--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Smart" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Jeff,
> 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." <quietmind@> wrote:
> >
> > Hello,
> > My name is Jeff K., and I am a new member, and a newcomer along 
> 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 
> Buddha Mind.
> > 
> > My superficial understanding is: Most people fear death because 
> believe that once we "die", we are annihilated. Buddhism teaches 
> 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 
> be destroyed. These elements of our body, now in the soil and/or 
> 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 
> 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 
> of life.  Life is not 'you', as in your ego, your sense of being or 
> sense of individualism.  Ego and individualism, the subject-object 
> me-you separation, are just illusions - dreams.   Since life does 
> 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'.  
> of these things exist.  There is only THIS!
> But again I want to empahsize that whatever MY understanding of 
> 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.
> ...Bill!

Hello Bill,
Thanks for your reply. I have come across the Zen view that, as you 
say, "you don't have to understand anything". Why, though, did Thich 
Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist, deal with this "no birth-no death" in his 
book? The impression I got was that one should contemplate "no birth-
no death" as a core concept of Buddhism. If it is a core Buddhist 
concept, is the Zen concept ("you don't need to understand")at odds 
with Buddhism? 

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