View Full Version : "Dark Zen"

10-11-2001, 02:37 AM
Have any of you ever heard of so-called "Dark Zen" or visited www.darkzen.com (http://www.darkzen.com) ? It sounds like new zen to me although it claims that this was the true zen that Bodhidharma brought to China. Any opinions?

10-11-2001, 03:16 AM
Talk to Scott R. Brown. He knows quite a bit about Zen. And be careful taking "any" teaching of zen as an understanding of zen. I remember allan watts talking about in a speech the idea of zen, and his first comments were, "before I start, if you walk away from this speech thinking you know anything about zen then you missed the entire point."

- Nexus

Scott R. Brown
10-11-2001, 05:46 AM

I have only had a chance to quickly peruse the website. I have downloaded “The Complete Dark Zen Teachings.” So far, from the little bit I have read, I would say it has cult written all over it. I will take the next couple of days to read the manual. I am working 4 ten-hour days so it will be sometime next week before I can give it a fair review.

I would never believe anyone who says, “I (We) have found the long lost teachings of the ….fill in the blank….” usually it is “The Ascended Masters”, The Purple Light of God”, “The Secret Teachings Of Jesus”, “The Lost book of Noah”, The Pleiadian Aliens that Seeded Earth with Humanity” etc.!!! This time it is the “ONLY REAL AND TRUE TEACHINGS OF BUDDHA AND BODHIDHARMA”!!!!

I think you get the point!!

This has the new age, “I need to be special so I will start my own mystery religion” written all over it.

The are no special and NEVER BEFORE SEEN ANCIENT TRUTHS OF THE ACSENDED MASTERS OF LIGHT!!! It is just another attempt by ignorant, misguided, but well-meaning individuals with low self-esteem looking for a way to be a somebody, or a socio-path looking to manipulate the vulnerable for power and money.

These type of organizations are a dime a dozen if you know where to find them. Stick with the tried and true methods. There are NO NEW TRUTHS, only the same truths dressed up to look pretty and exotic. The first give away is the complicated and flowery language. It is designed to make the religion, path or whatever look mysterious. Humans tend to be attracted to whatever looks mysterious and exotic. So far I have not read anything that has not been said before in simpler terms by REAL and acknowledged masters.

This is of course just a preliminary evaluation. I will read the entire website and papers to be fair, but so far I would say “BIG WASTE OF TIME” and for your own spiritual well-being, “DO NOT GO THERE!!!”



[This message was edited by Scott R. Brown on 10-11-01 at 08:55 PM.]

Repulsive Monkey
10-11-2001, 04:48 PM
The masic Q & A routine is a little laughable to be honest. It seems contrived to be honest, quite egotisticalo and somewhat evasive too. It tries to consumately provide historic evidence but in a partially subjective manner so much so as to validate it all. As the information stands alone I personally don't think it stands up all that well.

Genuine information based upon genuine principles are not conveyed in this manner.

10-11-2001, 04:50 PM

"She ain't got no muscles in her teeth."
- Cat

10-13-2001, 04:06 AM
I follow the theory that zen is really taoism under a viel of buddism. That said I don't think tamo really bought zen to china so it sounds like bs to me.

10-13-2001, 06:39 AM
Scott (and anyone else who is interested),

Thanks for taking the time to review the site. Here are my opinions so far of the site. I have found some 'good' stuff and some 'bad' stuff (or at least that's how it appeared to me). The question may be where to draw the line. Some introductory notes:
-I know this post is rather long but remember that these ideas are all floating around in my head and need assortment and labeling. I am in need of some clarity (intellectual clarity, that is).
-I have included some of my own opinions here but I do not necessarily fully believe my own ideas (if that makes any sense). That is, I have not yet reached a (temporary) conclusion on some of these beliefs.
-At the start of this post, I mentioned that I was looking for opinions about darkzen.com in general. But I also want to include my own in the hope that they could be reviewed.
-I hope you can follow this post. I put it together piecemeal.
-I probably have not exhausted all of my concerns and may add onto this post later.
-If you have a question something I wrote here, just ask and I can try to explain what I mean to say.
-E-mail may be a more suitable medium for such a discussion. My e-mail is go2tom@hotmail.com
-As later evidenced in this post, some of the concerns I raise in this post may be suitable for another post of a specific topic.
-I hope this enquiry of mine (or my intellectual-proneness in general) does not lead me to pitfalls on a path when I actually set out on one.
-If there's a problem with a URL, let me know.
-There may be format problems from copying this material from document form (as I have it) to this message board. I also hope it all fits, hehe.
-Again, sorry for the extent of this post but it feels good to write all of this.


:::What I considered 'good' of the site:::

I do think that a lot of Zen practiced today (especially in America) is not reflective of Buddha's teaching or traditional patriarchal Zen. The site endorses this idea. You can find an article on Sanbokyodan Zen (see my previous post here). You may be familiar with Philip Kapleau-roshi, who wrote "The Three Pillars of Zen". (Incidentally, this is one of the books I read on Zen and according to the article, it distorts Zen.) Kapleau is of the Sanbokyodan school which is criticized. There are also other articles of this sort at the site such as "Coming Down from the Zen Clouds" by Stuart Lachs. It starts out talking about the shaky foundations of Zen in America brought over by Suzuki with his own ideas. So this is what I find most appealing about the site-the critical approach to what's out there.
I found an article about Zen at the site, entitled "The Essentials of Ch'an Practice" by Master Xuyun. I have never heard of Master Xuyun before. But the article seems to reflect Zen's teachings as present in other mainstream Zen sources.
A lot of the books listed under the 'bookstore' section seem to be good books. Here are some of them: A_Buddhist_Bible_ by Dwight Goddard, The_Zen_teaching_of_Bodhidharma_ by Red Pine, The_Zen teaching_of_Huang_Po_ by John Blofeld, and others.) There are some books, however, which aren't as 'traditional', if you will. Take The_Authentic_ Dhammapada_of_the_Buddha_, The_Authorized_Dark_Zen_Meditation_Manual_of_ Buddhism_, and Divine_Revelations_in_Pali_Buddhism_ for examples. And to these latter ones, I cast suspicion.

:::What I considered 'bad' of the site:::

I've never before heard of a lot of the names (of the contributing people) mentioned at the site (Ven. Shakya Aryanatta, Master Xuyun, Mark Vetanen, and others). Also, the lead person of that site, Zenmar, hides his identity… Plus, I've never heard of some of the names of the historic Zen masters that are present in some of the articles.
Most importantly, as you've indicated, the site purports to have the 'authentic' Buddhist or Zen teachings. Let's see:
-"The Authentic Aryan Eightfold Path of Buddhism" written by Ven. Shakya Aryanatta. Here's its description: "The world's first accurate translation of the Eightfold Path."
-"The Authorized Dark Zen Meditation Manual of Buddhism" by Zenmar (yes, Zenmar, the guy who has this very own site…)
-" The Authentic Dhammapada of the Buddha" by Shakya Aryanatta. Description: "This is the first scripturally and contextually accurate translation of Buddhism's favorite discourse, and it sets a milestone for the authentic portrayal of the ancient doctrine of the Buddha."
If you go to Amazon.com to see these books, it's kind of funny what the comments on the books are. They are elevated to an almost god-like status of rightness. I bet Zenmar and some of his 'associates' are the only people who rated these books (but that's my own opinion…).
A lot of the articles are questionable. Examples:
-"The Method of Dark Zen Meditation" by Tao-Hsüan (Dôgen). Who is Tao-Hsüan (Dôgen)?? I've never heard of specific Dark Zen meditation before. It sounds like it's of the Vajrayana Buddhist school which focuses more on esotericism.
-the whole Dark Zen FAQ section
-There's also a section entitled "The Basis of Dark Zen". It sounds like the author's own invention. I've never heard of this stuff before.
The Q and A format is misleading. Instead of putting forth his views in essay form, he creates a fictional character (which is not right away indicated) who asks him questions and then gradually accepts the ideas (no comment hehe).
On the site, one can find "The Zennist", a newsletter about 'mystical' Zen or 'Dark Zen' (I guess). (A side note: have you ever heard of mystical Zen before?) It looks like Zenmar writes this himself or one of his 'associates'/'advocates'. So it doesn't seem like the Dark Zen ideas are too widespread. Zenmar needs a newsletter which appears to be of the cross-reference/differing source-sort in order to gain more acceptance and support. It almost looks like he's on a mission if you accept all what I've just said. You may note that some of what I've said here is just my guesses (educated or not). I put forth these ideas but I don't necessarily believe them full-mindedly. Oh, one more suspicion about "The Zennist": you can order it from Georgia-the same state as mentioned to be the location of one of the anonymous commenters at amazon.com of "The Authentic Dhammapada of the Buddha" (the book recommended at the site) and "Buddhism's Highest Revelation" (another recommended book). Not surprisingly, this person (Zenmar?) gave the books gleaming reviews. Oh, and under the 'Customers who shopped for this item also shopped for these items' section of "The Authentic Dhammapada of the Buddha", you will find "Buddhism's Highest Revelation". (hmm…) In other part(s) of this post I question these books with their purported authenticity and with their out-of-nowhere venerable authors. (No insult to these authors intended if they are indeed venerable.)
The article "Old Zen and Zazen" along with "The Method of Dark Zen Meditation" trouble me a lot. It introduces to me a whole lot of uncertainty towards my own practice. This is probably why I am sticking this paragraph under the 'bad' section. Zenmar claims that the zazen of Dogen and of today not true Zen practice. And to practice this way would be to follow a path "without a heart" (Don Juan's terms). Dark Zen has supposedly the same elements of the mystical Zen that Bodhidharma taught. Conventional Zen of today does not. Or so Zenmar would maintain. You can refer to the two articles I just mentioned as well as the Q and A number 2 I included at the end of this post.

:::Additional thoughts:::

Zenmar questions Zen as it is practiced today. He questions the authenticity of what's out there. He doesn't like the institutionalized Zen and how the students just flock to their teach and accept him as the authority on spiritual matters. He thinks that the so-called masters have all their own interpretations and that they don't carry the true message any more (see Q and A #1 below). Students, while seemingly in search of truth, really search for emotional security and satisfaction and go to their teachers blindly. So Zenmar advocates a strong independent Zen practice. But as I see it, Zenmar himself became disillusioned with what he saw and searched obscure sources for answers. And so he came across a "key Buddhist scripture" (as he puts it) and puts together a new meditative system known as Dark Zen meditation which is supposedly the true Zen which will take you to the other shore. Zenmar probably was just as emotionally uncertain as some of us and needed an answer. Then on his 'links' page, he adds one on cults, implying that he is exempt to the reader. But just below that link, you'll find a big one for 'AvatarSearch-Search engine of the occult internet'. This may be telling of Zenmar's belief-affiliations, if you will, and also of his status of a 'truth-searcher'. And now he puts forth this web site advertising for his way while at the same time showing the shortcomings of some of the current Zen paths.
I accept some of the stuff said about the state of Zen today. But I don't think his method is the true Zen of Bodhidharma or the true Buddhism of Buddha. But I am uncertain of all of this. This is just my current belief about darkzen.com. I posted this because I am partly becoming disillusioned with all the Zen stuff out there myself. I really don't know if Zenmar's teaching is 'good' or 'bad'. I am not enlightened and am still sifting through all of the stuff to find the 'right' path for me. As implied, I lean heavily towards Zen right now. Consciously and unconsciously I am probably searching for something that will give me some stability. I am a college student but I introduced myself to Zen and the like on my own before college. As far as actual practice, I have tried to do zazen and attend some local dharma talks but lately I have taken a pause because I am too much in question of things at the moment. I have obviously not committed to a path yet. I am still investigating it all and trying to sort it out. As you may well infer, I am of the 'intellectual-type' (or at least this is my current status, hehe). I think this will prove to be futile if I seek complete clarity on the issues before I set out on a path. This may help you better know my situation. I am right now troubled about what exactly is the Buddha's true teaching since Buddhist philosophy has changed and become distorted over time. Some parts of Buddhist history of much disputed by scholars. Take for example Bodhidharma. Also, the teachings are not continuous. To see what I mean, you can see David Kalupahana's A_History_of_Buddhist_Philosophy_ and www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/jjrs/jjrs-cumulative-list.html (http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/jjrs/jjrs-cumulative-list.html) with article number 390 or for another perspective, go to www.qi-journal.com/philosophy.asp?-token.SearchID=From (http://www.qi-journal.com/philosophy.asp?-token.SearchID=From) India to China. Some of the changing of Buddhism is due to the need of the doctrine to fit its people. But also, the teaching taught from master to disciple (as in Zen) has probably been affected by the master's own ideas and interpretations. This is mentioned at darkzen.com. I am not certain of this. I do not know what exactly the Zen transmission entails as to the keeping-of-the-original-message, if you will. It looks like you've done some studying on Zen and Buddhism and can answer some of my concerns, clarify some points, or correct some of my views.

:::In reference to above:::

My own teacher claims to be the Dharma heir of his teacher's teaching going back to the Buddha. Is he not a genuine heir of the teaching of Zen?
Again , that is the teaching of conventional Zen. It is not the ultimate teaching. Your teacher is an heir to his teachers opinions about Mind's mysterious nature. That is all. That doesn't mean he is enlightened to the nature of Mind itself. It only means that he is part of a lineage that accepts Zen's Mind doctrine. In Dark Zen, a "Dharma heir" is someone who has seen Mind's pure nature directly having passed through all the stages of a Bodhisattva. From this they are able to promote the ancient teachings of the Buddha, creating skillful means in order to teach others the true purport of Buddhism."

My teacher has the authority to teach Zen. I have seen his credentials. What is your authority and where is your proof?
Buddhism only recognizes one authority. That is Mind which is also the Buddha. If you have seen Mind's nature then you have the authority, given to you by the Buddha, to do has you please. If not, then you should guard both yours words and your actions. Those who claim to have the authority to teach Zen, showing off their robes and certificates, have no authority since these things are not Mind. Over the years, I have seen that anyone, with enough money, can become a Zen master almost over night. So it proves nothing to brag about your teacher's credentials. In the past good students could recognize good teachers just by listening to a word or two. In their heart, they were searching for the one true source of all, having recognized that Mara's shadow was upon them. And because they were searching in this manner, their hearts resonated with the ideal teacher who had safely crossed to the other shore. Today, inferior students can only recognize inferior teachers judging them by looking at their wares like merchants. This implies that they only resonate with materialism and not Mind. As for proof, if you only want mouse ****, rather than gold, there is nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. Evidently, you are attached to the trappings of conventional Zen. But make no mistake about it, Dark Zen, variously described as Yin Zen, is the true teaching that Bodhidharma brought to China."
Thanks for taking the time to read this post,

Scott R. Brown
10-13-2001, 09:04 AM
O (Tom),

A most excellent post, it was well thought out and presented. You are right it is clear that your tendency is towards what in the Bhagavad-Gita is referred to as the path of wisdom. (It is not just found there, but it is one of the pivotal books where the path of wisdom is addressed.)

Before I continue let me qualify my writing with the comment that I have just finished working 3, 10-hour days where I have dealt with complete chaos. I am very tired and I have one more day to go before I get a rest, so if I become incoherent I will attempt to clean up after myself at a future date. I feel it is important to respond to your comments at least in short form (And yes, for me this IS short form.), immediately.

I believe your assessment of the Dark Zen site is pretty darn accurate. It seems that you have an inkling that something is amiss there, yet want to give it a fair shake. I could pick apart the website and find fault myself with almost every other sentence. I have probably made it through about half to 2/3 of what is available there. It is always best to follow your inclinations in these matters, in other words follow your intuition.

Mr. Dark Zen is playing many psychological games that are the mark of most ill-conceived and well-conceived cults. The pattern is to mix truth with esoteric and mysterious sounding grammar. This is commonly called jargon in the real world, but in mystery cults it is the language that sets the initiated, and very special I might add, few apart from the unwashed masses. Truths are not complicated, they are simple, which is why they are so hard to conceive and understand. They do not require complicated and flowery language to be communicated. However, many are attracted to the mysterious and forbidden knowledge pitch.

Every cult has some statements regarding how they have the original or transcendent knowledge no one else has. This appeals to those who want to be unique and special. If I have secret knowledge that you do not, I am special and you are just some poor ignorant fool that does not have the capacity to understand, because you have not been blessed by the master and allowed into the inner sanctum of his deeper knowledge.

Cults present knowledge (truth) that occurs universally in most major religions, so it tends to strike a cord with most people. What they say seems kind of right, but also different. (Which is of course what makes it special, because they have the true teaching.). This special knowledge has been discovered only by them. In 5000 years of human civilization they are either the only ones who have discovered this secret knowledge, or they are the only ones who have been blessed by the ancients with this special knowledge. “And you want to be special too, don’t you, just like us?”

Mr. Dark Zen in his presentation becomes guilty of what he accuses other Zen practioners of. They are only repeating what their masters have been taught. In other words repeating other person’s opinions and maybe throwing in a little bit of their own interpretations. That is all he is doing. He is guilty of what he accuses others of doing.

The fact is that is all any of us can do. We are all a compilation of our own personalities, talents, inclinations, etc. mixed with what we have been taught and learned from others, combined with our own interpretations of what we have been taught, and our individual life experiences.

When we communicate with others that is what we are expressing, a unique combination of experiences. In a forum such as this, that addresses spiritual topics, the most that we can hope for is to point the direction for others to look and hopefully assist others from falling into traps and dead ends that we have experienced. The truth is not to be found in any one tradition. All any of them do is point the way for the individual to look, work has to be accomplished by each individual for themselves. Agendas have no place in true followers of the truth.

I still have not decide if Mr. Dark Zen is a well-meaning, but a not yet mature enough seeker who is making a sincere attempt to help other seekers, or if he is a sociopathic charlatan, although I am strongly leaning to the latter. He can reason well, but makes grave errors. It is difficult not to make the logical error of appealing to authority. I tend appeal to authority very rarely myself because it does not really meaning anything to the wise and only impresses the young in spiritual pursuits who usually have not been searching long enough or with enough variety of experiences to have seen it misused.

I could go on I guess, but I did say I would try and keep it short and lucid.

You have the intellectual skills to take care of yourself in these matters. Trust your abilities and never take anyone’s authority or word over your own reasoning ability. (Including my words.) This does not mean you will never make a mistake or happily go prancing down the wrong path thinking it is the right path, however the sincere seeker with your reasoning abilities will eventually catch their own mistake and learn valuable lessons. Thus becoming wiser from the expereince. Question any and all truths continuously, truth can stand up to constant questioning, falsehood will eventually reveal itself as false. Whatever truths you discover or believe you understand will transform over time, not changing per se, but transform into something similar, but different. See some of my posts on other threads for a clearer explanation. You will understand what I mean when you understand it for yourself. (Yes, I meant to type that sentence the way I did.)

If I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to ask or e-mail me privately if you like. My e-mail is in my profile.

Good job and keep it going, do not give up!!



Unagi Sushi
09-07-2006, 07:25 PM
Should I dare to re-activate this thread?

Does anyone care?

I DID find an article about the Venerable -- whereas the other people stated they had never heard of him.