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 The Gentle Practice of Bendowa

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chisanmichaelhughes

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Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: The Gentle Practice of Bendowa   Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:29 am

I did not realise that Bendowa, was a meditation practice,and means to teaching Zen Buddhism until I went to Japan.
Bendowa means the practice of temple rules and ettiquette,I believe these rules were started by Dogen, or formulated by him. So the actual pratice tends, to be in Dogen related,or Dogen influenced temples.
The recent most highly regarded teacher of Bendowa, would be Hashimoto Roshi,a highly regarded teacher and monk, and regarded as one of the main Soto Zen teachers of the last century.
The temple rules might have little or no relevancy in the 21st century,after all they were written so many years ago. However in its simplist form,the rules of how to ,stand , sit and even go to the toilet,allow a focal point on oneself during all activities. This I believe is similar to the long list of precepts that the Theravadin monks follow,they tend to work from the outside in. After all if one sits zazen,one naturally keeps the precepts and lives the right way.
The Abbot where I stayed explained that Bendowa also was a good skillful means to teaching, as it provided a frame work of conformity, and it was easy to spot odd egotistic behavior petterns and if need be keep things in check.
Bendowa, as a practice is complemented with zazen practice, It is of course the same practice. It is not 'I will do a quick half an hour of zazen', 'I will drop my thoughts'
Simply zazen is done, zazen is zazen,whole,complete,unified,everything else is extra,Makyo if you like.
The relevancy of this ancient Soto Zen practice is where it leads us, the direction it takes us. True zen practice leads direct to our heart,the dropping of body and mind experience do not take us to another place. They enable us to experience here and now,we are at home with the experience because it is who we are,it is the dropping of concepts and dualistic thinking that enables this to be so.
Bendowa for me was a very helpful practice,it was help on my spiritual path and as such was completely relevant
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