First of all, WELCOME TO THE YAHOO! ZEN FORUM. We're all beginners
here, so I hope you will feel right at home.
Since you're a newbie, I'll be especially gentle with you. My
comments on your posting are imbedded below:
--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, "JEFF K." <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> My name is Jeff K., and I am a new member, and a newcomer along the
path of Zen Buddhism. I am wrestling with the Buddhist concept
of "no birth-no death", which I first encountered in Thich Nhat
Hanh's book, "The Heart of the Buddha".
> When I first came upon the concept, I was mystified and confused.
Thankfully, I continued reading the book (which I find excellent!)
and Thay returned to the "no birth-no death" concept from another
angle. Now I am beginning to understand the concept, though not as
deeply as I'd like.
First of all, a concept like this 'No Birth-No Death', is not an
important component of zen. In fact no concepts are. Any concept
you, or Thich Nhat Hanh, or even Siddhartha Guatama himself had or
have are a not an imporant component of zen.
Second of all, UNDERSTANDING, such as 'understanding concepts like
this one', or 'understanding koans', or 'understanding Buddhist
dogma', is not at all necessary to practice zen - in fact in my
opinion the more 'understanding' you have, the further you are from
> My superficial understanding is: Most people fear death because we
believe that once we "die", we are annihilated. Buddhism teaches that
the person is never "destroyed"; rather, our existence continues,
albeit possibly in another form. Even a cremated body is never
totally destroyed or eliminated; ashes, bones, and vapors still
exist. I analogize this to the concept in physics that matter cannot
be destroyed. These elements of our body, now in the soil and/or air,
will sustain other life forms.
> Perhaps I have it all wrong, but I'd greatly appreciate feedback
from other group members.
> ...Jeff K.
You don't 'have it wrong'. Your understanding of this concept is as
good as any, and better than most - but I again want to emphasize
that whatever that understanding is, it is not relevant to zen.
My 'understanding' of 'No Birth-No Death' is just what it says:
There is no such thing as 'Birth' or 'Death'. They are both just
concepts which attempt to characterize a begining of life and and end
of life. Life is not 'you', as in your ego, your sense of being or
sense of individualism. Ego and individualism, the subject-object or
me-you separation, are just illusions - dreams. Since life does not
begin at your birth, and does not end at your death, then what good
are these words? What do they mean? Birth-Death, No Birth-No
Death. You might also say 'No Good-No Bad', or 'No Me-No You'. None
of these things exist. There is only THIS!
But again I want to empahsize that whatever MY understanding of this
concept is, it is not relevant to zen.
Only THIS! And to experience THIS, you need only to meditate
(zazen). You don't need to UNDERSTAND anything.
Current Book Discussion: any Zen book that you recently have read or are
reading! Talk about it today!
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