Thursday, July 2, 2009

Another letter

Had a few requests to post the response letter to Mr. Dunagan, so here it is. I made an effort to speak in language that might translate. It wasn't always an easy thing to do. Please see the previous post for the beginning of the dialogue.

Dear Mark,

The best two periodical publications I know covering zen and buddhism in general are Tricycle and Buddhadharma Journals. Both have extensive websites filled with teachings, as well as print versions that come out bi-monthly and quarterly respectively. As for major teachings, The Heart Sutra, The Lotus Sutra, and Diamond Sutra are all high up on the list, as is the Dhammapada. I am a member of the Soto Zen school, which began in Japan in the 13th century, and was founded by Zen Master Dogen, who's teachings are fairly easy to find on-line and in print form.

* Are there any "absolutes"--that is, absolute right or wrong, or is truth

What is fundamental is that we all have buddhnature - that we're all basically good and are enlightened already. This is present regardless of what one does in their lives.

However, this doesn't mean people don't create evil, nor are in no need of cleaning their acts up. We definitely can, and do, create evil in the world, and our practice is about seeing through the ways in which we create suffering for ourselves and others, and learning how we can be of service to others in the world.

Is our path objective or subjective? Well, I'm not sure I can answer this clearly. I will do my best, but hope you will dig into other sources. I'd say it is objective in that every action produces results in the world. We can't escape what we do, so if what we do causes suffering, then we'll experience that in our lives somehow. Same is true with actions that produce joy and happiness.

However, each of us must confirm our understanding of our lives, or the truth of our lives, through our own experience. Koans may seem nonsensical to you, but they are designed to help us break through our conventional thinking and see what is actually happening in the world.

I have to get back to work now. Hope this helps clarify things a bit.



Algernon said...

Not bad, Nathan! I would have approached the letter differently but have no bones to pick with your response.

Keep us apprised.

Anonymous said...

Great photo Nate!