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Review of JN's Short Zen Glossary

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.philosophy.zen,alt.zen
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Review of JN's Short Zen Glossary
Date: Kali Yuga 49941021

Quoting: | (John Neatrour)

|This is for comment prior to inclusion in the FAQ.

Commentary follows, some my own '[]', some quotation.  
Thank you for your efforts, John.


Words commonly associated with Zen, Ch'an and Dhyana Buddhism.

|Arhat: (Skt) One free from the ten fetters to freedom.

Sometimes transliterated 'arahat', 'arahan' or 'arahant', 
meaning 'worthy' or 'worthy one'.  The ideal of Theravadan
Buddhism, as compared to the 'bodhisattva', the ideal of 
Mahayana Buddhism.  Both these titles are sometimes used
in a social sense to refer to individuals who have taken
certain vows or succeeded to certain social responsibilities.

"...He or she is one who has fully completed spiritual 
 training, is fully endowed with all factors of the Path, 
 and has quenched the 'fires' of the defilements.  He has
 overcome the 'disease' of *dukkha* and attained complete
 mental health."  _An Introduction to Buddhism_, Peter Harvey, p 64.

"When it comes to consideration of proper Buddhist daily conduct,
 generalizations about the contrast between the followers of the
 *arhat* ideal and that of the *bodhisattva* tend to break down.
 'Helping one's fellows,' clearly a basic part of [Theravadan]
 everday practice, is attested to in a number of engaging accounts
 of daily practice in Theravada countries."  
	_Buddhism: A Way of Life and Thought_, Nancy W. Ross, p. 50.

|Avidya: (Skt, P: Avijja) Ignorance, manifested as attachment to greed,
|	anger, and delusion.

Also transliterated as 'delusion' or 'nescience'.

"The 'ignorance' referred to is not lack of information, but a more
 deep-seated misperception of reality, which can only be destroyed by
 direct meditative insight.  It is given as the first link [of the
 12 which, being conditioned and conditioning, give rise to dukkha]
 due to its fundamental influence on the process of life, but is itself
 conditioned by sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, agitation and fear
 of commitment: five hindrances which are in turn conditioned by
 unskilful conduct." Ibid, Harvey p. 16.

"Avidya - ... non-cognizance of the four noble truths, the three precious
 ones, and the law of karma.  *Avidya* is the first part in the nexus of
 conditionality (*pratitya-samutpada*), which leads to entanglement in
 the world of samsara as well as to the three cankers (*asrava*).  It is
 one of the passions (*klesha*) and the last of the ten fetters 

"Avidya is considered the root of everything unwholesome in the world and
 is defined as ignorance of the suffering-ridden character of existence.
 It is the state of mind that does not correspond to reality, that holds
 illusory phenomena for reality, and brings forth suffering.  Ignorance
 occasions craving (*trishna*) and is thereby the essential factor binding
 beings to the cycle of rebirth.  According to the Mahayana view, *avidya*
 with regard to the emptiness (*shunyata*) of appearances entails that a
 person who is not enlightened  will take the phenomenal world to be the
 only reality and thus conceal from himself the essential truth.

"*Avidya* is differently expounded by the individual Mahayana schools.
 In Madhyamaka ignorance refers to the determination of the mind through
 a priori ideas and concepts that permit beings to construct an ideal
 world, that confer upon the everyday world its forms and manifold
 quality, and that thus block vision of reality.  *Avidya* is thus the
 nonrecognition of the true nature of the world, which is emptiness
 (*shunyata*) and the mistaken understanding of the nature of phenomena.
 In this way it has a double function: ignorance veils the true nature
 and also constructs the illusory appearance; the two condition each other
 mutually.  In this system *avidya* characterizes the conventional reality.

"For the Sautrantikas and Vaibhashikas *avidya* means seeing the world as
 unitary and enduring, whereas in reality it is manifold and impermanent.
 Ignorance confers substantiality on the world and its appearances.  In
 the Yogachara view *avidya* means seeing the object as a unit independent
 of consciousness, when in reality it is identical with it."
	_The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen_, p. 15.

|Buddha:	(Skt) an enlightened one.

Also translated 'awakened one'.  Note that there are said to be various
*kinds* of Buddhas.

|Karma: (Skt; Kamma P) The law of cause and effect. Actions have 
|	forseeable and unforseeable consequences.

Literally, 'deed' or 'action'.

"The movement of beings between rebirths is not a haphazard process but
 is ordered and governed by the law of karma, the principle that beings
 are reborn according to the nature and quality of their past actions;
 they are 'heir' to their actions.... A person's actions mould their
 consciousness, making them into a certain kind of person, so that when 
 they die their outer form tends to correspond to the type of nature
 that has been developed....

"The law of karma is seen as a natural law inherent in the nature of
 things, like a law of physics.  It is not operated by a God, and indeed
 the gods are themselves under its sway.  Good and bad rebirths are not,
 therefore seen as 'rewards' and 'punishments', but as simply the natural
 results of certain kinds of action.  Karma is often likened to a seed,
 and the two words for a karmic result, *vipaka* and *phala*,
 respectively mean 'ripening' and 'fruit'.

"What determines the nature of a karmic 'seed' is the will or intention
 behind an act....  It is the psychological impulse behind an action that
 is 'karma', that which sets going a chain of causes culminating in a
 karmic fruit.  Actions, then, must be intentional if they are to generate
 karmic fruits: accidental treading on an insect does not have such an
 effect, as the Jains believe....

"The law of karma is not regarded as rigid and mechanical, but as the
 flexible, fluid and dynamic outworking of the fruits of actions.  The
 full details of its working out, in specific instances, are said to be
 'unthinkable' (*acinteyya*) to all but a Buddha."  Ibid, Harvey, pp. 39-41.

 [quoting Ryokwan]
"The past is already past,
 The future is not yet here,
 The present never abides;
 Things are constantly changing, with nothing on which to depend;
 So many names and words confusingly self-created --
 What is the use of wasting your life thus idly all day?
 Do no retain your timeworn views,
 Nor pursue your newly-fashioned imaginations:
 Sincerely and wholeheartedly make inquiries and also reflect within yourself;
 Inquiring and reflecting, reflecting and inquiring,
 Until the moment comes when no further inquiries are possible;
 For this is the time when you will realize that all your past has been in the
	wrong." _Zen and Japanese Culture_, D.T. Suzuki, p. 367.

"Only a deed that is free from desire, hate, and delusion is without karmic
 effect.  In this connection it should be noted that also good deeds bring
 'rewards,' engender karma and thus renewed rebirth.  In order to liberate
 oneself from the cycle of rebirth, one must refrain from both 'good' and
 'bad' deeds." Ibid, Dictionary, p. 112.

|Kensho: an experience of seeing into one's own nature.
|[Later:] Satori: an experience of enlightenment.

Chinese 'wu', 'realization'.  Also Japanese is 'satori' or 'catching on'.
Kensho, 'seeing nature', is often translated 'self-realization' and often
used synonymously with 'satori', though it is customary to associate the
latter with the enlightenment experience of a deep nature, such as of a
Buddha or bodhisattva.

"*Kensho* is not a single experience, but refers to a whole series of
 realizations from a beginner's shallow glimpse of the nature of mind,
 up to a vision of emptiness equivalent to the 'Path of Seeing'..., or
 to Buddhahood itself.  In all of these, the same 'thing' is known, but
 in different degrees of clarity and profundity."  Ibid, Harvey p. 276.

|Kinhin: walking zazen.

Often practiced between sitting periods.

|Koan: (Ch: kungan) literally, 'public record'. A record of pointing to
|	enlightenment in an interaction in a Zen teaching context.
|     Short Example: 
|	A monk asked Joshu, 'Does a dog have Buddha nature?'
|	Joshu replied: 'Mu.' (literally: without or lacking)

My experience is that koans are not pointing to enlightenment so much as
records used as tools to *further* it.  That is, a koan is not simply a
story of the past.  It is also a grain of sand which explodes in the
disciple-oyster and blossoms into awakening.

|Nirvana: (Skt, P: Nibbana, J: Nehan) An aspect of the world expressed
|	as omeness, stillness, and exhaustion of desires.
Often translated 'extinction', arising from the root which implies 'going
out' (as a candle flame).  'Nirvana' is said by some to be the goal of
all Buddhist traditions and some would eschew your use of 'oneness' as

|Samsara: (Skt & P) An aspect of world expressed as differentiation,
|	change, becoming, impermanence and desires.

Literally, 'journeying'.  Often portrayed as a Wheel of Rebirth.  A
procession or cycling of continued rebirths (some say of the individual,
some say of the ego, some don't distinguish between these).  Contrasted
and at times equated through nonduality with 'Nirvana'.

|Sutra: (Skt; P: Sutta) The teaching discourses of the Buddhist canon,
|	most are presented as the words of the historic Buddha.

Literally, 'thread'.  Compare with Usenet newsgroup collections/threads.
Each introduced: "Thus have I heard," likely since the Buddha's illustrious
disciple is reputed to have been their conveyor, Gautama Buddha never 
having set anything into writing.

|Tathata: (Skt) Thusness, the as-it-is-ness of the world.
|Tathagatha: (Skt) The thus-come-thus-gone one, an epithet of the Buddha.

Also the first is translated 'suchness'.  The second 'the thus-perfected'.

|Zazen: (Ch: Zuochan) Sitting meditation.

Literally, possibly.  Also, sitting in absorption.

"Zazen is not meditation in the usual sense, since meditation includes,
 at least initially, the focussing of the mind on a 'meditation object'
 (for example, a mandala or a graphic representation of a bodhisattva)
 or contemplating abstract properties (for instance, impermanence or
 compassion).  *Zazen*, however, is intended to free the mind from bondage
 to any thought-form, vision, thing or representation, however sublime or
 holy it might be.

"Even such aids to *zazen* practice as koans are not meditation objects in
 the usual sense; the essential nature of a koan is a paradox, that which
 is beyond conception.

"In its purest form, *zazen* is dwelling in a state of thought-free, alertly
 wakeful attention, which, however, is not directed toward any object and
 clings to no content (*shikantaza*).  If practiced over a long period of
 time with persistence and devotion, *zazen* brings the mind of the sitter
 to a state of totally contentless wakefulness, from which, in a sudden
 breakthrough of enlightenment, he can realize his own true nature or
 buddha-nature (*bussh*), which is identical with the nature of the entire
 universe. ['As above, so below.]

"...the great Zen master Hakuin Zenji sings:

		'Zazen as taught in the Mahayana:
		 No praise can exhaust its merit.
		 The six paramitas, like giving of alms,
		 	observing the precepts and other
			good deeds, differently enumerated,
		 They all come from zazen.
		 Whowever even gains the merit of practicing
			zazen once,
		 Eliminates immeasurable guilt accumulated
			in the past.'"
			Ibid, Dictionary, pp. 260-1.

|Zen: (K: Son; Ch: Chan) Meditation.

Sanskrit 'Dhyana'.  Also a school of Mahayana Buddhism, originating in 
the doings of Bodhidharma in China and developing there as a mixture
of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism during the 6th and 7th centuries.  It 
manifests in religious form within the sects of Soto, Rinzai and Obaku 
in Japanese culture.

It should be noted, as in 'zazen' above, that 'meditation' is a very
poor translation of the term 'zen', which is also a shortened form
of 'zenna' or 'zenno', in turn a translation of 'channa' in Chinese.
Better would be 'absorption' or 'collectedness'.

"While the Hua-yen Schools represented the intellectuality, so to speak,
 of the Chinese Buddhists, there was an other school rising to power
 along with it and taking a strong hold of their minds -- which was Zen
 (Ch'an in Chinese).  Zen appealed partly to the empirical proclivity
 of Chinese mentality and partly to its craving for mysticism.  Zen
 despised learning of letters and upheld the intuitive mode of understanding,
 for its followers were convinced that this was the most direct and effective
 instrument with which to grasp ultimate reality.  In fact, empiricism and
 mysticism and positivism can walk hand in hand quite readily.  They all look
 for the facts of experience and are shy of building up an intellectual
 framework around them."  Ibid, Suzuki, p. 50.

"Even when Zen indulges in intellection, it never subscribes to a pantheistic
 interpretation of the world.  For one thing, there is no One in Zen.  If
 Zen ever speaks of the One as if it recognized it, this is a kind of
 condescension to common parlance.  To Zen students, the One is the All and
 the All is the One; and yet the One remains the One and the All remains the
 All.  'Not two!' may lead the logician to think, 'It is One.'  But the
 master would go on saying, 'Not One either!'  'What then?' we may ask.
 We here face a blind alley, as far as verbalism is concerned.  Therefore
 it is said that "If you wish to be in direct communion {with Reality}, I
 tell you, 'Not two!"' [apparently '{}' is the author's insertion]

"The following mondo may help to illustrate the point I wish to make in
 regard to the Zen attitude toward the so-called pantheistic interpretation
 of nature.  [some translated terminology omitted]

	A monk asked Tosu, a Zen master of the T'ang period:
	'I understand that all sounds are the voice of the
	Buddha.  Is this right?'  The master said, 'That is
	right.'  The monk then proceeded: 'Would not the
	master please stop making a noise which echoes the
	sound of a fermenting mass of filth?'  The master
	thereupon struck the monk.

	The monk further asked Tosu: 'Am I in the right when
	I understand the Buddha as asserting that all talk,
	however trivial or derogatory, belongs to ultimate
	truth?'  The master said, 'Yes, you are in the right.'
	The monk went on, 'May I then call you a donkey?'  The
	master thereupon struck him.

"...It is remarkable that Tosu put his foot right down against such
 intellectualist interpretations and struck his monk.  The latter in
 all probability expected to see the master nonplussed by his statements
 which logically follow from his first assertion.  The master Tosu knew,
 as all Zen masters do, the uselessness of making any verbal demonstration
 against such a 'logician.'  For verbalism leads from one complication to
 another; there is no end to it.  The only effective way, perhaps, to make
 such a monk as this one realize the falsehood of his conceptual under-
 standing is to strike him and so let him experience within himself the
 meaning of the statement, 'One in All and All in One.'  The monk was to
 be awakened from his logical somnambulism.  Hence Tosu's drastic measure.

"...What is needed here is an abrupt turning or awakening, with which one
 comes to the realization of the truth of Zen -- which is neither 
 transcendentalism nor immanentism nor a combination of the two.  The truth
 is as Tosu declares in the following:

	A monk asks, 'What is the Buddha?'
	Tosu answers, 'The Buddha.'
	Monk: 'What is the Tao?'
	Tosu: 'The Tao.'
	Monk 'What is Zen?'
	Tosu: 'Zen.'

"The master answers like a parrot, he is echo itself.  In fact, there is
 no other way of illuminating the monk's mind than affirming that what is
 is - which is the final fact of experience."  Ibid, Suzuki, pp. 32-4.

I would suggest that the following teaching attributed to the Buddha
be placed at the beginning and/or end of every document which is 
associated with the alt.zen newsgroup:

	"Do not rely on others, 
	 nor on the reading of the sutras and sastras.  
	 Be your own lamp."


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