practice then any monastery. That does not necessarily mean a mix is not better. However I do feel that anyone that is deadly serious about this stuff should consider lone wilderness practice. It can be very special. Of course this does not exclude a very small number of people practicing in a genuine wilderness setting. I am one that fully believes that environment does make a difference. Monks did not got to mountains just to avoid irate colleagues. By wilderness I am not referring to a plot of trees a few hours from town.
A bit late in the game to be walking away with sandals on your head, and not so humble in likening yourself to Zen Master Joshu.
Fair well friend, namaste.
I think there is a number of folks here who appreciate this sort of practice but I am not sure how many have actually attempted this.
A while ago we had a thread on Amongst White Clouds, a wonderful documentary about modern Chinese Buddhist hermits. They were all without exception monks and nuns of many decades before going into the wilderness though. So presumably they knew what the right practice was by then and were in no need of guidance anymore.
There is the path of the parent and there is the path of the priest-in-training. Our lives are long- one can enter monastic practice after they're grown.
There are many life situations which make someone not a proper candidate for ordination. Parents of small children, people in deep financial debt or legal difficulty, pregnant women, people in the armed forces... they have other obligations and are not proper candidates for ordination. They are also not proper candidates for the space program, a traveling circus, etc. This is not about "who is good enough." This is a practical and logical matter. You turn left, that means you're not turning right.
It's called home leaving.
Facing a precious mirror, form and reflection behold each other. You are not it, but in truth it is you.
Isn't what you teach also taught inside monastery walls? maybe you teach something different?
Do students that you teach do whatever they want? you must have some parameters, right?
I've been following this very closely as someone just starting down the path. I have kids, and one is at least a dozen years from moving out, so any realistic monastic opportunity is far away at best. I haven't had anything resembling monastic experience by any measure (insert graduate school joke). I am an active, though very new, member of the Treeleaf sangha that Jundo and Taigu guide, and have found that to be a remarkably welcome environment. (Ditto ZFI -- gassho.) Finally, I know virtually nothing of the monastic traditions referenced by others in this topic.
So, take this with a grain of salt. It may be obvious, confused, or both.
I read this sentence by So-on:
I'd before read the phrase "home leaving" here and elsewhere, not giving it much thought. However, today, after a morning of farmer's market shopping, making salt dough for my daughter to play with, laundry, a dog walk, staring at the old wooden fence that decided to collapse entirely at noon, and (just now) painting my daughter's nails sparkly purple, it had new resonance. (Michaeljc's post about wilderness recluses got me thinking, too.)
Today has been a wonderful experience, made moreso I believe by my sitting zazen this morning as usual and being able to approach my daily life with a sort of attention and awareness that I hadn't before taking up zen practice. I can imagine it possible to extend that zen practice in deep and rich ways here in this home context. That may be all I'm ever able to do, and, like Shonin above, I'm very content with that.
However, reading several rich, moving descriptions of monastic experience (such as this one by Nonin), it's hard for me to imagine my having such experiences without leaving home. (To be clear, I know that others here can imagine just that.) Indeed, the fabric of relationships, commitments, calendars, supports, routines, and comforts here at home are precisely those things that monastic experience requires people to abandon or replace -- and comprise, it seems to me, that which conditions my experience of home itself.
I have no opinion whatsoever as to whether priests should or should not have substantial monastic experience, whatever "substantial" or "monastic" means. But as this discussion moves forward, increasingly I sense that there's a distinct, genuine, perhaps ineffable value in monastic experience that is grounded not (merely) in teachers, teachings, routines and buildings but (also) in something else, something that resides far away from home, in every sense of each of those words.
From what you describe, Pedestrian, the aims of practice are different. This is also my impression from what Jundo has shared here too. Monastic training may actually be totally irrelevant to yours and his aims.
Zen Buddhism as far as I can make out is Buddhism which teaches that we operate on the basis of a fundamentally false premise. Basically we are deluded. So a radical transformation is in order. Our mileage may vary but this typically takes very intense training, an immersion like the one in serious monasteries. And a continuation of very intense training afterwards.
Most traditions hold that complete enlightenment is very difficult and rare. But entrance through the gateless gate of Zen is more likely with complete dedication and effort. Great determination, great effort, great doubt - the "holy trinity" read.
If you aim to make peace with your life, this is not really what the Buddha taught, it's not what the Zen ancestors taught either. Not to say it's bad or anything. If that's what you want it's fine. Good luck.
I'm not sure what you mean by "aims"; I am not Jundo nor is he I, provisional though we may both be; and I am quite confident that Jundo can speak for himself!
However, guessing what you mean by aims, I assure you that I am not at all able to tell you what mine are. Along with Treeleaf, I have a sangha here in Providence (Boundless Way with James and Jan Ford), and I'm pretty content with just sitting and doing my best to learn for now.
I can tell you, however, that I have no desire to "make peace with [my] life," nor have I relegated the determination, effort, and doubt to the dumpster. Why my post in support of monastic experience prompted you to remind me of this I am not sure; if anything, I'm seeking a clearer way to address my doubt with right effort, as I think my post made pretty clear. Indeed, I can well imagine seeking out a monastic opportunity when I am able to do so -- it's just not possible now.
But this is all premature. Let me get through my first sesshin, eh?
[Edited to add the Treeleaf reference -- CA]
Last edited by Pedestrian on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Well, so now you are going to decide who can and who cant' be a priest, and when... That's amazing.
I don't know Dan... I guess that the aims of practice are the same for everyone of us, monastic or not the goal is the same.
I could be reading you wrong, but what I can infer from your post is that monastic immersion is vital to change our deluded view. Im not so sure about that.
"Home leaving" was some kind of institution in Indian society, it was the norm for every seeker in those days. I see monasticism as an inherited practice that is comming from times before Sakyamuni. In the same way that he "spoke" with Devas and Brahmas, he keep the traditions and prejudices of his time. Monastic practice and "home leaving" is another tool we have, but it's not the end. A good example of that is Layman P'ang and his family, and I guess that there are more that I don't know.
Good morning, So-on,
A good friend asked me to double the kindness and gentleness in my words, so that the message is not hidden. I will double my efforts to do so, and sincerely to emphasize that what I present is but a view among many ...
Perchance, if one truly knows how to look (and be looked), some particularly wise folks can overturn the fundamentally false premises of life right in the heart of life, shining in/as/right through life. Radical transformation can manifest where we stand. Buddhas can be seen in our small children, and freedom from the shackles of life are in the key of financial debt and legal difficulties. Pregnant women have Buddha Nature too (for one? for two?), and people in the armed forces serve in places where the "rubber meets the road" of the Precepts in action. Is not Enlightenment something even vaster than space, and is not life just a wondrous (sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly) circus?
Granted, not all can see this. Some may not be able to see this so easily, and like the kids in the high school where I weekly volunteer, some may require a kind of concentrated, remedial training to overcome their difficulties and weaknesses. Perhaps that is the monastery, a place for people who need that because they can't "get it" easily outside? But like those kids, we emphasize that "everyone is special" in their way, no fast or slow, and there is no shame. (I am not being tongue in cheek or sarcastic in saying this, because those kids mean all the world to me). No one path through life for all. I wish to encourage them. On the other hand, some kids with a certain "knack" and gift can find their "radical transformation" in the market place, the home/office/nursery/battlefield.
Yes, some of what I teach can be found in monastery walls. Some is different. Some lessons found in the monastery are found in the monastery ... some lessons found in the nursery are only found in the nursery, etc.
No, I do not think that students can "do whatever they want". However, I also believe that there are "many good paths". On the mountain, there are many paths ... some of which lead into poison ivy, go round in circles or off a cliff. I seek not to teach students those. On the other hand, many good paths ... some which lead into monastery doors, some which lead into the marketplace.
I support the kids who may need the "special class" of the monastery, and who can only flower in that environment. I also support the kids who may be better at sports, or poetry writing or agriculture or dance ... all special.
I hope you have a lovely day, and I wish peace to all from my heart.
(no sarcasm in case you imagine it, truly!)
In grade school I was placed in special ed. All I can remember doing there was playing games, listening to stories and doing crafts. It was kind of like we were put aside, and the teacher was there to make sure we didn't walk off a cliff or something, like a baby sitter. It wasn't even "remedial" teaching, we were just out of the way.
I hope you are having a pleasant day.
Maybe you just needed a better teacher ... like me! (TEE-HEE)
Any extra help would have been great I'm sure.
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