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 How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?

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June99



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PostSubject: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:40 am

I tend to agree with many of the threads on this website, particularly Kozan's, about the dangers and ignorance of the OBC's one sided, institutionalized way of acting and thinking. I've certainly witnessed and experienced it myself.
However, I'm curious as to why How to Grow A Lotus Blossom is harshly criticized. From what I understand, visions can be common when one takes on a spiritual or even more psychological practice. I have even had a few at times, and usually they're just little flashes of imagery with some teaching (and I've never used drugs). Also, past life theory/karma is common in Buddhism, and occasionally even the mainstream media covers a story in which a child remembers historical events that occurred before they were born. Not to mention, a few prominent psychologists have written books on the matter.
I just question whether too much is getting tossed out, since I believe some of the things RMJ taught came from a true spiritual experience or place of understanding.
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jack



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PostSubject: Lotus Blossom   Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:29 pm

I'm not impressed by the visions nor their message to world. That sort of thing really goes against the grain of most Buddhism, though it's spawned many sects in Christianity.

There seemed to me to be a tendency to spiritualize every vision, even when mundane explanations (le.g., ordinary mixing of dreams and reality associated with dire illness) would have been sufficient. One I recall in particular about a dildo got translated into some sort of message about raping Buddhism or the Buddha. That seems more like some of the extremes of bridal mysticism that came out of monasteries and nunneries in early Catholicism, perhaps an artifact of celibacy, but not very convincing as a spiritual pronouncement. I could take every dream I've had and weave some spiritual meaning into it. But that would be crazy and not good Buddhism.

I'm sure many would like to have visions as an experience. Her book holds out hope that they might do that too. But Buddhism has typically frowned on visions, miracles, and such. Zen has been particularly dismissive of them.

Perhaps they have some value, but I saw no reason to sift that heap again and again to see if I could find something, when there seemed to be much richer veins of both experience and writing to explore.

Some of her followers seem to think her visions an exalted statement of Buddhist teaching. If it helps them somehow, then bless them. I leave them to their chosen blessing. I'll move on.

By whatever means it came. the OBC was a convenient/helpful way to start my Buddhist practice. I am grateful for that beginning, and will always feel kindly toward those who played a role in that, even though I no longer find the OBC to be a useful path.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:42 pm

I read the book once through completely and made it most of the way through a second reading. This was in 2004 so my opinion isn't fresh.

I agree with Jack's comments for the most part although I don't remember specific passages well enough to concur with his take on specifics, like the dildo reference. (Now there's a word I didn't expect to see on the forum quite this soon.) Never kept a copy of the book, else I'd go read that part again.

I don't take the position that RM Jiyu was mistaken in what she described, but it didn't compel belief in me, either, or make a serious impression. Back then I knew about the issues with her refusing insulin & I wondered how much of that was related to having visions. Also remember thinking that this was the type of document someone might create in order to bolster her claims of authority to teach and govern a community, esp. if you wanted something that others couldn't challenge or validate. Nothing about her experience or conclusions can be tested/measured/objectively assessed.

I always put things like that in the "maybe" bucket.


Last edited by Lise on Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:44 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarity)
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:45 am

For whatever reason (it seems like I keep using that phrase in this forum), the OBC stopped publishing How to Grow a Lotus Blossom. They thought it might be misunderstood.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:33 pm

June99 wrote:

However, I'm curious as to why How to Grow A Lotus Blossom is harshly criticized. From what I understand, visions can be common when one takes on a spiritual or even more psychological practice. I have even had a few at times, and usually they're just little flashes of imagery with some teaching (and I've never used drugs). Also, past life theory/karma is common in Buddhism, and occasionally even the mainstream media covers a story in which a child remembers historical events that occurred before they were born. Not to mention, a few prominent psychologists have written books on the matter.
I just question whether too much is getting tossed out, since I believe some of the things RMJ taught came from a true spiritual experience or place of understanding.

I agree. Some people have visions in the course of spiritual practice, and while it can be dramatic it doesn't have to be problematic. The Spirit makes itself known in whatever way is best for each one of us. I believe Jiyu Kennett Roshi's visions gave her important insights and helped her heal old emotional wounds. Some of her students also had visions and some did not. Some chose to share their experiences and others kept them more private. It doesn't have to be disruptive. However serious problems can ensue when visions are seen as proof that the teacher is all-knowing, and students lay aside personal conscience and common sense to follow blindly. This is what I witnessed at Shasta Abbey.
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:34 pm

I'm very dubious of visions being a source of any reliable wisdom; they have commonly been used to found and bolster a wide variety of conflicting religions. Visions founded Christianity (St. Paul's vision), Islam, Seventh Day Adventism, etc. and been presented as validation of of Christian truth via Christian mystics for centuries. Karen Armstrong (a former Christian nun) in her book The Spiral Staircase also had a mystical vision/experience of great insight and oneness, right before she was successfully and helpfully diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. I just recently had an experience with someone in severe medical distress who was hallucinating. Her hallucinations were entirely convincing to her. Thankfully we had enough common sense to not spiritualize them.

Put the mind under enough stress and you can provoke visions, auditory phenomena, etc. It's not that hard.

Buddhism, except perhaps for Tibetan Buddhism has been very dismissive of visions. Tibetan Buddhism builds a systematic ritual foundation to accommodate its practice of visualization before it allows students to embark on them precisely because people are so prone to both desire them and misunderstand them for being more than they are.

As for rebirth, it's very easy to start imagining a past life, particularly if other people seem to be having these experiences. I can do that myself with just a bit of effort. Only two people I've personally known have had some "rebirth" type experience/memory that I am willing to give a bit of credence. One person is thoroughly nonreligious -- though the experience left him being open minded to the possibility of rebirth. The second did afterward become a Buddhist, and while the experience now makes sense within that framework, it is not a keystone of her Buddhist practice. Both of those experiences were starkly devoid of the fantasy elements often associated with accounts of reincarnation. Neither were pleasant experiences. Both were related to physically verifiable places and/or events.

I am not a seeker of such phenomena nor am I persuaded by it. It is sufficiently challenging to see things as they without seeking out new delusions or following those of others.


Last edited by jack on Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:14 pm

Jack,
When you say you're "dubious of visions being a source of any reliable wisdom" I would ask for whom? Whether or not they are of value to the person who experiences them only they can know. You can observe a person's behavior and decide for yourself if their practice appears to be having a positive or negative effect, but you cannot get between a man and his God. That is a space unknowable to others. I would also add that just because a person has an experience doesn't mean that they fully understand it either. I had some experiences while I practiced at Shasta Abbey which I continue to reflect on. I am thirty years distant from them now and how I understand them has evolved. I expect that will continue indefinitely.

Again, I feel it's more relevant to place the focus on why a person shares their experience with others. What is motivating them and what are the consequences over time? You have given some good examples from books, etc, of how events played out negatively over time, but that is a form of hindsight. When such a thing is unfolding in real time it may not be so clear. Should we just reject it out of hand? I agree that there is no point in being "a seeker of such phenomena", but isn't the teaching of Zen to neither grasp at things nor push them away?

Specifically regarding past life memories, I believe in a functional definition rather then a literal one. If a person remembers doing something or being somewhere that they clearly haven't done or been then framing the experience as a past life memory can create a functional context. By that I mean a space in which a person can allow the experience to unfold without judgment. There may be other positive interpretations that give someone the necessary permission and support - it really doesn't matter. I believe that's better then classifying such events as some kind of pathology to be feared and suppressed. But are they really that person's past life memories? I don't know and I'm suggesting it doesn't matter.

Well, we are certainly having a spirited discussion. Your turn...:-)
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:13 pm

Isan wrote: "Specifically regarding past life memories, I believe in a functional definition rather then a literal one. If a person remembers doing something or being somewhere that they clearly haven't done or been then framing the experience as a past life memory can create a functional context. By that I mean a space in which a person can allow the experience to unfold without judgment. There may be other positive interpretations that give someone the necessary permission and support - it really doesn't matter. I believe that's better then classifying such events as some kind of pathology to be feared and suppressed. But are they really that person's past life memories? I don't know and I'm suggesting it doesn't matter."

What is the "functional definition" of a past life memory? Past life memories can create a functional context? A functional context for what?

There is a reason why people don't publish books like Jiyu did and there is a reason why some sects of Buddhism refuse to talk about or confirm such things as visions or past life memories; because they can not be proven and because most of these things can be directly linked to many mental and biological disorders such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

"It doesn't matter?" I have to disagree here. It does matter if someone has a delusion (or memory or vision) and it affects them to the point where they change their personality or if it affects the choices they make. There are some great stories about how Jiyu back in the day, linked monks together or made decisions based on these delusions. These beliefs can harm people.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:00 pm

Diana wrote:

What is the "functional definition" of a past life memory? Past life memories can create a functional context? A functional context for what?

There is a reason why people don't publish books like Jiyu did and there is a reason why some sects of Buddhism refuse to talk about or confirm such things as visions or past life memories; because they can not be proven and because most of these things can be directly linked to many mental and biological disorders such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

"It doesn't matter?" I have to disagree here. It does matter if someone has a delusion (or memory or vision) and it affects them to the point where they change their personality or if it affects the choices they make. There are some great stories about how Jiyu back in the day, linked monks together or made decisions based on these delusions. These beliefs can harm people.

I'll try to explain more about what I meant. There are experiences that look like past life memories; feeling you're in a different time, different place, etc. By "functional definition" I mean you have to have some practical way of thinking about it. Calling it a past life memory is better then calling it a pathology (unless it actually is a pathology but keep reading). Whether they actually are memories from past lives I don't know. There may be other ways of thinking about it. For me the point is not to try and prove what the phenomenon is, but to respond to it in a positive way. Some people have actually tried to prove that past life memories are "real" by attempting to objectively verify details in the accounts. That is what doesn't matter to me.

Now, it matters a whole lot if someone suffers from schizophrenia or any other psychotic disorder. I do not make light of mental illness and there has already been discussion about the need for mental health professionals to be available to help when priests cannot. It can be very serious to misidentify a mental illness and believe meditation is the cure for everything. I would need you to say more though when you say "most of these things can be directly linked to many mental and biological disorders". While that may sometimes be true I have also seen quite a few people have these kinds of experiences and they were definitely not mentally unbalanced either before or after. I would also invite you to say more about the "reason why people don't publish books like Jiyu did" and "there is a reason why some sects of Buddhism refuse to talk about or confirm such things". What is the benefit of being silent about these matters? Nothing I am saying here is meant to justify any of Roshi Kennett's actions. I hope this is more clear, but if it's not or if you simply disagree then please say so.


Last edited by Isan on Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:31 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edited for brevity and clarity)
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:56 pm

Isan,

You raise a couple of interesting points. I'm glad you did. I can't reasonably object of course to any person's private experience, whether they are helpful or destructive.

And of course, I do not think that such private experiences are always worthless to the person. Over my lifetime, I've had several dreams which were powerfully helpful in graphically helping me see things which my rational mind had not yet grasped. I've sometimes shared a few of these with people who know me very well, because it's helped explain my behavior and thinking in some situations. But I know these insights are probably private ones, not universal truths. I've not made a religion out of them, compiled them into a book for others to read and study, and do not teach them to others as revelation. And I do not Buddha-ize them. Most of them have had no identifiable "Buddhist" content at all.

The Lotus Blossom visions were Buddha-ized, compiled into a book, made a requisite article of "faith" for true OBC Buddhists, and have been taught by monks as canonical Buddhist truth in retreats and talks I've personally experienced.

The basis for this ascription as canonical Zen Buddhism is the claim of Jiyu Kennett. It is a self claim, as is her claim of her "third kensho" and all of them to my knowledge. (I don't know if the first one was verified by her master or not.) Once you accept a revelatory vision as self-authenticating truth, then one must ask the question, "Why believe this claim rather than others which contradict it or have different content altogether?" John's apocalyptic Christian Revelation has a much longer history and more ecclesiastical clout behind it than Jiyu Kennett's. Why shouldn't I give John's visions and his self-claimed authenticity more weight than hers? (I don't, but the logic of the question is valid.)

I have in my experience with Christianity observed a wide variety of self-induced experiences and ecstasies including visions, prophecy, emotional breakdowns, glossolalia, ... nearly whatever. They were all self-confirming, all revelatory, all ultimately false as universal truth. I cannot hold one critical standard for Christianity and lower it to accommodate what appears to be a similar phenomena in Buddhism.

The two instances of "past lives" recollection I mentioned were notable in that they were not part of an "everybody having rebirth experiences" that one monk noted had occurred at Shasta following Jiyu Kennett's experience. They were isolated events, happening unexpectedly, pondered for years, and told reluctantly to a few rather than worn as an arm patch of realization. I've not had such a compelling experience, but I believe these people had one that was rationally convincing (without claiming to fully understand it).

I tend to discount most of my own religious experiences that seem to fit neatly what I imagine or what I want to believe for some reason. And I allow substantial time to think about and consider things that still make the cut after discounting. That has proved to be a prudent course for me. It's prevented a lot of wandering and self misdirection in my life.


Last edited by jack on Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:54 pm

jack wrote:
Isan,

You raise a couple of interesting points. I'm glad you did. I can't reasonably object of course to any person's private experience, whether they are helpful or destructive.

And of course, I do not think that such private experiences are always worthless to the person. Over my lifetime, I've had several dreams which were powerfully helpful in graphically helping me see things which my rational mind had not yet grasped. I've sometimes shared a few of these with people who know me very well, because it's helped explain my behavior and thinking in some situations. But I know these insights are probably private ones, not universal truths. I've not made a religion out of them, compiled them into a book for others to read and study, and do not teach them to others as revelation. And I do not Buddha-ize them. Most of them have had no identifiable "Buddhist" content at all.

snip....


Jack,

Well said - I pretty much agree with everything you've written here. I guess the question is how can Zen groups safeguard against these kinds of problems? At the end of the day Buddhism is about the personal journey. The Buddha had his teachers, but he did the last mile by himself and there was no one else who could confirm that he'd gotten it right. It seems to me that his enlightenment was also revelatory and initially his disciples had to give him the benefit of the doubt and go with it. Of course after the enlightenment the Buddha taught for 33 years. That's a fair amount of time for things to shake out and for it to become apparent whether or not his teachings were helping or harming people, but I think you see the conundrum.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:28 am

.

Reverend Master Daishin's book: Buddha Recognises Buddha.

The opening words of the book read as follows:

There is a profound nature at the heart of life that answers my human need to be at peace and to grow. It does not depend upon visions and great experiences, nor does it reject them. In my experience, it is found slowly and within the seemingly unexceptional nature of the ordinary mind and heart.

So, Reverend Master Daishin appears to be talking about visions etc. in the second line of his book about practice!

In gassho,


Andi
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:08 am

Andi wrote:
.

:

There is a profound nature at the heart of life that answers my human need to be at peace and to grow. It does not depend upon visions and great experiences, nor does it reject them. In my experience, it is found slowly and within the seemingly unexceptional nature of the ordinary mind and heart.

So, Reverend Master Daishin appears to be talking about visions etc. in the second line of his book about practice!

Andi

It is elevation of visions and great experiences to universal truth that I disagree with rather than only seeing them as phenomena which can inform one's own practice and insight. But even for private phenomena, I think it's wise to consider it carefully with substantial time for reflection before accepting it as truth. In that milieu, the important things seem to last, and dubious material usually fades.

I rather like the Daishin Morgan quote.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:09 am

I have internally debated pros and cons about this posting. On the one hand, I would like to express something of the great benefit that this book has been to me, and some thoughts about it; perhaps my remarks would be helpful to others in some small way. On the other hand, I do not really know how to express this appreciation without setting it in the context of my life, thereby including statements that may seem meaningless, confusing or implausible – and so not particularly helpful (including to my popularity)! I have thought of omitting some of these details but am not sure that decontextualising would be helpful either. Heigh ho…

So, here are the two versions. Firstly, the one without context:

I have found this book (1977 and 1993 editions) very helpful.

Secondly, the one with context…

The publication of HGLB, in 1977, was a very timely event in my life. In mid-summer 1973, the last illusoryself-grasping at a “person” imputed upon the skandhas had fallen away. By late summer 1974, the last grasping at “illusoryself-nature” with respect to the skandhas themselves had fallen away and a new phase of training had begun, during which liberative insights occurred concerning the “emptiness of ‘emptiness’” in respect of the first three skandhas. My attitude was one of ongoing training but by early 1977 I was feeling as if becalmed in some kind of spiritual Sargasso Sea. I could fathom no reason for this and ignored, dismissed, squashed, tried to suppress these feelings and prompts of dissatisfaction as “just my silly mind playing up”.

One day, while at the office, I allowed myself to wonder about these feelings and a mental scenario unfolded. Though I did not see my form in it I knew I was a horse (I was unfamiliar at the time with the symbol of the wind-horse for spiritual energy). I was on a high plateau. Around me, though I did not pay much attention to it, was scenery on a grand scale: distant high blue peaks, the sides of my mountain were the same cool shade of blue, as was much of the deep and wide valley that ran beneath and linked them all and stretched beyond them into the unimagined unseen. On my plateau, I entered a beautiful golden pasture on which the sun shone. There seemed to be no reason why I should not be content (I have my doubts whether a real horse would like a golden pasture, I suspect they prefer green but not in this archetypal movie). Suddenly I saw that on my high plateau I was cut off, had come to some kind of dead end, as pleasant as the pasture appeared to be. I wondered about those far peaks and the land that stretched around them, below and beyond.

Into this general feeling of unidentified dissatisfaction came news of Reverend Master’s third great kensho and book and I wondered if it held the key to my spiritual doldrums.

I had first thought seriously about past lives when Master Jiyu briefly mentioned them in a retreat I attended in summer 1972 but I did not think much further about the matter. In late spring 1975, an internal series of spiritual events unfolded over several days in response to a difficult situation that had built up over some months, due to a range of misunderstandings, and in which eventually I felt my spiritual understanding radically challenged by someone I trusted. At this point I felt as if I must lay down absolutely everything I thought I had understood. Later, while crouched weeding a garden in the rain and feeling very sad at how external events had turned, I looked into a puddle in the red mud before me and, to my astonishment, a procession appeared before my eyes. In my surprise, I did not take in much except that at the end was a young man with dirty blond hair, wearing what looked like black armour and riding or leading a white horse; a woman wearing a henin (tall pointed hat) seemed to accompany him. I saw nothing further of him or the rest of the procession at that time, but it seemed as a fleeting tapestry of past lives during which I had done things (maybe some very unpleasant toward others) in an effort to escape an internal anguish carried through them all. The whole thing, along with my real-time situation, pointed to something I had often felt in childhood and teenage years but, since beginning training, had let go of, set aside, and at times suppressed as “silly” and “ill-advised to bother with” – a sense of having been “born lonely”. Even so, I did not know whether these were representations of actual past lives or if the procession had appeared as some kind of spontaneous poetic symbol, and I did not think further about past lives until reading HGLB in summer 1977. A few days after the procession in the puddle, a long-forgotten memory of present-life childhood spiritual trauma surfaced, germane to my present situation. By examining it I was able to undo a confused rationale that had bound me in the present.

About two years later, having read HGLB and being open to the possibility of effects from past lives, over the next two and a half years I experienced a handful of scenarios while at home or walking in the street, the most recent relating to just before my birth in this life. They were helpful, explanatory. One shed light on a puzzling mental image that had appeared to me in my late teens, during a very desolate time. Another precipitated the speedy healing of a physical ailment that had proved intransigent for nine months, and ended my emotionally painful entanglement in a previously perplexing situation. However, they did not culminate in a key past life revelation, and my search for the end of dualistic suffering in myself continued until late 1980.

Someone at the level of Master Jiyu’s training before her third major kensho is very knowledgeable, deeply compassionate, having a sense of responsibility for helping others to benefit just as they have been benefited. In my experience as a layperson in the late 1970s, an aspect of this emerged as feeling obliged to provide explanations and answers in my mind for behaviours and situations in the world around me. This had nothing to do with illusoryself-grasping, vanity or bossiness. Most of my “explanations and answers” I kept to myself, as seemed appropriate in my situation. Eventually I realised that I was presuming too much knowledge and that this drive to be able to identify, explain and prescribe blocked the process necessary for undoing further subtle knots: I needed to let go and take the wide open way of an ignoramus; instead of trying to carve out “this” and “that”, to fall back into openness and spaciousness letting go of my presumptions and, in a sense, get younger and younger. No one depended on me for answers: I could become a complete ignoramus and no one would notice the difference! In Master Jiyu’s position as Abbess and sole leader of her community, such a weight or sense of obligation must have rested on her, both to provide spiritual guidance for all and to keep the community afloat. How like the life of the white tiger may the onus of Reverend Master’s life have seemed to her at that time? As with my experience in 1975, I believe that this may have been a past life germane to her situation.

I am just speculating but can imagine that being in that position may put one off taking that step into the stream of “unknowing” that is necessary for undoing the subtler of the subtlest knots. If one puts this off for some time, ironically delayed by compassion and a sense of responsibility, internal conflict might contribute to illness. When I learned of the “third great kensho” from reading HGLB, I was able to move forward: but if no source had previously informed Master Jiyu, I guess she would have had no intimation of how (or whether) to proceed until circumstances forced it. How fortunate I feel that she wrote about it.

Readers familiar only with the second edition would benefit from knowing the situation leading up to “The End of the Road” (Plate I). The series of stages illustrated in HGLB begins in a manner typical of any time in ones training where one feels one must drop everything that one thought one knew and begin again, stark naked and at rock bottom as it were. In his foreword to the first edition of HGLB, Reverend Daizui gave details of a series of events that illustrate this context:

“During the autumn of 1975, Kennett Rōshi began to fall ill, suffering from increasing water retention, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac irregularity [I had heard in late spring 1975 that she was quite ill – Anne]. By April of 1976 she had become too ill to continue with her duties as Abbess of Shasta Abbey but she went to Los Angeles to rest and to conduct several university lectures. Consulting a specialist in internal medicine she was informed that she could expect to die of a heart attack within as little as three months if her condition continued unimproved. This was the first of three events which led her to embark upon this year of intensive meditation. A week later the illness became markedly worse and she was forced to confine herself to bed. At this point the disciple whom she had regarded as her chief descendent, and upon whom she was relying for aid, felt unable to continue and departed. This second shock caused her condition to worsen further and she came to our nearest temple, in Oakland, California, so as to be able to die within a temple of our Church. I happened to be acting Prior of that temple at the time and we were at least able to offer her a room to herself and a certain amount of peace and quiet. During her first week in Oakland Kennett Rōshi contacted a friend who was a doctor and he suggested that she see a practitioner of an esoteric Oriental healing art. Unfortunately this man immediately pronounced to Kennett Rōshi that her teaching and way of life were wrong, were the cause of her illness and that the only cure was to cease everything and put herself entirely in his hands. Faced first with the prospect of imminent death, second with no heir to carry on the teaching and third with the possibility that everything had been wrong, she decided to meditate as deeply and continuously as possible, to examine every moment of her life and to find out absolutely, no matter what the cost to her health and life, if all she had learned from her master, all she had done and all she had passed on to her disciples was false.”

In the first edition of HGLB, Appendix A, Master Jiyu stated that in the “harmonisation of body and mind kensho” (i.e “third great kensho”) “the kensho becomes a long and permanent experience”. Rightly or wrongly, I have interpreted this as being the same as that which is experienced when one has cleared up fully the subtle dualistic appearances that obstruct ongoing simultaneous perception of phenomenality and emptiness, which (until cleared) emerge from time to time after one has fully uprooted illusoryself-grasping at a “self” or “person” imputed upon the skandhas. If my interpretation is correct, re-inclusion of this information might also be important for readers of HGLB.

In her foreword on kenshos, Master Jiyu wrote, “I do not doubt that every person sees and experiences this somewhat differently to me, although the stages for doing so are identically the same.” Ones initiation into clearing up the more subtle of the subtlest dualistic appearances may not begin with challenging events. Prior knowledge (thanks to Master Jiyu) of there being need of such a process may make a major difference to ones experience, as taking a step in this direction might otherwise have seemed counter-intuitive. While clearing up the very subtlest dualistic appearances, no key past life memory may feature, and spending time awaiting one may be a blind alley. In Appendix A, Master Jiyu correlated The Four Noble Truths with certain stages in her kensho; perhaps a change of mind led to omission of these details from the second edition but I will mention them here. In terms of the second edition, “suffering exists” would correlate with plates XIII to XVIII, “Vast Emptiness”; “suffering’s cause” would correlate with plates XXIII and XXIV, “The Source of the Kōan”; “suffering’s cessation” would correlate with plate XXIX (specifically), “The Spirit Rises to Greet the Lord”; and The Noble Eightfold Path would be represented by plates XXXVII to XLIII, “The Lord’s Will” to “Ordination and Graduation”. “Subtle dualistic appearances” are not directly mentioned. After the past life elements arose during the “internal series of spiritual events” that occurred in 1975, when I was challenged at an earlier stage of training than that related in HGLB, my attitude to the feelings skandha changed. Having subsequently analysed deep processes of my training, I have come to understand this change as resulting from liberative insight into the “emptiness of the ‘emptiness’” of the feelings skandha. So while it arose around a personal issue precipitated through external events, from another angle it fits into the more general template of “the path realising the emptiness of ‘emptiness’”. Maybe this applies to the events reported by Master Jiyu in HGLB, which may represent her completion of that path. (I apologise to readers for what may seem abstruse language: my posts dated 28th July and 4th August, in the thread on celibacy, may go some way to explaining terms.)

The first edition of HGLB does not include the visionary experiences related in Book II of the second edition. I found these, and the additional plates and information in Book II, very interesting. Many reports of psychic and miracle powers exist in Buddhist literature. Like many other skills, they can be very useful and valuable; and, like many skills, proficiency in them or lack of it has no direct bearing on ones accomplishment in uprooting illusoryself-grasping or clearing up the subtle dualistic appearances. I have read that mastery of these skills may need many lifetimes of practice to this end. Centuries of persecution, suppression, ignorance and denial of these skills may have retarded their development over lifetimes in some people with a long history of uncloistered western rebirth. Warnings exist about getting wrapped up in their cultivation for the wrong reasons but I do not feel the need to caution users of this site.

PS. I added this without reading the previous entries, as my access time to an internet computer is limited.


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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:15 am

Anne,

I hope what I write here comes across as discussion, not criticism of your personal experience. Please continue to use your experience in any manner that is helpful to you.

I do not deny mental phenomena; but mind is what it ultimately is. Those who experience temporal lobe disorders, including temporal lobe epilepsy commonly experience a variety of religious phenomena that, depending on tradition, is ascribed to God, Buddha, Christ, etc. It can be cured with medication. Such phenomena also occur when the mind is placed under great stress -- and that stress can be created by fasting, austerities, isolation, anxiety, medical stress, etc. That doesn't prove all such phenomena is the result of such disorder or stress, but it casts a presumption of doubt (rather than faith) on spiritual explanations as being the first cause of those type experiences -- particularly if such experiences are being sought or are highly valued.

If mental phenomena (including dreams) is helpful, then I'd use it, but even then with the internal proviso that its "message" might not represent reality. To use such phenomena, as is commonly done, as proof of spiritual attainment is, I think, unsupportable, particularly in Buddhism. Visions aren't proof of enlightenment, kensho, salvation, heaven, redemption, spiritual insight, the existence of Christ or God, etc. They are only more phenomena of mind, not proof of ultimate reality.

I am not disagreeing with anyone's experience. If I experienced a "past life," it might be very compelling to me, and I'd acknowledge it as a phenomena I'd experienced. But Jung's collective unconscious, among others, seems as viable an explanation as reincarnation. Or reincarnation might be the right explanation. But I come to the conclusion I don't seriously care. My practice of meditation and Buddhist conduct isn't based on that. I don't need that foundation as to prop up faith in Buddhism.

It is not the private use of these phenomena for whatever practical or spiritual benefit that I find flawed. It is the relatively common religious practice of elevating such phenomena to public, universal spiritual "truth" that I think is wrong. I don't know that such phenomena prove anything except the human mind sometimes acts this way. And I think the phenomena become harmful when they are used to exclude and discipline those who are unconvinced, or when they are used forcefully to distort the reality of others.

I've read mystical accounts (across several religious traditions) that are much more compelling to me than the material in Lotus Blossom. I find them useful to consider. I remain open to the possibility that those accounts might represent some ultimate level of reality, and in some few aspects I consider a few of the insights instructive. But none of those accounts have even a small taint of demanding that others accept them. That probably is one reason I find them relatively credible.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:29 am

Hi Jack

I certainly wouldn't demand that anyone swallow whole or even chewed what I wrote. It was just my view of HGLB that I wanted to convey: that it had been helpful in my training.

On reincarnation, you might find Prof. Ian Stevenson's work of interest, such as Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect.

My p.c (public library) is now about to shut down!...

Take care
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:13 pm

Anne wrote:
Hi Jack

On reincarnation, you might find Prof. Ian Stevenson's work of interest, such as Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect.

My p.c (public library) is now about to shut down!... Take care

Thanks for the mention. I hadn't run across that book. It would be interesting to read. I've read an earlier work of his. I'm open to the possibility of some sort of reincarnation, just not convinced of it. Thank God, Buddhism is not just another faith based system of belief. Buddhism says clearly to me that what you do and how you act are, in the final analysis, the things of critical importance.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:20 pm

jack wrote:

My practice of meditation and Buddhist conduct isn't based on that. I don't need that foundation as to prop up faith in Buddhism.

Jack, you're an articulate guy. I'd like to hear you speak to the other side of the equation. It's clear what you believe enlightenment isn't, but what do you believe it is? How would you know it's the real thing and who would be qualified to verify it?
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:06 am

Isan wrote:
Jack, you're an articulate guy. I'd like to hear you speak to the other side of the equation. It's clear what you believe enlightenment isn't, but what do you believe it is? How would you know it's the real thing and who would be qualified to verify it?

They are interesting questions, but I'm not sure if you're asking serious questions are not. I'm pretty sure this thread is not the place to discuss them. And I'm not sure this even fits the intent of the forum.

I think that a tentative definition of enlightenment might be "Wisdom and insight (a seeing of how things are) that transforms one's life such that it is lived with consistent integrity, kindness/compassion, freedom from being bent by desire, and freedom from the unending mischief that flows from a deeply ingrained belief in self." To me, enlightenment is about seeing with crystal clarity, with the consequence that the clarity transforms mind and behavior in consistently wholesome ways.

I claim no kenshos or enlightenment. I'm very sure I'm not fully enlightened. I am sufficiently awake that my life tells me that. Yet even I have experienced insights which have transformed my behavior and life in wholesome ways. These are far more compelling than whatever emotional phenomena have very occasionally arisen and then dissipated. It's the seeing some things as they really are that has had the power to transform.

If whatever religion does not have the power to transform one's life in wholesome ways, then it's pretty useless, and I have no interest in it.

If one has sufficient clarity of insight to see your own mind, acts and deeds without rationalization or distortion, it's possible to make a reasonable guess about enlightenment. If this conclusion is important for you to reach, though, it's important to hold your guess up to the scrutiny of others who can see faults you rationalize or dismiss.

Many Zen masters have been dismissive of kenshos as being ultimately unimportant phenomena, except as they increased the willingness to practice.

Ajahn Brahms relates an anecdote (only approximately told here from memory) about a monk who spent considerable time on an island in the middle of a lake meditating, studying, and diligently applying himself. Finally, the monk had some experiences, and wrote down the wisdom he was sure he'd realized in four stanzas. One of them (as I remember it) included something like, "The vast stillness, equanimity and immovability of the uncluttered mind." And there were some more. And he sent his stanzas by means of courier to his teacher living on the shore. He expected recognition of his insight and at least fledgling attainment.

The teacher received the stanzas, read them, and then took a read pen and wrote in bold letters after each of them "FART!" and sent them back to the monk.

The monk was devastated, and annoyed. He promptly took his stanzas back to the teacher himself to protest the treatment. The teacher listened and then laughed. "You write of the vast equanimity and immovability of the uncluttered mind and yet four little farts have blown you completely across the lake."

Maybe one sign of enlightenment is that you are no longer blown about by your own farting mind.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:15 am

@ Jack,

First let me assure you that my questions are serious. They arise from a concern that if we only focus on what was/is wrong with the OBC no light will be shed on how things can be done differently. After leaving the OBC I had to work through a period of depression and anger, but eventually I saw I needed to move on. I was very clear about what dysfunctional practice looked like, but not the alternative. What does a healthy individual and communal practice look like?

Many Zen masters have been dismissive of kenshos as being ultimately unimportant phenomena, except as they increased the willingness to practice.

Certainly less dependence on experiences and more focus on living with (as you say) "consistent integrity" is an important part of the answer.

"Maybe one sign of enlightenment is that you are no longer blown about by your own farting mind."

That is priceless!

If this seems too far off topic for this thread I'd be happy to create a new one. I hope though that it's not contrary to the intent of the forum. Perhaps Lise will speak to this.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:11 pm

Hi -- not contrary at all to the forum's purpose, and thank you for asking. Creating a new thread is great if you want to, as it will highlight your topic, draw more eyes, etc.

The forum's purpose is very broad -- to connect and to share our experiences and perceptions. That's a big ol' bucket right there.

Edited to say, I have read Jack's post several times and enjoy it more with each reading.


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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:15 am

Isan wrote:
@ Jack,

First let me assure you that my questions are serious. They arise from a concern that if we only focus on what was/is wrong with the OBC no light will be shed on how things can be done differently. After leaving the OBC I had to work through a period of depression and anger, but eventually I saw I needed to move on. I was very clear about what dysfunctional practice looked like, but not the alternative. What does a healthy individual and communal practice look like?


I don't even have even half-vast experience with communal Buddhist practice, but I have considerable experience with organizations, their behavior, and the impact on individuals. The organization acts as an environment which conditions the individual. It sets the context for correct behavior and behavior which is penalized. For most people this conditioning becomes incorporated to some extent into their personality. (Perhaps if you are fully enlightened, you are free of the effects of this organizational conditioning, but I'm not really sure of that. The Buddha cautioned about the influence of unwholesome associations. He stated that if you couldn't find wholesome ones, you should go it alone.)

In a strongly hierarchical structure, the conditioning will tend to produce emulation of the top dog (or dogs). In a less hierarchical structure, common organizational values replace the revered personality as the force of conditioning. Communities organized around the personality of charismatic individuals typically can do no better than the personality shaping them. In a less hierarchical structure, the values tend to be much more adaptive and can improve/change by means of shared experience.

In my limited OBC experience, seniority of the monks, and somewhat their position (also heavily influenced by seniority) in the hierarchy were determinative factors in their influence. Because criticism was generally prohibited from less senior monks, and because lay criticism was religiously ignored and actually viewed with contempt, the hierarchy isolated themselves from feedback that would have kept their practice awake. Instead many have fallen back into their slumber of presumed attainment (as told them by their master) as long as they can manage to do the overt things like celibacy.

The OBC is particularly dead because, as a personality driven hierarchy, it is now led by a dead master, whose reality exists only in suspect memories of devotees. Many newer monks now can only follow their founder in their imagination created by what others have related.

To me, if any substantive change is to occur, the OBC has to move away from from a personality (now dead) based hierarchy where seniority is the paramount attribute necessary for leadership, I doubt this can be done.

You mentioned "depression and anger." In an unexpected way, I've found that almost all of the valuable insights of my practice have come from unpleasant experiences far removed from the meditation hall. The occasional feelings of deep tranquility that came (and then disappeared) during formal meditation did not transform my life in any material way. Most of the things that have proved to be transformative and valuable have been things in real life that I would never have willingly chosen to experience. I'm almost afraid of being too thankful for them; I don't want to beckon to them to return. I think the real benefit of meditation has been not to achieve some great experience, but to establish the conditions whereby normal life can become instructive.


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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:10 pm

This is an interesting thread. I have been over there defending free speech in the shadows for so long I overlooked it. Jack, what you mentioned about Jung is something that became very important for me. I read a lot of Jung in my first year out. And also Max Weber, who was very helpful in getting me to look at the structures of Buddhism instead of the beliefs. And the Book of Job (along with the rest of the Bible): the best antidote to the belief in the Law of Karma that is around anywhere. It worked for me.

After the wild ride I went through I needed some explanations and there were no teachers left to tell me. So I turned to the classics: Jung made me see all those supposed past lives in a whole new context. It is important to understand that we don't usually have experiences like this out of a certain context. In the different religions, the believers have experiences appropriate to their teaching. So Christian cult members will be speaking in tongues, Catholic nuns see visions of Mary and Zen Buddhists from the OBC experience past lives.
Most of these experiences would be considered schizophrenic or psychotic in modern psychiatry, which can also be a helpful way to look at it. The important things for me in understanding this:

- Meditation can cause these experiences. (the OBC seniors are right about this one). Taking drugs can also cause these experiences. (this they disagree with, but I have found it to be true)

- Stopping meditation can cause these type of phenomena to go away. Koshin taught me just the opposite: that if I stopped meditating I would die or go crazy. In fact, stopping meditating made all of these phenomena completely disappear in my case. Proof enough for my doctor to determine that I am most definitely not schizophrenic or even borderline tendancy. The psychotic episode and breakdown were directly caused by the meditation practice.

- The setting around us is very, very important when experiencing these things. If you have a circle of loving devotees around you you may believe you have experienced a 3rd kensho or are an Enlightened Being. If you are outside in the world you may believe you are crazy. It is similar to the idea about set and setting that Leary wrote when taking LSD. In my case I had a very bad trip... a nightmare trip, if you will. In any case you are extremely impressionable and very vulnerable to suggestion.

In the end, I think it is better to go off to a desert island somewhere and get yourself high all alone rather than put yourself at the mercy of someone who is going to take advantage of you at your most vulnerable. (Or worse, venerate you!). I think folks might just as well use drugs to do it, since it takes less effort and there is no danger of having any zen master close by. But that is just my opinion. Also, I think the effects of meditation in the longterm (at least as practiced by the OBC) are so bad for one's health that it probably is actually worse than the relatively shortterm toxicity of say, magic mushrooms.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:19 pm

Hi Amalia,

Hope I'm not being too off-topic, but, re your last sentence, I just wanted to add that there are studies which suggest that meditation can have a lot of positive physical/mental health benefits. Of course, as you say, that'll depend on context, and if your referring specifically to the OBC context then you're far more qualified than I am to comment. But to dismiss mediation per se seems out of hand. Apologies if I've misread.

Also, are you saying that all religious experience is attributable to dysfunction/pathological? This would seem to be a very one-dimensional analysis of a complex aspect of human experience.

Stuart
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:46 am

amalia wrote:
And the Book of Job (along with the rest of the Bible): the best antidote to the belief in the Law of Karma that is around anywhere. It worked for me.

Interesting perspective on Job. What I got out of Job was that God screws everyone as he chooses whether they are righteous or not. Jung's "Answer to Job" was a more sophisticated analysis of the psychological unmasking of the Jewish God as a primitive amoral force of nature. I'd be interested in how you saw Job as "an antidote to belief in the law of karma."

Quote :
So Christian cult members will be speaking in tongues, Catholic nuns see visions of Mary and Zen Buddhists from the OBC experience past lives.

This is certainly my observation too, based on a lot of reading across a lot of different religious traditions.

The cultural context of Buddhism is also often overlooked. Buddhism accumulated cultural elements from each region it passed through. It reacted to Hinduism in India. In Tibet , it assimilated Bon. In China, it blended with Taoism. In Japan, it blended with Shinto and Japanese feudalism.


Quote :
Meditation can cause these experiences. (the OBC seniors are right about this one). Taking drugs can also cause these experiences. (this they disagree with, but I have found it to be true)

One monk, when we were having a person to person conversation rather than teacher/student one, said that he had gone into Buddhism because he thought it was the only safe, legal way to get high and stay that way. It did not work out that way. Meditation provided none of that recreation for him. In fact, he indicated he really still pretty much disliked it, though he did what was required by monastic ceremonial.

I've found meditation to be mostly a bit dry and tasteless. Sometimes there will be a good feeling, but often not. No visions, no recreational value.

I've shifted a lot of the emphasis in my practice to mindfulness, which at least for a layman is a more formidable training challenge than the relative serenity of formal meditation.

The value of both in my life is gaining control over my own mind to some extent. Maharishi Ramana once said something like, "The mind is a terrible master, but a terrific servant." I have found it so. Many people immediately understand what he's getting at.

From my own experience, and fairly wide experience with others (mostly non-Buddhists), our minds often lead us around like we are roped with rings in our noses, inflicting pointless anxiety and emotional turmoil. It is enough for me that meditation/mindfulness can change that. I am no longer always at the whim of whatever unpleasantness I encounter. I mostly don't need to rationalize reality any more to ameliorate the craziness I sometimes encounter. I nearly always make better choices if I can react to life from a still point, a point of equanimity rather than the confusion of mental agitation.

I nearly died some time ago in circumstances that left me alone and physically helpless as I watched consciousness fading quickly. I didn't have any visions or see any light at the end of a tunnel. There wasn't any appearance of Buddha, Christ, past lives, etc. What was remarkable to me was that I was not anxious or fearful though my body was going haywire trying to remedy things physiologically. In that calm, it was immediately and remarkably obvious what in my life had mattered and what had not. (There were only 3 or 4 things -- no lifetime flashing before my eyes.). I remember thinking with a bit of curiosity that I'd probably find out soon if there were any consciousness after death. I decided I might as well focus on my breathing as I died. And then I went to sleep (lost consciousness). It is somewhat convincing to me that in that severe circumstance, the mind could remain calm and facilitate insight rather than falling into anxiety.

Quote :
- Stopping meditation can cause these type of phenomena to go away. Koshin taught me just the opposite: that if I stopped meditating I would die or go crazy. In fact, stopping meditating made all of these phenomena completely disappear in my case.

Koshin was clearly wrong. He will likely never admit that, and the OBC will likely never require that he acknowledge his error. It is sad to see Zen Buddhism degenerate into voodoo Buddhism where karmic pronouncements are used as Buddhist curses to instill fear and control. It is sad to see Buddhism tarnished with superstitious witch hunts for roaming ghosts and spirits.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:45 am

jack wrote:
amalia wrote:
So Christian cult members will be speaking in tongues, Catholic nuns see visions of Mary and Zen Buddhists from the OBC experience past lives.

This is certainly my observation too, based on a lot of reading across a lot of different religious traditions.

The cultural context of Buddhism is also often overlooked. Buddhism accumulated cultural elements from each region it passed through. It reacted to Hinduism in India. In Tibet , it assimilated Bon. In China, it blended with Taoism. In Japan, it blended with Shinto and Japanese feudalism.

This illustrates an important truth, which is there is no fixed point of reality. We are all experiencing life in the context of our personal and cultural beliefs, etc. The Western view of life is not inherently more valid than others, and in fact people in some other cultures perceive Western culture as corrupt and deluded. The fact that religious experience is conditioned by context is not proof of its' invalidity. It only demonstrates that human beings need context to make sense of experience. It's a big problem in both religious and secular life that this relativity is not understood and everyone believes that their perception is the correct one.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:07 pm

Quote :
Interesting perspective on Job. What I got out of Job was that God screws everyone as he chooses whether they are righteous or not. Jung's "Answer to Job" was a more sophisticated analysis of the psychological unmasking of the Jewish God as a primitive amoral force of nature. I'd be interested in how you saw Job as "an antidote to belief in the law of karma."
Well I unfortunately haven't read Jung's take on Job, and I don't mean this in an intellectual way at all. My take on it may not be what theologians would agree to, I don't know. I was very confused and very scared for many months after I got out, and I discovered that reading the Bible was very grounding. Not that I became a Christian or anything, but I just started it from the very beginning and read it straight through and it helped. Maybe it was just seeing that some other religious authorities other than Koshin had some very other ideas about what it is all about!
Anyway, Job: I got to Job and remember, I was still very much afraid of the evil karma that was supposedly going to come and get me for leaving my master. And it was like I had this great breakthrough moment, in that last section of it, where God makes it clear that no human can ever have any idea what is happening and why. It is an open refutal of the law of karma, which was at that time of course widespread in the ancient world in one system or another. It liberated me in a profound way and ever since it has stayed with me. I don't know why anything happens, Koshin sure doesn't know, no one knows. It really blew me away to realize that.


Quote :
Also, are you saying that all religious experience is attributable to dysfunction/pathological? This would seem to be a very one-dimensional analysis of a complex aspect of human experience.
@Stu
Actually if you read me carefully you will see I am not saying that at all. I am saying just the same thing Isan just said: there is not absolute reality that any of us can describe in words. It is always relative. There are just a lot of ways to look at these phenomena, and believe me, I have looked at what happened to me in a lot of different ways. It was the most intensely meaningful experience I ever had, but that does not mean that my doctor was wrong when she said that I had a psychotic episode and nervous breakdown. The seniors at the NCBP believe I was possessed by a ghost, ok, that is also a way to explain what for them was an inconceivable and outrageous rebellion in me. A Catholic counselor I met with soon after told me about Jung's theory and told me that he has had intense experiences in prayer that he considers part of the collective unconscious. These are all just different ways to look at it. For me the most helpful is the idea in Job: we just can't know.
I do have a lot of respect for this kind of phenomena and I would not be going looking for it in religion as a goal. In fact, I am cool with not having any of that in my life right now, having seen what it can be like. But I am not very comfortable with any religion anymore, for any purpose. I don't believe that any religious practice helps anyone live more morally, or have more integrity or anything like that. It seems just like the opposite is true. Or that a few people manage to live with integrity despite their religious beliefs, and many do just fine without them.
@Jack
about mindfullness training: it is really just one big accelerator for the wild ride. if you really do just what Dogen says in the rules for meditation you can go way, way out there. But like I said above, who cares? what is the point? I don't think mindfullness training has anything whatsoever to do with leading a life with integrity. It is just the way to get way, way out there without drugs. And also to make yourself way, way vulnerable to any zen master hanging around you hoping to get a lifelong personal attendant.


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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:51 pm

amalia wrote:

Anyway, Job: I got to Job and remember, I was still very much afraid of the evil karma that was supposedly going to come and get me for leaving my master. And it was like I had this great breakthrough moment, in that last section of it, where God makes it clear that no human can ever have any idea what is happening and why. It is an open refutal of the law of karma, which was at that time of course widespread in the ancient world in one system or another. It liberated me in a profound way and ever since it has stayed with me. I don't know why anything happens, Koshin sure doesn't know, no one knows. It really blew me away to realize that.

I had to laugh a bit when I read that. I would never ever have thought of reading Job that way at all. But I can see that it can say that. The fact that no one knows why things happen (outside of science) is one that I basically agree with.


amalia wrote:

about mindfullness training: it is really just one big accelerator for the wild ride. if you really do just what Dogen says in the rules for meditation you can go way, way out there. But like I said above, who cares? what is the point? I don't think mindfullness training has anything whatsoever to do with leading a life with integrity. .

Even though I am a lay practitioner, I've been my own master/disciple, teacher/student for a few years. I have no followers except myself. The master suffers the exact consequences as the disciple in that arrangement.

I've never gotten much a rush from my efforts to be mindful; perhaps I'm not very good at it. Mindfulness is a bit of an effort for me, without immediate reward. It mostly feels like a renunciation of sorts in that I often very much enjoy following my dream-thoughts and intellectual reverie rather than just paying attention to what I'm doing and what life is telling me. Life has been my most profound teacher. I don't get its lessons when I'm not paying attention.

Mindfulness helps me control my own mind and actions, and that often allows me to act with integrity when my mind would be otherwise be susceptible to hijacking by anger, etc. that happens to arise for some reason.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:32 am

'I don't believe that any religious practice helps anyone live more morally, or have more integrity or anything like that. It seems just like the opposite is true. Or that a few people manage to live with integrity despite their religious beliefs, and many do just fine without them.'

Hi Amalia,

Thanks for clarifying further. I still feel in some respects that it's possible for religious practice - if it has a truly contemplative/reflective/self-examining aspect - to help us live better lives. That's if we can somehow avoid all of the negative aspects of religion (of which there are so many). Lumping such a vast array of phenomena under one category hardly seems adequate to me...

I would agree with you completely, that it isn't necessary to practice a faith in order to live morally, with integrity etc, or even reflectively. Personally, my feelings towards 'religion' have changed considerably too, over the years (not through any trauma I hasten to add), and sometimes I do think the ideal life might be reflected more in philosophy, in an engaged, life-embedded approach to philosophy.

In fact, when I read RM Daizui McPhillamy with his particular take on karma, for example, or RM Daishin Morgan's books, it strikes me that they, at least in their individual writings, have a fairly healthy agnosticism towards those aspects of religion which are perhaps least rationally justifiable and (perhaps) therefore most open to abuse.

Stu
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:41 am

Having recently discovered that I may, for decades, have misconstrued the type of kensho experience recounted by Master Jiyu in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, I am trying to set straight where my error may have affected others (ref. my thread In Theory and Practice/Correlations between Supramundane Paths, post dated 13th October 2010).

I understand that Master Jiyu explained her “third great kensho” as entry to arhat stage. I do not recall mention in HGLB of “complete uprooting of subtle illusoryself-grasping” or similar (perhaps it did not impress itself upon her in this way), but this is a characteristic of fully entering this stage and may be what she experienced as a Mahayana practitioner. (See, for example, Orthodox Chinese Buddhism (2007) by Master Sheng-yen, chapter on “What do the terms arhat, bodhisattva, and buddha mean?” (also viewable online). For some explanation of “subtle” illusoryself-grasping, also called “innate” illusoryself-grasping, please see the second post of my thread on correlations.)

Referring to her kensho and its stages, Master Jiyu wrote in the foreword, “I do not doubt that every person sees and experiences this somewhat differently to me, although the stages for doing so are identically the same.” While my first post (11 August, 2010) in this thread expressed appreciation for HGLB as it had been perceived in my life, this present post considers differences that Mahayana practitioners may experience. As before, it contrasts with presentation of this stage as being attainable only by monks (and only those without partners). (The next six paragraphs may or not be necessary for setting the remainder in context.)

I entered the supramundane path in spring 1968, without a spiritual guide or meditation instruction, when “Buddhism” was but another unappealing word to a seventeen-year-old religiophobe who knew nothing of its teachings. Having felt a pressing obligation to know Truth directly and not through opinions and ideas (others’ or mine), during the winter term I pledged myself to look into the matter during the Easter break, when I would be more likely to have time to tackle it uninterrupted. Wanting to know directly, “What is, before I stick my words and labels on it, or substitute my concepts and opinions for it”, I focussed on the local environment of the otherwise unoccupied dining-room, seated in silent concentration and fiercely suppressing my thoughts as the most obvious way towards this understanding! At that time, this physically stressful method (which I would not advise) precipitated me into a state of exalted awareness unprecedented in my life. In wonderment I looked at my hands: they were not my hands; my physical form was not “me”. Amazed I looked around at the unified field of forms of which my body-form was a part, seeing their ineffable no-thingness, indefinable, ungraspable by concept and word. Everything that had seemed ordinary now appeared extraordinary. I studied the seamlessness of objects in space, the intervening spaces being parts of this field. I saw infinite spatial divisibility simultaneously dimensionless. I pondered the far sweep of possible consequences (these days, called the “butterfly effect”). Together these raised a question, “Why should event B follow event A?” What appeared “logical” was not “logical”, as I had understood it, at all; often what I had called “logic” was more faith in a series of premises. I saw (not for the first time) how self-importance concerning my likes and dislikes could lead to many kinds of judgement that would blind me to reality – one could live ones whole life barely glimpsing or acknowledging the world beyond these projections – and I saw that mistaking words and concepts for the reality to which they referred could do the same. I also observed that the “I” that I had believed existed in, or as my thoughts seemed less tenable: in my ignorance I continued to suppose verbal thoughts must be “me”, but inexplicably less substantial than before.

I felt humbled and deeply grateful for what I had seen, and vowed to try to live by it and to deepen my understanding. Spontaneously I began to refer to Truth devotionally as “Lord”, and to “the Absolute”. Nonetheless, I suffered from a dualistic view of Absolute versus relative, “the Absolute” seeming to exist as separate and elsewhere from the relative. Aware of need to free myself from veils of like and dislike, concepts and words, but lacking knowledge of mindfulness training, and fearing that to think/feel something meant that I believed it, thereafter I exerted great effort to suppress internal responses that seemed inappropriate or untruthful, a practice both anxiety-provoking and physically stressful. Lacking the means to move safely forward in the perceptual realm in which I now found myself, after several weeks I became embroiled in a spiritual and ethical quandary that I could not resolve. Eventually I succumbed to self-attack, glandular fever and a nervous breakdown.

The next four years were inner hell – partly from distress at not knowing how to fulfil my vow and partly from fears about my “insubstantiality” (for which I had no explanation), in addition to other matters. But I never wanted a return to prior ignorance: just a true and sound way forward. Thankfully, in spring 1972, connections led me to read a book on Zen Buddhism. When I read “A is not-A, therefore A”, I was gobsmacked – I had thought that I was the only lunatic who thought like that – and I read with recognition and relief about emptiness of the “person” predicated on the skandhas. While I could not see clearly, here was the wisdom of those who knew! I supposed that Zen masters had all solved the great mystery.

What an astute reader may have noticed in the above account is lack of the holistic goodwill and compassion (i.e including towards myself) necessary for safe progress through spiritual and ethical conceptual paradox: certainly an Achilles heel of mine at the time. Also lacking was a salutary means of stabilising mind-and-energy: I had felt (as Kaizan wrote elsewhere) “thrown about by thoughts and feelings” and “tossed about by the storms of emotion". Learning and adapting from meditation classes and books bought from London’s Buddhist Society, I began trying to cultivate ongoing correct kshanika samādhi (“momentary” or moment-by-moment meditative concentration) in my daily life. (Into this practice I incorporated as best I could, roughly speaking, a) following the breath (and/or other simple physical sensation or activity) as an aid for gathering, stabilising, focusing and clarifying mind-and-energy (sustaining this method, and any other, is dependent on conditions not always under ones control (which, in theory, could become basis for further liberative insight into not-self, though the practitioner may regard all inability as failure); I found it useful until after the summer sesshin in 1973 mentioned below, thereafter simply relying on mind’s natural openness or spaciousness without conceptual contrivance (difficult to describe); this latter, too, is a “method” insofar as it relies on consciousness, which is inconstant; in late summer 1974, I experienced full uprooting of practitioner-attachment to the phenomena of consciousness and meditative-effort, an awakening similar to that of fully uprooting subtle illusory-self-grasping in midsummer 1973 but at a subtler level); b) correct intention (the second factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, comprising intention to let go of unwholesome states (those based in covetousness, hate (including toward oneself) and delusion), intention of non-ill will/goodwill, and intention of harmlessness/compassion: these naturally embody and promote ethical precepts and livelihood (N8P factors 3 to 5)); c) correct effort (N8P factor 6, comprising effort for the non-arising of unarisen unwholesome states, the abandoning of arisen unwholesome states, the arising of unarisen wholesome states, and the maintenance of arisen wholesome states); d) correct mindfulness (N8P factor 7; very briefly stated…) of body, sensation, general mental/emotional state, mental objects (i.e mental and physical phenomena); e) investigation of mental and physical phenomena; f) other factors of awakening; g) regulating my practice in accord with understanding.)

I first saw and heard Master Jiyu that summer, when she talked at London’s Buddhist Society. Some weeks later, I attended a weekend retreat under her guidance, in the south of England. By this time subtle illusoryself-grasping had been uprooted in respect of the first three skandhas but I was dismayed at continuing uncontrolled emergence of “hateful thoughts” – the fact of them. Thanks to Master Jiyu’s general talks and her advice in a private interview (to “take responsibility”), I was able to free myself from the related subtle illusoryself-grasping (after nerve-wracking internal drama!), a new training vista opened before me. (My above use of the term skandha seems to differ from that in the Theravada, and perhaps also Zen. Vedanā (feelings, sensations) and samjñā (conceptions, labels, perceptions, thoughts) are samskārā (compositions/conformations); but like the English word “composition”, samskāra can mean “that which is composed” or the action/activity of composing. Regarding skandhas 2 and 3 (sensations and thoughts), I mean “that which is composed or formed”; whereas for skandha 4 (samskāra), I mean the formative action/activity/impulse/reaction. I have found these distinctions useful in my training.)

When I experienced the full uprooting of subtle illusoryself-grasping, and awakening to the emptiness and radiance of form, during a summer sesshin at Throssel Hole Priory in 1973, automatically I supposed that this type of kensho was the basis of the transmission and was the “first full kensho”. Some years later (?1977), after Master Jiyu sent a circular explaining that not all transmitted priests had experienced kensho, I continued to suppose that all roshis had experienced this type of kensho. Consequently I have had crossed wires about it ever since! (This seems to have worked to my benefit in some ways, up to 1981.)

My experience of this awakening was similar in some ways and very different in others to that of Master Jiyu, if that is what she was describing in HGLB. Some of these differences may convey the potential variability to a reader sincere about training and, having read HGLB, curious or concerned about how these aspects may be for them, approaching, during or after entry to this stage:

For example, in the manner of arrival: I had no leadership role with direct responsibility for the teaching and welfare of many others; no illness or serious threat to my life; no one directly throwing doubt over my training and understanding (that came later!) For about six months before the event, I had been aware of certain questions or doubts concerning “emptiness”. I did not care to examine them head on during that period, as their implications seemed rather disturbing: I hoped time and training would resolve them indirectly. However, the sense of something needing attention increased and I looked forward to the sesshin, hoping that there I might resolve the matter.

Lifestyle before: I was youngish and in a non-celibate relationship, begun not long after my return from the south England retreat. For me the relationship was an ultimately unsuccessful combination of altruistic dreams of helping someone clear their inner troubles, and a heart-wish for spiritual companionship with a heart-mate (I cannot say if one iota of the first part was fulfilled over the course of this relationship; the second part was not: I did not enter the relationship by way of sacrifice, just poor understanding of what makes for good partnership!) I was not “into” sex or “horny” but neither was I abhorring, fearful or cold: I did what seemed loving and appropriate within the relationship. From necessity, all of my meditative practice during the previous nine months (apart from a brief visit to THP) had been daily life kshanika samadhi without formal seated meditation. (My partner was not a practitioner and did not attend the sesshin.)

Duration of process: I did not consciously start to unpack the matter until mid-sesshin, when I was finally convinced by sheer repetition that Master Jiyu’s exhortation to all participants, along the lines of “always be willing to let go of whatever understanding you have and be a beginner”, might actually include me! Once this started, the gamut of the process was probably complete within twenty-four hours. Taking to heart the same exhortation, or variation along the lines of “never stop training after any kensho”, ensured I did not stick there.

Other aspects of the process: I had no vivid visions; no past life memories. Certainly archetypal visions had sporadically arisen since I first entered the supramundane path (and sometimes before; and in my late teens I had once seen part of my birth, without realising it) but nothing of this nature occurred during this process. In Appendix A of the first edition of HGLB, Master Jiyu correlated the Four Noble Truths with certain stages in her kensho. While I think that the model of the 4NT is common to kenshos, I am unsure about other aspects of the sequence she described. For example, for her the cessation of suffering (identified with “The Spirit Rises to Greet the Lord”) followed healing the wounds of self-doubt or doubt in her “true nature” inherited from the tiger; at the very end, sometime after the 4NT aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path (identified with “The Lord’s Will” to “Ordination and Graduation”), appeared “The Lord of the House” and “Not Emptiness, Not Fullness, Not Circular, Not Spatial”. If I understand these two sections of plates, I would say that the positions were reversed for me, in that cessation of the last subtle illusoryself-grasping, and the subject-object duality predicated on it, preceded “cessation of suffering”; and that conscious acknowledgement of freedom from related self-doubt, and affirmation of faith, emerged at the end. This difference in sequencing may be due to differences of personal psychology or circumstance. Interestingly, it also seems similar to that described by Bhante Gunaratana for entry to stream-winner stage in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English (2009): “If your path is faith, then at the attainment of the stream-entry path you will first destroy doubt. If your path is wisdom, then at the attainment of the stream-entry path you will first destroy the notion of self”; indeed the latter was similar to my own manner of first entering the supramundane path in 1968 (ref. also the second post of my thread on Correlations between Supramundane Paths). Maybe there is a third way..? Also, I did not briefly die at any point of the process (compare HGLB, “Struck by the Sword of the Buddha’s Wisdom).

Lifestyle after: Realising how blind I had been for so long, and considering that only repetitious exhortations of “always be willing to be a beginner” had booted me out of my rut, I was actually quite afraid for my training when I thought of returning to the wide world. So I asked at that time if I could become a monk: at this point, my motive was concern for my welfare (and I do not criticise this as a motive). I returned home to break the news to my partner and make necessary arrangements; but when the charge of “selfishness” was levelled at me by a relative I felt obliged to examine my motives and decided that my fear was not good enough a reason to leave in the face of others’ distress (though their complaints were equally “selfish”). At first this meant living with my fear that soon I would be irretrievably lost: a possibility therefore necessary to face and accept unreservedly with a compassionate mind; but evidence of my own deepening training and understanding soon removed this fear. In spring 1974, I again asked to ordain, this time purely from an aspiration to be of help to others (I was extremely ignorant of my limitations in this direction). I was a postulant at THP for about nine months between 1974 and 1975. Apart from retreats at THP and the period of my postulancy, I did not practise formal seated meditation for many years, just ongoing kshanika samadhi: many personal koāns were resolved in up-and-about situations. I have no regret at not being a monk; but my gratitude is boundless to those who passed on the teachings, making it possible for me to receive them and spend periods of special focus in supportive conditions.

Time elapsed from entering the supramundane path to fully uprooting subtle illusoryself-grasping: From my understanding of what I have read, Master Jiyu entered the supramundane path in October 1962 and uprooted subtle illusoryself-grasping completely in January 1976 (c. 13.25 years). I entered the supramundane path in early spring 1968 and uprooted subtle illusoryself-grasping completely in midsummer 1973 (c. 5.25 years). Some of Śakyamuni Buddha’s disciples took much less time, some more. Why the difference? I can’t say I know the answer to this. One needs time to digest, reflect, explore, and so on. Also, one may defer looking into a matter for practical reasons; or because it seems unnerving; or because one is unknowingly on a wrong track or stuck in some regard; or one may lack timely advice from a source one trusts, though willing to receive it… I estimate I could have shaved about 4.25 years off my own passage had such advice reached me when wanted/needed. I would like to be able to say something positive about unsolicited or unwitting delays but in all honesty I could have done without the misery! Perhaps someone else can remark on benefits, if they see any.

In Appendix A, Master Jiyu wrote of her third great kensho, “AND THERE ARE STILL MORE KENSHOS AFTER THIS ONE – it is still only the tip of the iceberg.” I seem to recall reading elsewhere that she said she knew of “at least two more” kenshos: perhaps a reference to Mahayana bhumis 9 and 10, or to the less well-known “paths realising emptiness…” People may encounter sticking-places before and after subtle illusoryself-grasping has fully ceased (consider, for example, the divergence of Mahayana and Hinayana – if one believes something is the finish, dismissing other signals, one might stick there, to ones further discomfort). I hope that credible lay teachers will emerge who share their knowledge of these paths, including mistakes made, sticking-places, and so on, for the benefit of many.

May all beings have happiness and its causes; and be free of suffering and its causes.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:12 am

I quite accept your statement of how you have experienced things, but I am left with a bit of puzzlement as to why it seems urgently important to you to categorize in detail definitions and correlations about the supramundane paths.

Does it matter? I can't see that it matters at all with respect to the crux of Buddhism. But perhaps I'm overlooking something of value. Why is this important to you? Why is it important (other than to an ego) to make discriminative claims about how far along the path one is? Isn't this just another anxious grasping for achievement and attainment?

Maybe it's a Theravadin thing to be consumed with scholasticism. For example, the Abbidhamma seems to me to be a distortion of Buddhism into abstract intellectualism -- not very useful, except to those already fully enchanted by their own intellect.

You are fully entitled to see things as you wish. But if I'm overlooking something potentially useful, perhaps you can point it out. At the other end of the spectrum -- your actual experience -- I found that interesting.

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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:34 pm

I quite accept your statement of how you have experienced things, but I am left with a bit of puzzlement as to why it seems urgently important to you to categorize in detail definitions and correlations about the supra mundane paths.

Some of my views may be Pavlovian echos from Shasta teachings but I think Jack's post above mirrors this one.

Anne. Thanks for sharing your story. As a bit of an anti intellectual I think I'm in over my depth so I hope you'll bear with me on this posting and its asked questions.

Everyone experiences the lifting of the veil of delusion at various times and for various lengths of time. There is also no limit to how quickly or slowly that veil can drop back down again. Breakthroughs in understanding, places & times of ego surrender, kenshos etc. contain grace and risk. The grace everyone knows about. The risks however involve the many subtle ways that we try to claim that understanding as a personal possession which then starts to nullify the basis of that experience. The more one can let go of satorial experiences, the greater is the possibility of fully digesting those experiences. If this is something you agree with then what follows is my question.

If you have an intellectual bent, if that bent is part of the way you identify who you are, how do you then allow the spiritual breakthrough to fully blossom while feeding a personal identity that is in itself is a denial of that spiritual experience? I don't know why one would be interested in dissecting and categorizing such experiences given the risk to something that important?

Everyone has their own version of identity that constantly searches for it's own confirmation and there is nothing quite so deceptive and hardened as an identity that claims a spiritual experience as its own. I'm not saying this is what you are doing, only that the those dangers are a real possibility for anyone.

If a spiritual experience manifests as a vast fluid reality that our tiny ego obliviously splashes around in, I think it warrants the question of just what part of us cares about the labelling? I have sometimes thought that meditation is nothing more than training to not habitually act from the ego when faced with those awakenings. That during those pivital moments of boundless potential we can move in a different direction from the one our ego's inertia has been dragging us on.

The second part of this post is to respond to some early posts on the OBC connect that said that Rev Jiyu did not personally recognize the spiritual experiences of the laity. Sometimes she did. Most of the time I think she rightly feared what such an acknowledgement might do, especially in the lay person who could wander away at any time. To acknowledge anothers spiritual awakening is a tremendous responsibility for a teacher especially when they may have little contact or control over that lay person. Spiritual experience in itself needs no recognition for it excludes nothing, so once again we should to ask ourself what then seeks that pat on the head. I think a teacher who says "good for you but hows it going keeping those slippers straight" when faced with someones pronouncement of spiritual achievement is just doing her job. She is pointing to a more profound truth and just walking the walk. [
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:53 am

Howard wrote:
[color=darkblue] . . . Spiritual experience in itself needs no recognition for it excludes nothing, . . .

I like this yes
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:10 am

Dear Howard,

I like that whole post. Question: what makes you say that to acknowledge another's spiritual awakening is a tremendous responsibility, because the teacher may have little contact or control with that person in the future? What would be the concern? That the trainee develop an inaccurate and over-emphasized self-awareness? Spiritual pride as a vehicle with no brakes? I don't disagree with you at all, and certainly agree that keeping one's slippers straight is the right focus, just would like to know what you envision as the risk when you say that bit about responsibility.

Thanks,
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:26 am

:-) Hello, Jack and Howard

I saw your posts on Thursday, when I came in to restore a missing "and" in the eighth paragraph ("and a new training vista...").

To Jack
Though textual reference to the three Zen kenshos occupies little space in the post on correlations, the bulk of that post is a contextual backdrop to what I was writing at the time about the kenshos, when I was questioning the OBC’s positioning of these. Originally I presented the correlations to refute discrimination within the OBC against the spiritual potential of laypeople and people with partners. However, as explained in the 13th October post, I could not provide deductive evidence to this end, after all, because my premise about the kenshos was incorrect.

I reproduce below some explanation of “subtle illusoryself-grasping” a.k.a “innate illusoryself-grasping”, which will spare people from having to trawl through the second post on correlations to find it (not having a Zen source available for this, I quote Geshe Kelsang Gyatso):

To clarify an important distinction between “intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “gross illusoryself-grasping”) and “innate illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “subtle illusoryself-grasping”), I will quote New Kadampa teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso from Ocean of Nectar (1995): “We develop the intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection (i.e the skandhas plus the I imputed upon them) when we speculate about the nature of our I and conclude that it is inherently existent. If anyone as a result of relying upon mistaken reasoning or misguided advice holds their I to be inherently existent, then they possess this view. Human beings who do not investigate the nature of their I, and other beings such as animals and insects, never generate it. The innate view of the transitory collection is a mind conceiving ones own I to be inherently existent that arises naturally, without any intellectual investigation, from imprints accumulated in the mind over countless lives. Unlike the intellectually-formed view, it functions continuously in the minds of all ordinary beings, including animals and insects.” Geshe Kelsang’s writing on these matters seems to accord with other Tibetan scholars.

Geshe Kelsang wrote in Ocean of Nectar: “The innate view of the transitory collection is the root of samsara. It is not [fully] abandoned by Hinayanists until they become Foe Destroyers (i.e arhats), or by Mahayanists until they become eighth-ground bodhisattvas. The intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection, however, is abandoned by Hinayanists on the path of seeing (i.e stream-entry) and by Mahayanists on the first ground.”


Bhante Gunaratana’s comment on sequence filled in a bit of detail not included in the section on ”Entering the stream of nirvana”, in the second correlations post; but referring to that section (or post) is not necessarily relevant to understanding his comment above.

The Mahayana sometimes refers to Five Paths:
Sambhāra-mārga (the path of collecting/preparing [requisites]);
Prayoga-mārga (the path of connection (sometimes translated as “the path of preparation”);
Darśana-mārga (the path of seeing; the first bhumi);
Bhāvanā-mārga (the path of cultivation; bhumis 2-7);
Vimukti-mārga (the path of release; bhumis 8-10 (sometimes rashly called aśaiksha-mārga – “the path of no more learning” – I think they should be so lucky!))

I am guessing that this schematic arose by observation and analysis after the event but was found to have uses, a bit like knowledge of healthy growth in human beings, only here one is looking at spiritual evolution.

If this has not answered your query, Jack, please let me know. (I probably won’t be back till Wednesday, and may take some time thereafter to respond but – unless disaster strikes! – I will get back to you.)

To Howard
I do agree with what you say (“Everyone experiences the lifting…fully digesting those experiences.”)

I use intellect but do not identify myself as having an intellectual bent in the sense I think you mean: an image I seize on as “me”. When I came to Buddhist practice, I was downright scared of words – I felt they got in the way of reality, that one could get lost forever in the streets of concept, admiring the architecture, ignoring the world outside those creations; or suffering terribly on account of all the undesirable associations triggered by concepts, ideas, images, labels, words, and so on; time constraints may abbreviate this list... While actually I saw words and “reality” as dualistically opposed (and clearly words are not apart from, or something else than, reality), there were many matters I needed to resolve first regarding the “world outside those creations” before I could overcome that distrust and feel safe (in basic principle) with words, and that did not happen overnight.

So, enjoy yourself: if words make you uncomfortable, leave them alone when feasible. There are only 24 hours (or whatever) in a day and you have to make choices what you will do with this; and what you are doing may be very productive and first and necessary priority. Go for it, Howard, I say.

This may not be relevant to what you actually meant in your last paragraph to me, but if one perceives a spiritual experience as “a vast fluid reality that [ones] tiny ego obliviously splashes around in”, there appear to be two things: a “vast fluid reality” and “ones tiny ego”. Here “the ego” is a characterising of an illusoryself-grasping habit (a doing, not a thing) held in place by belief/not-knowing, and this is what is to be undone at a deep level of mind and energy, and this may not happen all at once. The energy of that habitual reflex is not separate from the “vast fluid reality” and the activity or motion is not “self”: it is unfortunately the illusoryself-grasping sustained by illusoryself-view that makes it appear so. Undoing that knot removes the dualistic appearance of possession and loss in respect of the “vast fluid reality”: without the view with which I appears to be separate from reality, one can “dissect and categorise” (words also being part of that “vast fluid reality”), to the extent that one thinks this will be useful, without risk (to which you referred earlier).

Let me know if you think I may not have understood what you were trying to say/ask, or if my language is not clear. (I’ll copy here from my note to Jack – I probably won’t be back till Wednesday, and may take some time thereafter to respond but – unless disaster strikes! – I will get back to you.)
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:00 am

Anne, you are trippy. Not being a person with many words so readily at hand I admire your searching.

Goku Kyonen, died October 8, 1272, at age 56:

The truth embodied in the
Buddhas
Of the future, present,
past;
The teaching we received
from the
Fathers of our faith
Can be found at the tip of
my stick.

The story goes that when Goku felt that his death was close, he gathered this monk disciples around him. Sitting up, he gave the floor a single tap, said the above poem, raised his stick, tapped the floor again, cried, "See! See!" Then, sitting upright, he died.

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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:39 am

sugin wrote:

The teaching we received
from the
Fathers of our faith
Can be found at the tip of
my stick.


So, is the tip of Goku Kyonen's stick the antithesis of the elucidation of the supramundane paths? :^)
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:20 pm

To acknowledge anothers spiritual awakening is a tremendous responsibility for a teacher especially when they may have little contact or control over that lay person.
Hey Polly
There are a number of folks on this forum who are more qualified to address this than me.

I would say that the first points to look at are...
(1) When and where it's OK to acknowledge an awakening. (very few times & places)
(2) Dealing with a sleeping ego, that flows into your vulnerabilities like water into cracks. (3) Is that the ego I feeling stirring around in the darkness.
(4) Oh god it's back and isn't afraid to dance about in the sunlight.

2, 3 & 4 are better addressed in the Lord of the Rings.

Point 1 was about...

A teachers job is to point a student entering the whirlwind of a spiritual awakening back to what is allowing it to blossom. It is all about steadfastly letting go of the ego in the midst of potentially huge distractions.

Any or all sense gates can discover something infinite after a life of ego created limitation. The teacher points out that this experience is not about the student, can not be possessed by anyone and can only be experienced from letting go of the egos' obscuring clouds.

A teachers acknowledgement of a laypersons spiritual awakening is also a potential distraction to what needs to be attended to. When the focus needs to be letting go of everything, the teachers validation of a spiritual awakening only adds to the whirlwind that the student needs to drop.

An acknowledgement of a laypersons awakening is risky enough when the layperson is within the sphere of a teachers guidance. When a layperson is outside the sphere of the teachers guidance then that acknowledgement becomes a perceptual breakage. The arrival, the unfolding, the flowering and the passing of a spiritual awakening can be squashed, limited or obscurred by such a mistake.

It is safest to just continually direct the student back to just letting go without giving the ego new fodder to play with. 99% of the teachers just do that.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:23 pm

Howard wrote:


A teachers acknowledgement of a laypersons spiritual awakening is also a potential distraction to what needs to be attended to. When the focus needs to be letting go of everything, the teachers validation of a spiritual awakening only adds to the whirlwind that the student needs to drop.


Howard, I'm going to play devil's advocate. The other side of this is the student often needs the support that comes from having their experience acknowledged. There's a middle-way between no validation and ego aggrandizement. I believe RMJK made the choice based on what each individual needed after the fact and (if memory serves) most of the time she did acknowledge the event. When she did so publicly it was also to say to the community "see you can do this too". The ego is going to take ownership of the experience regardless, so it's important to frame it properly - sort of "good job, now let's move on and do the next thing". As an aside I don't believe she ever intentionally didn't acknowledge someone's experience because they were a layperson.


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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:51 pm

Isan, OK it's almost Halloween and if the shoe fits?? .

You were one of the folks I said was better qualified to yak about this.

While I know the student would like acknowledgement of the experience, a validation of a validation of sorts, I'm not sure it could be called a need. Food, water, shelter might be a need but it sounds like you are talking about desert.

The support that's really needed is making the area safe for such an unfolding. No room for appearances. Doing yourself what you are suggesting the student do.

Validation can say welcome home but don't you think its best done when you can offer them that home. Students on there way through might not qualify.

But your tossing of" the middle way "at a soto zen Buddhist was just mean. Have you checked recently whether that shoe will still come off .

Despite some early posts that denied Rev.Jiyu confirmation of lay peoples awakenings, that idea has since been laid to rest.

Yes the ego will claim ownership of an awakening, is there anything it doesn't claim, the ultimate empire builder. It seems more of a question of how completely you can let go of everything but I did like how you framed it.

Cheers and great costume by the way.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:14 pm

Howard,
I got about every other sentence. Consider this: that an awakening experience may also awaken the capacity to incorporate the experience without the attendant ego taking the bit and running away with the whole shebang. It may just be possible. We don't fly solo during those experiences, that's the whole point. It is nice to be able to ask, "okay, everybody keeps going on about kensho, is this what they are talking about?", and get an answer one way or the other. If one has been subjected to the "black-is-white" form of teaching that can sometimes contort rather than clarify reality, such an answer may come as a welcome relief. Needed? Who's to say? But regardless of the answer, the awakening, even though it cannot be claimed, can also not be denied. By anyone. I think we have proof on this forum that the monastic community is not always a safe place, we may not need a chaperone anyway. Who decides when the awakening comes? What form it takes? Who bestows it? Not the teacher. Not the trainee. You speak of students "on their way through." Through what? Is there some place sanctified where the trainee must reside in order to be worthy of awakening and validation? And WHY! would someone want to let go of the only truths they know for sure? Sounds to me as though you are (just maybe) wanting to make decisions for someone else. Do you know best? Does that shoe fit?
Polly



Last edited by polly on Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:00 am

Isan wrote:
sugin wrote:

The teaching we received
from the
Fathers of our faith
Can be found at the tip of
my stick.


So, is the tip of Goku Kyonen's stick the antithesis of the elucidation of the supramundane paths? :^)


I say YES or NO or Don't Know!
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:38 am

Hey Polly

Thanks for the heads up and the rappen of my knuckles. You probably only got every second sentence because I was being flippant with an old acquaintance. That last posting should probably have gone another route. Another lesson in public postings. My apologies.

Spiritual openings, awakenings, experiences, kenshos etc. all have a woo woo factor that is difficult to work around. They are the inheritance of the the greedy, angry & ignorant who find some compassion, love & wisdom and as such are just the natural inheritance of all humans. The difficulty comes from anyone trying to measure the unmeasurable.

Not validating or acknowledging a spiritual experience (choose your favourite word) is not the same as denying it. Its like someone close to you asking if they look fat. You know the next words out of your mouth will likely be a diversion. Are you lying about or denying their probable fatness?
OK, OK it's probably just the mood I'm in!

The safe place that I mentioned for someone going through a spiritual experience is just a place where people respect what you are doing. If they can let go of there own egos then bonus points all around. Minimal distractions as well makes it a keeper.

My comment on the "students on their way through" was about teachers being reticent to confirm spiritual experiences of those folks having a short stay at Shasta.

The letting go of truth comment is just an ego test. Everything changes and truth exists quite happily on its own whether we act as cheerleaders for it or not. (Not everyone would agree with that one) If a particular "truth" is just a reflection of our ego, and if we can truly let it go, and it disappears, then that is pretty useful information.

And finally the question that I liked the most. Do I know best?. What, you dare question the insight of a semi literate Canadian gas fitter?

with respect.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:31 pm

Howard,

Great second paragraph. Not a bad first paragraph for that matter. Thanks. I thought for a moment you were going to call yourself a semi-literate Canadian gas-bag (due to the placement of words on the page) which cracked me up but with affection. Gas-fitter. Got it. You can be a lot of fun.

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:40 pm

Hello Anne

Nothing to disagree with in your posting to Jack & myself although I had to read each sentence a number of times to understand what you were talking about. The first time I thought, what the "----" is she talking about, the fourth time was better but this is why Zen is my favourite vehicle. You know, the DeSoto vehicle.

And yes the image of the tiny ego obliviously splashing about in a vast fluid reality is two things if there is a viewer and the view. Zen sometimes dances around this one with the old " seeing through skin or hearing through the eyes" or what I think Shasta would point out is the third position.

Language is a strange beast. The same words can represent completely opposite things.
I remember a visiting senior monk who I had known on & off over a space of 25 years, but hadn't seen in at least 5 years, asking how I was. Just the same I answered. But that's delusion he barked as the last syllable of that sentence left my mouth. He looked so happy with himself as if a fundamental mistake in understanding had been discovered. What he hadn't been able to do was listen with his eyes or see with his tongue. Perhaps he was just having an off day. By the book, as everything changes - he was correct. Beyond the book, beyond a viewer and the view "just the same" was perfect.

Regards





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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:37 am

:-) Hello, Sugin

Thank you for your kind words.

Did you pick up my PM on John McRae's book, Seeing Through Zen? (There didn't seem to be a suitable thread at the time.)

All the best
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:28 am

In my post dated October 27 above, I wrote: "I understand that Master Jiyu explained her 'third great kensho' as entry to arhat stage."

Answering several questions I put to him recently, Seikai wrote of Master Jiyu that:
"She equated the second Zen kensho, which she called the on-going Fugen kensho, or second kensho, to the second [Theravada] stage, Sakadagami, translated as Once-returner...The third stage of [Theravada] sainthood, Non-returner or Anagami, she equated with the third Zen kensho...Beyond this level is where things get murky. At one time it was my understanding that she thought there was a fourth Zen kensho that equated with the final rank of [Theravada] sainthood, that of the Arahant; later it seemed that she adjusted that view to accommodate the third and fourth levels of sainthood into the third Zen kensho. In her later years she stopped talking about these things altogether, except perhaps in private conversations, so it was hard to get an exact read on what she was thinking."
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:01 pm

I had a very strange experience sitting Zazen which I'm pretty sure was a past life experience prior to reading HTGALB.

I know the traditional Zen response would be it's just makkyo. But it was far more vivid than anything I'd experienced before or indeed after.

I'm still a believer in karma and rebirth in the Mahayana traditional sense even if the modern Buddhism with no beliefs seems prevalent these days!

Reading Ian Stevenson and other cases suggestive of rebirth I did find the book to be particularly interesting. It certainly was real to Rev.Kennett and who am I to disagree.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:59 pm

I wanted to post this excellent advice on meditation in full. This piece has been freely available on the internet for some years and is attributed to Dilgo Khentze Rinpoche, one of the great Tibetan meditation teachers of Dzogchen - which is a tradition that is somewhat similar to Zen. So when you see the word "dzogchen" you could substitute zazen or meditation or just sitting. I find this advice very helpful. Dilgo Khetze may not have actually written this - it may have come from another source, but it doesn't matter.

Some very good advice about the meditation attitude and how to deal with "experiences."

Sorry about the formatting.

EVERY DAY MEDITATION

The everyday practice of dzogchen is simply to develop a complete
carefree acceptance, an openness to all situations without limit.

We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate
to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy.

We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into
ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole. This practice releases
tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of
maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by
which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.

Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by
welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through
the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns.

When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop
the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to the entire universe.
We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind.
This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of
self-protection.

We shouldn't make a division in our meditation between perception and
field of perception. We shouldn't become like a cat watching a mouse.
We should realize that the purpose of meditation is not to go "deeply
into ourselves" or withdraw from the world. Practice should be free and
non-conceptual, unconstrained by introspection and concentration.

Vast unoriginated self-luminous wisdom space is the ground of being -
the beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in
the primordeal state has no bias toward enlightenment or
non-enlightenment. This ground of being which is known as pure or
original mind is the source from which all phenomena arise. It is known
as the great mother, as the womb of potentiality in which all things
arise and dissolve in natural self-perfectedness and absolute
spontaneity.

All aspects of phenomena are completely clear and lucid. The whole
universe is open and unobstructed - everything is mutually
interpenetrating.Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is
nothing to attain or realize. The nature of phenomena appears naturally
and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness. Everything is
naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena appear in their
uniqueness as part of the continually changing pattern. These patterns
are vibrant with meaning and significance at every moment; yet there is
no significance to attach to such meanings beyond the moment in which
they present themselves.

This is the dance of the five elememts in which matter is a symbol of
energy and energy a symbol of emptiness. We are a symbol of our own
enlightenment. With no effort or practice whatsoever, liberation or
enlightenment is already here.

The everyday practice of dzogchen is just everyday life itself. Since
the undeveloped state does not exist, there is no need to behave in any
special way or attempt to attain anything above and beyond what you
actually are. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some
"amazing goal" or "advanced state."

To strive for such a state is a neurosis which only conditions us and
serves to obstruct the free flow of Mind. We should also avoid thinking
of ourselves as worthless persons - we are naturally free and
unconditioned. We are intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing.

When engaging in meditation practice, we should feel it to be as natural
as eating, breathing and defecating. It should not become a specialized
or formal event, bloated with seriousness and solemnity. We should
realize that meditation transcends effort, practice, aims, goals and the
duality of liberation and non-liberation. Meditation is always ideal;
there is no need to correct anything. Since everything that arises is
simply the play of mind as such, there is no unsatisfactory meditation
and no need to judge thoughts as good or bad.

Therefore we should simply sit. Simply stay in your own place, in your
own condition just as it is. Forgetting self-conscious feelings, we do
not have to think "I am meditating." Our practice should be without
effort, without strain, without attempts to control or force and without
trying to become "peaceful."

If we find that we are disturbing ourselves in any of these ways, we
stop meditating and simply rest or relax for a while. Then we resume
our meditation. If we have "interesting experiences" either during or
after meditation, we should avoid making anything special of them. To
spend time thinking about experiences is simply a distraction and an
attempt to become unnatural. These experiences are simply signs of
practice and should be regarded as transient events. We should not
attempt to reexperience them because to do so only serves to distort the
natural spontaneity of mind.

All phenomena are completely new and fresh, absolutely unique and
entirely free from all concepts of past, present and future. They are
experienced in timelessness.

The continual stream of new discovery, revelation and inspiration which
arises at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should
learn to see everyday life as mandala - the luminous fringes of
experience which radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our
being. The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our
life experience moving in the dance or play of the universe. By this
symbolism the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate
significance of being. Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous,
accepting and learning from everything. This enables us to see the
ironic and amusing side of events that usually irritate us.

In meditation we can see through the illusion of past, present and
future - our experience becomes the continuity of nowness. The past is
only an unreliable memory held in the present. The future is only a
projection of our present conceptions. The present itself vanishes as
soon as we try to grasp it. So why bother with attempting to establish
an illusion of solid ground?

We should free ourselves from our past memories and preconceptions of
meditation. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of
potentiality. In such moments, we will be incapable of judging our
meditation in terms of past experience, dry theory or hollow rhetoric.

Simply plunging directly into meditation in the moment now, with our
whole being, free from hesitation, boredom or excitement, _is_
enlightenment.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Grow A Lotus Blossom?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:31 pm

Brilliantly said too Josh,and it also sums up the very reasons I severed my links with Kennett and Shasta
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