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Thread: Zen in the West

  1. #1
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Zen in the West

    I found this awesome book yesterday hidden in my house-library Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis by Suzuki, Fromm, and De Martino. So far, the book is pretty awesome. The topic has fascinated me for a while and I think the parallels are pretty outstanding.

    There's been some speculation that Zen will catch on in the West by assimilating with psychotherapy. There're already some intimations that this process has begun. Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), and the use of mindfulness as a way to address depression, anxiety, and other issues is one example, but I'm sure there are many more. The book talks about how in traditional psychoanalysis, the goal is to relieve the person of their neuroses/psychoses that frustrate their attempts to achieve "healthy social functioning," yet in Zen, the goal is to go beyond social integration and [do whatever it is Enlightenment does--connect man to himself, his nature]. I personally see this all existing along the same continuum that stretches from anxious to peaceful (or resistance to acceptance, or what have you). Thoughts?

    What do you think Zen will look like in the West? Will it be formalized? Will we go to classes to learn how to meditate? Will we use therapists as our teachers? Will psychotherapy and the dharma merge, or stay separate?

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    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Get. OUT OF HERE.
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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PinkPiranha View Post
    Get. OUT OF HERE.
    That doesn't feel much like equanimity to me!
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Just a statistic rhinosaur's Avatar
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    I think Zen already has caught on in the West. Ever since the Beat gen started experimenting with and writing about alternative religions, Zen has been popularized by all those books about "The Zen of..." or "Zen and..." Some of my favorites are by Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote a lot about Zen and Christianity.

    I actually know a guy who is or will be studying with Thich Nhat Hanh, and possibly joining some kind of a monastery in France.

    I'm not sure about Zen psychotherapy, but I bet my Zen-influenced therapist uncle would have some knowledge about it.

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    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    That doesn't feel much like equanimity to me!
    Did I not make my bigotry clear enough, woman?!
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    I just opened my US News and World Reports from this past week and saw an article on "mindfulness" as a stress-release.

    Interesting.

    I am going to let your expressive bigotry "flow through me," PP, and afterwards I will still be a little soap bubble floating over the meadow.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    There's nothing much new about Zen... it's just one more way of connecting with yourself better and then, having made the connection, improving on it, understanding it... meditation... Hinduism (Yoga, Vedanta, certain Right-Hand Tantras), Buddhism (Zen, various Tantras, different -vadas)... then you have the ecstatic and/or devotional cults, Hindu (Bhakti), Christian (Quakers), Muslim (Sufism). This notion that somehow Zen is new to the "West" (whatever that is... different conversation) is strange... Buddhist and the earlier/concurrent Hindu styles of self-questioning and meditation have had parallels in Greek thinking for donkeys' years... the writings of Heraclitus, much of Plato... Gnosticism... none of this is new! Even deconstruction isn't new... Nagarjuna (a Buddhist writer) wrote stuff with very much the same understanding as people in the 20th-21st century.

    In the end, most Hindus and Buddhists don't really take advantage of Yogic, Tantric, and Zen meditation techniques... as was written in a scripture (points if you can guess which one):

    of a thousand people, maybe one will care to look for knowledge/truth/liberation... of those people who care to look, maybe one out of a thousand of those will actually find out where/how the knowledge/truth/liberation is to be found... and of a thousand of THOSE people who ultimately know where to look, maybe one will actually understand.

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________

    I'll soften my bah-humbugging by adding that the field of quantum mechanics is proving very promising... teams of physicists are calling philosophers to work with them on understanding how it might be possible that in perceiving we create... scientists will only be convinced to look at disciplines like Zen (again, not entirely unique, even its aporetic koan style) when their own work has given them cause to believe there may be truth there...

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________
    What do you think Zen will look like in the West? Will it be formalized? Will we go to classes to learn how to meditate? Will we use therapists as our teachers? Will psychotherapy and the dharma merge, or stay separate?
    Unfortunately, I think the same thing that happened to Yoga and Karate will happen in Europe and America. They will become bowdlerized and the students attempting to learn the disciplines will suddenly spurn the teacher-student relationships and all that goes into learning, for instance, Zen in a place like Japan, thinking they know better. They'll go for talk-therapy and walk home with a koan and think about it. But most will probably refuse to go that extra mile, change their habits, change their entire way of life. They'll drink on Saturday nights and go crazy and then go to "class" on Monday.... I should add something... I don't quite know what you mean by "formalized" in the context of Zen... there are very formal systems in Japan and other countries for the practice of Zen, living and working monasteries, dedicating oneself to a master and his guidance... within that system, Zen is very open and free, not "formal" in that sense, because the practice has to be very individual... so it is both formal and not formal... in America, it may unfortunately be formalized whilst losing the formality which made it work in the past...

    As I said before, similar things are happening in the countries of origin.

    As Gurdjieff taught, think of knowledge as a material substance... the greater the number of people to whom you disperse it, the less each person gets...
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

  8. #8

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    "We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us." -Thomas Merton

    Some Zen philosophy from a Trappist Monk. Zen is everywhere, with everyone. It is not confined.
    Happy colored marbles that are rolling in my head..." - Ween

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    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abhaya View Post
    "We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us." -Thomas Merton

    Some Zen philosophy from a Trappist Monk. Zen is everywhere, with everyone. It is not confined.
    Again... this is not uniquely Zen at all... you can find examples of this kind of thinking everywhere ("nosce te ipsum")... which is probably what Zen masters are trying to say...

    the biggest problem with trying to "bring Zen to the West" is that whole point of Zen is often lost in the process.... it's not supposed to be a system that can be packaged and transmitted... it is merely a pointer to THE system, what IS EVERYWHERE... there are many ways of getting to the same place, many pointers...

    It's helpful to remember that the word Zen is a corruption of Ch'an which is itself a corruption of the Sanskrit word "dhyaan", meaning meditation.... "dhyaan" was first introduced in the Upanishads, made even more popular and developed further by people like Siddhartha Gautama and Patanjali...

    Dhyaan/Dharma, Zen/Dharma, mindfulness... I believe St. John of the Cross described experiences resembling such things.... Americans, Japanese, Indians, Tibetans, Germans, Sudanese, Palestinians, Brazilians, Micronesians.... they all have access to this knowledge, Zen, The Secret, whatever... it's encapsulated in all our cliches and truisms.... ultimately, it's all about whether or not the person in question really commits him/herself to actually following the path or MERELY talking about it...
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

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    Don't look at the finger pointing look at the moon!
    Happy colored marbles that are rolling in my head..." - Ween

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