Thread: enlightenment
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Old 11-16-2000, 09:53 PM   #9
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Spiritual Training

ian wrote:
Thank you all for the replies - I think my life as taken turns such that I am no longer interested in committing a lot of time to zen meditation (don't gasp in disgust! - I'm still young and full of senseless vitality), and I feel much of zen has really just become a formalised system to instil discipline.

However, I would still be interested to hear if anyone else has had enlightenment experiences, or whether they have seriously studied zen and given up.

I would recommend reading Pema Chodren. In one of her books she talks about the student who starts off full of enthusiasm, full of how Buddhism is so great, etc. Then at some point in time (usually not very long) they come to her and say they are quitting because practice isn't really doing it for them like before. She states that that is precisely the state of mind they have been training towards because it is only then that they've started to come up against their issues. That's when the real practice starts. So they quit precisely at the time that things start to make some changes.

I have found exactly the same thing in Aikido. Hundreds of people over the years have come into the dojo to start training. Often they fall all over themselves telling me how much they love it and how it is changing their lives, etc. But after a certain period of time they get disatisfied, find fault with the training or the dojo or the art... It is no coincidence that this happens precisely at the point where the training starts to call on them to really invest themselves. At that point they have to make the decision about whether they want to change or not. Most people leave rather than face the need to change.

You can complain about the structure of the Zen training but there isn't a spiritual path out there that isn't going to push your buttons if you are really putting yourself into your practice. You would probably feel embarrased to know how commonplace your ideas on this subject are. Teachers hear this stuff all the time.

I remember a story about an aspiring student of Zen who had read all the "Crazy Zen" stories. He especially liked the ones like "The Buddha is a **** wiping stick" or "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" or the story about the Zen monk who burned a statue of the Buddha to keep warm. The seeming iconoclastic attitude appealed to this rebellious fellow so he trotted himself off to find a real Zen Master with whom to train. When he met the master he was shocked to find him wearing Buddhist robes, sitting, chanting, and bowing to the Buddha. He made some statement to some effect that this couldn't be authentic Zen because you were supposed to "burn the Buddha" whereupon the Zen Master said that that was fine but he himself preferred to bow.

Kensho Furuya has a book entitled "Kodo - Ancient Ways: Lessons in the Spiritual Life of the Warrior / Martial Artist". It is an absolutely wonderful book and he has wealth of things to say about students like yourself. You might find it helpful or you might hate it, hard to say.

[Edited by George S. Ledyard on November 16, 2000 at 09:58pm]

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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