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A zen approach

A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

What does it mean to you?

rohitStingRayShoshin

Comments

  • I've also heard that you won't be there at enlightenment. And another I've heard is that when it happens it is completely ordinary. Same as before but different.

    lobsterStingRayFoibleFull
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @techie said: Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    If that's the case then why bother practising? Isn't zazen a form of inaction?

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    I think it means there is no need to crave to attain something. Just practice of Dhamma will remove our flaws and it will make us realisation of enlightenment.

    howShoshinkarastiStingRay
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Isn't zazen a form of inaction?

    @SpinyNorman -- A Zen teacher once observed, "There is a difference between just sitting and just sitting.

    lobster
  • And what's the difference?

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    And what's the difference?

    One is, "This is me sitting down. I'm just sitting down. I'm focused on sitting. This is me being mindful."
    The other is just sitting down and being mindful.

    howlobsterkarasti
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 2016

    Oh. I assumed the difference was just between being mindful and not being mindful. It seems like there is some intention involved in being mindful, rather than just sitting there getting lost in thoughts. So there is the activity of paying attention.

    Cinorjer
  • Well, that's the point of practicing. We practice something deliberately until it comes naturally. At first, sitting down or walking or doing the dishes while being mindful is a big deal. It's something special we intend to do. By practicing, we hope that this mindful state of mind is just us getting through the day. Nothing special.

    sovalobster
  • @Cinorjer said:By practicing, we hope that this mindful state of mind is just us getting through the day. Nothing special.

    So just getting through the day?

    Cinorjer
  • howhow Veteran
    edited February 2016

    Only identity needs to worry about enlightenment.

    lobsterrohitkarasti
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran

    @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    What does it mean to you?

    We dont become enlightened by standing still. The Buddha helped people from suffering (action) and found in his meditation etc the nature of suffering (inaction). Without those two, what is Zen?

  • @Jeffrey said:
    I've also heard that you won't be there at enlightenment.

    You won't be in the enlightenment but the enlightenment is still 'you' ... but then it always was ...

    And another I've heard is that when it happens it is completely ordinary. Same as before but different.

    Completely ordinary. Nothing special. Much the same as before ... but different.

    Tee hee.

    Personally I might describe it as easing into a glove one has always worn.

    This is why talking about enlightenment arriving or having a nature or a description is so confusing ...

    Cinorjer
  • @SpinyNorman said:

    @Cinorjer said:By practicing, we hope that this mindful state of mind is just us getting through the day. Nothing special.

    So just getting through the day?

    Get through the day, then do it again, and before you know it, you've gotten through an entire life. What other way is there to live a life? We make our plans and set our goals, and some will work out and some won't and new plans and goals replace the ones we let go of. Either way, it's what you choose to do or not do right now that's important, isn't it?

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    And what's the difference?

    second just is bold one.

    Cinorjer
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    What does it mean to you?

    That neither action, nor non-action, is the way of zen!

    Cinorjerlobster
  • @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    What does it mean to you?

    In a lot of Eastern cultures, modesty is one of the expressions of mastership. In Zenith aesthetic, succinct and direct pointing is valued.

    Fortunately/unfortunately I have none of those traits.

    Here is what it is like:

    • a lotus or flower relaxing into being
    • a sigh
    • waking up to never having been asleep
    • ordinarily wonderful
    • the song and dance finally synching
    • the sound of silence
    Cinorjersova
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I guess I read it as "things you do can lead you away from enlightenment" and "things you don't do can lead you away from enlightenment." But I'm not a Zen student and all their riddles just confuse me ;)

    I could murder someone, and obviously this leads me away from enlightenment.
    But likewise, perhaps so does ignoring opportunities to express compassion and help people.

    sova
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 2016

    I guess I'm not smart enough for koans then. It's all a bit too clever for me.

  • howhow Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @SpinyNorman

    A Koan is simply one teaching on how to move beyond our identity's dream of itself.
    Trying to be smart or clever with a koan is actually the antithesis of that possibility.

    sova
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    What does it mean to you?

    Seems we're screwed either way. Perhaps enlightenment is not something we can take proper aim at. When the conditions are right it will happen but striving for certain conditions puts them further out of reach.

    I strive for enlightening qualities but not for enlightenment itself.

    I wish that for others but as for me, I'm just keeping an even keel and putting on the porch light.

    He could be simply alluding to the Middle way.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited February 2016

    I guess I'm not smart enough for koans then. It's all a bit too clever for me.

    @spinynorman -- I couldn't agree more: I was never much good at connecting with the 1,700 koans proposed in Zen Buddhism. I just couldn't connect. "Too clever for me" perhaps. But then my teacher suggested, "Buddha didn't study 1,700 koans" and my view changed: Koans aren't what anyone seeks out or grasps. They aren't hidden and clever. No one else's wisdom or perception is likely to do the Buddhist-training trick. So ... koans aren't what anyone seeks out. Rather they are what seek out the seeker. What is it that honestly bangs your chimes and leaves you dumbfounded and yet demanding an understanding? It can be anything at all, but the trick is not to give up and give in and be lazy.

    For me, for example, there have been the matter of "zero" or the simple sentence, "I love you." For others, it may be the cat in the corner. These matters can be called "Buddhist" if anyone wants, but in reality they are just questions that naturally arise in anyone's walking-around life. They aren't clever. They are simply inescapable for the person who addresses them. Just because you don't understand doesn't mean you haven't got the answer.

    If you don't like koans, well, forget about them. Just don't expect them to forget about you. Never mind "Buddhism," just stick with your own truth, whatever that happens to be. As I think The Dhammapada observes, "Better your own Dharma/ However weak/ Than the Dharma of another/ However noble."

    Nothing clever. Just the facts.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    What is the sound of one SpinyNorman "I dunno"-ing....?

  • EmmalouEmmalou Tx Explorer

    To become enlightened in my opinion is drive, and also maybe once we become so low and in despair that's when it truly begins when we suffer on a deeper level, and understand you are not the only one who suffers on such a primitive level, and in that is a beautiful thing.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    What does it mean to you?

    It could also mean that since "you" AKA "I, me, my, mine" is a delusion to begin with, then any action or inaction that "you" do or don't do, is already a mistake because it's all from a perspective of "I, me. my, mine". And of course mistakes are not enlightenment! Which matches up well with "we don't become enlightened" because if "we" AKA the "I, me, my, mine" illusion disappear upon getting enlightenment, then who is the one getting the enlightenment? Hmmm!

  • @genkaku said:

    I guess I'm not smart enough for koans then. It's all a bit too clever for me.

    @spinynorman -- I couldn't agree more: I was never much good at connecting with the 1,700 koans proposed in Zen Buddhism. I just couldn't connect. "Too clever for me" perhaps. But then my teacher suggested, "Buddha didn't study 1,700 koans" and my view changed: Koans aren't what anyone seeks out or grasps. They aren't hidden and clever. No one else's wisdom or perception is likely to do the Buddhist-training trick. So ... koans aren't what anyone seeks out. Rather they are what seek out the seeker. What is it that honestly bangs your chimes and leaves you dumbfounded and yet demanding an understanding? It can be anything at all, but the trick is not to give up and give in and be lazy.

    For me, for example, there have been the matter of "zero" or the simple sentence, "I love you." For others, it may be the cat in the corner. These matters can be called "Buddhist" if anyone wants, but in reality they are just questions that naturally arise in anyone's walking-around life. They aren't clever. They are simply inescapable for the person who addresses them. Just because you don't understand doesn't mean you haven't got the answer.

    If you don't like koans, well, forget about them. Just don't expect them to forget about you. Never mind "Buddhism," just stick with your own truth, whatever that happens to be. As I think The Dhammapada observes, "Better your own Dharma/ However weak/ Than the Dharma of another/ However noble."

    Nothing clever. Just the facts.

    Yes, as one who spent many hours sitting with my koan, I eventually realized they're over-rated. I love them, but they're not magical doorways to the land of Enlightenment. Blame Western Buddhists falling in love with these riddles and slices of life once Japanese Zen became all the rage.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I hate koans - unless there's ice cream in them.

  • Indeed. Better to compare the Tantric Triad of Neapolitan with the Pristine Purity of Vanilla. ;)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Life's one big "koan" :)

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @Cinorjer said:Blame Western Buddhists falling in love with these riddles and slices of life once Japanese Zen became all the rage.

    I spent a large chunk of my life in social work and so I have a well-developed BS meter. A lot of the comments in threads like this just score too highly on the meter, it looks like pseudo-intellectual cleverness, not real. Maybe it's just me.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    SN: A little from column A and a little from column B, perhaps? ;)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    You think this is bad? Why do you think I no longer frequent.... 'another well-known site'....?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Maybe it's just me.

    Maybe...Maybe not...

  • @federica said:
    You think this is bad? Why do you think I no longer frequent.... 'another well-known site'....?

    If you want to challenge BS you will have my full support. Anywhere, anytime.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @Shoshin said:

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Maybe it's just me.

    Maybe...Maybe not...

    As a Probation Officer I dealt with some serious criminals, professionals. You can't do that without recognising the difference.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    a well-developed BS meter

    The good thing about a BS meter is that you have a clearer idea -- as with all errors -- of what YOU don't want to do.

  • @genkaku said:

    a well-developed BS meter

    The good thing about a BS meter is that you have a clearer idea -- as with all errors -- of what YOU don't want to do.

    No, you are missing the point.

  • @SpinyNorman said:

    @Cinorjer said:Blame Western Buddhists falling in love with these riddles and slices of life once Japanese Zen became all the rage.

    I spent a large chunk of my life in social work and so I have a well-developed BS meter. A lot of the comments in threads like this just score too highly on the meter, it looks like pseudo-intellectual cleverness, not real. Maybe it's just me.

    Could you elaborate? All I see out there are mostly people trying to connect and who want to feel like people are listening to them once in a while.

    Shoshin
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Cinorjer said:Blame Western Buddhists falling in love with these riddles and slices of life once Japanese Zen became all the rage.

    I spent a large chunk of my life in social work and so I have a well-developed BS meter. A lot of the comments in threads like this just score too highly on the meter, it looks like pseudo-intellectual cleverness, not real. Maybe it's just me.

    Yes, the inner bullspit detector comes in quite handy.

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I guess I'm not smart enough for koans then. It's all a bit too clever for me.

    Maybe you're trying to be too clever for the lesson.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited February 2016

    http://www.heartofmeditation.com/buddhist-koans.html

    Somewhere between this guy's take on koans and the "secret to life, universe, and everything" worship is probably best. But there's a lot of understanding in his message.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I spent a large chunk of my life in social work and so I have a well-developed BS meter. A lot of the comments in threads like this just score too highly on the meter, it looks like pseudo-intellectual cleverness, not real. Maybe it's just me.

    Zen in the way of the ultra spiritual snoozer?
    Not real, exactly so.

    @techie said:
    A great zen master used to say that we don't become enlightened; rather, enlightenment happens to us. Both action and inaction lead us away from enlightenment.

    On the far shore un-enlightenment is all the rage.

    We can not apply the qualities that do not work to the situation that 'just happens'. We have to get over ourselves.

    Leonard Koan (the well known Jewish Zenith) spent much of his poetic career singing 'Ha le lujah'

    Here is the Catholic version ...

  • techietechie India Veteran

    I don't believe koans are riddles to be solved. Koans, by being absurd, show the absurdity of life (samsara). So the individual koan may not even matter because the basic message of all koans is the same: life (samsara) is absurd.

    Maybe this is the real intent of ALL koans - to show us that there is no answer to any of the koans, that there is no answer to life (since our intellects are too small to grasp the immensity and intricacies of existence).

    Cinorjer
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited February 2016

    @techie said:
    I don't believe koans are riddles to be solved. Koans, by being absurd, show the absurdity of life (samsara). So the individual koan may not even matter because the basic message of all koans is the same: life (samsara) is absurd.

    Maybe this is the real intent of ALL koans - to show us that there is no answer to any of the koans, that there is no answer to life (since our intellects are too small to grasp the immensity and intricacies of existence).

    I think a lot of people don't like koans because you can't use your intellectual thinking to solve them. But I would not go so far as to say that they can't be solved. :)

    Bodhidharma said "If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both."

    Koans essentially force one to do the latter. :)

    Shoshinlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    I have a well-developed BS meter.

    Something like this :)

  • @Emmalou said:
    To become enlightened in my opinion is drive ...

    Did you mean 'drivel'?
    The whole purpose of Buddhism is drivel? [lobster faints]

    The fastest way of not moving to or away from the still point is ... [drum roll] meditation ...

    Mr Cushion says hi (no pics available)

  • EmmalouEmmalou Tx Explorer

    @lobster said:

    @Emmalou said:
    To become enlightened in my opinion is drive ...

    Did you mean 'drivel'?
    The whole purpose of Buddhism is drivel? [lobster faints]

    The fastest way of not moving to or away from the still point is ... [drum roll] meditation ...

    Mr Cushion says hi (no pics available)

    I meant motivation like having the drive to want something so bad, but really to become enlightened is up to that one individuals path, and how they choose there is no one certain path, or we would all be enlightened

  • ^^^ Ah got it. My apologies. :3

    Strangely enough [spoiler alert] we are all enlightened, we just don't realise it. The Buddha I think mentions this and it is a very strange experience to find and communicate with enlightened beings pretending to be asleep (yep really).

    The idea of 'drive', which comes under right concentration in the beloved 8 fold path is exactly right. However the Buddha also talks about the right note of a stringed instrument. Not too tight and not too loose. This equates with the merger of action and inaction that others have mentioned. :)

    Cinorjer
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I actually love koans.

    They help the mind deal and come to grips with paradox.

    I made my own personal koan more than a decade ago about the fine line between the tool and the art.

    I sort of hope it is never completely solved.

    CinorjerShoshin
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