Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Zen? A separate transmission? No....Yes....

Here is a little contribution given in the hopes of stirring some of you all into sharing your views (or non-views).

Though Dogen used the terms "Zen," "Zen sect," "Zen ancestor," etc. he consistently maintained that Zen was not a school or sect of Buddhism, but was the authentic transmission of Buddhism itself. In this sense, Dogen’s use of the word "Zen" ("Zen," "Zen sect," etc.), can be thought of as a term that simply means "Buddhism."

Verification of this can be seen in one of the hallmark characteristics of Dogen’s Zen teaching: his insistence on the inclusion of the Mahayana scriptures and treatises, as well as the koans and records of Zen masters. The notion that Zen was a "separate transmission outside the teachings" (scriptures, treatises, Zen records, etc.) was seen by Dogen as an aberration.
When we regard Dogen’s work with his perspective the authentic Buddha-Dharma, his expressions become much more discernable. Dogen’s writings are masterful expressions of what he called the "rightly transmitted Buddha-Dharma." They are not a "new and improved" school of Zen. That is to say, Dogen’s teachings can only be understood when appreciated in their proper context: the traditional teachings of Buddhism, both Hinayana and Mahayana.

His manner of expression was fresh, provocative, and ingenious, however the reality, which his expressions were intended to indicate, was the identical reality that was realized by the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. In Shobogenzo, Bukkyo, Dogen describes in detail exactly what he means by the rightly transmitted Buddha-Dharma:

"Some fellow has said, "Old Man Sakyamuni, besides expounding the teaching and the sutras throughout his life, also authentically transmitted to Mahakasyapa the Dharma of the one mind which is the supreme vehicle, and this transmission has passed from rightful successor to rightful successor. So the teaching is opportunistic idle discussion, but the mind is the essential true reality. This authentically transmitted one mind is called ‘the separate transmission outside the teachings.’ It is not to be likened to discussion of the three vehicles and the twelve divisions of the teaching {sutras and shastras}. Because the one mind is the supreme vehicle, we speak of ‘direct pointing into the human heart’ and ‘seeing the nature and becoming buddha.’" This expression is never about the everyday conduct of the Buddha-Dharma: it lacks the vigorous road of getting the body free, and it has no dignified behavior throughout the body. Fellows like this, even hundreds or thousands of years ago, were proclaiming themselves to be leading authorities; but we should know that, if they had such talk as this, they neither clarified nor penetrated the Buddha’s Dharma and the Buddha’s truth… The reason they say that [buddhas] authentically transmit only the one mind, without authentically transmitting the Buddha’s teaching, is that they do not know the Buddha-Dharma. Not knowing the one mind as the Buddha’s teaching and not hearing the Buddha’s teaching as the one mind, they say that there is the Buddha’s teaching outside of the one mind… Although they have transmitted and received the fallacy of "a separate transmission outside the teachings," because they have never known inside and outside, the logic of their words is not consistent. How could the Buddhist patriarchs who receive the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha’s right-Dharma-eye treasury fail to receive the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha’s teaching? Still more, why would Old Man Sakyamuni have instituted teachings and methods that could have no place in the everyday conduct of Buddhists? Old Man Sakyamuni intended, already, to create teachings and methods to be transmitted one-to-one: what Buddhist patriarch would wish to destroy them? Therefore, the meaning of ‘the one mind which is the supreme vehicle," is just the three vehicles and the twelve divisions of the teaching, and is just the Mahayana treasury and the Hinayana treasury… Therefore, do not, through belief in the fallacy of "a separate transmission outside the teachings," misunderstand the Buddha’s teaching.
~Shobogenzo, Bukkyo
Source: Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Translated by Gudo Nishijima & Chodo Cross

8 Comments:

At February 19, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

There is a brand of premium green tea, sencha with macha, that I was for a long time very fond of. A friend dropped off a package of tea that was different but also enjoyable.
Now that I have tasted this new tea, the old tea is still the old tea but my perception of it has changed and I no longer feel the same attachment to it.

Gassho,
Jordan

 
At February 20, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

...that is to say, Dogen’s teachings can only be understood when appreciated in their proper context: the traditional teachings of Buddhism, both Hinayana and Mahayana.


*****Dogen's teachings can only be understood when....Understanding happens. Nothing else is necessary.

As to what precedes Understanding, what practices or actions "must" happen...there is no end to the list.

And Dogen's teachings need NOT be understood for awakening. They are just one of many paths to the falling away of the belief in the illusion (the illusion still remains, else one does not have the capacity to function in phenomenality).

Afterwards the working mind still persists, engaging the world as it always has, whilst the thinking mind is well aware of the joke......no longer holding onto the belief that it is the Author of each doing that is done.

The title of psychiatrist Mark Epstein's first book on meditation and psychology captured this understanding acutely: "Thoughts Without A Thinker." (Also echoed in the Bible as in "Thy will be done.")

When this is Seen/Understood, there is just nothing else to do, no more points to debate, no longer any issues to dissect.

 
At February 20, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Ted,

You wrote, "The notion that Zen was a "separate transmission outside the teachings" (scriptures, treatises, Zen records, etc.) was seen by Dogen as an aberration."

In contrast to the words above, in 1985 whilst living & working for a year in a zen monastery, I was taught what the abbot (Bernie Tetsugen Glassman) said was the "definition" of zen that would be used at that zen center (ZCNY, no longer in existence). The definition I was supplied with read,

"A special transmission, outside the scriptures,
With no reliance on words or letters,
A direct pointing to the human mind,
And the realization of buddhahood."

Perhaps the difference is due to varying translations? Possible.

Now, more than two decades later, it seems to me that there is no "special" transmission because, in reality, there is no one to do the transmission nor anyone to receive it. Certainly Understanding can happen, Awakening may occur, confusion does, for some bodymind mechanisms, drop away. But it is a function of grace and not of one's efforts at attaining a "special transmission." (Of course, grace is the vehicle by which everything occurs, not just clarity.)


You wrote, "[Dogen's] manner of expression was fresh, provocative, and ingenious, however the reality, which his expressions were intended to indicate, was the identical reality that was realized by the historical Shakyamuni Buddha."

*****A challenge: how does Ted know what Dogen "intended"?

Cheers!

 
At February 20, 2008, Blogger Mike Doe said...

It's nice to see your still around Ted.

I've just finished an enjoyable drink of luxury hot chocolate. It's near bedtime and I am tired after a long day. But now I am about to settle down and watch a TV show I enjoy - Torchwood.

When I feel it is time for bed I will go to bed.

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger Tor Hershman said...

No past lives, no future lives, just guaranteed oblivion
(0=T=0),
who could ask for less?

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

)))((((((
(*)...(*)
....U....
..[___[..- - -{Flap}

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Jordan,
How are you man?

Did you ever hear the story about how after Bodhidharma cut off his own eyelids--in his zeal for deepening and refining his realization--that those eyelids sprouted into tea plants, which monks ever-after could use as a stimulant to keep practicing longer?

Have you ever noticed how tea grows out of the dirt? Or how that dirt covers the surface of a huge mud-ball that spins and circles the sun at just the right speed to sustain life? Human life at that! Life that can look at the sun, or the stars, or a cup of tea and say, "so this is what I am..."

What a ride! Weeeeeeeeee!!!!

Take care,
Ted

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Hi mikedoe,

Glad to see you...
It is 2:30 in the morning here. I felt it was time to go to bed a couple of hours ago, but I am resisting.

I noticed something that people call "a burnt matchstick" and have been trying to make out how it fits into the whole space-time thing. I keep experiencing a sense of impending realization. I will let you know if it comes to me.

Good to see you here man.
Gassho, Ted

 
At February 24, 2008, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

Tor hershman,

Thanks for the post.

No past lives, no future lives, just guaranteed oblivion, and no ending of past lives, no ending of future lives, no just guaranteed oblivion.

Take care,
Ted

 

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