Archive for the ‘zen’ Category

Zen: More Dogen

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Today we talked more about Dogen. You know, the guy who started the soto school of zen, lived around 1200, that guy. Or at least that’s what we were supposed to talk about.
In reality the discussion ranged from power point presentations to a recap on koans from last week. Speaking of which, I like koans.
They seem to have the ability to subtly change my thought patterns, the good ones anyway. Kind of calming.
Kenney wanted to spend the first bit of class discussing koans. So, I guess it really was not that off topic. But, we spent the first half of the class talking about them. Then add to that the fact that our reading for the day is itself ‘genjo koan’ by Dogen. Which, I must admit I haven’t read yet.
One of the interesting things Kenney talked about was the untranslatability of Dogen. Not that you can’t translate him into other languages, just that his words are difficult to rephrase and retain their specialness. There is something about how he lays out his ideas that cannot be restated. It’s like there is something there when you use his words, some underlying current, that is lost when paraphrasing.
Interesting idea.

Zen: Lin chi, Or Shouts and Strikes

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Lin Chi, Zen Master.
Shouts, sticks and strikes
Oh, his poor students

For Zen class this week we discussed/are discussing about Lin Chi, an early chinese Zen Master. Coincidentally, the kanji his name are read as rinzai (臨在) in Japanese, which happens to be the name of the stricter school of Zen in Japan.
Old Lin was an aggressive teacher, who spoke plainly and struck his students a lot. They probably deserved it.

Straight from the Bodhidarma’s Mouth

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Zen(or Ch’an if you prefer), in China, was started by Bodhidarma, a cool dude from India. Bodhidarma’s writings are interesting, mystic, and straight forward. And yet, after reading them I don’t feel like I understand Zen any better than I did before reading them. But, I guess that is the point. (more…)

Self, A Useful Abstraction

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Today in Zen, before Kenney kicked me out because she was covering material she covered in Religion in Japan, we talked about Non-Self, one of the most important ideas in Buddhism. As you know, after the Buddha came up with all that about suffering and how it was escapable, he became a selfless teacher. But selfless means more than altruistic. In this case, Non-Self.

I used the word abstraction in the title because I am a student of computer science and abstraction is what we do, more or less. Self is an abstraction, it takes a complex system, say the brain( reptile, and the other later bits), the body, and mind(the patterns in the brain) and makes it seem like it is one entity. I think that this is a useful thing. Thinking and being aware of all the connections of those subsystems takes a lot of time and energy, so it is simpler just to roll it into one idea.

The same is true of many things like cars, computers, skyscrapers, etc. (more…)

Suffering, Etc.

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Another day of Zen.

I didn’t go to the last two classes because the teacher told me I should leave. I took Religion in Japan last semester and we covered basic Buddhism fairly well in that class. そして I already know a lot of what we are covering now for background in Zen.

Arguably, I could have skipped this lecture as well, but it was interesting. We went over the four noble truths(paraphrased):

  1. life is suffering
  2. suffering’s cause is desire
  3. suffering can be ended
  4. There is a way out

Buddhism sounds pretty bleak. But, it always seems that Buddhists like the Dali Lama are always smiling. And Thich Naht Han said be happy with the now, with the world. How does this jive with the idea of all is terrible and disgusting? (more…)

Dogen Zen or Count All The Rice

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

For class today we read an essay by Dogen, one of the first Japanese Zen masters to study in China. At this point, I dont know much about him, but the essay was interesting.

It reminded me of something I read somewhere, that the best descriptions of Zen dont actually talk about Zen at all. This makes sense to me because I think that Zen practice-mindfulness and all that jazz, are better explained by talking about something else. What I mean by that is that Zen is difficult to explain directly.

Suppose I asked you what Zen means. Could you answer? I guess it would depend on what sort of thing you thought I was looking for. (more…)

Thich Nhat Hanh, Or Be Happy with Zen

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Our first reading of the semester is by Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the most famous Zen Master living and lives in Tailand, for those who cannot guess by the name. We read two chapters from his book, ‘Being Peace.’ I was moved abit by them but they didn’t do it for many people, seeming too childish. As Colbert might say, it lacks gravitas. But I don’t mind. I don’t think that you need gravitas for Zen. Gravitas, to me, implies greater appeal to intellectuals. in other words, density. Makes sense I guess because, well gravitas literally means weight, heftness, that sort of thing.


Da Buddha

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

I don’t know much about the Buddha. On the other hand, I have watched “little buddha” when I was little (don’t remember much, keanu should not be a buddhaと思う), I have read books and taken classes that deal with Buddhism and from time to time the Buddha.

Today’s class focused on, you guessed it, the Buddha. I say ‘the Buddha’ because, as anyone who has studied modern Buddhism can tell you, there is more than one. (more…)

All About Zen

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

What is Zen?

Honestly, I don’t know. That is why I decided to take a class on it. Zen Buddhism taught by Kenney at Kansai Gaidai. I suppose there are many reasons why I am interested in Zen. It is associated with Samurai and Bushido, at least in america and I have always wondered how killing people can be reconciled with the whole suffering is bad, everything is suffering and everyones suffering should be eliminated bit of buddhism. (more…)