Author Topic: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?  (Read 2220 times)

Offline Bodhicandra

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How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« on: August 12, 2010, 12:39:40 am »
I train in the Tibetan Nyingma Dzogchen tradition, where the role of the Bodhisattva, and the development of Bodhicitta - the Heart of Compassion - are essential.

I was reading a book on Chinese religions last night, and just finished the chapter on Ch'an / Zen. It occurred to me that I don't think I've ever seen the concept of a Bodhisattva mentioned in the context of Zen. The Zen motivation seems to be to go straight (slowly or quickly) for awakening.

I know that Zen is classed as a Mahayana practice - so what have I missed? Is becoming a Bodhisattva not part of the 'career path' in Zen? Or have I just not understood something very fundamental?
"Your first task on the path is to learn to stop being a nuisance to the world"
adapted from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Offline catmoon

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Re: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 02:03:57 am »
I train in the Tibetan Nyingma Dzogchen tradition, where the role of the Bodhisattva, and the development of Bodhicitta - the Heart of Compassion - are essential.

I was reading a book on Chinese religions last night, and just finished the chapter on Ch'an / Zen. It occurred to me that I don't think I've ever seen the concept of a Bodhisattva mentioned in the context of Zen. The Zen motivation seems to be to go straight (slowly or quickly) for awakening.

I know that Zen is classed as a Mahayana practice - so what have I missed? Is becoming a Bodhisattva not part of the 'career path' in Zen? Or have I just not understood something very fundamental?

Just from some discussions I've read, it's there all right, but it doesn't get the emphasis that it gets in say Tibetan Buddhism. If you look for it in Shunryu Suzuki's books you will find clear evidence for warm heartedness being strongly advocated. I think a clearly delineated path is an idea that infringes on the Zen preference for a life freed from conceptualization.

But if you want the real answer, I would suggest asking Huifeng over at Dharma Wheel.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Yeshe Zopa

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« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 02:33:20 am by Yeshe Zopa »

Offline treederwright

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Re: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2010, 05:16:34 pm »
stick hitting perhaps, knowing it accumulates negative karma and willingness to endure to help others toward enlightenment. This is the only thing i can think of.
Bodhicharyavatara Ch 1 vs 10

For like the supreme substance of the alchemists,It (bodhichitta) takes our impure flesh and makes of it The body of a Buddha, jewel beyond all price. Such is bodhichitta. Let us grasp it firmly

A new blog on living the Bodhicharyavatara ( Way of the Bodhisattva) .

http://activebodhichitta.blogspot.com

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www.newbuddhist.com

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 07:22:58 am »
Considering that Zen practitioners take Bodhisattva vows, it would be hard to say that Zen is lacking in this respect with regard to its "career path."  Dogen is very clear in Shobgenzo, as well as other works, in encouraging practitioners to take these vows.

What is often described as "sudden" awakening is often misunderstood, even by some (maybe many) Zen practitioners.  For one Japanese monk his "sudden" realization was the understanding and acceptance that he would be unable to rectify his karma and acheive the enlightenment of the Buddhas in his lifetime.  Facing this reality with equanimity did more to bring the monk closer to Buddhahood than any other practice had in his life to date.  It may seem paradoxical to those who strive, maybe even cling to, some enlightened ideal, but it makes perfect sense in a meditative practice that seeks to face reality with equanimity, which is hardly specific to China and Japan.  And, Zen is thoroughly Mahayana, and the Chinese schools are very contemporary to Tibetan schools.  There was certainly ideological exchange between these contemporaries.  Bodhisasttvas like Kuan Yin and Hotei are revered in most Zen practice centers.  Many Zen centers incorporate Pure Land chants into their practice.  The Pure Lands are being prepared by Bodhisattvas.  Evidence of a belief in Bodhisattvas is rather evident throughout many Zen traditional practices, including the recitation of Sutras that exist as dialogues between the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.  I think there is a tendency to say, this is Zen, this is not, this is Tibetan, this is not, this is Pure Land, and this is not, when in reality, such neat and clean distinctions between Mahayana practices are not representative of how practitioners in these schools actually practice.  After all, "Zen" simply means meditation, which is evident in most if not all Buddhist schools.

Offline zen-zen

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Re: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2010, 02:40:44 am »
My personal belief is that zen practice may have an outcome that we would call with that a name.

Offline Mahakassapa

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Re: How does 'Bodhisattva' fit in to Zen?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 07:11:02 pm »
Interesting. I have always known Zen practice to be the practice of a Bodhisattva and the purpose of the practice is to become a Bodhisattva and save all beings.

Quote
The Zen motivation seems to be to go straight (slowly or quickly) for awakening.

True, but the purpose of getting awakening is to save all beings, which includes oneself of course. That is how I have always understood it anyway. Perhaps these things are not taught as much in Zen as they are in other traditions because "becoming a Bodhisattva" is a natural, inevitable consequence of the practice.

 


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