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Flashcards in Buddhism in the far east: Zen Deck (34)
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What is the flower Sermon?

The buddha in the silent sermon held up a flower. Mahakasyapa smiled in recognition of his understanding the silent sermon or the Buddha's gesture and received "mind to mind transmission to pass the teachings on to others.


Who was Mahakasyapa?

He passed this seal of sudden awakening on what became an Indian Lineage that centuries later was brought to China by an Indian monk called Bodhidharma.


Who was Bodhidharma?

He appeared to be a great meditation master, one legend he spent 9 years in meditation 'gazing at a wall' until his legs dropped off.


What are Bodhidharma's 4 key principles?

1. A special transmission outside the scriptures
2) No reliance now words or letters
3) A direct pointing to the human mind
4) Seeing the innate nature, one becomes a Buddha


why is zen practice a powerful method for attaining enlgihtenment?

If we practice with a sincere motivation to overcome our delusion, then our buddha nature will manifest. Zen believes we have the power to achieve enlightenment NOW. When we practice we should be motivated to follow the Buddha's example.


What is "awakening" like in zen buddhism?

When awakening occurs it is like 'coming to life' or waking up from a dream. The spirit of awakening is what lies centre of Ch'an. All about complete freedom from suffering.


How can you see the Buddha's original teachings in Bodhidharma's 4 key principles?

- Buddha taught the dharma was beyond words (ineffable) and needs to be fully experienced through practice.
- Parable of the raft teaches us not to get attached to the dharma.
- Parable of the arrow warns us against metaphysical truths.
- No reliance on words (the Buddha didn't write anything down)


How is Bodhidharma's attitude towards scriptures?

Study is of secondary importance- there's the danger of study becoming an object of attachment.
Te Shan- burned down all the scriptures
Han Shan- used to go around with a blank scroll.


What are the practical implications for theory, ritual and the use of language to express the truth in Buddhism?

Zen believes that the truth cannot be put into words but can be only passed directly from mind to mind. Good works and devotion can be seen as a form of attachment.


What are the two Zen schools in Japan?

Rinzai Zen- "sudden" school
Soto Zen- "gradual" school


Who founded Rinzai Zen?

Eisai in the 12the Century. He believed that the emphasis on mediation would have a debilitating effect on people by the emphasis of meditation. Eisai argued that the meditational and ethical discipline of Zen would be beneficial- apealed a lot to the samurai.


What are Koans?

A story, dialogue, question or statement.


Wy are koans used?

The use of koans in mediation practice is to help trigger the sudden experience of awakening (satori).


What is the role of the Zen Master (Roshi) and the purpose of the sanzen interview in Rinzai zen?

Whilst practising the meditator consults the Zen master (Roshi) twice a day in the 'Sanzen' interview. The student answers the koan based on what he has read or heard, however if the answer if wrong the Roshi will shout or hit.
The role of the Zen master is crucial since he can assess the answers of the pupil and knock away his reliance on anything but his intuition. By progressing through koans the best oils will become zen masters.


What is existential great doubt?

The mind attains 'one pointed concentration' a strangely ecstatic state or experience of 'non duality" where everything you've lean't becomes doubt.


What is Zen sickness?

Where lights or visions are often mistaken for nibbana. This state is 'pseudo-nibbana' in the theravada tradition.


What is "great death"?

Getting rid of the ego. During the 'sphere of nothingness' e.g. buddha during extinguishing Mara.


What is "mushin"?

Once the conceptual, reasoning mind reaches it absolute dead end so that the flow of thoughts suddenly stops in a state of no thought. Realisation erupts from the depths of the mind, only a blissful, radiant emptiness beyond self and other words.


Explain how Hakuin 1685-1769 helped to revive Rinzai Zen?

Helped put it back into a spiritual practice after a period where it had become more of a cultural and artistic phenomenon.


What did Hakuin say about the use of language to express truth about the world, the use of koans in helping him to understand the truth?

Promotes koans to shatter the conventional thinking and the use of language and enable moments of satori (insight) or no mind (mushin).


Who founded Soto Zen?

Dogen. Dogen helped to give zen its own unique identity and more Japanese form, fully separate from Tendai.


What was Dogen existential problem?

If people are already enlightened, why do they need to exert themselves in spiritual practice to attain Buddhahood.
If we are already enlightened why do we need to practice Buddha nature.


What was Dogen attitude towards scripture?

For Dogen reading the sutras (Pali Canon and Mahayana Sutras) helped him to give faith (refuge) in the Buddha and the Dharma. Therefore, one must respect any Buddhist object or practice.


What is the main practice Soto Zen?

Zazen (sitting meditation)


What does the Zazen practice involve?

Sitting facing a wall in the Zen (meditation hall). The tanden (area above the naval- tummy button) is the focus of attention. Here energy develops and radiates throughout the body. The eyes are lowered, focus on the wall. The head monk will hold the "kyosaku" the awakening stick to hit anyone who dozes off or daydreaming.


What does Zazen practice develop?

the initial task is to dampen wandering thoughts by counting and following the breath.


Why did Dogen say that Zazen is NOT a method to attain enlightenment?

Zazen is simply exhibiting one's innate Buddha nature. Zazen is not seen as a 'method' to attain enlgihtentenment but to a way of experiencing buddha nature.


What is Shikantaza?

"Just sitting"- a state of attention that is free from thoughts directed to no object and attached to a particular content. Shikan means 'nothing but', ta means to hit and 'za' to sit. This was taught by Dogen and has been the basis of all Soto Zen practice.


How is awakening to be understood in Soto Zen?

'Just sitting' (Shikantaza) enables one to see the Buddha-nature reflected in the present moment. People are manifesting their buddha-nature in each daily activity. A gradual awakening of Buddha-nature through the practice of shikantaza.


What is self mastery samadhi?

One pointed concentration (samadhi) that naturally develops from the practice of 'just sitting' (Shikantaza).