Thanks as always for your post.

You are not wrong in the history, genealogy and classification of zen you
present in your post attached below.  This is the generally accepted
position - that zen is an outgrowth and sub-set of Buddhism.  I disagree
with that for several reasons, but that really depends on what your
definition of 'zen'.

- IF you define zen as a SPECIFIC process/method taught/followed to develop
the ability to directly experience reality (enlightenment); AND if you
restrict that process/method to activities, references and verbiage ONLY (or
primarily) supported by the Buddhist religion (like traditional Buddhist
monk/lay activities, Buddhist sutras and Buddhist terms); AND if you FURTHER
restrict that process/method to activities, references and verbiage borrowed
from Japanese culture (zazen, koans, mondos, roshi, dokusan, satori, Buddha
Mind, Direct Transmission, etc...); THEN the traditional classification as
you've presented below is applicable.

- IF, however, you define zen (as I do now, reluctantly) as ANY NUMBER of
NON-SPECIFIC processes/methods taught/followed/stumbled-upon which enables
the direct experience of reality; AND if you pose NO RESTRICTIONS
(religious, cultural or otherwise) on those processes/methods; AND THERFORE
would INCLUDE ALL processes/methods that lead to the direct experience of
reality (whether they be Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islam, Hindu, Taoist,
Wiccan, Agnostic, etc...) from ANY CULTURE; THEN you would classify zen as
the SUPER-SET of which all these other processes/methods are SUB-SETS.

To put it more plainly, I think the ultimate teachings of Buddhism,
Christianity and most all religions are talking about the SAME THING, not
different things; and that the experiences that have been described as being
had by Buddha Siddhartha, Bodhidharma, Renzai, Nansen, Joshu, Moses,
Abraham, Jesus, John, Peter, Francis of Assisi, Mohammed, etc..., are the
SAME - and just expressed differently through the prism and filters of their
specific religious and cultural heritage (and of course of that of their
followers who wrote down or interpreted rightly or wrongly what they said or

Do you now understand my perspective?  Do you accept it, or do you have a
different perspective?


From: [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf
Of Chuck Gierhart
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:05 AM
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: Dear Bill

You say:
“I also believe, as you do, that zen and Buddhism are not the same. I 
believe Buddhism is a religion and is a sub-set of zen, and so are 
most other religions –“
I  thought Zen, including Soto, Rinzai and Obaku,  are part of the Mahayana
school of Buddhism and a direct outgrowth of the Chinese Chan, which was
brought to China by Bodhidharma, an Indian Buddhist monk.
What has led you to conclude the above?


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