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Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Thanks so much for the new thread, and the excellent OP, Paramemetic!

I'll root around a bit and see if I can suggest some Soto zen links.

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Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Ok here are a few starter links for Soto Zen.

What is (Japanese Soto) zen / zazen:
Dogenís (the founderís) description of the practice (Fukanzazenji):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/practice/zazen/advice/fukanzanzeng.html
Dogenís Zen FAQ (Bendowa):
https://www.wwzc.org/sites/default/files/Bendowa-book.pdf

How to do zazen (Soto-shu):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/library/leaflet/practice/pdf/practice_of_zazen.pdf

Genjokoan (The Koan of the Present Moment; or Actualizing the Fundamental Point)
http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/GenjoKoan_Aitken.htm

The Shobogenzo (more Zen, by far, than you ever wanted to know):
Vol 1: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/GenjoKoan_Aitken.htm
Vol 2: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo_2_NC.pdf
Vol 3: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo-3_NC.pdf
Vol 4: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo_4_NC.pdf

For general reference on Buddhism, there's also
What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_Walpola_Rahula_What_the_Buddha_Taught.pdf

And as to Mahayana
Mahayana Buddhism, the Doctrinal Foundations:
https://www.amazon.com/Mahayana-Buddhism-Doctrinal-Foundations-Religious/dp/0415356539

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Yorkshire Pudding posted:

I'm in the Kansas City area, and there's a few around here I've looked at (but haven't visited).

https://www.rimecenter.org/ Seems to be sort of nondenominational but with general Tibetan focus.

http://www.templebuddhistcenter.com/ claims to be a "Western Buddhist Temple" which kind of puts me off a bit.

https://kansascitybuddhistcenter.wildapricot.org/ Kansas City Buddhist Center also seems to be a mix of backgrounds

https://kansaszencenter.org/ Looks to be the local Zen temple

One other possibility if you happen to have an interest in Zen is Treeleaf, an online sangha run by Jundo Cohen, another student of Nishijima (Brad Warnerís teacher). I havenít personally tried that approach, since Iím lucky enough to have a nearby sangha, but Jundo seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and they have a very traditional (albeit remote) jukai program.

https://www.treeleaf.org/

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Yorkshire Pudding posted:

New question: I have really inflexible hips and knees, so even sitting basic cross-legged for me is hard. I basically have to be sitting against a wall or something, which tells me my posture isnít good.

I bought a meditation bench to sit seiza style, but my issue is that I can feel a lot of stress in my shoulders and neck from my hands having nowhere to sit. My lower back always feels fairly tense, but that may just be me getting used to sitting upright like this. And recommendations?

Two suggestions:

First, be gentle with yourself and use whatever posture for sitting is comfortable for the length of sit involved. Use a chair if you have to. Note that even after youíve been sitting for a while, you might still need adjustments. Iíve been sitting for years, but if I donít sit in just the right way when using a zafu, my feet will fall sound asleep.

Second (and forgive me for saying this in the Buddhism thread), try some yoga. What will really make longer sitting comfortable is hip flexibility, and the type of back strength yoga develops can also be very helpful. The traditions are very different from most strains of Buddhism, so just think of it as exercise (most classes are this way in any event)and ignore the spiritual elements, or at least be aware the perspective diverges significantly.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






NikkolasKing posted:

How important is getting a proper teacher in your opinion? This was a big discussion over on he Dharma Wheel forums back when I found it and posted on it for a while. Some think it's essential that you go and get personal instructions.

I'm not a Buddhist but part of my eternal not getting involved with a religion is my handicap. I'm legally blind and can't drive. The closest Buddhist locations for me are an hour away in Dallas. I won't deny I'm also just incredibly lazy and hate being around strangers which compounds the problem.

I do go out of my way to read as much as I can and learn as much as I can. But some think you need more than that.

I mentioned Treeleaf up above, and SFZC also has online offerings. Both worth checking out if zen is of interest. There are also excellent podcasts such as the one from ADZG.

There arenít any easy answers on whether to practice alone.

Itís easy to get off track if youíre not working with a teacher or group that can serve as a second pair of eyes on your practice. You can lose steam, or if you wind up with a strong practice it can be hard to stay grounded. And you can mistake the first station, as it were, for the final destination. In addition to which the source material is extensive and often difficult to interpret and harmonize.

But on the other hand both teachers and groups can involve very harmful dynamics. Groups have a way of having tighter rules than society at large and demanding conformity, and teachers can lose their bearings and become abusive or manipulative.

Overall Iíd say practice on your own if thatís where you are, but check in from time to time with a teacher or sangha. My personal rule of thumb is always to regard both groups and teachers as guilty until proven innocent, but having said that there are, for example, many fine teachers at SFZC.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






I would like to know more about these Burning Iron Balls

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






For sutras, hard to pick just one, but I think if I did, it would be the Heart Sutra, in its simplicity and radical message. If we were casting the net a bit more broadly, possibly Genjokoan. Though this may be a slightly tougher question for Zen, which is often said to be a special transmission outside the scriptures (despite including and producing a huge corpus of written work).

In our corner of westernized Soto, there isnít mantra practice of the kind you may be thinking of, such as a personal mantra used during meditation as a point of focus. There can, however, be group chanting (depending on the zen center and occasion), which can include chanted mantras.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Cuervo Jonestown posted:

Just completed a six-week long practice period and folks, it's good.

If anyone is curious about Soto-style practice and details about Ango, or the temple I was at, I can maybe do a write up detailing it tomorrow.

As for favorite sutras I'd echo the Heart Sutra and Genjokoan, and I also really like the Avatamsaka which has some real great parts but is huge.

e: snipe link to bdk, which is slowly translating the Mahayana canon into English if you're looking to explore some sutras https://www.bdkamerica.org/catalog-tripitaka

If itís not too much trouble, Iíd love to hear about your impressions of the ango / temple. Sanshinji has them, and in theory I could go for portions of that, but the length and number of their sits is, frankly, a bit terrifying.

e:Thereís a great commentary on / summary of Hua Yen by Cook, but Iím guessing you already have that.

Nude Hoxha Cameo fucked around with this message at 04:17 on Mar 3, 2020

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Paramemetic posted:

The Mahayana goes hard after Sariputra in a lot of Mahayana sutras, usually having Vimalakirti dunk on him over and over while representing him as a big dummy. This is generally done to score points for the Mahayana while representing the Hinayana as bad, dumb, unable to understand profound doctrines, etc.

Heís also the star of the parable of the burning house, a wonderful vignette where the three vehicles are handwaived away as upaya.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






KiteAuraan posted:

Odd question for right now, given the situation, but are there any Arizona Buddhist Goons who have experience with any Sangha on the west side of Phoenix? My practice is general Mahayana with strong ChŠn and Madhyamika influence for an idea of where I am at.

No experience with this one, and the location may be inconvenient, but if Soto is of interest thereís an affiliate of San Francisco Zen Center in Paradise Valley. The link below seems to have their correct phone number but note the web link is wrong:
https://branchingstreams.sfzc.org/affiliates/directory-of-affiliates/

Also if Soto is of interest, Iíd suggest you check out the Soto Zen FB group page: thereís a stickied post with online sanghas; SFZCs link for online is there (itís also at their website), among many others. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, an excellent center in Chicago, is not in the thread but does have an online offering, details of which are at their site.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Keret posted:

This is excellently timed, as I wanted to drop in and mention something we are working on at ADZG! A few of us have started a committee that is going through our archive of podcasts and working with Taigen to share a few each week while the pandemic is going on. I thought I would crowdsource this a little bit and include the remote Sangha as well — if anyone here has listened to our podcasts and has any from the archive that they really liked or that spoke to them, please suggest them to me and we can add them to our ongoing list. Feel free to PM me or post, whichever works best.

Thank you for your ongoing practice, Dharma friends!

I want back through the old episodes on Castro the other day but the challenge for me is that all of the episodes are great. Taigen is such a remarkable Dogem scholar and teacher.

Separately, and for whatever itís worth, Iíll mention that Iíve been shooting myself with the second arrow a hell of a lot lately. These are tough times and I hope all of you are safe and well.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Lotus is NOT about knee flexibility and if you have any strain at all there just wait. Lots of other postures are fine.

What lotus is about is rotational flexibility and flexibility in the inner thigh. The seated postures in the ashtanga primary series are great for this IF you take it slow and only do what you comfortably can. It can take a hell of a long time and thatís ok.

Donít force it.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Rodney The Yam II posted:

Resources

The Art of Vinyasa by Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor
Anatomy for Hip Openers and Forward Bends by Ray Long
Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy by Gregor Maehle

I used to practice with Melanie Fawer years ago. Sheís amazing, and her shala was very old school: Mysore every morning, complete with the traditional adjustments. I only wish there were as good a shala near where Iím living now; the closest these days is just a tad too far to make it practical to go.

Anyway, Iíd throw in David Swensonís Primary Series video and also The Practice Manual. They should still be on Amazon, but also both can be found here: https://www.ashtanga.net/

He goes through the primary series with dazzling ease, but also constantly reminds students to take it easy, and at least in the book, but I think also in the video, offers a number of modifications so that anyone can do the postures.

* * *

Back to lotus, while baddha padmasana has been part of my mostly daily practice until very recently, I personally prefer to use a version of half lotus for long sits. I call it half assed lotus, and itís a sort of weird cross between the Burmese position and half lotus. I just mention it because it comes down to preference and practice and thereís not really just one grail pose, even if a person can get into them all. (Though I will say that back when I was doing a lot of pranayamas / kriyas / yoga meditation, I did find lotus preferable.)

Nude Hoxha Cameo fucked around with this message at 18:55 on Apr 7, 2020

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Nessus posted:

I am curious if anyone here has any good resources or favorite recipes for vegetarian cooking. I am thinking perhaps I ought to take the plunge, or at the very least turn meat into an accent rather than a centerpiece. I'm asking y'all instead of just googling it because I am curious about the curated experience and you folks may have come at it with at least some thought to Buddhist practice.

I know it's hard to be 100% vegetarian in Japan even if you try, although hitting 90-95% is easy.

Some of this will come down to personal preference, but weíve used this one for years and love it:
https://www.amazon.com/000-Vegetarian-Recipes-Carol-Gelles/dp/0025429655

Madhur Jeffreyís Indian cookbooks arenít solely vegetarian, but have great recipes for vegetable dishes.

We also have a very good middle eastern cookbook that Iíll link if I can find it. Lots of great recipes there as well, though as with the Jaffrey books there are also meat based recipes.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Hey Paramemetic, while we wait to see what is going to happen here on SA, any thoughts on a Plan B? Potential offsites or discords we could migrate this thread to?

Also, have you been in touch with Renee et al?

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






WombatCyborg posted:

Planning to attend a virtual workshop with the Rochester Zen Center on Saturday. Excited and nervous, this is something I've wanted to do for a while now but as a lifelong atheist have been hesitant to follow through with. I'm a little ashamed to admit it started with an LSD trip, where I had an experience that's hard to put into words, but made me believe in the cycle of rebirth and suffering in the buddhist sense. Not saying that's what I'm aiming to experience again, more like I was able to see through the window for a moment. I've had, a lot of issues in my life, mentally and emotionally, and I'm hoping this offers a sustainable path to find a better way to go about existence, a more peaceful way. I'll be sure to check back in after with how it went.

I havenít had a chance to get to RZC in person, but Iíve listed to their podcast for a few years now, and Roshi Kjolhede seems like a pretty great teacher. Looking forward to your impressions.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Nessus posted:

It has been difficult, especially lately, because I keep having anxiety over this drat election aftermath poo poo and my practice is not very good. I have at times envied the heavy drinkers because they can turn it off. But not enough to take up the habit.

Thereís quite a lot of this going around; youíre not alone.

Iíd say virtually all of us in my zendo have had our practice disrupted to a greater or lesser degree, with election anxiety compounding the effects of that. And absolutely all of us have found that despite the unprecedented online access now available, nothing is quite like our little local sangha.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Hiro Protagonist posted:

I've kind of talked about this in this thread, but with COVID I don't have a good place to talk to anyone about this, and I kind of need to vent.

I'm someone who was raised in a very religious context, but has always been somewhat skeptical of religious thinking. I've also had a deep abiding fear of Oblivion as a concept. The idea that my consciousness is solely a product of my physical body is terrifying, particularly because of the finality of it.

That fear and skepticism have kind of combined such that any attempt to understand rebirth, heaven, hell, or any afterlife is tinged with a cynical belief that I'm just trying to deny science or make myself feel better. I do believe there are rational reasons to believe in rebirth, and I find some evidence quite convincing, but my questioning side always claws away at me.

I feel like this affects my progress as a Buddhist, because it means I don't have a solid foundation or relationship with it. I always want a security that I fundamentally have difficulty accepting. Anyone have experience with this?

Two thoughts, the first much less important, in my view, than the second:

- The philosophy of consciousness / mind is a very real and living thing that includes, but absolutely is not limited to, physicalist perspectives. Itís worth exploring before assuming thereís a clear and defined answer in this area.

- This may come across as sectarian, and if so I apologize (certainly other approaches may be just as efficacious for you) but from my experience and that of others with whom Iíve practiced over the years, long periods of daily shikantaza (eg 30 minutes a day for a few years) will tend to put you in a very different relationship with questions like this. Itís extremely difficult to explain, and itís obviously not about knowledge of the kind youíd get from reading books, which is why exploring the epistemic uncertainty is ultimately going to be like trying to eat a painted cake, but itís very real.

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Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Greg Legg posted:

I have been practicing seated zazen off and on for a long time. I visited the local zen center when I started but I think I was too young and unfocused and I didn't really enjoy it. I read posts on treeleaf every now and then but I don't feel comfortable identifing myself as a Buddhist. I learned a lot from this thread, thank you!

Jundo is great. Not familiar with the forums, so I can't weigh in on the membership / other teachers. In the US, Taigen Leighton (ADZG) is also excellent, as is Shohaku Okumura. Lots of good teachers and content at SFZC as well.

Not sure how much reading you've done, but Opening the Hand of Thought and How to Cook Your Life are good introductory books (well paired, for the same purpose, with Fukanzazenji, Bendowa and Genjokoan), and for a deeper dive, obviously the balance of Shobogenzo and the source materials listed in the SZBA formation guide, which run through background and history, the Mahayana sutras, philosophical development, early Buddhism, Ch'an and Zen, and more. The guide seems, unfortunately, to have disappeared from their site, but if it's of interest I can paste the list in here.

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