Scholarship Conference Paper

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Sunday Lecture


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chase the dream that spurs morning everybody

this morning i want to do what i've done once in awhile before instead of giving a proper dharma talk
i thought i would share with you another one of my essays that i sometimes write when i'm asked to write something
ah it's worked before
that doesn't mean it'll work today but
and just a little background on what this is a
this week green gulch city centre angry culture hosting
to really interesting and important conferences
it's come to that you know in buddhism now we have conferences
this means that people get together and they
sure impressions and ideas and they help each other different traditions different groups didn't used to happen and now it's happening so that's interesting and the one that's going on now started last night and in the city and will be today in a city and moving over to green gulch monday and tuesday
is a group of us and teachers from the soto tradition in all the different lineages in america
can it roshi lineage my zoom hiroshi lineage our lineage category roshi lineage
how getting together bankrolled by the satoshi church in japan as nice of them
and we're trying to read translate into english with the help of a great scholar griff folk read translate into english the daily liturgy that we in arse different texts that we chant in the hope that perhaps
design groups would
agreed to adapt this liturgy so that a of practitioner can go to any like it isn't japan if you go to japan or whatever so to a temple you go to if you turn at the heart sutra the same text
in america every temple has a slightly different english version of the heart sutra and the meal chant and so on so i never thought such a thing could happen that they knew that we would
i mean we haven't agreed to do it yet we've agreed to translated but we have to create everybody likes their own best of course
anyway we are getting it's very interesting to sit around a table with all these and teachers and say well it should say this now that word isn't right you know should say this so it's it's kind of fun and then on wednesday and thursday we're having another conference this one is a conference with
buddhist scholars
and different from all across the country and buddhist teachers and practitioners
and the subject of the conference is
scholarship or study and practice and how they relate and don't relate and help each other and don't help each other
so we've before have hosted scholarly conferences but we've never hosted a conference where the topic was practice and it's relationship to a scholarship so i think that'll be interesting in the paper that i'm going to read to you as i've been invited to give a paper on this topic ah
for the conference
and the abbot of the temple so they invited me otherwise they might not get dinner maybe that they think so
anyway i was happy to be invited it's great challenge to speak to her you know alerted audience like that so i'm going to
today redo this paper that i'm going to read to the scholars
so you can tell me what you think of it
and the
i warn you in advance it's a little long
so if we get tired will take a break somewhere in the middle will take a breather
so to speak and continue so relax
so this paper is called on the uses of study

so here's our ghosts one two three
in what i'm about to say
i have the feeling that i'm not going to be giving you any news
i am going to say what a simple and obvious what is probably playing to everyone here already
it would be good good to give you some news
and i myself appreciate it when i hear news because it is more interesting
but in considering the uses for study in our practice life
how study relates to what does not relate to our inner experience as practitioners of the way
it would probably be better to say what is obvious and hopefully true than what is news
one could further wonder whether this isn't always the case whether in attempting to say anything true one is always say the obvious
or further still whether they're really ever is any news about anything at all
that is truly knows or if it is news
whether it is truly useful
but this is another question for another time
and it is probably not necessary for me to talk about the basic and apparently anti intellectual manifesto with which the early and school begins these words that everybody knows about attributed to bodhidharma was the legendary founder of the zen school too
the effect that then is a school beyond words and letters outside of the scriptures pointing directly to the heart of the human being without mediation of texts or words of any kind
such notions as this are repeated endlessly throughout the zen literature
in the typical 's story features a monk with a satchel full of texts on his back
who is dumbfounded and awakened to the point of throwing away all his texts by an encounter with a zen master who is crucial and usually brief word or doing takes this satchel carrying monk immediately beyond all he has previously learned this is the typical so
of cent store that we've all heard about
and it is also probably unnecessary for me to mention something that zen writers writers about zen frequently mentioned also which is the fact that despite this stricture against attachment to words and letters and concepts zen has produced probably the most voluminous of all religious law
so how can we explain this apparent contradiction
so whether or not you believe it or whether or not it actually holds up to scrutiny
i think that the reasons and so strongly emphasizes the pernicious quality of language and learning while at the same time producing tremendous quantities of texts whose main burden is this very point
is that the tradition has in mind an alternative way
of holding or understanding language and meaning
an alternative way that is in fact one of the chief contributions of the tradition
and one of it's crucial acupressure points for healing the human spirit
and i do not want to say too much about this because there are other things that are more practical about this relationship between study and practice that i do want to speak about but i feel like i have to say a little something about this point because it's very important and in doing so i will mention duggan's as she's famous as
say the painting of a rice cake
famous writing of dog and the founder of so doesn't in japan and this essay the painting of a rice cake
a dog and discusses the well-known zen phrase a penny of a rice cake does not satisfy hunger a painting of a rice cake in other words rice cake might satisfy our hunger but a painting of a rice cake will not satisfy your hunger and these words are probably from a chinese folk saying but they were used in zinn
to mean something like mere words mere learning or representation doesn't end suffering and produce liberation only experienced beyond words and representation will do that that's the real rice cake has the experience beyond the words
but as dog and discusses this saying thoroughly even and his unique way exhaustively
as he can only he can do he makes a clear or maybe not clear but at least compelling because one is hard pressed to say that dog and ever makes anything clear
he makes it compelling that
it is not language and representation
that are to be reapplied as the problem rather it is language and reputable representation seen as distant and removed met experiences that have the power to comment on reality which we think is the case that language comments on reality that's the problem
language and representation or study as such which is to say
language representation or study as themselves complete an undistinguished in immediate experiences
as opposed to explanations or descriptions are perfectly fine
as it is often put in
live words
not dead words
r zen words
and furthermore in a startling way dog and argues isn't all experience in any case mediated experience
as we can know it as experienced more or less the experience of language representation and learning as he says in his essay the whole universe and the whole dharma is nothing but the painting of a rice cake
human reality is realized from a painting of a rice cake and buddha ancestors are realized from a painting of a rice cake in conclusion then there is nothing that will satisfy hunger other than the painting of a rice cake
and there is no hunger other than the painting of hunger
the physicist niels bohr makes a similar point when he says in relation to explanations in language a physical reality we must be clear he says that when it comes to adams language can be used only as poetry
and i say i'm mentioning all of this even though i want to talk about other things because this is the underlying attitude often expressed in this and tradition particularly in duggan's and toward learning representation and study and it is a spirit with which i hope all of what i'm going to say
it can be received and understood it is an attitude that recognizes the value of study and learning for untiring psycho spiritual not but also understands a danger in the accumulation of this apprehension of an identification with learning
which will bind not tight again
another way of putting all this is to say that the buddha's teaching or the zen teaching and i do believe with others of my tradition that these are the same
i'm not to say that then is the highest or best form of buddhism rather that it is nothing more than a radically simple presentation of basic buddhism
is that is an anti teaching or in anti language is in our buddhist teaching as an anti teaching an anti language designed to free us from the bondage that are ordinary and inevitable relationship with language will create
so having said all of that as a preliminary i would like to talk in a very it's almost practical autobiographical way about how i've actually found study useful in my own practice and teaching
and i want to discuss this from to standpoints first the uses of ordinary tech study as it directly relates to our experience as practitioners and secondly the use of scholarship or critical studies
in conditioning attitudes for practice
so as to the first text study
i have always been a reader and i've always taken my reading personally
which is to say i tried to take what i read to heart and to change my life
based on what i read and understand
i read for pleasure as well
almost as a kind of exercise just to read i like to read no matter what but really this reading for living is the greatest of all pleasures for me
i have never been able to read romance novels or genre fiction
i have a hard time with newspapers and magazines even buddhist magazines i can't read too much
there are several ways in which study has influenced my practice most broadly study inspires me
dharma practice has it's dry spells and rough spots and sometimes it's hard to find
in the midst of the weight of ordinary life we often need inspiration some bright light up ahead that coaxes us on
quite often a dharma book will do it will get us to the cushion one more time
will take the edge off the afflict of emotion that has got stymied
and spur us on to looking at it an entirely different way
so study for inspiration
a second study helps me to develop an attitude
for practice
there's the saying you are what you eat
and you also are what you see and hear
in touch and taste and read
in ordinary life we see and hear and read plenty
that takes our mind and spirit in a different direction in a direction we actually we thought about it don't really want to go
we fill our minds innocently with all of this not really appreciating that we are creating a climate or an attitude that may run quite can't counter to what we want for our lives the practice of reading sutras and other dorm of books will help us cultivators sustained attitude for dharma study so that's the second one study
for building up an attitude for practice a third study
if it is surrounded by a spirit of actual meditation and liturgical practice and quite often even if it is not
can lead us to real insight
into the nature of mind
all those and professors as i've said an anti literary attitude from the beginning
the platform sutra tells us that the sixth ancestor the most important of all zen masters was awakened initially simply by hearing a line from the diamond sutra
and there are many other such stories in the tradition
i myself remember many many moments of insight and steady times
and you can remember the book
the look of the page and the words themselves for a long time afterward as vividly as one recollects and off the page experience
in our zen monastic schedule as in the catholic monastic schedule to there is daily time reserved for study as practice the catholics call it in a wonderful phrase that i learned recently lexi or davina
don't you like that
i pronounced with an italian accent preferably
lectio divina
ah i often recommend to students who practice regularly at home
that it can be quite valuable to read a dharma book in that way
not for information or knowledge
but simply as a practice without goal or desire just as one would meditate for a certain amount of time at a certain time of day carefully and mindfully even perhaps ah
when you're in the case of lectio divina or reading for pretty as practice covering the book carefully with a cloth as you see when i come in with my text i am a little cloth you know the sutra cloth recovering the book and chanting before and after study so that it's a kind of a ritual
and this is exactly how we practice here at green gulch and at tassajara during study hall and i've always found this practice a really wonderful practice study period in the schedule at tassajara particularly was a time of day that i always look forward to and i was almost never disappointed in study hall when there are six or eight hour
hours of meditation in the daily schedule a little bit of reading can go a long way
and the fourth use of study which is probably the most useful of all his study as nuts and bolts
in other words reading the sutras and other texts as though they were users manuals
carefully looking at them and adapting them and actually and to some extent systematically putting them into practice in one's daily life and on the cushion
of course the most obvious example of this sort of thing is these in literature itself the cohen literature certainly would also other syntax
everybody knows i think about on study
which i think is unique really i don't know of another literature in world religious tradition quite like it
stories of the ancients or memorized and hold down to a fine point so that they can become clear
almost none discursive objects of meditation the idea is not to memorize and internalize a particular teaching like a catechism but rather to explode beyond the story
to enter it experientially
until the inside issues that are embedded in the story below the surface will become personal and this is a dramatic and colorful process quite often so that what you can see by really digesting literature in this way becomes quite vivid
somewhat like this but also a little different is the liturgical study which is used in sin but also in every almost every tradition that comes out of language
i hear you chant a text every day were often anyway where the spirit of concentration and reverence not particularly studying the text for its meaning but just chatting and over and over yeah not really thinking about a particularly
we're months or a lifetime words in this way internalized and magnified and some homemade mysterious by use and all sorts of situations and repetition and all sorts of mental states these words take on a kind of shape and color that can be quite unexpected and i can remember many many times in sessions and other times sudden
lee understanding align you know boom from nowhere and understanding a line from the heart sutra from the sand okay texts that we chant all the time
and lines that one may not have sought much i've been puzzled by all of sudden can become clear you forget of course but
at the time they seem clear
one of the most dramatic examples of this kind of thing in my own life was the time that i
chen at the heart sutra
when my mother died on her deathbed as she passed away
i had before this chin at the heart sutra probably thousands of times
and in an all those thousands of tons were there at the time that i turn it at my mother's
deathbed yet the sutra seemed
new and full of reverberations of meaning that i had never experienced before
among the different
schools of zinn
dogan is in our tradition of sin in particular emphasizes then not as a special school but as the essential essential buddhism so far off as a follower of dogs and one feels full permission to study texts beyond those associated
this distinctly with the school
especially in the west
and especially in the bay area with so many schools of buddhism rubbing shoulders together this is the case and so my own study has included in a primary re way much material outside of then specifically and outside of dog sen
among texts that i have studied and taught extensively are the mindfulness sutra with it's very concrete and practical suggestions for how to meditate with the breath
the body
with the idea of death with one's own thoughts and sensations and emotions
my study and reflection on this sutra which includes the many ancient and contemporary commentaries on it has been very useful for me and also i hope for our students in some
very practical experiential ways
there are many texts like this that i've used i've studied a lot in the dig and my dream and the and derived benefit not only from the teachings that the buddha gives in those texts which also which like the mindfulness sutra can be applied
but also i've learned a lot from those tax since i've been a great use to me in looking between the lines at at buddha
as a role model master teacher
as a personality
although of course it is usually not practically possible to be the person that one is
and at the same time to behave as buddha did
it is certainly instructive to reflect on his behavior in many situations and to try one's best to take those reflections to heart
then there are texts like the vicinity maga the path of purity which give a kind of almost like buddhist encyclopedia of practice
which give teachings on a variety wide variety of topics from janyk practice to moral practices to emotional practices like the for and measurables that we've been studying lately
the for
sometimes i call him on altruistic our social emotions
a loving kindness compassion
sympathetic joy and equanimity
and the texts like this will give instructions for how to train in these qualities
and i have used these and they've been enormously helpful and i've taught them frequently using the texts as well as oral teachings that i've received about them
even text like the cosmic outrageous
my other suitors
which seem like how far out poetry
i have found to have a nuts and bolts application with practices like the development of compassion and bodhicitta
which are attitudinal t trainings that can be quite crucial for practice
and as a in practitioner i tried to approach and hold all of these things and many more that i've used and not mentioned
with his spirit of non literal this and non clinging that i spoke about and the beginning
using words in a way that is beyond words or drops words
or at least one hopes is not too much caught by words
a one hopes at the same time it's also not caught by the effort not to be caught
with a sense of flexibility and tolerance
alert as constantly as possible to the main point and what we are trying to do in practice which is to be open and free compassionate accurate and warm hearted
and avoiding as much as possible to persistent human tendency to grasp at a fixed truth
one studies
as far as i'm concerned this is the spirit of zen practice and of all buddhist practice of all spiritual practice
and given this attitude almost any tech study can be useful even genre fiction and romance novels and newspapers and magazines even buddhist magazines

we're doing okay let's take a break down let's take my
three breath brig

so the next part
is about scholarship critical studies
so all of what i said so far i think could have been said at any historical period
a religious texts have always been studied by practitioners and have always been used in the various ways that i have said that i've used them
but what is different i think about our period is the possibility of what i suppose you would call critical scholarship
and approach to study that can only have been possible after the scientific revolution and the establishment of the scientific attitude
all of the uses of study that i mentioned so far depend to some extent on face and surrender to the text
critical studies on the other hand
with their emphasis on philological studies historical studies detailed textual studies of all kinds all of which are founded on an attitude of scientific skepticism and experimental openness not to mention the high social value in the west placed on originality controversy and debate
this kind of study is something else
and there are many religious practitioners who i think with good faith and maybe a good sense ignore such studies don't like them think they're you know should be overthrown
and some of them have a definite dislike of such scholarship and see it as some are antithetical to the practice
and i suppose there are some religious practitioners not only who feel that way in the past and certainly in the president who think that science in general is a bad thing and as the opposite of their study of religion or what they're looking for in their religion and i think there's probably some merit in this
view but i don't share it myself so then how can one use
this kind of study critical scholarship and so on
first of all i think the most obvious thing is that critical critical scholarship does correct errors
and promote accuracy
and it also adds a sheer weight of information
to a text that makes a tremendous density of interpretation possible
of course any text that we receive has passed through many many hands and in our particular case many languages as well
with each passing of the techs their opportunities for prejudice and error so little bit like the game of telephone
you know where you pass us law saying around a circle
the message that you get at the end of the line may be quite different from the one that was set in the beginning
now in the case of received religious texts this is not a simple issue of sending the message in the beginning was the right one and then everything since then as a distortion because maybe the message at the end is a better message
or more useful message or at least that's going to be one that takes into account all of the opinions and values of everyone down the line
and perhaps all this attractions additions and outright mistakes made along the way were important and fill out and aluminate the original message which i think is the case usually in religious traditions
but even so i think it's pretty helpful to know what the alterations have been
and to be able to trace the transmission of the message as clearly as possible always aware
and as a dawns on your little by little that there is probably no entirely complete and accurate record of the transmission of the text and that we will endlessly make new discoveries and refine our understanding of
but these refinements as they say usually add something important and very often they will correct difficulties things that are really wrong and need to be corrected
an example of this is the platform sutra the sutra the sixth i ancestor that was translated early on in in the west and i read those early translations that were made from a later versions of the text and the ming dynasty and the those turn those versions
we're very political and they stated they they put into the sixth ancestors mouth a kind of bald statement that the so-called sudden method of zen enlightenment was the real stuff and the so-called gradual approach to enlightenment was totally wrong and even stupid ridiculous
so reading the text and long time ago when i first read it uncritically
and this by the way is one of the problems with reading for living as i was saying earlier than i read for living one of the problems with really for living as opposed to reading for a living as scholars do
is that one reads uncritically that's a little bit of a problem
but i did read it uncritically and i was completely convinced
and this was not good for me to be confess this i had many misadventures
as a result of believing this later on when i read translations of the earlier texts which were less corrupt and scholarly you know descriptions of the difference between the texts and how they got that way and so on and so forth this was showed me that the sixth ancestors teaching was a lot more subtle and complete than i had originally
thought and understanding it and this way was very improving for me to help me a lot
and this example i think is fairly typical
because the more that one subjects a text to the various operation of clinical studies about which i confess i know very little there's a lot of you know there's been tremendous amount of effort and smart people turning their their their intelligence to this sort of thing in the last twenty five years
the more this kind of study is is applied
the more and more complexity of meaning as teased out of a text and this has two different results i think on the one hand there's more to study and more to appreciate and more as i say more depth layers and levels of meaning i revealed
on the other hand
all these layers and levels and debts also give rise if you think about it eventually to a sense that the text is fundamentally
mysterious and ambiguous and impervious to clear and definite interpretation
which can make you nervous
one becomes more and more thoughtful and one hopes more and more humble
in less and less certain
in relation to any particular interpretation
and you can easily see why fundamentalists
do not like to sort of thing
because certainty is something that all of us certainly appreciate
and fundamentalists are people who appreciate it to a fault
in insofar as critical studies militate against
they can be perceived as a threat or as negative
in a lot of people see it that way
but i have always felt that radical uncertainty in regard to all views
which is to say again and uncertainty appreciated as such and not an uncertainty that is poised against a background of desire for and belief in the possibility of certainty that kind of radical uncertainty seems to me the essential buddhist position or me
maybe we'd better say non position
and this is of course the famous
position of the gardener and the majolica school of buddhism which is basic to all of mahayana buddhism this is the non position of the emptiness of all phenomena the emptiness of all views and so in this sense critical scholarship which might be seen to be corrosive of faith
to me as only build it up
now another thing that is
another aspect of this critical scholarship nowadays as i understand it and again i i know at least i have an idea how little i know which is useful but
i think another part of this is the detail historical studies and social kind of things that are applied now instead the religious texts being sort of held up in the sky as if they were disembodied
you know timeless things there now quite that the custom among scholars now is to place them in in historical context
and see them that way interpret them that way these historical studies have dominated
religious studies for the last twenty five years or more
i think mostly under the influence of the french
intellectuals for cause really dominant instant scan scholarly studies
and i think that this kind of study helps the practitioner become more realistic
about the tradition in which she is involved
this is one of my favorite words realistic
with of course very impressionistic word what does it really mean
when i say realistic in this context what i mean is something very specific in terms of the process of spiritual development
the opposite of realistic as idealistic and idealism is a most natural attitude
that arises for anyone who is practicing a spiritual tradition with any depth or commitment you really have to be idealistic i think you become quite aware this is idealism right you become aware of the huge gap between one's own understanding and capability in relation to the capability
and understanding of great sages had the past
so this idealism seeing this gap and wanting to go towards the ideal
is really important in the beginning for practice because without it you would have no incentive to begin the search
and there will be nothing pulling you along so you need that
but at a certain point it becomes counterproductive
and it will play into this attitude of idealism and this way will play into what buddhism identifies as the main stumbling block to awakening which is our habit of self definition and self identification
as long as we continue to see the ancients in their teachings as profoundly other
then what we ourselves are
we will continue to bind ourselves with self denigration and suffering
so for me the word realistic see is the opposite of this
practice and teaching allows us to recognize that as great as our predecessors in their teachings are
they are not fundamentally different from what we ourselves are as we are right now
and one can easily see why sincere practitioners really don't like it when critical scholars come along and show that the great sages or possibly or certainly motivated by venal human concerns as they often doing we don't like that it's shocking
and definitely the traditional texts and biographies taken at face value did not admit any such possibility
and it certainly seems as if this critical sort of debunking of our heroes but weekend face and enthusiasm
but as i say in view the opposite is the case
maybe i'm odd but i have always been encouraged to find that my idols have feet of clay
because i have feet of clay
and everything on the earth is made of clay it all comes down to clay and the and anyway so this has always been encouraging to me i think this has put in our tradition
when you see the buddha kill the buddha
now i suppose one could say that historical critical studies can go too far in this attitude
and can fail to appreciate sometimes that all human behavior is not explained by economic or gender or power issues
and that we are not entirely products of what i believe scholars call
ah the world of discourse the various discourses in which we live which is it for cause terms
it's a very smart a turmeric fascinating and useful but it may be doesn't explain everything
but even so this doesn't really bother me personally because to me critical studies themselves are poetry you know
in our to be taken
was just as many or as few
ah grains of salt as the original texts which they study
have an example of this kind of historical study again for my own study over time is my the changes into view of dogan i mentioned dogan earlier there have been changes in the view of dog and over the last twenty five or thirty years with all this scholarship when it first started studying dog in many years ago that
entity which was referred to as dogan
was actually i mean i didn't think of it at a time it was clearly some sort of disembodied said
you never thought of doggett wear underwear something you never thought us things like that dogan wasn't like that somehow he was floating in the sky
completely removed from any historical period or any kind of issues of anything you know that's how we thought of it to time and i never questioned the this view you know i'm just like i say you know uncritically continued with it but that view certainly condition how i would read and receive
his writings
now of course thanks to all sorts of scholars
and all their work i know a whole lot more about duggan's contexts movie more than i would like to know
and the various problems and struggles that he dealt with
although lot of this is of course presumed and sort of
detective work you know because there's no diaries or that kind of thing
in any case we know a lot of that stuff and i have myself a which fuller sense of dogan
zingy as a person like me
trying to make the best of the situation that he was in and using whatever he understood of practice as his guide in doing this
and while some may find this discouraging personally i find it rather cheery

one final point here in relation to this thing about historical studies that i think i thought about for many years and i think is particularly important to us as first generation buddhist practitioners
a tradition from asia
i think that this sort of scholarship
and again this kind of scholarship is useful to us whether or not we read it because it filters down you know
we get it we all know it anyway whether or not we actually study it i think this kind of scholarship does help us with understanding and appreciating and be more clear about the process of cultural transmission
particularly from east to west
as buddhist practitioners we are as we all know engaged in a great cultural borrowing maybe the greatest of all cultural borrowings
and it's very tricky
we're all deeply culturally conditioned westerners
attempting to put into practice a tradition that is really thoroughly asian
and although as practitioners we are concerned about our lives as we live them and we're not particularly interested perhaps in the history of culture something like that still we cannot escape the fact that are religious understanding on an everyday
is conditioned deeply by are often unexamined
prejudices and cultural biases
and i remember the early days of interest in eastern spirituality in the west maybe many of you remember those days too
twenty five thirty years ago
when we all thought that the west was completely materialistic violent selfish negative nothing whatsoever good can be said about it
and east was completely spiritual non materialistic positive wonderful exotic and tactic in every way everything that came out of it was as good
and there was certainly an ideal a idealization of all asian spiritual teachers and at fascination with almost anything that they said or deter even aware they looked
and what we thought of as asian was actually a particular sort of romanticism that was entirely western
but we call it buddhism recalled an asian but it was actually a romanticism that was a canada came deeply from some some longing and within western thought so we projected all of this western romanticism onto asians things and
probably the asian teachers bless their souls were
completely confused by it
and i think because of this there was a long period there when there are exchanges and events that happened between western eastern teachers and western students it seemed completely understandable unreasonable but in hindsight are quite based on misunderstanding and cultural bias and confusion
that we're only now beginning to sort out
and we still don't understand i think
and critical scholarship i think it really helps to of scrutinize these things
and to help us gradually bring to light some of these cultural prejudices and
helping to deconstruct are unexamined ideas
in the end i think we are all coming to a view that honours the richness and complexity of our world and of our personal situations
kind of course the more you think about it the more you see that nothing and no one
exactly eastern or western
just as nothing and no one is particularly
from prejudice and for positive and negative characteristics
and in seeing all this clearly little by little i think practitioners have really been helped by scholars
however in accepting it and putting it into practice
without becoming cynical or diminished in faith and energy
for practice
i think we're on our own
so that's the end i think we did very well and nobody fell asleep and i can see except jordan mateen your responses
and so i don't count him
so i appreciate your allowing me to in a ridge of these things you see it's very practical for me because then i don't have to prepare another talk
and also i think that it's kind of interesting to reflect in a different way you know on to standing we will have a step back it's important i think for us to have these kind of reflections about our practice i hope it helps a little bit
the our intention this is also true with language itself there's no difference that a word
really hearing a word can be the same as hearing the son of a bird so language can be taken that way then you can see the difference between that sense of language and the usual one that we engage in
so that's what i was turn it into kid
i understand that
when one comes to credit goals that critical school puzzles that it seemed to me it was
i'll know seeking elsewhere
it could on this intellectual take you to the place
not being afraid
you are certain type of about that but also need you to that sort of fundamental and asked us intellectually
where is just studying attacks
without that may not know deaths yeah yeah that's right that's the point i was making that's the advantage of
critical theory in critical scholarship
but then when you have to hold out lightly you know i'll take it with a great assault and not you know cursor people getting huge fights of the way that they view texts and they get into all kinds of arguments and debates and the self identify with their work as scholars and so on and so on and own you know so
i think one has to hold it lightly and not and not take it with a grain of salt like a mistake
it's okay
arise when i travel
just yeah
well i would forget about it
seriously i know i don't think there's any reason to study them and they sort of you know to appreciate the coins one really has seven appreciation of a lot of other things and do to stop and if you think about it and i've said this before you think about this to typical and story of the guy was all the texts on his back and
i was suddenly here's a word from the zen master and throws away all the texts while the part that we always notice is how he threw away all his texts but the part that we don't notice is that he had him in the first place
and i think there's the story really does tell us that that that that actually historically the zen literature was a literature that came out of
there were assumed a background in buddhism assume a basic grasp of fundamental buddhist teachings
a penny on and my on teachings and majolica philosophy and on yoga chara philosophy and then it was sort of like gum
as if the buddhist teachings were a jar with a lid on it and you had to have the jar and the lid on it and an then comes along takes the lid off
but if there's no jar there in the first place taking the lid off is pretty meaningless
so that's why i really feel like and then this is not only to of coins but to me is any studies in buddhism that what you should study is what seems meaningful to you your uke you have a certain karmic a predisposition in your practice now you're at a certain point at a certain place it's not a question of
beginning or intermediate or advanced or anything like that it's a question of just one's life right this is where i met and
things that you study will you really getting so well that's important to me something else you say what you know who cares about that and i would say that if it's fitted structure that way forget about it and
i basically didn't study the current literature for years for that reason i found it actually that's another story that but there's something about it that's counterproductive
if it creates the attitude in the practitioner oh my god you know this stuff or so
ah enlightened and i'll never understand it but the teacher understands him this is not helpful as far as i can tell and the cohen literature is very
susceptible to that sort of thing
and so is a far if you look at yourself and you see that that's the case and lot of people are fascinated with for just that reason which is i think a little neurotic for some people you know they mean like i know what i what i can understand what's made with makes me feel stupid is what i really love the more stupid i feel the better you know really i mean this is not a good thing it seems to me
but there are people is a little bit masochistic great
so i would say forget about it who cares you know i mean the important thing is not i mean i suppose if you don't want is that it is is a professional xander something which is not a good profession to begin with because how many jobs are there that professionals and jobs six
so i would say it's not a good profession but if one is a professionals and then you know everyone has some why i should understand this stuff i mean i feel that way to some extent that's why i'm now studying the coins because i feel like it's terrible if i don't you know i should i should know it right i should say so i was a professional feeling about it also of course as
i studied i appreciate it and they find more than just professional interest in it but if you don't have a professional interest than the main thing is not that we have a professional interests obviously but that we have practice that we have spiritual transformation and satisfaction and happiness out of our practice that's the only thing that's important and so
so are you study what what mood you in that way what helps and then of course that changes and in later on or something else it is that you you study based on what you learn before so i would say in all honesty not being flip or anything you can totally forget about the collins and and not worry about them and if if you are in in
in your life you may
have to encounter them whether you like it or not in the in a dorm with talk or some like that dentists you know certain file your breath and appreciate them as far as you can and as far as it seems not so meaningful just let it go
i really don't think it's necessary if there's a time comes when it's meaningful to you then it'll it'll come in and you enjoy it
no talking about how useful you found it to stand up from the literature on sale hands on how to do tests
to what extent is a chance now and what is it comes to the west sort of open up the street soto line more general correct when we can actually draw to other schools to the extended not a western like know well that's exactly what we're doing of course we have a curriculum
with six different divisions to it and other six divisions is in as one of the other five divisions are not a in
you one is early buddhism in the life of buddha and early teachings including the mindfulness sutra and so on and so on these are part of our our curriculum another one is a buddhist psychology where we study the abbey dharma and the detail teachings of psychology and the third division is some the mahayana sutras
teachings of compassion and ethics and so on
in the next the fourth division his teachings of emptiness the whole literature on emptiness and majolica the fifth one is is in and all his in teachings and the six one and the one that we just added as we revise the curriculum is contemporary buddhism where we do
a whole whole bunch of topics like women in buddhism ecology and buddhism social action etc whole bunch of topics like that are part of the curriculum now so we recognize that it's much more
beneficial to study more widely than just our own school i was referring more to the installation of so to school concert tax
general translations of get me to english com
oh you mean translate drawing on other schools and make that part of it less than soto not
oh i see
if you're you're saying in other words that we would taking certain texts that are not the characteristic of soto in japan and putting them in the sutra book and stuff like to hear well
again we we have done this although we've only done it in our own group we haven't tried to or
but inaugurate what what am i will two things that i have a been particularly interested in adding which we've added to our sutra book and first is richard ah the minnesota
every day which is not a so and text but it's now isn't know in our sutra but because i think i think it's very important for us to chant those words you know just like a mother with her only child so with the boundless mind should want cherish all living beings and so on we chant that and also without a two hour
chanting him to the perfection of wisdom as a female deity which is not in the south and suit your book and we also now chant a lineage of women ancestors which is from the
the first there's a there's a book called terry gotta which is a collection of poetry by women who were or day and during buddhist time and we can all the names of those women everyday now as a lineage which is very uncool sure in in terms of soto in so
we we've done that those two things which i think are important and we study a lot of other things but
yeah i i think it's you know when you get into
kind of like a officially changing the religion to me it's a lot more trouble than it's worth you know because
well it conversations and debates and we're going to you know it's hard to organize like a grown and i think about you know like for example
to try to convince the other so does in temples that they should share the minnesota it's like ah
things to do in a you really mean so but little by little things that are right i think do some so some of the other people from like they'll maybe they'll come they'll be here for this conference dot com this has happened actually where they'll come to the zendo they'll go to service they'll hear the medicine a chanted and they'll say oh that's good know
so that their well as we've gone to each other's temples in fact that's what that has happened with people and we're not the only ones who have made innovations obviously in the liturgy and when we hear innovations from each other often we try to copy them and use them so it's little by little changing
oh i'm sorry

oh no i wasn't referred to that book in particular but more to his whole opus of which i know very little little bit in general joe drifter what he's doing
i find it harder my son gave me who's studying the stuff gave me a copy of
there's a a hero to something like three volume history of sexuality
and there's a famous
book that is the introduction to the three volume history of sexuality which i my son gave me to read and i was real exciting cassandra foucault you know never read him
interested so i read almost all of that but i found it kind of boring
because i hit him he's the style of writing is extremely
prolix he says of leaves a lot of words in a tremendous number of words and on an unknown and think you read twenty thirty forty fifty pages and say well this only amounts to blah blah blah which is a good idea but why did you have to say forty package this uniform is french french
right yeah i know amazon so i have a hard time area but i would like to you know it in the best of all possible worlds if i had time to read anything which i don't really i would like to read try maybe i could get into it if i read where would i haven't written much foucault but i read other gathered there's one fascinating buddhist scholar
yeah i think it's going to be at our conference than of the week named bernard for
his wonderful guys his fridge right and brilliant guy mean totally brilliant and he's that completely digested not only because he's french the entire french intellectual tradition and read it read all the great giants of it but also
is an expert in two or three asian languages and knows
ashley said literature inside and out and his sort of scholarly project is to apply
the categories of french historical scholarship to in materials which of course really burns a lot of people up in this world
but i like it myself because his idea is well if we're really going to have that in the west and we should westernized these materials and we should treat them just the same way we treat anything else why should we treat them otherwise why shoots in the older and japanese so we can't really criticize them so he he applies all this stuff and it's it's very hilarious and clever and wonderful and great to read it
got three books that i would really recommend a lot of what i know about the french tradition comes from reading his books which i read about half of his three books and bernard for fau are a wonderful person and brilliant guy and then also so many almost anything you read the eyes you know
contemporary scholarship
is refers to foucault and is if it doesn't refer to him is based on his methods and his understanding so so what knows it you know even if you know i've never read it somehow just like anything you know we we live in a you know what darwinian freud in marxist universe and maybe for reddit a those people but it's all know in
the air we all know it surmise typical you know if we think based on those ideas and i think the same with foucault hollow it's
could take a little longer we were not quite there yet
ah it's certainly shaping her our way of thinking
and who
fundamental misunderstanding
if one takes the that it takes on you become it
your answer appears know
but it's awesome i understand there are right answers go down the list and he past
well if the coins are really
sir a fundamental structures of the human heart and in the buddhist teaching
then how can it be otherwise
right i mean so a subtle teacher will ah
see the right answer in your answer or not so that's i understand the correct in that i think there has to be these four words yeah right right but there has to be the right right so there's all kinds of there's many
stories for example where someone comes in and presents the right answer those four words and teacher raise the balance has wrong right that's a common and then person comes back years later after much struggle presents the same forwards that's right what
the difference will the teacher was subtle enough to understand that the person had the right words but didn't really understand and the converse is also true sometimes the person says other words and with some probing the teacher can discover whether those other words we hit t swear words are not so it's a subtle thing and you know you know from sitting that
there's a tremendous intensity to the sitting practice and the ducks on experience in that intensity and there's this is a hyper clarity that one can bring to bear to be able to
you know ascertain these things and of course there's mistakes also there's mistakes and also the system any system
here's a system
you know there's no system that has absolute truth itself it's a system that one hopes carries absolute truth but is not absolute truth so
so understanding cons you understand them always in the context of a particular system and you have to kind of like organize yourself to kind of play ball with that system
did you have to sort of conform to that system and it takes a while and then eventually with practice you do conform to that system and then through conform to that system you can understand something we hope that's beyond that system that we're not stuck with you know i kind of narrowness but one could also get stuck with an arrow
so that's how it really is
so and they're the they're different and what you're saying about how you have to get this those four words well that's in a particular system there are other systems of studying collins where it's not that way whether aren't right answers are there there's no passing or not passing that's more our way this more more of a sense of not not necessarily passing or not passing
oh you just cry cause a carrot thing
yeah constant
yeah of course to were there we have our own car
yeah that's right that's right here steer yeah that's right yeah i think that the color system that we usually think of which is the one that was
when nj and carried to the west by various teachers that we know about that one
is a essentially a literary system it's a system of understanding insights into the zen teachings using these these stories and they do have specific meanings and so on as a good system but most of the teachers who would teach that system also understood
stand that
without applying those insights those literary insights into one's life and understanding them in terms of one's life as that it doesn't mean too much and a lot of the teachers that i know teaching that system have added an element to it which is though it was not so in the japanese tradition but in our tradition law those teachers will say why
have a dimension to you can't pass the cohen until you can convince the teacher that you will understand how this applies to your life if you just understand the story even though you might have a profound understanding of it and you can't say when questioned you know what this has to do with your life then they'll say not yet
one of the teachers now the good good ones do that
what's not all

well in a sense it is
in the in the number one as we're speaking earlier
typically soto zen and certainly we hear study whole bunch of other stuff so in so far as we're not only studying cohen's were studying and not only studies zen literature but all sorts of buddhist literature therefore we don't have time to you know be only dealing with coins that's one thing and then the other thing is that even when we do
year with collins as we do we study coins also
we don't
have an organized curriculum
we don't have the system the dogs on system that you need in order to move through cons went after the other and so our way of khan is more like standing like the code is like a raindrops you know you sort of stand there and that the raindrops fall on you for one year two years five years ten years twenty years thirty years and after a while your
pretty soaking wet with some flavor as i'm feeling for the stories that comes out of your practice although you haven't you know kind of said okay this is my answer right now i'm on the next one right you haven't done it that where you've just over the years study them and heard them and meditated on them and appreciate down and number of
and like i say i feel like they're not as mysterious as they seemed when we first heard them they are many that and there's different types of cause some of them are fairly obvious and in a way
insights into the teaching that we can intellectually explain although explaining them in really putting them into practice or two different things others are not have no explanations you know so there aren't that there's many different say that's the difference so i always feel that i feel like our
our tradition we are not least and i would say maybe others teachers would not agree with me but i would say myself that that if somebody said gee i'm totally into coins and i really interested in cause that's what i really want to study more than anything i would say go to a teacher in one of the other lineages that focuses more on coins
that because i don't think our lineage is kind of like little stupid not so you call on study is very sharp and clear all this in our lives a little bit not so smart
so i would say that you know if that's your main interest that you're better off going to someplace that really has that clarity and i myself have done and i go to those other religious to study that's where i studied done a lot of coin studies and other lineages which i appreciate for its their clarity and so forth
so if somebody came to me and said i want to study colin's i would say why when you go study with this teacher that teacher because it would be better
who are you a lot of questions city is into the prisoner is there a great deal of controversy about whether chance it down and japanese or english
the reason i'm asking the question is that having grown up camp
i think realize that
can for me the most powerful part of catholic mass in retrospect is a latin yes yeah in english spread
and because it's about mystery what you realize in is it's about mystery the studying as i would want to do an english perhaps go now experiencing the essence of the power of their religion or that ritual needed to be done
and i thought well maybe it's like a relationship when when you're at my level of awareness they have to be two different it's like in a relationship you go from i don't know you not romantically i know you're romantically really know it's not romantically
and maybe a fire to buddhist scholar i would be intimate enough in a new way with the materials of chanting it in english reading study
even now it seems to me i tried to say emptiness is for productive and it's like i'm trying to say appear i knit japanese anyway
yeah well most of which we use both and were i think that we
are committed to to we are
like all the suitors that returned or suitor equivalent texts are all translated into english and we chant them sometimes in english he jumped sometimes in japanese
and all of the ironies that we chat which was sort of like magical formula formulas you know we don't translate in english we only gentlemen in sino japanese not even japanese it doesn't make sense and japanese either it's a japanese attempt to say chinese syllables which themselves were attempts to say so
sanskrit words so it's a very odd thing where we're repeating phrases that are supposed to be an original language but they're not they're meaningless actually although there are scholars have made attempts to translate you know the original words which makes some sense but not too much
and i think that we we have no plans to change that and other words what i'm saying is we use japanese for some things sino japanese for something's japanese and english for other things and this feels like where we want to be we don't pretend it never have another never used japanese words at all
and i think partly you know there's a some religions have sacred languages
like in judaism hebrew is a sacred language and although it prayers are translated into english
somebody could argue because of the concept that is sacred language that you can't really pray in jewish tradition outside of hebrew there has to be hebrew that's not true in buddhism it's also true like say in the in the vedic religion and so forth where the language is considered and mean there's a whole theory of this right languages can see itself as considered a whole
old insights of the tradition they can't be translated into another language and then you no one knows that when you translate for one language into another an enormous change takes place is not like you can literally translate this word equals that word it doesn't the more sensitive you aren't a language the more you see that nothing can be translated ever but there's a famous passage where somebody asked this to them to the
buddha they said shouldn't we be you know that shouldn't we be translating your discourses into the vedic language the language of religion shouldn't we shouldn't we be teaching in that language and shouldn't we be transmitting your teachings in that language and the buddha said very clearly know wherever you go speak the language of those people
translate my teachings into the language of those people and so buddhism doesn't have an idea of sacred language i don't know in in catholicism was latin considered a sacred language for the mass or just a convenient language didn't language scots
yeah it was the universal language was yeah was practical intuition yeah
yeah so apparently they didn't understand latin as this sacred language cause a convenience you know like like in buddhism yeah
and actually why
yeah why you are repeating
right yeah
course the opposite they happens to where i know in judaism this happens where people said well i really enjoyed the prayers until i found out with a minutes
if that doesn't mean anything that arena and i think a lot of catholics feel that way to i really loved the latin and ah you know all the singing and was beautiful and have a deep meaning of even now that they translated and i'm outta here you know and it got started good isn't it
a lot of there's a lot of chaotic particularly catholics and also lot of jewish people who
you know
because of the translation
don't like with the texts say
like opera yeah yeah right opera has to be an italian otherwise

right right

oh okay
yeah well it was it was a liberalizing thing with pope pope john in the sixties year
yeah but i know i've heard many people say what what you are saying that that they miss the you know the mystery of the mass and the different feeling to seeing the mass i'm sure in latin then an english to somebody over here

well didn't really stand up for anything i do i use them to were
recite montrose and sometimes i forget about the montrose and just use them to remind kissed a present yeah so it's very much equivalent really to rosary beads in catholicism where you say a prayer the prayer with beards and so on similar yeah what you said a few minutes
what do you think a
yeah on on the on the power of the liturgy well of course i don't really i don't really know because one would have to experience but that maybe you could say if of europe's hebrews grew up speaking hebrew
did they were what effect if any would you say that
the fact that in israel hebrew as the everyday language
what what effect does that have on the liturgy though in other words that what effect does that have i'm going to synagogue and praying in hebrew
it's like shakespeare
have a common english and then you have somebody
so it doesn't feel like if if it's so they get it's analogous to analogous to shakespeare as english it's feels when you say those words it feels like a different level of the language not the same as every day
yeah so being a hebrew speaker you can appreciate the liturgy maria
well there you go
this is from israel so
well or maybe the problem is that that the you know when see it's the opposite thing i mean if we were all to speak chinese
a in other words while we translate were translating using if we have impoverished english we're now bringing down this text into the product published english rather than the other way round so she's talking from an experienced this from the other direction taking a sacred language and bringing it to the demotic then you can appreciate the sacred language but
i know i know that's an amazing it's an amazing thing yeah somebody just decided you know imagine that right imagine going in and saying like let's make this the language of this country
when it didn't exist the country was a miracle itself is and then all of a sudden you know it it happened so that that is the kind of from amazing thing
yeah hope he said wrong and speak okay
yeah yeah well that reminds me of milk law margolin you know my friend on my goal and whose
it has devoted himself to preserving a number of these languages that are actually dying right so he's like publishing these books written in these languages that don't exist anymore to preserve them a number of native american languages and of course what what did a labor of love right who's going to buy these works
right who's gonna read him but he is
his commissioning these translations and so on yeah it's amazing
yeah so that's a whole wonderful thing in itself the idea of a language and preserving in and you know it's just think of it you know where you get a language and like some of these languages that the last two or three speakers of this language are living now and they're in their seventies or eighties that's the situation with a lot of the local languages from around here last two or three speakers are now living
an alchemist trying to you know get them to preserve the language for future generations
sousa said it's wonderful
yeah only for the i'd rather
be taken
i'm wondering if is
council are now be trusted
scholars and
we look to america
our or didn't put
as a fairly new term
traditionally skirted well
and then to add this scholarship
wondering if we have started
look at the head who now
hello are you
who's be life
your scholarship you mean this kind of critical scholarship that i was speaking about that what you mean taking an english stream warm
which is
i'm going to miss it are also gang people
yeah well sure i mean and in fact
most people who are teaching and practicing in temples doing retreats and so on and so on are not scholars right and don't even know i mean much about scholarship
and so buddhist teachers are to to me it seems like go are entirely ah
concerned with the heart i mean not the the whole person i want to say the heart but the whole person not just the mind this is entirely the approach i would say in buddhist teaching and buddhist teachers do get together and discuss things
not with scholars but we've had we have many gatherings a buddhist teachers have all sorts that that i got a many formal and informal meetings a buddhist teachers were the subject matter is not these issues that i was talking about today but how do we practice together how do we what really works with students what's how can we meditate in all these kind of things we talk
about so i'm not worried at all about the that excited that i think buddhist practice as practice for the whole person is certainly alive and well and thriving
i think
yeah no no i think so i'm not worried about scholarship taking over not at all in fact the reason why there we could be as a conference like this is because now unlike in the past scholars record recognize the primacy of practice
they feel that their that they feel they hope that their scholarship will will aid practitioners and most of them themselves are practitioners
so which was not the case before before it was considered to be on kosher if you are a scholar to be interested in the religion as such you're only supposed to study it you weren't supposed to be a practitioner know that's not the case anymore
fifty years ago or twenty five years ago there was lots of buddha scholarship but they would never have thought of coming together frisk a meeting with practitioners who would be like why would we talk to them except unless we were doing a survey of trying to get some sociological information about the group otherwise why would we talk to them
you know but now it's not like that neither so this is this is the first in a way but it wouldn't be happening if it weren't for the fact that that's the case now so i think it's the opposite of what you fear the fact it's all about practice and let and not about scholarship hetty kind of thing you know something i've been curious about
with this language
the buddha twenty five hundred years ago a historical their spokane hauling and i don't i don't actually think he spoke of palio some other dialect
analysts know some other close to palm and i forget the name of it and not another dialect
the guys is correct that for the five hundred years after the historical guy despite years nothing was written by was passed on as like
the castle and only or was it this dialectical well ah
i'm not an expert on this i'm not entirely sure but i think what what are what i understand is that it was passed on in a variety of dialects in different parts of india
that were related to and similar to poly and in poly
that's my understanding so when read your something like the message students and managed to get that that that we have that's use your sense there isn't that translated from only yes translate from poly okay i like and the roman catholic church latin was language and then it
went to various countries france italy poland czechoslovakia england america and although it went through these different languages whenever there is any service done it was always where most of what some now in buddhism that has been cases it has
been a sacred is and follow it has been it took that he her china his japanese and now foundation job is to have any much and i'm just wondering how appalling got lost and now it's become these other languages and it seems like every generation time to the language little bit
a generation or so will be like a little bit of japanese thousand japanese held up a little bit of chinese but it's not that we're holding on to the original language
oh i see
again i'm not entirely sure i can answer your question because this is a matter of scholarship and historical studies i only have a big impression
but my impression is that
the poly is it
i don't think it's the case so i guess i don't agree with your original concept here which is that poly is the language of buddha and it's the original language i don't think that that is actually the case i think that from the very beginning there were a variety of dialects and buddha didn't actually speak polly polly was one of many version see what the the original boo
as canon did not exist in one version this is the point it wasn't that there was a version and then it was disseminated
from very early on there were versions many versions
in the chinese didn't get it from poly they gotta from sanskrit because chinese buddhism cancer central asia and central asia the language was sanskrit or other are a number of other central asian languages so that the chinese and the first place didn't necessarily get it from poly and there's a different there's a new
ember of buddhist canon that are actually different in different languages and it never came to china from poly so the chinese got it from sanskrit and other central asian languages translated into chinese and then the the japanese got to from in chinese so i never could never source in the beginning from pot
ali through tiny
the atlanta was not the original language either right right