Saturday, 23 July 2016

Korean Zen Resources

Korean Zen Resources

Extract :

[–]TheHeartOfTuxes[🍰] 4 points  
The Way Of Korean Zen by Zen Master Kusan Sunim is a wonderful classic, exemplary of Soen.
Another great classic is Only Don't Know by Zen Master Seung Sahn. This is a collection of some of Seung Sahn's early teaching letters. His school has a collection of many thousands of letters in which the master responds to all kinds of issues that we all share in life and in practice. Unfortunately, this pdf is without images, so the very useful teaching of the Zen Circle (p164) is missing/difficult to understand.
One of the hallmarks of Soen is emphasis on questioning; but it must be understood what questioning refers to. It doesn't mean the discursive mind asking a lot of questions. It means the mind before thinking. Soen's run-up to that mind, for people who are not familiar with it, does tend to involve using a big question that clears away all other thoughts.
But different schools and teachers have different approaches. Some may emphasize concentration practices, or chanting, though a broad variety of practices tend to be available in most Korean Zen schools.
Another hallmark of Soen is the communal nature of practice. Community and group practice is used both to train the student in putting down self-centered opinion, and also to harness the group energy to achieve things that would be difficult or impossible when attempted alone.
In any case, need it even be said that reading is only the first little shred, and that you should soon get real teaching and real Soen experience by visiting a Korean center or temple. No need to commit right away; you can visit for a talk or public service and enjoy!
Of all Buddhist schools, Korean Zen/Soen is very much action-style. Don't mull and brood; don't waste time making many ideas; only do it! Vibrant, lively, vigorous, engaged. So taking action and actually visiting a center and trying out the practice is very, very necessary in order to start understanding Soen. It can't be done from an armchair or even alone on your own meditation mat — not until you have digested a great deal of teaching and have aligned with it in a stable manner.
Edit: Zen Master Seung Sahn's book Dropping Ashes On The Buddha has a teaching about the Zen Circle, along with an image of it, on page 5. This book is notorious for having some teachings that are fairly accessible to the common reader and some that fly over the head of even intermediate students. Once you study with a master and undertake practice, the teachings come clear little by little (or sometimes in leaps and bounds); so don't get attached to the words, either by clinging or by rejecting.
One of the benefits of the teaching about the Zen Circle is that it helps you identify where a person's teaching or action is coming from. For example, the statements of some high-profile contributors on /r/Zen are at the 180° position (emptiness) at best, and perhaps the commenters have had some experiences at that level; but their statements are often mistaken as being representative of Zen when really they are just stuck part-way, attached to emptiness. There's a lot of territory between mere emptiness and complete attainment; and even complete attainment at 360° does not finish the training, because a true master can move effortlessly between any perspective, any position on the circle, according to the situation.

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