Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Us and Them"

There is an "Us and Them", in Zen.

And, this is actually a kind of proof that there are very few "true" masters, because this way of thinking is not something that is to be created.

It is something to be destroyed, in a true practice.

It is saying, in one's life:  "I am one of these people.  I am one of all people.  They are no different from me", a way of thinking that is expressed by Buddha's dropping of of "caste", "noble", etc. when he left his father's compound.

This is a very rare view.  It requires a great heart, and/or a wish to develop one.

Most people spend their lives trying to separate themselves from the next.  It is maybe 10,000 to one, in any setting, including a monastery.  Most people want this, to gain riches, status, position over others, and so on.  It is very rare that one actually wishes to see himself on the same level as others.

But this is the only real way to see, and if your group is heading this way, there would be no "Us and them", and there would be no weight placed on the labels like monk/layman/master/layman/formal/informal, and so on.  If you think in these terms, you think in terms of separation, and your practice is one of division.

How can you see which way you are going?

The hidden lines present themselves plainly in difficult times.  This is when they become apparent.

America went to war, when "we" felt we were attacked.  A lot of people reacted in ways they didn't expect.  A lot of people came to see the world differently, on that day.  For many people, a line came into focus, one that had been hidden before. 

"American" suddenly meant something.  It was always there, actually, but it had been hidden.

It is the same in Zen.   There's a line.

In truth, there were many, many people who spoke up about characters like Shimano and Sasaki in the past.  There were probably over a hundred of them.  They weren't listened to.  They were not "monks" or "masters", so they didn't "understand Zen".  For decades, they were ignored, or labeled ignorant, or dismissed.  They were seen as "negative" somehow.

People only started to pay attention when a "monk" spoke up, one day, after decades of silence.

Suddenly, it was "one of us".

So there is a division, held by many,  that was actually created, in the practice, and people have trouble looking beyond this division.   It is part of "them", so they protect it.  It is actually exceedingly rare that somebody goes beyond this.

It is much, much more rare than what one may think, at first glance.

Just as with the Catholic church, in the Zen community, there was an institutional silence, held under the force of those who felt protective of what had become "part of them".  Even now, you still hear people recommending solutions to past problems, but only in "Zen" terms.  The AZTA, who had also remained silent for many years,  is creating a "Zen" ethics committee to oversee breeches of conduct within their ranks.

"Zen" writers interview therapists who "have many years of Zen experience"

This sounds rational, to people.  But it is actually irrational.

In fact, the problems in the Catholic church were only addressed, in a meaningful manner, once outside groups became involved.

That's "Us and them".

If you look at the traditional Zen practice, it appears set up to allow for the creation of such identity, rather than its destruction.  As one "progresses" in monastery life, one is offered social rewards, public ceremonies, celebrating one's "commitment" to the group.  One is even given new names -- a new "Buddhist" name, and a new "monk" name. 

In the group, this is done to great fanfare.  It is displayed as a big, important step in one's life.

No doubt those "within the group" feel great about all of this.  No doubt there are positive effects for the individual.

But if you are talking about what Buddha did, if you take the wider view, if you say "hey, forget about me, is it good for everybody?", does it help? 

Or does it help, instead, to create a "Me and You", and an "Us and Them"?

You know this:  Such things weren't around in Buddha's practice.  These are things he actually left behind, when he walked away from the Hindu places he had visited before he went under the tree.

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