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Kwame Nyame
11th January 2013, 08:14 PM
What is Zen Buddhism.
There are many schools of Buddhism. Zen is one such school. It is based on Mahayana Buddhism.
The common belief that Zen is Japanese in nature is not exactly true. It originated from China. Infact it actually started in India. A Buddhist missionary took it to China in the 6th century.
The Zen knows no gods,no afterlife ,no good and no evil. They don't have a doctrine or creed.
Their teaching is by way of parables ; many very strange indeed.
They seek Enlightenment(SATORI) through meditation and intuition rather than faith.
You cannot say Zen is a philosophy or psychology.
It is difficult to pigeon hole Zen.
You can say it is a method to reaching Enlightenment or what they call Satori.
The KOAN is the paradoxical questions posed in their method o ways.
If you ask a Zen Master for instance what is Zen, he may hit you on the head and remain silent.
A zen monk once asked a zen master why Bodhidharma,the missionary who brought Zen to come from India. The Zen Master asked the student to pass him a stool. When he did,he whacked the student on the head with the stool. That it.
A Zen Master may sit with you in silence without saying a word by way of answering a question you put to him. You have to make whatever comes to you by way of insight as your answer.
Their practice is very evasive but it obviously serves a purpose.
It is a common saying in Zen that if the student get too logical,he is thrown out of the path.
More Later.
I've set the ball rolling. You are all invited to criticise,challenge,refute,contribute or ask questions as we focus on Zen Buddhism.

Kwame Nyame
13th January 2013, 11:55 AM
So, three things stands out for me so far.
1. Origin.
The lay person will say Zen comes from Japan. A seeker with a little research knows it came to Japan from China. However a very serious student knows it originated from India.

2. Teacher/Master
It is only herein the west that the need for a Living Master or a Teacher in the flesh in spiritual matters is played own.
The tradition of Student/ Master relationship is an absolute necessity in the East. You cannot go it alone. 1st you are the acolyte or aspirant. You are accepted by a Master thus becoming a student. And eventually you become the Master.
This forms the basis of Zen method.

3. Koan. The system of illogical,teasing and subtle type of teaching.
When the student of zen acts logically,he is thrown out.
Why is this?. It hint at the notion that truth is beyond logic and reason. The mind will never allow you to get truth.
The evasiveness of the Zen Master in giving direct answers and sometime slapping the student in the face by way of an answer is a kind of therapy.....shock therapy.

....."to jolt the student out of his mental habits and to hammer into his head that he must act spontaneously ,without thinking,without self consciousness and hesitation.
This is the main purpose of the mondo- the brief,sharp,dialogue between master and pupil,and the koan-the illogically insoluble riddle which the pupil must attempt to solve"
Paul Twitchell

In summary,there is the question of origin,master pupil relationship and the mondo and koan.
Contributions,rebuttal,criticisms and questions like I mentioned earlier are most welcome.
More Later

Fashion Yaa
14th January 2013, 03:38 AM
Please allowed me to be nervy, after all I'm allowed
I have a Buddhast friend from Burma n I tell you she is such an apologist, will switching to Zen uild her confidence?

Q' lypse
14th January 2013, 08:40 AM
The bickering about the origins are contradictory to Zen. Bubble gum for the brain to chew on. Now lets get serious. I suspect the Koan I posted on fb triggered this Kwame? lol

Time for some koans :emptiness:

Q' lypse
14th January 2013, 08:42 AM
http://i45.tinypic.com/oldt.jpg



The wife of a man became very sick. On her deathbed, she said to him, "I love you so much! I don't want to leave you, and I don't want you to betray me. Promise that you will not see any other women once I die, or I will come back to haunt you."

For several months after her death, the husband did avoid other women, but then he met someone and fell in love. On the night that they were engaged to be married, the ghost of his former wife appeared to him. She blamed him for not keeping the promise, and every night thereafter she returned to taunt him. The ghost would remind him of everything that transpired between him and his fiancee that day, even to the point of repeating, word for word, their conversations. It upset him so badly that he couldn't sleep at all.

Desperate, he sought the advice of a Zen master who lived near the village. "This is a very clever ghost," the master said upon hearing the man's story. "It is!" replied the man. "She remembers every detail of what I say and do. It knows everything!" The master smiled, "You should admire such a ghost, but I will tell you what to do the next time you see it."

That night the ghost returned. The man responded just as the master had advised. "You are such a wise ghost," the man said, "You know that I can hide nothing from you. If you can answer me one question, I will break off the engagement and remain single for the rest of my life." "Ask your question," the ghost replied. The man scooped up a handful of beans from a large bag on the floor, "Tell me exactly how many beans there are in my hand."

At that moment the ghost disappeared and never returned.

What can we learn from this old Zen story? How many beans do you have in your hand?

Q' lypse
14th January 2013, 09:00 AM
Please allowed me to be nervy, after all I'm allowed
I have a Buddhast friend from Burma n I tell you she is such an apologist, will switching to Zen uild her confidence?
In Zen, the question shot back will be, why can't your friend build her confidence NOW?

Fashion Yaa
14th January 2013, 02:02 PM
In Zen, the question shot back will be, why can't your friend build her confidence NOW?

Cool

Kwame Nyame
14th January 2013, 07:07 PM
The bickering about the origins are contradictory to Zen. Bubble gum for the brain to chew on. Now lets get serious. I suspect the Koan I posted on fb triggered this Kwame? lol

Time for some koans :emptiness:

Yes Kwaku what you posted on fb triggered it. But I've been planning to start something on zen way back.
I prefer starting from its origin and building up gradually to the main teaching or practice.
Thanks for your contribution by the way.

Kwame Nyame
14th January 2013, 07:17 PM
In Zen, the question shot back will be, why can't your friend build her confidence NOW?

I don't think a predictable question and answer format is zen in nature at all.
If Yaa asked a 1000 Zen Masters her question,she may get a 1000 answers.
If she asked a single zen master the same question on different days,she may get different answers each day.
This is my undertaking.

Q' lypse
15th January 2013, 10:30 AM
I don't think a predictable question and answer format is zen in nature at all.
If Yaa asked a 1000 Zen Masters her question,she may get a 1000 answers.
If she asked a single zen master the same question on different days,she may get different answers each day.
This is my undertaking.

Plausible

Q' lypse
15th January 2013, 10:37 AM
http://i45.tinypic.com/oldt.jpg



The wife of a man became very sick. On her deathbed, she said to him, "I love you so much! I don't want to leave you, and I don't want you to betray me. Promise that you will not see any other women once I die, or I will come back to haunt you."

For several months after her death, the husband did avoid other women, but then he met someone and fell in love. On the night that they were engaged to be married, the ghost of his former wife appeared to him. She blamed him for not keeping the promise, and every night thereafter she returned to taunt him. The ghost would remind him of everything that transpired between him and his fiancee that day, even to the point of repeating, word for word, their conversations. It upset him so badly that he couldn't sleep at all.

Desperate, he sought the advice of a Zen master who lived near the village. "This is a very clever ghost," the master said upon hearing the man's story. "It is!" replied the man. "She remembers every detail of what I say and do. It knows everything!" The master smiled, "You should admire such a ghost, but I will tell you what to do the next time you see it."

That night the ghost returned. The man responded just as the master had advised. "You are such a wise ghost," the man said, "You know that I can hide nothing from you. If you can answer me one question, I will break off the engagement and remain single for the rest of my life." "Ask your question," the ghost replied. The man scooped up a handful of beans from a large bag on the floor, "Tell me exactly how many beans there are in my hand."

At that moment the ghost disappeared and never returned.

What can we learn from this old Zen story? How many beans do you have in your hand?


As predicted, as usual hardly any response to this koan.. So I will go ahead and lay some pointers.

We create our own demons or, ghosts, in this case - in our minds. We trap ourselves with thoughts that do not honor the PRESENT MOMENT. The present is the only time we can live.

The ghost never existed. It was his own mind creating it, that is why he could hear everything, word by word from the "ghost's mouth". The Zen master knew that so he gave him a challenge for the ghost knowing that being his own mind the creator of such, he would not know how many beans were there and his own mind destroyed what he created in the first place.

The baggage of our thoughts haunting us everyday, unnecessary and incessant thinking is our ghost... Our minds are our own traps...

Q' lypse
15th January 2013, 01:28 PM
http://i47.tinypic.com/wcmix4.jpg




Christian Buddha

One of master Gasan's monks visited the university in Tokyo. When he returned, he asked the master if he had ever read the Christian Bible. "No," Gasan replied, "Please read some of it to me."

The monk opened the Bible to the Sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew, and began reading. After reading Christ's words about the lilies in the field, he paused. Master Gasan was silent for a long time. "Yes," he finally said, "Whoever uttered these words is an enlightened being. What you have read to me is the essence of everything I have been trying to teach you here!"

What do you learn from this old Zen story?

Kwame Nyame
15th January 2013, 09:21 PM
Plausible

Undertaking? I meant understanding. Problem with free styling abi? lol

Q' lypse
16th January 2013, 08:04 AM
Undertaking? I meant understanding. Problem with free styling abi? lol

hahahaha, it doesn't matter

Q' lypse
17th January 2013, 08:39 AM
Koans are a method of training the mind in order to achieve the state of Satori. Satori is a very difficult concept to describe in a few words. It is essentially the goal of all Zen mediation and can be compared to the term enlightenment or insight into the nature of reality. These two aspects, Koan exercises and Satori are the central aspects of Zen. A further aspect to Zen should also be considered. This is the practice of Zazen. Zazen is the practice of mediation that involves sitting cross-legged in deep contemplation.

Another term for Zazen is "Dhyana". This term means to perceive or to reflect upon. Zazen is used to reach the conclusion of a Koan. Therefore the Koan and Zazen methods are essential in Zen training.

Koan literarily translated means "A public document". It refers to a statement made by a Master to a student of Zen or a discussion or dialogue between Master and student. The purpose of a Koan is to open the mind and perception to the truth. Koans are questions or riddles designed as instruments by the Zen Master to aid the student in finding the truth behind the everyday images of reality.


Koans are not rational questions with final linear conclusions. They are especially designed for one purpose; this purpose is to open the mind that has been closed by habitual responses to the world and reality.


The above statement needs a bit of explanation. Our perception of the world is clouded by, firstly, the habitual responses that we are taught by society and secondly, by the habit forming creation of our own selves or ego's. In everyday life and through societal education, we develop ideas about reality and possibilities that our peers verify. We accept these "laws" as immutable on the basis of their habitual occurrence and certification by society. For example, scientific authorities state that there is a law of gravity and that time is linear and proceeds form one second to the next. These "truths" are supported and bolstered by schools, society and our peers until they become unquestionable fact. This also applies to our ideas of human personality and of ourselves. Change then becomes an almost impossible task within the framework of conventional society.

However, science has already placed question marks next to the accepted facts of western society. Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum physics are just two examples. The purpose of Zen Koans is to upset or dislocate the mind from these habitual ideas of reality and open the mind to the other possibilities and, eventually, to Satori or knowledge of reality.

The Koan works at various levels and on various stages of the student's progress in understanding Zen. At its most elementary stage the Zen Koan is intended to question what the student takes for commonplace reality and to question that which is seen to be logically impossible. It is only in this way that the student can be prepared for spiritual reality that transcends or goes beyond ordinary logical knowledge.


The following is an example of a Zen Koan.

The Monk Mayo asked this question of the Sixth patriarch: "What is Zen?" the Patriarch replied that, "when your mind is not dwelling on the dualism of good and evil, what is your original face before you were born?"

This question seems nonsensical, but this is only so when measured against the linear logical requirements of society. The question is intended to open the initiated mind to possibilities beyond the rational. It is also designed so as to waken the student to the possibility that spiritual answers require a different mode of thought.

Zen master Dogen had a saying that is appropriate in the present context. He said that in order to perceive reality we must "drop mind and body". In other words, it is essential to drop all habits of thought and preconceptions in order to understand the truth. The Koan forces the student to face this type of thinking. The answer to the question " what is your original face before you were born?" cannot be answered on the level of rational logic. It points towards the possibility of knowing or understanding without the constructs of reason and habitual response. The question suggests we have to approach spiritual reality as if we had knowledge of things before we were taught the ways of thinking of this world: in other words, " before we were born".

In trying to answer the Koan, the student will come to a mental "precipice", as it were, where all the methods and procedures of accepted thinking no longer function. The purpose of the Koan is to shove the student over this precipice into an area of experience that is completely new. This is the spiritual reality that the Zen master is attempting to guide the student towards.

A similar Koan is " What is the sound of one hand?" Of course, in terms of the conventional world there can be no sound from a single hand. Sound logically needs two hands clapping. However, the question presumes that one hand clapping has already created a sound and that it can be heard. The question is not about sound or hands clapping, although this is quite conceivable within the context of Zen. The question is rather about hearing the impossible, which is only termed impossible within the framework of conventional reality. The Zen master is therefore pressing and encouraging the student to critique ordinary reality and to force the mind into other areas of understanding.


http://www.essortment.com/understanding-meaning-zen-koans-42451.html

Kwame Nyame
17th January 2013, 07:38 PM
Gr8 contribution Qlypse.
Would you say therefore one cannot be "right" or "wrong" in answering a koan?. A student's answer to a Master's question only shows where the former level of awareness. It is then the duty of the Master to get the student to move onto yet higher states of awareness.
This takes me back to why koans should not be explained. This allows for the use of intuition or Soul faculties if you like to reach the desired destination.
This is one aspect of koans. It should not be generalised. You cannot put all koans in one basket.
Some koans do make sense even on a mental level. Others are meant to break down all barriers and propel one into realms beyond the mind.
It is commonly accepted that once the student grasp the spirit of the game,a pattern is established to answering certain koans.
Let me use an example of a koan to explain my point.
Zen Master: " Stop that ship sailing on the high seas now!"
A student will say " I see no sea and I see no ship."
Another student will say even without thinking " it is done. I just dropped an iceberg in front of it."

Now the two students are on different levels of awareness.
The first student operates on seeing with the physical eyes is believing.
The second student who dropped the iceberg is saying to the Master......" If you can imagine a ship sailing on the high seas,I can imagine an iceberg to stop it.
You will say the first student is a beginner. And the second student is willing to go wherever the master leads him.
If you are free to imagine a ship,I'm free to imagine an ice berg.
I hope this throws some light on this subject.
I'm inviting more contributions and criticisms here.
More Later

Kwame Nyame
17th January 2013, 07:44 PM
" Unteachable and unorthodox
Not founded on words and letters
Pointing directly into the human mind
Seeing into one's nature and attaining Buddha-hood

( Above are four sentences or a summary of Zen. It is attributed to the 2nd Patriarch-pupil T'ung-Shan )