--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, kahtychen <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> How do you study the dharmas with non-attachment? How do you decide
> what knowledge to hold dear, and which to consider with equanimity?
> 
> On what basis do you decide whether it's more important to know who
> the 6th Patriarch is or what the 6th Ground is? To read a sutra, or to
> avoid texts?

> Can we just sit, as Bill suggested, and find all our knowledge, there,
> inside? Can we do this with no training or guidance? One of the
> central aspects of Zen practice is having a teacher. What is their
> function, if not to pass on knowledge?
> Regards,
> Kahty


Hi Kahty,

Awesome questions! I think it behooves all of us - no matter how long our 
Zen/Buddhist 
practice has been - to reflect back on these critical  journey markers.

Bill's advice has always been (at least for me) right on :-)! That said, I 
think each person 
has her/his own path and I think you might want to trust what has been guiding 
you so 
far. It's obvious that this has brought you to a "good (internal) place)...

I had the karma to have studied at Komazawa Daigaku, the premier Soto Zen 
"University" 
in Japan from 1980-82. Soto Zen is the Zen sect founded by Dogen and 
characterized in 
many circles as "Mokusho Zen" (the Zen of silent Enlightenment) and "Shikantaza 
Zen" (the 
Zen of "nothing but sitting [in zazen]). As one enters Komazawa Daigaku through 
the main 
gate, one of the first buildings encountered is the Meditation Hall marked by a 
huge 
Golden Wheel signifying, of course, the Wheel of the Dharma. Back then there 
was a 
plaque hanging near the entrance with a Chinese verse that translates:

A special tradition outside of Scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Directly pointing at our center;
Seeing into own's essential nature and the attainment of Buddhahood

One would assume that the monks and students at such a "university" would have 
had 
zazen meditation as the central "subject" of the curriculum...

This was not the case.

The majority of my fellow students that I took classes with were Zen monks from 
Japan 
and Korea. There were also a few Theravada monks from Sri Lanka. The curriculum 
in 
terms of academics was rigorous and very demanding in terms of time spent 
studying. At 
the graduate level, every student took multiple languages ([Pali, Sanskrit, 
Tibetan and 
Chinese). When I got there I joined a seminar that was studying the 
Abhidharmakosa (a 
massive and encyclopedic work traditionally held as authoratative by many sects 
in terms 
of its explanation of the Dharma). The seminar lasted 5 years and I jumped in 
at the 
beginning of the 2nd year (Needless to say I was - and remained - totally lost) 
Anyway, in 
this seminar and in all the seminars I particiapated in, the course was text 
based and - if it 
was a sutra or a sastra - every single extant version of the text (Sanskrit, 
Tibetan, Chinese) 
was laid out and cross-studied. Obviously, there was much time spent preparing 
for 
classes.

I once asked one of our professors, himself a Soto Zen monk, about the 
"discrepancy" 
between the messaage of the plaque hanging in the Meditation Hall and what we 
were 
doing in classes. Here's the gist of his answer:

"There's a famous Japanese Zen saying: "Before a person studies Zen, moutains 
are 
mountains and waters are waters. After satori, mountains are mountains and 
waters are 
waters". The first is from the perspective of "this shore"; the latter from the 
perspective of 
"the other shore". Between the two is an epic journey. The message from the 
plaque 
hanging in the meditation hall is what beckons from "the other shore". 
Certainly, when we 
have "reached"  the "other shore" there are no shores, no reaching, no journey 
... But it is 
ridiculous for us to posture ourselves as "being there" when we're not. "

WIth that, we went back to the task at hand of studying the list of the dharmas.

Speaking of which, in one of your previous emails you asked for info on a bunch 
of 
dharma lists. Where did these dharma lists from? It might be from the 
Abhidharmakosa. If 
you still want the info, some of us might be able to toss things back your way 
if we had 
more to go on.

Follow your own path, Sister. We each have our own unique vehicle - Your's 
might be 
through dharma lists. The proof lies in whether it will get you 'across to the 
other shore'. I 
don't think anyone on this listserv is in a position to judge the "efficacy" of 
the raft you are 
on - I certainly am not. I think this is a listserv where folks are 
authenically sharing aspects 
of their/our personal Zen journeys and struggles and not posturing 
themselves/ourselves 
as the "sage on stage". This  is what has kept me connnected to this listserv - 
although I 
usually lurk.  Thanks again for the wonderfully framed questions - I'll spend 
some time 
reflecting and meditating on them :-)

Gassho,
Rodney





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