Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zen Naturalism and Sutras

Zen Naturalism is a path of inquiry. As such, it avoids dogmatic fundamentalist statements. It has as its base the spirit of non-attachment from views, the spirit of personal inquiry through meditation and through the techniques of science and the scientific method, the spirit of appropriate and skillful means.

Many schools of traditional, mainstream Buddhism base thier teachings on various collections of sutras. For instance, the Theravada school found throughout Southeast Asia bases their understanding of Buddhism upon what is referred to as the Pali Canon. Most Mahayana schools of Buddhism either base their understanding on one single text, like Nicheren Buddhism which is based upon The Lotus Sutra, or a small collection of texts such as Pure Land Buddhism which bases its teachings on the Three Pure Land Sutras. Other schools like Zen are influenced by texts such as The Lankavatara Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra, and especially the Platform Sutra, as well as various other texts uniuque to the Zen tradition.

Zen Naturalism does not consider any sutra or group of sutras as its basic scripture(s). Zen Naturalism draws inspiration from the essential teachings of the Buddhadharma as found in all the sutras, interpreted through a Naturalist understanding. Thus, Zen Naturalism also draws inspiration from the continuing discoveries of western science.

Zen Naturalism does not accept the systematic, and often hierarchical arrangements of the Buddhist teachings proposed or endorsed by any school of Buddhism. Zen Naturalism is committed to realize the spirit of Dharma as found in the various interpretations over time and across cultures.

Along with accepting sutras from the various traditions as valuable and worthwhile studying, Zen Naturalism is also open to finding inspiration from texts of non-Buddhist traditions, both religious and secular. Zen Naturalism considers the Dependent Origination of Buddhism and the various schools of Buddhism throughout its history as the necessary means for keeping the spirit of Dharma alive. As a further development of this process, Zen Naturalism sees itself as a 'new' form of Buddhism reflective of a contemporary, western understanding of the world, the cosmos and life itself. It recognizes that it too will change as new understandings replace old understandings. Keeping the "Don't Know Mind" is essential in keeping this open-ended inquiry from solidifying into a rigid, dogmatic creed of beliefs.

This spirit of inquiry, this spirit of commitment to all forms of action that can sustain questioning, insight, and compassion, is considered to be more important that any Buddhist institution or tradition.

1 comment:

Garet Church said...

thanks for this clear and no-bullshit explanation.