The good fortune of having read Dr [Daihatz] Suzuki's books, heard quite a few of his lectures, and read whatever else was available to me on Zen Buddhism, has given me at least an approximate idea of what constitutes Zen. - Erich Fromm (1986, 70)
In the quotation, Erich Fromm shows a beginner's mind. Valuable books may enrich our minds and repertoires, and some books are repositories of findings or knowledge.
1. In a true beginner's mind there is not a thought of "original mind"
Shunryu Suzuki decrees: "You should not say, 'I have attained enlightenment. (1999, 21)'. But you may tell "I am one of the illuminati" . . .
You may have to work for it. Buddhism offers several methods towards it, and one method is credited its founder, Gautama Buddha.
2. True achievement: Enlightenment
Dogen, founder of Soto Zen in Japan, always emphasized how important it is to resume "no thought of achievement, no thought of self," in a proper way, and why? He advocates a meditation method that is based on such features. Actually, there are other methods around too, and Buddha advocates keeping an eye on what gives sound progress as well:
Whether they meditate with or without expectations, if they have the wrong ideas and the wrong methods, they will not get any [good] fruit from their meditation. . .
So fit ideas and methods need to be got, and fit thoughts of achievements too. Much depends on that. What to focus on during meditation sessions, however, depends on one's methods. Dogen's advice above has such a limited scope: Kasamatsu and Hirai's EEG study of Zen meditators reveals that Zen instructors have thought of the achievements of themselves and their students, they too. By studying the electrical activities of the brain during Zazen (Zen meditation), and comparing it to the general impressions that Zen teachers had of their own and their students's attainments in contemplation, it showed up that there was a good deal of correspondence. There was, further, a neat correspondence between such general impressions, years of training, and the EEG measurement results. [Source of Zen findings]
3. Zen sitting
The beginner's mind in Zen is what a beginner would have before the Zen quest, or right at the start of it. If we have found the goal before sitting, what is the need for Zen training, you may well ask. The answer you might get is that the beginner's mind is what to start with.
So: Being erect enough is the achievement for many good things throughout life. Getting solvent is another good thing. A fit congruence with the better parts of one's heritage and tradition may suit you too. Much in society is based on strife for money and many other good things - all of which should be had by fair means, teaches Buddha. ⚴
1. Good training makes the marksman
What are the alternatives to methodical and relaxed self-improvement by small steps at a time? Lagging behind may be one.
2. Training that makes dysfunctional, may eventually stultify
The frisk Zen advice to "eat while eating" relates to "be in the here-and-now" as well as you can, if not patently.
3. The purpose of brisk training is to get and remain attuned inwards as well as you can
There is a fine book by the Asian-Canadian sexologist and Taoist philosopher Jolan Chang, The Tao of Love and Sex, to compare with. (1991, 17-18, etc.)
Much regular meditation could be needed for sensing finer, subtler sides to life.
4. The fringe may be told of, so textual study can help some persons on
Love-making is quite determined.
Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki has written a foreword to the book Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel (1989). Some delicate points are shown in it that may be hard to come by elsewhere.
Reality is outside a sect's frame.
The fringe of much fit and even eminent may also help some.
Fine texts or books may contain salient points to be recalled and put into practice too.
So: Training that makes well attuned inwards, helps some guys a lot. ⚴
What matters the most to students is probably not the amount of books on their book shelves.
Inward natures are different. The nature of the horse (or vitality from deep inside) may be revealed by the "fruits of its loins" too.
Try to let what you want and the actions towards it, harmonise well with each other. If you are exhausted, rest might be best -
1. Don't try to attain much by inner diving (including Zen) if you're not a good breed - at least mentally so
Get the best out of a day and also of Zen withour fuzz and ado and artificiality. It may pay to be well allied, and as cogent as you can.
The face of Bodhidharma (Daruma in Japanese) is used to represent the Zen spirit. It is good to add a pinch of salt to going to extremes, for Gentle Middle Way is of not going to extremes. (Addiss 1980, 129) (2)
2. Inward natures vary, inward attainments can vary much too
Big things can be composed. (3)
In several passages, the Tao Te Ching speaks of being allied with one's deeper, inner "true nature", be it of genial art, the nature of things, one's heritage streaks, and so on. It could help to be cogent too. (Addiss 1980, 128]
A single flower opens to five petals.
The Zen artists learnt to combine painting, calligraphy and poetry well to allude at so-called transcendental insight, at best. (Addiss 1980, 19-22; 22ff] (4)
3. Starving yourself seldom does much good altogether
Try to preserve the best; it could mean a lot as time goes by. ✪
So: A flower opens up and bears fruit somehow according to its inner nature, provided the conditions are fit for it. And so could you. Try to preserve that sort of normal seedling fare as well as much normal conditions, and refrain from starving yourself a lot.
Be well allied with the best to remain with friends on earth.
There is much to learn in life as we develop or plod on. There is much jargon, insider language, in many tracks of life, Mahayana with Zen included. Much can be be learnt to make salty teachings somewhat understandable, yet the feat that much leads up to, is to transcend, to go beyond teachings and language during meditation.
1. Decent ones should not be pressed into vicarious life-styles
Zen does not have to be marringly brutish, and suppose it goes beyond being Buddhist also. That is also what transcendence is about. Such basics can be glimpsed in the Platform Sutra by the Zen patriarch, Huineng (638–713), and many more works on Zen. This is Zen: (1)
Who sees intuitively his own nature, is a Buddha. - Huineng, The Platform Sutra, chap. 1)
The key answer to "how?" is 'by deep meditation', skilfully performed.
2. Dogen did not talk for tenets at all times
Eihei Dogen (1200–53) wrote the essay Bendowa after he returned to Japan from his Zen training in China. Bendowa is said to sum up the ninety-five chapters of his Shobogenzo, so here are some points from the Bendowa:
After the religious mind arose in me, awakening the desire to seek the Way, I visited many religious teachers throughout the country. - Dogen, in Waddell and Abe 2002, 9)
3. If you thrive by fixed outlets and even calligraphy, let it do much good for you too.
The whole universe and everything in it is Buddha Nature, explains Hubert Nearman (2007, 267n). From this it may be deduced that many outlets may serve us both on mundane levels and further - depending on skills again. (5)
So: See your inherent nature, your own Buddha-nature, which is without appellation and with no voidness view. As Dogen says, do what you can to flow into the Way, the Way of deepening meditation.
Addiss, Stephen. The Art of Zen. New York: Abrams, 1980.
Bancroft, Anne, ed. The Buddha Speaks: A Book of Guidance from the Buddhist Scriptures. Reprint ed. Boston: Shambala, 2010.
Chang, Jolan. The Tao of Love and Sex. London: Penguin, 1991.
Fromm, Erich. Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. Unwin. London, 1986.
Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
McRae, John R. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2000.
Nearman, Hubert. 2007. Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching. Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press.
Suzuki, Shunryu. 1999. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Rev ed. New York: Weatherhill.
Waddell, Norman, and Masao Abe. 2002. The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Yampolsky, Philip, tr. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. The Text of the Tun-Huang Manuscript. New York: Columbia University, 1967.
Harvesting the hay
User's Guide ᴥ Disclaimer |
© 1996–2018, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]