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zen problematic: case 6 of the mumonkan, and lineage making

To: alt.zen
From: "Ned Ludd" 
Subject: Re: zen problematic: case 6 of the mumonkan, and lineage making
Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 20:35:19 -0500

rethinking  wrote in message

> Again, MOST of it didn't happen.  Or didn't happen the way the
> books and lore said it happened.  You will have no more chance of
> discrediting Zen than you would of discrediting Christianity or
> Islam, or other sects of Buddhism.  They don't even know the
> LANGUAGE he spoke.  Do you understand this?  Do you understand
> what that implies about making any assertion about what Buddha
> REALLY said, or what really happened during Buddha's life?

> i'm not here to discredit zen, but the opposite.

  You want to discredit lineage.  You mistakenly asserted that
the flower story existed in only the Mumonkan.  You openly
question the 'enlightenment' of some people, yet while denying
lineage, you assert things like "his enlightenment has never been
verified" about Kapleau and S. Suzuki and Richard Baker; you say
that some Zen chants come from Tantra, and you say (horrors!) that
there is no "historical basis" to some koans, and call them a
"manufactured piece of fiction".  So, show us some of the
'opposite' of discrediting Zen.

> although it didn't happen, there are certain other things that
> did, whether we know these or not. one of these is the "creation"
> (for the lack of a better word. creation connotes a single or
> unified effort - i make no such suggetion here) of the pali canon.
> the other is the "creation" of mahayana texts and other extraneuous
> writings.

  This would, imo, be a big mistake.  You have effectively discredited
the validity of lineage (at least continuously from Buddha), and the
historical accuracy of the koans.  To backtrack now, and claim that
Pali is historically accurate, would be gross and false revisionism.

  NOTHING was written down for 100 years after Buddha.  There was a
first council shortly after his death, and the sutras were passed on
orally for a century thereafter.  The idea that Pali has a closer line
on the 'truth' of Buddha is absurd in the face of FIVE GENERATIONS of
oral transmission that occurred after Buddha's death.

> if we are to believe the pali sutras are the efforts of the elders
> of  who were closest to buddha,

  No, they were too far away.  They were effectively as far away as
Mahayana, i.e. long after a priesthood had built up.

> then the group decision would bring
> about a body of texts that should be closest (that we can have) of
> what the buddha wanted to say. the buddha did specifically leave
> instructions as to how to verify what he taught, through a process
> of careful scrutiny for something claimed to be taught by him. this
> careful scrutiny ended up becoming the pali and sanskrit sutras in
> the form we know it now. yet there are discrepancies between even
> these two collections.

  You can't get "close to" Buddha through scriptural texts.  Buddha
said to test your beliefs against what you know and your own
experience.  Or do you deny this?

> some kind of judgement must be made as to what we should and
> shouldn't take with a pinch of salt, or even dismiss, using the
> type of scepticism and scrutiny advocated by the buddha. but before
> you say "well, how do we know the buddha said this is the way?", i
> say we don't know, but we do have a whole bunch of evidence we can
> work with.

  Do you really want to know what Buddha said to "take with a pinch
of salt"??  Here is it: "Like stars in the night, a lamp, a phantom,
or dew; Like a bubble, a dream, or lightning in the clouds; So should
we view all the things of the world."

> we are detectives when it comes to this. and that is the best we
> can do. but i don't think total scepticism is healthy or even
> workable. you may end up believing buddhism is a complete
> conspiracy by one person (a kind of big joke) and that nothing
> existed.
> so going back to this evidence, i am not saying "don't read the
> mumonkan", i am saying "inspiring, but don't think it is 'as it
> happened'".

  Yah?  How about the story of Hyakujo's fox being an old dead
priest, and Gutei cutting the boy's finger off, and Nansen killing
the cat, and the girl who had two souls and who existed in two
places at once?

  You shouldn't even bother stumbling on this.

> so going back to the case, i say again, the portrayal of the first
> transmission from master to student is a discourse to affirm, then
> eventually supports the importance of the notion of lineage.
> transmission isn't questioned here, but rather lineage making,
> which has taken on a life of its own, is a necessary part of zen
> now.

  No.  You want to destroy a koan because you want to destroy lineage.
Be honest.  Don't be deceptive.

> in other words, lineage creates the type of barriers which zen says
> it doesn't have, but the truth is it is all important and it sustains
> zen as something distinct from other buddhisms.

  Do you know what Mumonkan means?

> i don't care what the buddha really said; we can never know that
> exactly. however, i do care about what can be relied upon today,
> but don't believe something can be relied upon totally rather
> somethings are worth noting and others need scrutinization.

  Picking and choosing is a great disease.  Do you really think Zen
preaches the dharma of picking and choosing?


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