Ach herrlich, ich habe mich mal ein Weilchen im Zenforum International getummelt. Etwa 8 Stunden waren meine Antworten auf Fragen von Usern online, ehe ich ausgeloggt wurde und nicht mehr reinkam. Mein Thread wurde gelöscht, eine Begründung der Betreiber gab es nicht. Stattdessen kamen automatisierte Antworten in diesem Wortlaut: "The following reason was given for the disapproval: Attacks another user rather than sticking to the subject." (Grund der Ablehnung: Angriff auf einen User, statt beim Thema zu bleiben.) Doch was hatte ich getan? Hier ein Beispiel. Ein User fragt: "How can s.th. be verified?" (Wie kann etwas bestätigt werden?) Und ich antworte: "By the example of your life." (Durch das Beispiel deines Lebens.)
Was steckt also wirklich dahinter? Zunächst hatte ich nach Mitternacht fröhlich meine Antworten auf fast zwei Dutzend Fragen eingetippt, bis mir dämmerte, mal die Bedingungen für das Posten in der "Ask a Teacher"-Sektion zu checken - und die waren dann doch etwas komplexer. Es wurde allerdings die Möglichkeit eingeräumt, mit den anderen Usern die Fragen in anderen Foren zu diskutieren. Dies tat ich, indem ich die meisten Fragen und Antworten in einem Posting zusammenfasste. Ihr könnt es unten lesen, bitte verzeiht, dass ich es nicht übersetze. Nachdem die erste Zustimmung von Usern zu lesen war, dürfte sich irgendeiner der "offiziellen" Lehrer (Ihr könnt dort selbst sehen, wer das ist) über so manches aufgeregt haben, was ich zu sagen hatte. Das war aber auch der Zweck der Übung. Über einige Beiträge konnte ich nur den Kopf schütteln, einer meinte z.B., man bekäme vom vielen Sitzen keine Hämorrhoiden (wie viel der wohl gesessen hat?). Nun, ich hoffe, Ihr vergnügt Euch. Das Ganze hat so viel Spaß gemacht, dass ich mir überlege, hier eine regelmäßige Kolumne "Frag den Zen-Rüpel" einzurichten, wenn Ihr wollt. Und nun die Beiträge:
This is a couple of answers that I wrote spontaneously last night. I give the topics of the questions first, than the answers, and hope they help. It might be useful to read the answers of the "official" teachers in the "Ask a Teacher"-section in comparison.
1) "What is disenchantment?"
Disenchantment: "Oh, that's all there is to it?" Yes, nothing special to gain.
This sort of disenchantment will make you laugh: Hahaha.
2) "Someone calling at 3 in the night"
If someone calls me at 3 in the night, it must be important to him/her. I'd be curious.
Once, I tried to contact a teacher in the US (I am in Germany). I googled his address and first found an old one in the east. There, it was early morning, and I guessed as a zen teacher he'd be up early. It turned out to be the wrong number. So I called the second one that I had found - but overlooked that it was Californian. There, it was still night. "Do you know what time it is" his wife mumbled. I correctly read her the time from my watch.
3) "Why so many traditions?"
Emptiness manifests in unlimited ways. It is its potential.
4) "Real purpose of a teacher"
To give an example how to live the Buddha Dharma.
To make you unattached, even from him/her.
5) "Hate the sin and not the sinner"
The precepts just tell you what you already know, don't they? Probably your parents taught you not to kill, not to steal, not to drink too much etc., or you found out by yourself that it is harmful to do otherwise. In zen, there is no easy Ghandi-way out of this - sin and sinner are one. You are responsible. Who else could be?
The traditional oxherd pictures may give you a hint to what happens with your moral judgement. Don't be misled. From your common view of right and wrong you will go through doubts and throw them overboard, but in the end you will be "just a normal person" with a sense to differentiate between right and wrong again - but deeper. Your clearness is the fruit of Buddha-practice.
6) "Should anyone be called a master in Buddhism?"
7) "Separating crap from roses"
Isn't this a beautiful eye behind a curtain?
Give your master a kiss at first sight. If you detect that he wants you - run away and look for another one.
8) "More about life and death"
"Live every moment as if it is your last, for it is.
So, for the record: I have not arrived at such a realization through practice (as of yet), so I can only 'accept' it, but I still cannot directly see it."
Oh yes, you have arrived there - because those moments are gone, and you lived them, right? Why fear the fear of death? It will just be another moment. In the time frame of your life, a rather tiny one.
Ah, someone thinks he has overcome the fear of death. That may be because in zen we speak of "dying on the cushion", dying in zazen, i.e. letting go of our ego. Or: The death of our ego. Actually, no one knows if he has overcome this fear until he dies. Let me tell you, there were zen masters who peed in their pants when the time came. Don't underestimate another zen teaching: Each moment exists in itself. Don't project what you feel now into the future.
And the famous Vietnamese monk - I am sorry to say that some people in Vietnam believe he was heavily drugged before his self-immolation.
The vinaya, the monk's rules which are popular in SE-Asia (though not as much in Japanese zen) prohibit suicide. Please be careful when trusting pictures.
9) "Direct experience or self verification"
How can s.th. be verified?
By the example of your life.
10) "The cycle of life and death"
Free from the cycle of life and death: getting rid of this concept.
You will be freed eventually. Don't think there is more to it. You had no choice when born, you will have no choice to avoid death.
Freeing yourself from the cycle of life and death is living in the moment - the only freedom you have.
Holy shoes - your problem can be solved quite easily. Buy good shoes (I recommend Jack Wolfskin.) This is the zen way: finding an easy, pragmatic solution. You may detect that very often it is just what other people do: If their shoes are broken, they buy new ones. Don't be shocked not to stand out in buying and wearing good shoes. In zen, you honour your shoes by placing them orderly down - or on your head to answer questions by a teacher ;-)
12) "Zen teacher"
Whoever you make your teacher, is your teacher. It's in your mind. So it cannot be a question of some formality.
13) "Fear of Death" (can't find the original topic)
You are misled. A popular image of Buddhism is that it should destroy your fear of death. Instead, accept what is and go right through it! If there is fear, look it in the eye! Try to find its inherent nature. Hopefully, you will find it is emptiness (shunyata), like the other feelings you had in life. Don't judge fear to be anything bad. Just face it. Your example in doing so will be the biggest gift for your daughter.
14) "Practical issues with zazen - sitting pain"
Yes, one reason for hemorrhoids is too much sitting. It doesn't matter how you sit. The best treatment is atrophy. Then there are effective creams numbing the pain (like "Anaesthesin" in Germany). Don't worry if you can't sit too much, your practice is everyday life. You might extend kinhin, the walking meditation, as many Theravada monks do.
By the way, you might also try Buddha's curing hemorrhoid sutra. I once found it here: http://www.fodian.net/world/1325.html
It's a mystery.
So you can't believe it, uh? To quote a different post: disenchantment.
Paranirvana is an idea more prominent in Theravada. You are right to see it as such from a Mahayana point of view: There it is eternal, bliss, pure. But be aware of concepts. If you want to go to paradise, join the Amida-sect. Zen offers you no hope for afterlife.
(Did you just have the slightest feeling this could really free you for the here and now?)
16) "Can I/Self be enlightened?"
You mean like that Vietnamese monk? No, no, no - you already are.
17) "Regarding obscuration"
Pemako - there is nothing imperfect with you besides the thought that you are not already Buddha.
18) "How long should one meditate for?"
Dear klgv (this is easier to type than to say): "over the long term" - there are two questions implied here.
If you are looking for intensive zazen periods, you may for example join Antaiji, the former temple of Kodo Sawaki Roshi. I just read they sit 1800 hours per year.
Another way is to sit with this attitude: "It will never end."
19) "Buddha nature"
In the Tathagatagarbha-sutras the view on atman corrects the common view of the non-self, an-atman. Because atman is eternal (nitya), blissful and pure. Nevertheless, it is not a self like an ego. This atman was explicitly introduced in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana sutra which contains the Buddha Shakyamuni's last words. He was afraid that a sole belief in an-atman would lead to a kind of nihilism (you can actually detect that in the form of passiveness in a lot of Zen Buddhists today). I recommend the shorter Shrimala-sutra if you just want a glimpse into that idea, this sutra also consists of alternative and down-to-earth Bodhisattva vows. Remember that the basic line is: Our original (Buddha)nature is eternal and pure - although (or while) we are empty of any ego/self/substance.