Thank you for your interesting post. My comments are imbedded below:
Donald Hwong wrote:
Good morning Bill,
Mayka's answer typifies one of the major difference between a Chinese Linage
and wester Zen. This is what I have discovered after learning about Zen in
In my opinion Mayka's answer is the same as most Westerners; in fact the
same as most beginning zen students. They believe Buddha Nature is
something that someone else has, someone special - and they need to do
something to 'polish-up' or 'evolve' their Buddha Nature before it's mature.
Most of the Chinese Buddhists believe our Buddha nature are within us, but
only through Chan practice can we rid of karma and let it shine through.
This is what I was taught from both a Japanese Soto and a Rinzai teacher -
that you already are Buddha, and that your practice is to simply 'realize'
that. 'Realize' meaning to 'become aware', and also meaning to 'actualize'
or 'make real'.
A Chan practitioner means in Chinese to cultivate Bodhisattva Heart and to
act in Bodhisattva way - a cycle fine-tunes each other until "everything" is
consummated, satisfied and fulfilled. Which is the Third Practice in our
I was taught not to 'cultivate', as 'to grow or nurture', because your
Buddha Nature is already present and complete; but to 'realize' or
'discover' it by 'peeling away all doubts' and 'revealing' or 'realizing'
your Buddha Nature.
While a meditative practice based on Chi enable the practitioner to be
connected with the universe, it constantly feeds the practitioner with life
force and wisdom far beyond his mental capacity.
I too was taught that mental capacity or 'intellect' is not involved in
'realizing' your Buddha Nature. In fact I was led to believe and in fact
have experienced that intellect, although not mutually exclusive with Buddha
Nature, can be a big hindrance in realization.
Chi foundation seems to be another major difference between a Chinese Chan
practitioner and a western one. When BodhiDharma taught for the first time
in China, at Shaolin, both Motion Chan and Sitting Chan, the only common
thread of the two is the cultivation of the Chi/Qi/Ki. Without Chi, there
is no power to transform a person. Without Chi the entire practice becomes
a mental interpretation of the experience instead of the experience itself.
The Soto and Rinzai teachers with whom I was involved did acknowledge Chi
and its important role in realization, but I was not taught any specific
practices to cultivate Chi other than zazen. It was inferred that
practicing zazen was all that was needed. From my experience that seems so.
This may be why the foundamental Buddhism of karma and cause and effect is
not a major teaching in western Zen, because there is no practice to support
The Soto and Rinzai teachers with whom I was involved did teach karma and
cause-and-effect; but the clear understanding is that these are illusionary
and after realization are not important. Karma and cause-and-effect must
have an object on which to attach. I understand that object to be the Self.
When the Self slips away and there is only Buddha Nature remaining, on what
does karma and cause-and-effect operate?
These are just my personal observations after discussion with several
western Zen priests.
These are my personal observations after a long and intimate student-teacher
relationship with the two Soto and Rinzai teachers, many conversations and
discussions with other zen practitioners and zen teachers of many disparate
lineages, and most importantly after 40+ years of practice.
Do let me know your comments.
You got them!