Saturday, June 29, 2013

What is Zen? - According to Zen Master Seung Sahn

The class on Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is ready to go! If you click the link, it is BST517 under the Buddhist Studies heading. An earlier post mentions the ideas for coming up with the class. A short 6 months later and the class is done.

Putting together this class was a lot more involved than the other two classes I have prepared. This was because it is not a linear start on page one and go through to page 232 type of book study. Instead, a selection of readings has been chosen to illustrate Zen Master Seung Sahn's teachings and teaching style across several topics. Over the next few blog posts, the various topics will be highlighted. The class started by briefly looking at the Diamond and Heart Sutras as discussed by Zen Master Seung Sahn in another book of his called The Compass of Zen. This was done to put into context the Zen Master's teachings.

Following that, the next topic was Zen - as in, how does Zen Master Seugn Sahn answer the question: What is Zen? Ultimately, by combing through several sections in the book the following list was arrived at:
  • Zen is understanding your [true] self
  • Keeping Don't Know mind (Answer to the great question "What is This?")
  • Reaching 360 degrees on the Zen circle*
  • Keeping the mind that is before thinking
  • Everyday mind
  • To become clear
  • Understanding life and death

Once again it is a marvelous book if you are interested in Zen. And all of these answers are much more fleshed out in the book and the class. If you want to study it with us at Buddha Dharma University, the class will begin this quarter.

* - The Zen circle is a teaching device Zen Master Seung Sahn used for a while. It is covered in section 2 of Dropping Ashes on the Buddha.