Soto and Rinzai Zen Comparison

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  • Similarities and Differences: Rinzai and Soto
    • Similarities
      • Both are iconoclastic
      • Use of Zen arts
      • Bodhisattva ideal
      • Non reliance on scriptures and teaching
      • Focus on mediation practices
      • Bodhidharma's 4 key principles
      • Both accept material world
      • Sunyata
      • Core texts: Lankavarta sutra, heart sutra, diamond sutra
      • Teacher - Student Relationship
      • Monastic discipline whilst training as monk or nun
      • Trace historical roots to Buddha's flower sermon
      • Believe in Buddhanature
      • Both use art, music and poetry to express Buddhahood
        • Awakening through daily activities
    • Rinzai
      • Mondo's violent lessons with teachers and strict monastic discipline
        • Strong focus on teacher-student relationship
      • Rooted in Lin Chi
      • Practice Samatha yoga - calm then insight
      • Focus on instant enlightenment
      • Places less emphasis on scripture as attachment can be formed
      • Practice strict iconoclasm
      • Practice zazen facing away from wall
    • Soto
      • Emphasizes no difference between zazen and all daily activity
      • Soto more focus on Zazen/meditation practices
        • Face wall during zazen meditation
      • Rooted in Ts'ao-tung
      • Dogen's reverence for the historical Buddha
      • Practice non-violent way of teaching. Instead they use daily activities to manifest Buddha nature
      • Scripture foundation of practice
      • Dogen's ideas about Buddha nature. Rag statue analogy. All beings are Buddha Nature
      • Emphasis on silent illumination
      • Vipassana yana- using breath


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