The following is the first seven pages of the Mondo Zen manual. It is a very useful read to understand the basic tenets of Buddhist philosophy, which, for making sense of meditation practice, regardless of "style," are essential to understand. How Hollow Bones has integrated these tenets in to a practice form for modern America follows.
Starting on page eight the Mondo Zen process begins. You are free to read it and may not want to, to avoid having preconceived notions should you choose to be facilitated in the insight dialog it offers.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me.
With gratitude and in service,
EGO DECONSTRUCTION KOANS and EMOTIONAL AWARENESS INTERVENTION KOANS
HOLLOW BONES ZEN/FRIENDS OF ZEN WWW.MONDOZEN.ORG
The deepest of gratitude for all Sangha Sisters and Brothers who have contributed to this Mondo Zen Training Manual. In particular, I want to thank:
Eido Shimano Roshi
Dai En George Burch Roshi
Amrita Tara Sandra Foulk
Ko Gen Keith Martin-Smith
Tai So Byran Bartow
Rei Shin Denise Leong
Da Ji Corrina Peterson
Ananda Steven Marshank
Vicara Mary Connelly
Do Shin MJ Nelson Mitchell.
Kevala Deb Hoffmann
Fugen Tom Pitner
Sanchi Reta Lawler
~ Jun Po Kelly Roshi Abbott, Hollow Bones Zen
CONTEXT AND INTRODUCTION
There is a huge amount of unnecessary suffering in the world—unnecessary, because it does not arise directly from our life circumstances, but from the conditioned way in which we react to our own misunderstood inner feelings. Anger, shame and other painful emotional reactions are really forms of violence, directed against self and others. Because of this confusion we also waste tremendous amounts of time and energy in depression, self-judgment, envy, jealousy and other self-defeating patterns.
In order to alleviate this suffering, we need deeper insight into and understanding of our minds, as well as the deeper nature and purpose of our emotions. We need to see through our ego and experience our true nature. We need to meditate long enough and deep enough to realize our Clear Deep Heart/Mind (also called Zen, Ch’an, Dhyana, and meditative mind). We will then experience the concern and compassion that underlie all of our habitual, negative emotional reactions. To accomplish this, we need to change our understanding and develop genuine insight. Once we change our understanding and experience this truth, we recognize our anger, shame, disconnection and other painful emotional reactions as confused immature reactions to genuine concern. In this way, through our Mondo Zen practice, we transform our negative emotional reactions into wise, compassionate responses and alleviate all forms of suffering. Our angst becomes our liberation.
~ Jun Po Kelly Roshi Abbott, Hollow Bones Zen
Siddhartha Gautama, the 6th-century BCE Indian prince we now call Buddha, renounced his life of ease to study and practice yoga for eight years and then asceticism for four years. He then sat down in meditation for forty nine days, finally Awakened and founded his own yoga school. He taught the philosophy, psychology and practical disciplines that he had used to liberate himself and end his ego suffering. He taught that we must first realize and understand three truths: impermanence, physical suffering and selflessness.
Impermanence: When we truly realize—understand and embody—impermanence, we no longer grasp and cling to that which is eventually going away no matter how tenaciously we cling. This realization brings gratitude, as we now fully experience and appreciate the ephemeral nature of this life, this fleeting gift.
Suffering: When we truly realize that the pain we experience in sickness, old age and death is an unavoidable and natural part of living, we no longer try to flee when pain inevitably arises. We discover the delightful truth that, while discomfort is real, suffering is always optional.
Selflessness: When we truly realize selflessness, we experience the pure empty nature of our mind and spirit. We experience our ego’s thinking and feeling as just temporary sensing, not a permanent self. At last we experience genuine insight and know who we really are. “Knock, knock! Who’s there? Nobody!”
These three must become realization experiences, not just concepts!
Cleaning up our language—Philosophical reorientation: Correct understanding is the first step upon the Buddha path.
Ego simply means all activities of self-referencing mind—all thoughts, emotions and emotional reactions, both positive and negative. It is more accurate and liberating to view ego as a temporary figment of imagination. Why? Because the ego comes and goes, it changes with time, it disappears in deep sleep, it can become demented or psychotic, and it eventually dies. The problem with our ego, this self-maintaining illusion, is that it formed within us before we were developed enough to consciously recognize our True Self, our deeper nature. So we identified with the workings of ego, and were taught and came to believe that it was all we really were. But it is only because Dhyana, meditative mind, Pure Awareness, exists that our ego can arise and continue to arise. Without deep pure empty mind, there is no location for ego to arise. Thus ego mind proves the presence of deeper mind, and it is through ego mind that we return to Dhyana—Clear Deep Heart/Mind. You can now confirm this for yourself. One way to recognize this is through ego regression, going back through time to your young child state, then to your infantile state into unconditioned mind, where you experience only instinctual reactions like hunger and discomfort. You have no words, no names for things like “mama,” “dada,” and as you grow younger, and are unable to walk or control your bowels, you eventually experience no distinction between self and other, no inside and outside. You are just pure, unconditioned empty pre-ego consciousness.
Philosophically, it is important to understand that this temporary ego you constructed is not “bad,” or something to destroy or get away from. You need a strong and confident ego to function in the world, and this does not change. Liberation comes when your ego is seen through, deconstructed, re- informed and reconstructed to include the realization of its essential emptiness and deeper emotional nature. To do this, you must release your attachment to, and change your understanding of, the nature and structure of your temporary ego. The practice of Mondo Zen is an efficient path to this realization. Enlightenment does not mean that your ego is suppressed or denied; it means it is deconstructed, seen through, exposed and then re-educated, re-constructed, including the realization and precisely articulated understanding of these deeper truths.
The Buddha taught that the temporary self-referencing activity of our ego, the interplay within consciousness of our thoughts and emotional feelings, is a temporary sensing phenomenon. He taught that we are, at the core of our being, now and eternally, empty of any permanent, abiding self-nature.
If you look deep enough you know this is true. What part of your small individual self, of your conditioned mind, could possibly be permanent and eternal? If we are insightfully honest, the answer is “none.” Realizing and understanding the meaning of this truth is the first step on this path to freedom.
The Buddha also taught that anyone willing to follow a practice path including correct philosophical understanding, concentration, meditation and precept-governed ethics will eventually realize this truth and become liberated from ego suffering, free from destructive habitual emotional reactions to fear such as anger, shame, disconnection, jealousy and envy. With practice, we develop genuine insight, enlighten our philosophy. With the addition of emotional koans, we transform our psychology and can finally live life in awe-filled appreciation for the sacred gift that it is.
The first step upon this Buddha path to awakening begins with our ego gaining a correct understanding. It is not sufficient to just practice concentration and meditation. We need to change our philosophy because our conditioned view prevents realization from transforming our lives. Put simply, we can only experience as true what our philosophy says we can experience as true. So an incorrect philosophical orientation actually blocks our awakening. This is why we ask you to set aside your beliefs for a few moments and freely experience what arises without putting it into an orienting philosophy. You might consider yourself Christian, Muslim, Jew, Scientific Materialist, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu or Wiccan. We ask you to become a temporary agnostic during this practice, to allow you to find for yourself a deeper and more encompassing, liberating truth.
We need to remove the philosophical barrier to insight created when we personify the dualistic function within the process of perception. You sit there, I sit here. We seem to be two. This temporary experience of a separate self naturally and continually arises. The error in logic causing this is simple— “I think, therefore I am.” If something arises in my mind, I assume there must be some separate person experiencing that arising. We are misled by the reflective aspect between sensing and consciousness within the purity of our awareness, and define this function as a separate subjective self. Is it possible that the idea that you are a separate self is actually a misunderstanding? Is it possible that “I think, therefore I am” might not be accurate? Maybe, “I am, therefore there is thinking.” Is it possible that this self-referencing is only a temporary and transient function within mind, just a figment of divine imagination?
Why does this matter? It matters because meditation with an incorrect understanding not only limits our insight, but can lead to suppression of feelings, rigid self-identification, ego-inflation, mania or nihilism. Having a strong and consistent meditation practice is one of the most important steps you can undertake to awaken. But knowing exactly why you are meditating—having the right philosophical framework—is just as important. We call this shift in understanding moving your perspective from egocentric to Buddhacentric.
ABOUT MONDO ZEN
Mondo Zen is based on Japanese and Chinese Zen, updated for the 21st Century. Mondo Zen transcends the hierarchical/authoritarian, gender-biased and constraining monastic aspects of traditional Zen in favor of practical, experiential “in the world” engagement. Relying only on direct personal experience—as taught by the Buddha himself—it does not allow mythic constructs to complicate its philosophical orientation. This includes ideas such as reincarnation, soul as personality, bardo realms, past lives, a creator deity, and other faith-based beliefs. It is important that in our practice of Mondo Zen we consciously choose to set aside all such ideas at least until we have experienced, tested and evaluated for ourselves a more direct way of knowing. Why is this important? This is important because these beliefs and concepts force our immediate experience into a container of pre-defined understanding. This robs us of the meaning of deeper insight. By letting go of our attachment to our beliefs and mythologies, at least while we are actively doing this practice, we remove a barrier to insight caused by our attachment to those views. Leave old concepts at the door with your hat and shoes—you can always pick them up again on the way out, if they still fit!
Koan Dialog Practice
Mondo per se is an ancient Chinese koan dialog practice. A koan is a special kind of inquiry, an enigmatic question intended to awaken one to a deeper truth. To answer a koan one must have an actual realization experience, not just an intellectual understanding of the puzzle. The function of a koan is to break through the neuro-linguistic philosophical language barrier, allowing you to experience the Clear Deep Heart/Mind within you. Koans are designed to enlighten you. Mondo Zen protocols effectively transmit and share this correct understanding. The koan questions asked in our dialog can be confusing at first because they deconstruct your current philosophy, induce insight and create a new philosophical understanding, awakening you into Clear Deep Heart/Mind. With this two-fold understanding—experiential and philosophical—we experience the openness and fearless stability within our ordinary mind. We can then acquire new language, language that articulates, accesses, recognizes, realizes and maintains awareness of Clear Deep Heart/Mind.
Mondo dialog incorporates four divisions of koan study from our historical Rinzai school: insight, spontaneity, verbal and precept koans. Mondo Zen koan dialog is comprised of thirteen koans. The first ten are insight, spontaneity and verbal koans. The last three koans are emotional koans, precept koans. These emotional koans provide a process that transforms our habitual negative emotional reactions into compassionate intelligent responses. During this dialog, your answers to the koan questions will be challenged for additional clarification to ground your new understanding.
The Mondo Zen dialog dialectic practice works like this:
1. We help you to deconstruct your current philosophical view, which leads to insight.
2. Standing within this insight, you witness how you have been blocking realization of your true nature by holding a confused, illusory and ignorant view.
3. This insight transforms your understanding of the nature of your mind.
4. With this experience confirmed as your foundational perspective, you construct and choose a new, liberating philosophy.
5. You then, through your own emotional koan practice, integrate this new understanding into your everyday life.
Please know and remember that throughout this Mondo Zen Dialog you are your own teacher. You are led in Mondo to new insight experience, and you claim this experience as your new understanding. No one can do this for you!
In the Buddhist tradition, we refer to this sharing of an insightful conscious state as “transmission.” We describe this process as “inter-subjective” because the experience exists in a conscious container formed by all present. The truth is that this teaching transmission travels in both directions—from student to teacher as much as from teacher to student.
Benefits of Mondo Zen
* Liberates us to experience a more joyful, compassionate presence: Samadhi!
* Allows us to take another seat, a more enlightened seat, a fearless seat.
* Provides an integrated “under”-standing rather than an egocentric “over”-standing.
* Transforms our emotions. Our angst becomes our liberation!
* Creates a fully informed, deeply feeling, disciplined, fearless, non-violent emotional body.
Our Five Essential Practices
We utilize five essential practices to awaken wisdom and compassion and transform our daily lives. They are:
Sacred Stewardship – Be in conscious, loving, compassionate relationship with all you consume or purchase. Give more back to this Sacred Earth than you take from it.
Philosophical Reorientation Koans – Your current philosophical understanding is blocking your realization. The thoughts and language you use to define reality have programmed you to allow only certain experiences to happen or to be believed when they do happen. You are trapped by a pre- existing conceptual structure, which both defines and is defined by your beliefs. In other words, you
can only accept what you already believe and have named/labeled. Openness—agnosticism or “beginners mind”—permits un-programmed experience, unconstrained by previous concepts. Mondo Zen is designed to elicit such genuine experiences. Then, a clear philosophical articulation of the meaning of our insight allows us to integrate that meaning into daily life. Put simply, there is a thinking problem that is preventing your Awakening and integration. Our solution for this is Mondo Zen Ego Deconstruction/Reconstruction, Philosophical Reorientation practice. This practice includes study of classical Buddhist teachings, including the Three Marks of Existence, the Four Noble Truths, the Three Main Kleshas, the Kalama Sutra, the Heart Sutra and the Eightfold Path. Ours is an evolving tradition, and we also include more recent teaching and insights from disciplines such as psychology and neuroscience. A clearly articulated philosophical understanding is crucial to claim and integrate meditative insight. If you can’t articulate an experience, it’s as though it never happened.
Emotional Maturity and Integrity Koans – Your experience and understanding of your emotions may be creating tremendous suffering in your life and the lives of those around you. From Clear Deep Heart/Mind, emotions are no different from your other senses. Their function is simply to bring information to your consciousness. We must realize that we have always chosen our reactions to our feelings, either consciously or unconsciously. In order to extract the real useful information that is in each moment’s feelings, we need to drop limiting beliefs about the nature and intent of feeling. In this way, we can allow our angst to become what it actually is, the door to our liberation. In this way emotional discomfort becomes a gift, tool and resource:
* Angst is a reminder to use the skills we are mastering. Angst awakens us and we transform ignorance and delusion into wisdom and compassionate action.
* Angst provides an opportunity to witness this transition with delight and appreciation.
Reacting negatively to our emotional feelings is primarily a philosophical problem. The unpleasant, problematic negative emotional reaction is the result of a confused philosophy. Our solution for this is Mondo Zen Emotional Koan Awareness Intervention practice. Never doubt the imperturbability of your True Pure Awareness! Never doubt the invincible compassion of your True Pure Heart!
Conscious Embodiment – Master one of the energy art forms, such as Aikido, Qi Gong, Tai Chi or classical Asana Yoga. The pain and lack of flexibility within your body, and your mind’s resistance to stillness, is trying to reveal something to you. Find out what the message is.
Genuine Insight – Practice meditation. A lack of genuine insight is the major reason people don’t realize their true selfless nature. A proven solution is Mondo Koan Concentration/Meditation practice.
What is most essential is the practice of Dhyana, meditative mindfulness, Clear Deep Heart/Mind, which enables us to experience the absolute purity of our deepest nature and to hold this transpersonal truth in the complexity of our personal lives!
At this point, it is important to recognize and remember that the Mondo Zen process is a full, heart- mind collaboration between “student” and “teacher.” In particular, the teacher/facilitator will remain deeply grounded and present in Clear Deep Heart/Mind. From Clear Deep Heart/Mind, the facilitator invites the participant to join in and remain in this state of clarity throughout the dialog. A vital function of the facilitator is to transmit the state we are investigating and hold the integrity of the container, keeping everyone from getting lost in philosophical chatter or attempting to do therapy.
Our hope is that you will enjoy a profound, integrative experience that will change your life in ways you want, starting right now! Our primary intentions for this session are:
* Introduce Mondo koan practice.
* See through, experience and correctly understand the deeper nature of ego mind.
* Have an actual taste of the liberating realization experience of no-self (Dhyana), Clear Deep Heart/Mind.
* Establish and articulate a new liberating philosophy, shift your perspective from egocentric to Buddhacentric.
* Support and give feedback as both understanding and experience evolve.
* Create Emotional Transformation Koans so you can carry this practice home, build it into and transform your own life, and share it with others.
Let us now take our first step together!
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|About Sacred Earth Sangha||November 23, 2013 4:38 PM||Paco Tozan V.|