Tending the Fire: An Introspective Guide to Zen Awakening

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Firethroat Press LLC, 2012 - Religion - 173 pages
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Children of fire, [beings of reality] come looking for fire [come seeking the truth of reality]. This koan makes clear that it is necessary to gain more than an intellectualized understanding. There is a vital difference between inherent enlightenment [accepting as true that the Buddhadharma is within all beings] and realized enlightenment [experiencing that truth directly]. Achieving this difference is the imperative of Zen practice.Tending the Fire: An Introspective Guide to Zen Awakening focuses on observing and overcoming the barrier between inherent and realized awakening. The term awakening is used throughout this study, instead of enlightenment. The word enlightenment, unfortunately, invokes visions of a single, all encompassing event, whereupon one imagines that no further effort is required. Awakening proposes a continuous process by which enlightenment is achieved. There are many Buddhist texts that do entice us to believe in enlightenment with a capital “E.” However, Tending the Fire stresses the ceaseless effort required in Zen practice.There is a fundamental misperception that is also innate to human experience. It is the default setting of our experience, naturally activated, and precisely what obstructs our inherent potential for awakening. The fundamental misperception is that we experience ourselves as separate from the world. Most human beings relate to the world as if it is made of “things” external to their experience that are enduring and can be manipulated, whereas Buddhism is a religion of relationships that teaches the interdependence of all phenomena. Interdependence, or dependent co-arising, is also called emptiness. The term emptiness expresses the impermanent nature of reality, and encompasses the understanding that no phenomenon has a permanent and independent existence.This fundamental misperception is the Natural Koan of humanity. It lies at the core of our suffering, and is the essence that underlies the entire discourses of the Buddhas and Zen masters. It is exactly articulated in the statement, “children of fire coming looking for fire.”
 

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Contents

Nonduality
19
Nonduality Resolution Sequence
39
The Natural Koan
69
Employing the Resolution Sequence
85
Shikantaza
111
Endnotes
163
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Author Bios – Dale Verkuilen has been a Zen practitioner since 1968, Barbara since 1971. They met and married in 1974. Both are ordained Soto Zen priests, having studied with a number of pioneering Japanese priests, as well as accomplished American teachers. The Verkuilens co-founded the Midwest Soto Zen Community in 2001. Tending the Fire is their first co-authored book. Barbara is the author of The Tale of Zen Master Bho Li and Dokusan with Dogen: Timeless Lessons in Negotiating the Way. Dale is currently working on his second book, Unfolding the Eightfold Path: A Contemporary Zen Perspective. They live in Madison, WI.

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