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Thread: Zen and the Bodhisattva ideal

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Greetings Mahayana friends


    What place does the Bodhisattva ideal have in Zen Buddhism. I know its in the four vows but apart from that I never hear it mentioned. It also seems the Zen aims for the same enlightenment that Theravadins do. So I a bit confused to what emphasis Zen places on Bodhisattva (if at all)


    metta

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clw_uk
    What place does the Bodhisattva ideal have in Zen Buddhism.
    The Soto school with which I practice zazen do not hold this ideal by any means nor the arahat one. There is no need to seek for that ideal due that folowing what the historical Buddha taugh will lead to that in a natural way. Practice the teaching and leave the rest to work by itself. I don't know if other Soto schools have set as a goal to become a Boddhisatva in order to save mankind from suffering.


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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaarine Alejandra
    Quote Originally Posted by clw_uk
    What place does the Bodhisattva ideal have in Zen Buddhism.
    The Soto school with which I practice zazen do not hold this ideal by any means nor the arahat one. There is no need to seek for that ideal due that folowing what the historical Buddha taugh will lead to that in a natural way. Practice the teaching and leave the rest to work by itself. I don't know if other Soto schools have set as a goal to become a Boddhisatva in order to save mankind from suffering.


    Thanks for the reply :)


    In your school then dont you take the four vows?

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clw_uk
    In your school then dont you take the four vows?
    Yes, but with what we are really commited is to The Eight Satoris or "The Hachi Dainin Kaku"

    Shoyoku: To have few desires

    Chisoku: Enough understanding.

    Gyo: To cultivate a quiet contentment

    Shojin: Discipline in the dhamma teachings

    Fumonen: Do not bear illusions

    Shu Zenjo: Practice zazen just because

    Jo Riki: The strength of a still mind

    Fukero: Do not get entangled with discussions.

    Practice the first and let the others realize and flow as they come.


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    I think the Vietnamese Zen that Thich Naht Hanh teaches includes a little more emphasis on the bodhisattva ideal. Also, I am wondering if the Chan Schools work with it... don't know, but the limited experience I have with them seems a little more diverse than Japanese Zen... There's also the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen, don't know how they work the bodhisattva principle either, lol.

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoolAid900
    I think the Vietnamese Zen that Thich Naht Hanh teaches includes a little more emphasis on the bodhisattva ideal.
    Well I think he gives a big emphasis on it. My experience with Thich is just through the books he has wrote and you can see a very huge shift form the practice of the teachings of the Buddha to a complete political organization embracing the concept of Social Engaged Buddhism.

    Quote Originally Posted by KoolAid900
    There's also the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen, don't know how they work the bodhisattva principle either, lol.
    Neither me. I just can tell from my direct practice with the Sangha with whom I practice zazen. But now, in some way the sangha has a deep social concern any time that I have been supported by the Roshi and some other experienced members into bringing Dhamma and meditation at the female prison where I work and we do not say... "hey we are engaged in the Boddhisatva ideal". We do not feel that it is a fundamental aspect to be worry about so to practice the Dhamma.


  7. #7
    In his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Shunryu Suzuki Roshi says "Even if the sun were to rise in the west, the bodhisattva has only one way".
    Zen Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism, therefore, there is the bodhisattva ideal.

  8. #8
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by londonerabroad
    In his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Shunryu Suzuki Roshi says "Even if the sun were to rise in the west, the bodhisattva has only one way".
    Zen Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism, therefore, there is the bodhisattva ideal
    True, we can found many quotations about that ideal. The way zen works is without any purpose at all. We have to sit in the zafú just because. The proper practice, the skillfulness of mind is not about leading to ideals like the arahat, the boddhisatva, etc. In zen we do not worry about ideals, we work tightly with the ordinariness of life. Then the Boddhisatva, the arahat, the nirvana, the enlightened mind, will sprout by itself, if the case. We don't care.

    The Genjo, which means, a Koan of something ordinary, tells it in a poetic way:

    "When Buddhas are truly Buddhas, They need not perceive that they themselves are Buddha. Even so, having awakened to their buddha nature, they will carry along with themselves their confirmation of their buddha nature."

    This means that Buddha nature and its actualization is not through the elaboration of a self... like becoming some sort of ideal.

    Next, in a much more direct way it is told:

    "To learn what the path of Buddhahood is, is to learn what the true self is. To learn what the true self is, is to forgot about the self[...]"

    Soto do not deny the boddhisatva nor embrace it. We are not worried about it. It is not the goal. It is not subject to looking for it. Then it is not an ideal. It is a natural happening of an skillful practice.


  9. #9

    Going off the topic of Zen just for a moment...Craig, if you haven't read this before, you might be interested in an article "Between Arhat and Bodhisattva - finding the perfect balance" by Ajahn Amaro.


    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/issue...er/balance.php


    Sorry -back to the topic again.



  10. #10
    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link, I liked this quote


    A student of Buddhism asked, “Which do you think is the best path: that of the arahant or that of the bodhisattva?”
    “That kind of question is asked by people who understand absolutely nothing about Buddhism!” Ajahn Sumedho replied.

    Don’t be an arahant, don’t be a bodhisattva, don’t be anything at all—if you are anything at all you will suffer.” —Ajahn Chah

    Back to topic

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