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"Waiting for the Sincere Question"

genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
For those inclined towards Zen practice, I thought Koun Franz' latest blog essay, "Waiting for the Sincere Question," was pretty good.
lamaramadingdongriverflowmisecmisc1

Comments

  • But a teacher might know how to help you to know

    Accepting one is in need of instruction is not easy. We are often inclined to believe we can discern the genuine and only ever provide sincere questions. Even when instructed, we reject an answer that does not match our expectation. We have not provided lack of expectation, we are not prepared to listen . . .

    How can we change our insincerity? First I feel we have to accept our sham, stop playing the 'sincere seeker'. When sincerity arises. The answers is in the question, almost self evident . . . :)
    riverflownlighten
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    I posted this comment there:
    For either a desire to make money from this blog or because you don’t want to spend what little it costs to pay for it, you have rather prominent ads selling things like Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is very very unhealthy. It makes a lot of money for corporations but substantially contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and many other health issues in the world today.

    Don’t you care?
    It will be interesting to see if my Sincere question is allowed. :p
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    He replied, and it turns out he's cool. How refreshing! :D
  • Good read. We don't really want the right answer, but rather the answer that is right.
    When my daughter was around 6, she asked me why people had to die. I wasn't really sure how to answer that, but what I told her was that if no one ever died, we'd run out of food, water, space, etc.
    She immediately smiled and said, "Oh, it's sharing."

    If it is sharing, why is it that no one wants to die willingly?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    You will notice in the blog how being able to discern or listen to advice is the first stage of making use of it.
    We have to be prepared to have our wrong view challenged, exposed and the insincerity and sincerity unveiled.

    If we already know what the path is, what the way is, how to get there, why then we would be Buddhas before the year is out [ahem] :aol:

    Who thought Zen was just a slap in the face? Literally? Metaphorically?
    Guess we have to learn to turn the other cheek . . .

    [NB: no emoticons were harmed in producing this post]
    Vastmindmaarten
  • pegembara said:

    Good read. We don't really want the right answer, but rather the answer that is right.
    When my daughter was around 6, she asked me why people had to die. I wasn't really sure how to answer that, but what I told her was that if no one ever died, we'd run out of food, water, space, etc.
    She immediately smiled and said, "Oh, it's sharing."

    If it is sharing, why is it that no one wants to die willingly?

    It wasn't the right answer, just the answer that was right.

    riverflowpegembara

  • Accepting one is in need of instruction is not easy. We are often inclined to believe we can discern the genuine and only ever provide sincere questions. Even when instructed, we reject an answer that does not match our expectation. We have not provided lack of expectation, we are not prepared to listen . . .
    True, but equally just because someone is in the position of teaching doesn't necessarily mean everything they say is wise to accept. When you place yourself under the instruction of a teacher you will, in all likelihood, be fed some tripe alongside the wisdom - the collective baggage of a long line of individuals with their own views, right and wrong.
    How do we know when our wrong view is not being overwritten with another, better sounding, wrong view? Without expectations is it not easy for critical thinking to succumb to acceptance via authority?
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    There are various ways to answer the question of what a cookie is. You could give a list of ingredients, or it could be described chemically or molecularly, for example. I think the important thing to realize is that the way we answer questions reveals our own purpose, and that purpose may be quite divergent from the purpose of the questioner. For instance, if a baker who'd never seen a cookie before asked, "what is it?" and you replied, "I don't know," they would find someone else to ask who did know. A food category and list of ingredients would probably be most appropriate for the bakers purposes.

    When someone asks what "IS" something? in capital letters, we can take that as a sign that they are most likely asking for the MEANING of it. In this case a religious answer is most appropriate, because supplying meaning is the purpose of religion. In Zen, "I don't know" is the appropriate religious response of course, and because it is the appropriate Zen response it's not really not knowing. It's a ritualistic response in a system of meaning.

    You want to know what a cookie IS? The meaning is revealed by simply tasting it. If that's not enough then you'll have to find a religion to satiate your hunger.
    Jeffrey
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    position of teaching
    A spiritual teacher is more than just a posture. They have the capacity to induce reflection and become redundant. They are rare. Dharma expounders are not so rare . . .
    If I still had one, they would soon put me right :)
    riverflowJeffrey
  • lobster said:


    A spiritual teacher is more than just a posture. They have the capacity to induce reflection and become redundant. They are rare. Dharma expounders are not so rare . . .
    If I still had one, they would soon put me right :)

    Ok, but...

    How do you spot them? That is, without any expectations of what constitutes right view or any discernment of what might be genuine.

    I'm aware that sounds like I'm being belligerent or mocking, I'm not, it's a genuine question.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Ok, but...

    How do you spot them?
    @Chrysalid -- If not popular, my guess is simple: Ego.

    If "everything is the teacher," as I think it is, then sifting through the teachers, finding a focal point, crediting a single, singular teacher or set of circumstances is perfectly OK and probably a smart move.

    Simultaneously, it's a bit like having breakfast in a diner: You order scrambled eggs off the menu, but you might just as easily have ordered fried and still received some good nourishment. Teachers are 'serious' and 'profound' and 'wise' for one reason and one reason only ... you: You credit them, follow their instruction, sweat and learn and perhaps praise ....

    Good scrambled eggs. Now go out and enjoy the day.
    riverflowlobster
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    Thanks you so much for the link! This is another blog I'm going to be checking in on from time to time.

    It was interesting to click through to read the exchange on reddit as an invited guest.

    By the way, @Nevermind I thought your post about the Coca Cola adds on the blog sounded angry and confrontational. So you have a thing about soft drinks in particular, or advertisements in general? It cost the man thirty dollars to remove the adds and he was very gracious, while I don't think anyone else reading cared one way or another. Do you feel strongly enough about soft drink promotions to send a few dollars his way to thank him for his compassionate response?



  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    How do you spot them?
    On the whole you don't, they spot you.
    You need to have the qualities in place.

    Most of us mistake emotional needs, needs for interaction, role playing, information transfer etc as indicating sincerity. However only those willing to sacrifice everything in service to the dharma are close to recognising teachers.

    This may be helpful
    http://endless-satsang.com/spiritual-teacher-mentor.htm

    or perhaps this . . .

    Once a student came to Zen Master Hyang Bong and said, "Master, please teach me the Dharma."

    Hyang Bong said, "I'm sorry, but my Dharma is very expensive.''

    "How much does it cost?"

    "How much can you pay?"

    The student put his hand into his pocket and took out some coins. "This is all the money I have."

    "Even if you offered me a pile of gold as big as a mountain.'' said Hyang Bong, "my Dharma would still be too expensive."

    So the student went off to practice Zen. After a few months of hard training, he returned to Hyang Bong and said, "Master, I will give you my life, I will do anything for you, I will be your slave. Please teach me.''

    Hyang Bong said, "Even if you offered me a thousand lives, my Dharma would still be too expensive.''

    A bit dejected, the student went off again. After several more months of hard training, he returned and said, "I will give you my mind. Will you teach me now?"

    Hyang Bong said, "Your mind is a pail of stinking garbage. I have no use for it. And even if you offered me ten thousand minds, my Dharma would still be too expensive."

    Again the student left to do hard training. After some time he came to an understanding that the whole universe is empty. So he returned to the master and said, "Now I understand how expensive your Dharma is.''

    Hyang Bong said, "How expensive is it?"

    The student shouted, "KATZ!!!"

    Hyang Bong said, "No, it's more expensive than that.''

    This time when he left, the student was thoroughly confused and in deep despair. He vowed not to see the master again until he had attained a deep awakening. Eventually that day came, and he returned. "Master, now I truly understand: the sky is blue, the grass is green. Now will you teach me?''

    "No, no, no," said Hyang Bong. "My Dharma is even more expensive than that."

    At this, the student grew furious. "I already understand, I don't need your Dharma, you can take it and shove it up your ass!"

    Hyang Bong smiled. That made the student even angrier; he wheeled around and stomped out. Just as he was going out the door, Hyang Bong called to him, "Oh you!"

    The student turned his head.

    ''Don't lose my Dharma," said Hyang Bong.

    Upon hearing these words, the student was enlightened.

    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8665
    Chrysalid
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    @Nevermind I thought your post about the Coca Cola adds on the blog sounded angry and confrontational.

    Well, at least it was sincere.
    So you have a thing about soft drinks in particular, or advertisements in general?
    Soft drinks, because as I pointed out they are very unhealthy and cause serious health issues in the world today.

    I don't see anything generally unhealthy about advertisements. Good things can be advertised. Indeed my comment might be interpreted as an advertisement about the negative heath effects caused by soft drinks.
    It cost the man thirty dollars to remove the adds and he was very gracious, while I don't think anyone else reading cared one way or another.
    If I understood him right it cost him $60. total, as he paid for two blogs.

    If it's true that no one else cares about the health issues caused by such things as Coca-Cola, that's not surprising, but it is unfortunate.
    Do you feel strongly enough about soft drink promotions to send a few dollars his way to thank him for his compassionate response?
    I did thank him, and promptly.

    About helping to pay for his hosting, why would I do that? I pay for my hosting. Why shouldn't he pay for his own hosting?

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    I see. I'm not saying you had an obligation to pay for him taking adverts off the website, just curious about what you thought on the subject.

    I'm also curious, what would you have thought about his qualifications as a Zen Teacher if he'd responded with the statement, "Any intelligent reader knows this blog is to promote Zen, not soft drinks or whatever adverts the webhost uses to generate revenue. If you don't like the adverts, you don't have to click on my link." Would you also consider this to be a proper Zen response?
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    I see. I'm not saying you had an obligation to pay for him taking adverts off the website, just curious about what you thought on the subject.

    That's a curious way of looking at the situation. Don't you think that WordPress.com deserves to be paid for hosting and maintaining websites? Free hosting at WordPress.com includes ads, and paid hosting has no ads, plus some other benefits. That's the deal or agreement. WP gets makes money from advertisers or paying customers.

    It's up to WP users to decide what they need or what they value.
    I'm also curious, what would you have thought about his qualifications as a Zen Teacher if he'd responded with the statement, "Any intelligent reader knows this blog is to promote Zen, not soft drinks or whatever adverts the webhost uses to generate revenue. If you don't like the adverts, you don't have to click on my link." Would you also consider this to be a proper Zen response?
    People (including Zen Teachers) are sensitive to three core facets of their self-image, which are: social status, intelligence, and morality. We are sensitive to these because for most of our evolutionary past a deficiency in any of them would increase the chance that we might be excluded from the social group or tribe. For the vast majority of human history expulsion from the group was basically a death sentence.

    I find this interesting in relation to the "sincere question," because I interpret the sincere question to essentially be a question that is meaningful, or rather full of MEANING. What IS a cookie? What is the MEANING of a cookie?

    It doesn't matter what the MEANING of a cookie is. The important thing is that we all agree on what the MEANING is. It's great if we "don't know," as long as we agree that we all don't know. :p
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    I gotta say, perhaps my biggest motivation behind a lifetime of both a college Psychology degree and a personal journey through the path of Zen has been a fascination with how people think and act. Take this website and the post about "Sincere Questions" that we both read. Lately, I've been pondering what my old Zen teacher called "mind traps" built into the most powerful koans and how they work to distract and capture the mind's attention from what's important going on.

    Take another of the commentators on that page, someone who objected to Mr. Koun Franz' using something he remembered from the time he spent with his mother suffering from Alzheimer to make a point. This one commentator thought it was terrible that the author didn't turn the blog into a lecture about the disease. The commentator had personal experience taking care of someone with the disease, and I guess thought Mr. Franz was making fun of this poor woman's suffering. The response explaining that the author also cared deeply for his own mother and knew firsthand the tragedy of the disease didn't cut it. This commentator was angry and not listening.

    So mind traps can be different for different people. For this person above, the depiction of someone suffering from Alzheimers was a mind trap. It grabbed his mind and kept it focused on that one detail. For you, obviously the Coke advert was a mind trap and your mind focused on that. Not saying you were right or wrong to bring it up, just in your case it proved enough of a distraction to intrude on what the blogger was saying on the website.

    It makes me wonder what mind traps I am vulnerable to? I must have them. I think maybe I should examine my reactions to some of the things I encounter in life.
    riverflowVastmindlobsterpegembara
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    It makes me wonder what mind traps I am vulnerable to? I must have them. I think maybe I should examine my reactions to some of the things I encounter in life.
    It seems when we stop asking 'the teacher' sincere questions and start questioning our sincerity we are beginning to develop sincerity.

    The change in attitude is subtle. It is no longer based on the assumption we are genuine. We are not. We are playing at being seekers, playing at meditation or other practices that get results.

    Once we start looking for the genuine, sincere and true in ourselves, we become more aligned.

    Here is a trap :wave:

    Here is Nothing.
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    Lately, I've been pondering what my old Zen teacher called "mind traps" built into the most powerful koans and how they work to distract and capture the mind's attention from what's important going on.

    Mind trap is a game, Cinorjer. Games are by nature unimportant.
    For you, obviously the Coke advert was a mind trap and your mind focused on that. Not saying you were right or wrong to bring it up, just in your case it proved enough of a distraction to intrude on what the blogger was saying on the website.
    :p To be honest I don't think that either of us have been much distracted by the Coke ad.
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