3 Modern Barriers to Zen’s Gateless Barrier

The initial experience that the classic Zen masters call “seeing ones own true nature” (Japanese: kensho) or “casting of body and mind” is considered for essential for authentic practice and enlightenment on path of Zen. This awakening experience, referred to using a multitude of terms – breaking through the Gateless Barrier, completing the task of a lifetime, the underside of the bucket falling out, resolving the great matter, and many others – offers some unique challenges. Moreover, there is an assortment of barriers that have proven to hinder modern Zen students, sometimes blocking their opportunities for even getting to Zen’s authentic Gateless Barrier.

This article seeks to highlight the most common these barriers and provide modern Zen students with the info they need to identify and avoid them. Examining this weighty subject within article, we will not attempt to treat it intensively, but we will ever try to treat it roughly. That is, our approach will be wide, not deep. At the same time, our goal is to provide readers with all the essential information they need to find out the clear the way to the authentic Gateless Barrier of Zen.

Many contemporary books on Zen that are targeted at beginning students/practitioners fail tackle some common pitfalls faced by modern day Zen students. Every generation in Zen’s history has to be able to meet and deal featuring an own unique challenges and difficulties, and the present generation is no exception. While several objective observers have sounded the alarm about some of the more flagrant discrepancies between the classic Zen teachings and those being propagated by some modern Zen teachers, few insiders have been willing to acknowledge, much less announce that the “Roshi doesn’t clothes.”

At this point, we take option to advise all students, if the Roshi is naked and invites in order to definitely sit in his or her lap, use caution.

Moving non dual teachers should observe of are, various kinds of idolatry (not of “images” but of verbal, textual, or formulaic teachings), distorted teachings in connection with Zen tradition of Transmission, and finally, of cultic, or superstitious doctrines about the nature of practice and enlightenment.

Idolatry, while often acknowledged (at least implicitly) for all scholarly studies of Zen, is usually overlooked or ignored by teachers and authors of popular Zen books. May become is addressed in popular books, its usually given short shrift and its most serious dangers aren’t acknowledged.

Scholars, by definition are conversant in the limitations of assorted causes modes of language, image, and symbol hence, usually understand the right way to use language without being exercised by verbiage. On the other hand, many non-scholars are unaware of the characteristics of metaphor, simile, and analogy, or differences between connotation and denotation, symbol and sign, etc. Moreover, concerning various styles of language, for example hyperbole, irony, satire, and propaganda, understanding among many non-scholars can often haphazard and vague.

While being unfamiliar the brand new linguistic possibilities and limitations of verbal and written language does not in itself pose any problem, could (and does) lead to misunderstanding and misrepresentation. In the event of modern Zen, by enhance realize of “interpretations” that lead to unhealthy dependencies (on teachers and “fellow” members), as financial and sexual exploitation.

The language of Zen is in danger of this because many genuine Zen masters use language at probably the most beneficial cliff-edge of the limitations-and beyond. Koans, for example, which form principle texts of Zen Buddhism, are one of many most misunderstood forms of language in the world. This is evidenced together with definitions of koans present most English language dictionaries. These definitions do not define koans, they define their relation to people that do not understand how to read them; puzzles, riddles, irrational sayings, etc. Using these to define koans is actually defining Sanskrit as, “variously shaped lines and squiggles.”

Because Zen teachings (which is for you to say “Zen” itself), like all teachings, are ultimately and necessarily verbal, they are vulnerable to misunderstanding and misrepresentation. Fortunately, the very thing that makes Zen teachings vulnerable to misuse (their dynamism), also makes them subject to evaluation. Being verbal, substantial (by extension) subject to literary wording. Because Zen teachings been recently recorded, studied, tested, refined, and developed for centuries we now access with wealth of wisdom expressed many within the classic Zen masters with which we can examine in comparison to modern teachings.

This isn’t meant to suggest that the actual experience Zen teachings refer to are oral. The actual experiences explained by Zen teachings are, like most experiences, after limitations of language to say. If words could convey the actuality, we were able to eliminate world hunger with a sentence. It is simply not the purpose of words to show experience; the function of words in Zen is to describe, instruct, and make an experience. Everyone understands that talking about baseball is not baseball on it’s own. Everyone also understands that the verbal instructions given by coaches is one of the components to great baseball.

Words, doctrines, and texts often become objects of attachment for the spiritually immature in all traditions, and Zen is not immune for this malady. In fact, an infinite amount of Zen literature consists of warnings in order to avoid attachment to texts and doctrines. Such attachment leads on to what western religions call idolatry. Eihei Dogen, definitely one of the classic Japanese Zen masters, refers to this as “loving carved dragons (doctrines) more than real dragons (experience).”

Ironically, quantity the very doctrines created to warn Zen students leaving idolatry love idols of worship his or her. The most popular of the above is, “Zen is some other transmission outside of writings, not dependent on words, pointing directly to the mind, and also the realization of Buddhahood.” You will also “carved dragon” had been idolized so fervently not wearing running shoes posed an impressive threat to Zen’s intellectual integrity. Around . see this dictum merely highlights that Zen “experience,” is separate from Zen “teaching,” some have asserted it to mean that Zen teachings are valueless or a hindrance to Zen sensation.

In spite of the fallacious logic of this interpretation-this nullifies their “teaching” that “teachings are valueless” – naive students taking it to heart, use this idol to warrant their neglect of serious study, often with assertions that Zen is just sitting without goals and knowning that everything just is. When asked where they learned such Zen teachings, they imitate unique teachers and resort to illogical generalizations. When anyone tries to probe past the superficial layers of dogma and blind faith, up goes the idol, “Zen is an outside transmission outside writings.”

Although it is easy to know how and why this occurs among novitiate students, who by definition are spiritually (and often intellectually) immature, it is a hassle to fathom the reasons senior students and teachers remain so adamant. Yet, it is outside the scope of that article to suggest the possible reasons for this phenomenon. We simply point out its existence and some of its common characteristics in an effort to help beginners recognize and avoid this increasingly common associated with idolatry.

The next barrier students should note of is related to the first, though it provides its own unique worries. This difficulty revolves around propagated distortions concerning the Zen tradition of mind to mind “transmission.”

Confusion regarding Zen “transmission” is not relegated to beginners or non-scholars alone; many scholars as well as those within the Zen orthodoxy openly acknowledge their own muddled understandings about lots of the issues surrounding transmissions. One of house for this confusion concentrates on the news that the term “transmission” been recently appropriated by various “Zen Schools,” different times, to validate, clarify, and start a variety of doctrines, traditions, and customs. At the risk of oversimplification could say that “transmission” has meant different things, to various people, several times.

Two major subjects that authentic Zen schools have applied the term “transmission” to are; teaching “styles” (e.g. Rinzai’s teaching, Tozan’s teaching, etc.), methods, devices, and so on. given to advanced students (which might be misused by beginners and hinder their progress), therefore that public acknowledgement of a students readiness to show.

The one subjected to the most misuse is the doctrine of “mind to mind” transmission. The authentic teaching of mind to mind transmission is worried with the transmission of wisdom (prajna) from the enlightened (Buddha) mind for the (inherent) enlightened mind of scholars.

While various groups and folks propagating distorted teachings of transmission often differ towards the particulars, they do share enough characteristics permit for them always be described planet same general terms.