Chris,  My comments to your recent post are embedded below:

>I was hoping you would chime in on that point.


>I know that 
>often times it's a matter of symmantics or labels that we have to 
>use to describe what you call JUST THIS!. I really don't want to go 
>around and around defining terminologies.

Agreed! Semantics are set aside in this post.  You can say po-TAY-toe and
I'll say po-TAH-toe. 

>Siddharta Guatama is the 
>one who found the path to enlightenment (so I have heard).

Caveat:  I believe the story of Siddhartha Gautama is a myth, like the story
of Jesus is a myth.  A myth doesn't mean the story is not 'true'.   A myth
very often conveys much deeper truths than a 'real' story.  I believe in
both cases the myth is based on actual events, but these events may not have
all happened to one person or in even the same era, and embellishments have
probably been made after-the-fact to emphasis or clarify (and maybe
muddle-up) some points.

The above caveat notwithstanding, I do not believe Siddhartha Gautama was
the FIRST 'one who found the path to enlightenment', and certainly not the
ONLY one.  He happens to be the one on which the Buddhist Religion and
consequently Zen Buddhism was founded.

>Buddhism, in my understanding, attempts to re-create that path 
>through his teachings, while losing alot of the unneccessary dogma 
>of traditional Buddhism.

All Buddhism teaches a means to attain a direct perception of reality.

Buddhism has two main divisions: Hinayana (which addresses the alleviation
of suffering) and Mahayana (the path to emptiness).  Zen is either
classified as a sub-set of Mahayana or sometimes a third division itself.
The VAST MAJORITY of the followers of Buddhism practice Hinayana, a small
percentage Mahayana, and a VERY, VERY small percentage practice Zen.
I agree with you that Zen Buddhism does have less dogma and depends less on
rituals as does the other branches.  I'd be careful, however, about throwing
around the term 'unnecessary', since in actuality all of Buddhism is
unnecessary to having a direct perception of reality.    

>Was not that 'transmission' at Vulture Peak 
>preceded by years of strict adherence to the Buddha's teaching of 
>the path that he followed, as well as the knowledge he had learned 
>from his enlightenment? That student had trained to be ready for 
>that moment.

Siddhartha Gautama's wordless sermon at Vulture Peak is usually marked as
the beginning of what we now call Zen Buddhism.  This was proceeded by first
his own winding search for an answer to human suffering, his subsequent
enlightenment, and  what are now called his Hinayana teachings and then
Mahayana teachings (and if you want to separate it, finally his Zen
teachings - Vulture Peak).  

>You practice zazen, a meditational technique to train yourself 
>to dissolve the illusion of self. This, IMHO, is the one of the 
<Buddha's teachings. 

I do practice zazen.  I do think it was the primary technique (coupled with
the koan Mu) which enabled me to have a my first direct experience of
reality.  Shikantaza (clear mind) zazen both helped me prepare myself for
the experience, and afterwards helped me incorporate the experience into my
daily life.  When I sit zazen now, I sit shikantaza.

>Which other "religions" recommend this practice?

Many other religions teach meditation techniques.  Christianity does.  Some
Christian teachings even instruct the practitioner to meditate or
contemplate on unknowable qualities such as God's love or emptiness, or the
infinite nuances of a particular Bible verse.  

<Do you follow (or did you follow) any other teachings to get to this 

I was taught and practiced Christianity throughout my childhood and into my
young adulthood.  At one time when I was about 14 or 15 and attending a
Christian Summer Camp I had a very moving religious experience and actually
started thinking about going into the clergy 'when I grew up'.  I discovered
Zen Buddhism through reading (Alan Watts) when I was about 16 and attended
an introductory session at the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1964 when I was
18.  After that I increased my activity at the center, my personal
involvement with the two roshis there, and my real zen practice was born.

Other Zen Buddhist practices I have employed are fasting, chanting and sleep
deprivation.  All of these are found in other religions.  Other religions
also employ such practices as dancing, singing (like chanting),
self-flagellation and drugs.   

>You even acknowlege the Buddha Nature, but you have re-
>defined it as JUST THIS?

I renamed Buddha Nature for two reasons.  One - I now know this quality is
not EXCLUSIVELY connected with Buddhism so I wanted to use a term that did
not have a Buddhist context.  Two - it is my experience so I'll call it what
I want.  Tozan called it 'three pounds of flax'.  Gutei held up one finger.
Ta Kuang did a dance.  I call it 'Just THIS!'  Po-TAY-toe, Po-TAH-toe.  Get
over it!  

>I agree with you that zen has always been there. Many of these 
>other religions you mentioned were created to explain JUST THIS in 
>their own way. But most of them that I have any knowledge of profess 
>that there is a KEEPER of JUST THIS, and you must follow their 
>teachings to experience it in the AFTER-LIFE. They say to "follow my 
>finger to get to the moon" so-to-speak. I think you may be reading 
>ALOT into the meaning of Jesus' sayings.

I do read a lot into the sayings of Jesus.  His sayings meant a lot to me
before I found zen, but they mean a lot more to me now.  I think my zen
experiences have enabled me to better understand his sayings, or at least
better relate to them.  It is the RELIGIONS that have sprung up around
enlightened beings that have made all these caveats - like AFTER-LIFE.
Jesus never said that you had to die to go to heaven.  He in fact said,
referring to himself  (his Buddha Nature) that 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at
hand!'  It's here!  Right now!  I am an embodiment of it.  You are too!
'Seek and you shall find!'  'Knock and it shall be opened unto you!'.
'Split wood, I am there.  Break rock, I am there also.'  I really don't know
how much 'reading into' you have to do with these sayings.  

>Zen Buddhism does not 
>worship the Buddha, we only show respect for the man for showing us 
>the path. Not the only path, but a significant one nonetheless. It 
>is my contention that you have followed a Zen Buddhist Path to get 
>to this point, you do often mention the Buddha's teachings.

Again, it is the RELIGIONS that teach worship of the originator of their
beliefs.  Christianity certainly does in the case of Jesus, but Judaism and
Islam don't teach that their prophets, including Mohammed, are deities.  And
also, MOST BUDDHISTS in the world worship Buddha as a God.  All Buddhists
here in Thailand do.

>I had been trying to 'strip' my Zen Buddhist beliefs from zen 
>for the sake of discussion on this forum. I see that zen means 
>different things to different people. Honestly, you have influenced 
>me temendously on here and have caused me to re-think my Buddhism 
>interlaced with my Zen. But, when Mike called me on it, I had to 
>take a second look at what got me to this point.

There is really no need for you to strip out the Buddhism from your zen
practice, and as you say there are a lot of good reasons to keep it.  Do
whatever you are most comfortable with.  Just practice!
Most of the above responses to your post are written in just plain words or
what I call 'words about zen'.  I will respond to your post below with what
I call 'zen words'.

>Do you practice Zen? Or is it just a concept? I would really 
>like to know what makes up your practice today.

When hungry I eat.  When tired I sleep.  CHIME!  CHIME!  CHIME!

Just THIS!

>With Deepest Regards,

As always.Bill!

P.S.  Margie, Did you enjoy the dessert?


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