Zen Buddhism - Soto

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  • Soto
    • Dogen
      • Zazen
        • Zazen was the right way to practice Buddhism.
          • As a person sits in meditation he or she is able realise their enlightened nature. Nothing else is needed for enlightenment.
        • Dogen argued that every day activites should be the basis of meditation leading to the exploration of the Buddha nature. For Dogen, the realisation of the Buddha nature, and the actual practice of zazen that aimed to bring it about, were actually one and the same.
      • Introduced Soto Zen
        • Aged 13 he was ordained as a Tendai monk at Mt.Hiei
          • He helped to give Zen its own unique identity and more Japanease form, fully seperate from Tendai
      • As a Tendai monk , Dogen had been plagued by the following existential problem concerning paradox between Buddha-nature and spiritual practice.
        • I people already have the Buddha nature, why do they need to exert themselves in spiritual practice to attain Buddhahood.
      • Journey
        • First he was a disciple of Honen, but Pure Land Teaching did not lead to any answers.
          • He was trained by Eisai's disciple, Myozen, who in 1223, took Dogen with him to China.
            • In China, after trying Rinzai and other forms of Ch'an practice, a Ts'ao-tung master, Ju Ching, helped spark off an awakening when Ju-Ching spoke the following to a monk who had fallen asleep.
              • In Zen, body and mind are cast off. Why do you sleep?
                • In 1227 after spending 2 more years perfecting his understanding of Ts'ao-tung, Dogen returned to Japan where many people from all walks of life were drawn to his single minded advocation of Zen.
      • Role in Scripture
        • Critical of the late Ch'an neglect of the Sutras, since these are consistent with the direct mind-to-mind transmission of truth.
        • Dogen was widely read in the Pali Canon and Mahayana Sutras.
          • For Dogen, reading the sutras helped to give faith in the Buddha and the dharma.
            • Therefore, one should respect any Buddhist object or practice, and trust in one's Zen teacher (Roshi)  in helping you to realise the dharma for oneself.
      • Method
        • A strict and simple practice of monastic discipline
          • The practice of zazen ('sitting meditation') - a natural and easy method open to all and encompassing all other practices that are a useful aid.
            • Back to Basics
              • Dogen was deeply impressed by the personal example of the historical Buddha - since he lived a simple and basic life for the constant benefit of others (Bodhisattva ideal)
                • A return to a human-like teacher and example in Zen, rather than a quasi divine being (as he can often be seen in other Asian forms of Buddhism)
      • Buddha nature
        • Dogen rejects the traditional claim that all living beings have Buddha nature e.g. all sentient beings have a Buddha-nature like a Buddha statue covered by a dirty rag.
          • 1) it suggests a dualistic distinction between living and non-living beings.
            • 2) It suggests a dualist distinction between ones Buddha-nature and one's ordinary mind/body that 'has' that original nature within it.
          • In Dogen's experience the search for such a hidden spiritual essence is a misguided example of dualistic thinking.
            • For Dogen, all transient form of existence are manifestations of the Buddha-nature i.e. 'All beings are Buddha-nature' (in other words sunyata)
              • To experience this non-dualistic fact of true existence is to realise the Buddha-nature that just is all beings.
    • Ts'ao-tung
      • Founded by Tsao-shan and Tung-shan- emphasised sitting in silent meditation and gradual awakenings - absed on Hui-negs own view that wisdom and meditation are just one reality.
        • The Japanese Zen master Dogen introduced this form of Ch'an into Japan, where it is knonw as Soto Zen.
    • Key teachings
      • Use of Zazen (sitting meditation)
        • shikantaza (advanced zazen)
      • Gradual school based on realisation of ones buddha nature in a natural, spontatious way.
      • A strict and simple form of monastic discipline


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