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One other Large Ugly Delusion: Zen Lacks A Compassion Follow

Some say this is because of a deficiency within the Zen custom, however for my part that’s not the place the deficiency lies. One explanation for this delusion is how important elements of our liturgy follow have been misplaced within the transition from Japan to the worldwide tradition. One other side is a profound misunderstanding concerning what zazen is about in our custom.

For this second side, I’ll flip in a second to the educating of Tiāntóng Rújìng (天童如淨; Heavenly Little one Pure Suchness; J. Tendō Nyojō; 1163–1228). As a part of this myth-busting sequence, I’m exploring the educating of among the buddhas and ancestors within the lineage of Dōgen to display how they taught the buddhadharma (spoiler alert: not restricted to the trendy development referred to as Sōtō Zen, not to mention the Submit-Meiji Sōtō Orthodoxy or PMSO™ as I lovingly name it).

So on this submit, I’m doing two issues. First, clarifying the follow of Nice Compassion, and second, providing an instance of the educating of Rújìng.

First issues first

In Japanese Sōtō Zen, each morning in virtually each Sōtō monastery the liturgy begins with both the prose or the verse recitation from The Lotus Sutra, “Chapter 25: The Common Gateway of Kanzeon Bodhisattva.” Right here’s Taigen Leighton’s translation of the verse:

And within the curiosity in brevity, there are additionally the “4 Nice Bodhisattva Vows” and the Ten Line Life Prolonging Kannon Sutra (Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo). Right here’s my translation of the later. 


Namo Buddha

One with Buddha trigger

One with Buddha affinity

Buddha, Dharma, Sangha affinity

Fidelity, pleasure, self, purity

Mornings nen Kanzeon

Evenings nen Kanzeon

Nen nen via arising thoughts

Nen nen not other than this thoughts (1)

If you’re enthusiastic about Ten Line sutra, you’re welcome to hitch me for an in depth work-through of it on Saturday, April 30, 2pmET-5pmET, hosted by the Buddhist Temple of Toledo. The workshop is titled, “Disclosing the Hidden Instructing of the Ten Line Kannon Sutra” and is a part of their “Celebrating Ladies in Buddhism” sequence. Click on right here for extra data.

Now, you or another good particular person would possibly say concerning the compassion sutras in Zen liturgy, “Yeah, effectively, these are simply issues that we chant, what does that need to do with training or feeling compassion?”

Then I’d say, “Zen liturgy is not only a bunch of cool issues we chant. The purpose is to change into the sutra. On this case, Kanzeon, observing world sounds (in addition to the sights, tastes, touches, smells, ideas, and cries, even) – and never simply whereas chanting. The recitation is meant to be the follow and to train the follow.”

After which that above somebody would possibly say, “Do you imply that chanting is a samadhi/absorption follow?” 

And I’d say, “It’s an absorption-wisdom (samadhi-prajna) follow not other than sitting, standing, strolling, and mendacity down.”

Within the case of Kanzeon, their title consists of three characters, 觀世音, and the primary, 觀, meanings “observing.” That character, 觀, can be the character that’s used to translate the Sanskrit vipaśyanā (perception). So “Kan/observing” means far more than sitting again and observing perceptions of the world from a divided subject-object perspective. Chanting with witness consciousness simply isn’t it. As an alternative, the purpose is to embody the sutra, to change into one with the sounds of the world, to follow Nice Compassion, earlier than, throughout, and after the recitation.

So to drop these sutras from our follow, for my part, is an enormous mistake. The Ten Line is very perfect for homeowners and has been practiced with ardour by thousands and thousands of standard of us for greater than fifteen hundred years. 

Nonetheless, even with out common recitation of a Nice Compassion sutra, there’s zazen as Nice Compassion. You would possibly discover that on this submit I’ve been utilizing each “compassion” and “Nice Compassion.” And never interchangeably. Earlier than we get to Rújìng’s educating on the true coronary heart of zazen as Nice Compassion, it appears essential to first unpack the distinction between compassion and Nice Compassion.

One other delusion frequent at present

is that compassion is a specific feeling. It’s not that that is fallacious, however simply that it’s restricted to compassion as 悲, or karuna in Sanskrit, not Nice Compassion. Nice Compassion, 大悲, is the compassion particular to bodhisattvas and bodhisattva wannabes like us. Nice Compassion is distinguished from compassion (karuna) each by its scope (all beings) and its company (one needs oneself to take away all the struggling of all).

So though it’s doable and helpful to generate the feeling of compassion via particular practices, our zazen as a substitute cultivates Nice Compassion, observing/being one with all of the cries of all of the beings. So it merely isn’t a pleasant feeling that you really want in order that your id heart is bolstered.

Nice Compassion just isn’t essentially syntonic with the id heart. That’s, the cries of all residing beings are merely not restricted to the way you wish to really feel at any given time.

With that in thoughts, let’s now flip to the educating of Rújìng.

The Nice Compassion educating of Rújìng

Rújìng, as it’s possible you’ll know, was Dōgen’s trainer. See Punning, Toileting, and Purifying: the Awakening of Rújìng, for extra about Rújìng. For the rest of this submit, I’ll concentrate on one in every of his brief talks, one which Dōgen consists of in his Hōkyōki, a file of his conversations with Rújìng.

“Though arhats and self-enlightened sages (Sanskrit, pratyekabuddha) don’t change into connected to their expertise in zazen, they lack Nice Compassion; due to this fact they aren’t the identical because the buddhas and ancestors, who thought-about Nice Compassion foremost and follow zazen with the vow to avoid wasting all residing beings.

“The outsiders in India additionally sat in meditation, however they all the time had three issues; attachment to the expertise, false views, and self-esteem. Subsequently, it’s all the time totally different from the zazen of the buddhas and ancestors.

“Buddha’s disciples, sravakas, additionally had sitting meditation, however their compassion was weak; they didn’t penetrate the actual character of all issues with incisive knowledge, solely bettering themselves, they lower off the lineage of buddhas. Subsequently theirs was all the time totally different from the zazen of buddhas and ancestors.

“What I imply to say is that buddhas and ancestors, from their very first inspiration, follow zazen with the vow to assemble collectively all of the qualities of buddhahood. Subsequently, of their zazen they don’t neglect sentient beings, don’t forsake residing beings. They all the time have loving ideas even for bugs, and vow to liberate them.

“No matter virtues they’ve, they dedicate to all. Subsequently, buddhas and ancestors are all the time on this planet of need training zazen and dealing on the way in which. On the planet of need, solely this world gives one of the best state of affairs. Cultivating all virtues life after life, one attains to gentility and ease of thoughts.” (2)

Just a few factors about Rújìng’s educating

Rújìng can actually sing the tune of the Common Mahayana. For Rújìng, our zazen follow IS the follow of Nice Compassion, that’s, gathering collectively the qualities of buddhahood to liberate beings, however not ready for buddhahood.

From one’s preliminary aspiration, the zazen of buddhas and ancestors is about being one with the cries of the world, liberating residing beings. “Of their zazen,” says Rújìng, “they don’t neglect sentient beings, don’t forsake residing beings.”

How? Our zazen is to continuously BE the cries of the world. 

And if Rújìng’s view of zazen was like his Japanese pupil, Dōgen, and I’d wager the farm that it was, then it had nothing to do with sitting or mendacity down. Like Dōgen’s zazen, it actually isn’t doable to do Rújìng’s zazen with out dropping body-mind and realizing who hears, that’s, kensho-ing. 

One other level is how the outdated Buddha Rújìng distinguished the bodhisattva path from the paths of these connected to the Buddha’s phrases, these enthusiastic about solely benefiting themselves, and people who haven’t but come into the Buddha’s home and are “…connected to expertise, false views, and self-esteem.”

That applies to all of us any time we’re not doing the follow Rújìng describes – gathering the components of buddhahood and doing our follow, particularly zazen, so that it’s the follow of Nice Compassion. And for the follow of Nice Compassion, this world of need is the best place. Simply because it may be so tough. And so extremely chic.

That’s why Compassion Ocean Nice Persistence (Jikai Dainin) Rōshi used to say, “Earlier than I die, I’ll put my fingers in gassho and vow to be reborn within the human world. As a result of I find it irresistible.”

All that stated,

it’s possible you’ll learn revered Zen lecturers asserting that Zen has no compassion follow and that due to this fact we must always import practices from different traditions. I don’t have an issue with importing practices (on condition that the importer has deeply studied the tactic with a trainer and isn’t simply getting it from written sources), as a result of Zen, in any case, as Thich Nhat Hanh typically stated, is made up of nonZen components.

Nonetheless, the notion that the Sōtō Zen custom and transmission lacks the follow of Nice Compassion is solely and verifiably incorrect. It might be the results of a partial transmission suggestive of what Meido Moore Rōshi calls zombie lineages – the strolling lifeless. And if a Mahayana follow lacks each Nice Compassion and a concentrate on awakening, it certain appears possible that the physique of follow could also be wandering aimlessly about, whereas the innards rot.

On the very least, it means that some important components of the Zen approach have been misplaced in transition from Japan to the worldwide tradition.

However possibly it’s not too late!

Let’s reinvigorate the Zen Method with the Nice Compassion follow of Rújìng!

(1) Translation by Dōshō Port.

(2) Translated by Thomas Cleary in Timeless Spring, A Soto Zen Anthology. Modified.

Dōshō Port started training Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches together with his spouse, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with the Vine of Obstacles: On-line Assist for Zen Coaching, an internet-based Zen group. Dōshō acquired dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi within the Harada-Yasutani lineage. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Report of Empty Corridor: One Hundred Basic Koans, is now obtainable (Shambhala). He’s additionally the writer of Hold Me In Your Coronary heart a Whereas: The Haunting Zen of Dainin KatagiriClick on right here to help the educating follow of Tetsugan Sensei and  Dōshō Rōshi.


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