Well, I practice "genuine Zen" and am a believing Orthodox Christian.
If you are not a Buddhist, you don't practice Zen. Maybe you practice some neat mental tricks you learned in your Zen monastery, but if it's divorced from Buddhism, it's not Zen.
But I believe you've misunderstood the expression "a teaching outside the scriptures." It is the direct experience of fundamental reality. What could that be but God?
Of course God is the fundamental reality. However, to recognize this is to overthrow Zen and all Buddhist doctrine. All the Zen practices and teachings, including the "outside the scriptures" stuff, is based on Buddhist principles... which are in the scriptures. A lot of the distinctive Zen approaches came from the Lankavatara Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra, etc. Much of Dogen's craziness can be traced to the Avatamsaka Sutra. Maybe they left the raft behind, but Buddha-Dharma was still the only raft.
The point is that rigorous study or the application of sequential logic do not lead to that direct experience. That is the problem with many of Shihfu Sheng Yen's teachings. They do not go deep enough.
Buddhism, including Zen, doesn't go deep enough. It's not Sheng Yen's fault. But terms of Zen and Buddhism, Sheng Yen is miles above most of the narcissists peddling "Zen" in the West. If you have an edge over Sheng yen, it's not because of your Zen insights but because you are a Christian.
Of course you can find people who "worship" the historical Buddha,
Yes, they're called Buddhists, especially Mahayana Buddhists, all of whom recognize the Lotus Sutra and other scriptures that advocate the worship of the Buddha. In Zen temples incense is burned and offerings are made before statues of the Buddha, just like in every other Buddhist temple.
just as you can find savior figures, such as Amitabha, in movements like the Pure Land schools. You can find the same wide variety in Christianity. Mary the Virgin Mother of God--yes or no?
Amitabha is not a matter of "yes" or "no." All Mahayana Buddhists revere him- whether that manifests in Pure Land practice or not does not indicate a division in any way as deep as the one between Orthodoxy and Pentecostalism.
You'll get a quite different answer from an Orthodox than from a Pentecostal. What's your point?
Pure Land and Chan are completely compatible currents ("skillful means") within Buddhism. Chan Buddhists recognize the Pure Land scriptures as legitimate, even if some of them think the practice is not as advanced as Chan. Sure, individual teachers of the sects bickered amongst each other, but the practices became integrated for many (the lines between the sects were never so hardened in China as they were in Japan). Nowadays Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese Chan routinely integrate Pure Land practice. I think you're thinking about Buddhism in general through the distorted lens of Japanese sectarian division. Even in Japan, though, the Obaku Zen sect integrates Pure Land as a Zen practice. D.T. Suzuki came to believe that Zen and Pure Land are essentially the same.
That Buddhism manifests in many forms? No one argues against this.
Those many forms are mostly not mutually contradictory, unlike Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy. They are recognized as legitimate and often complementary paths to enlightenment. Is that how you view Pentecostalism?
You cannot believe how tired I am of arrogant people presuming to tell me what I am or am not doing, or what is or is not possible. Unless you have walked my same path, you cannot possibly know what you are talking about.
I have always found this line of thinking to be silly, that people cannot know or understand something they have not experienced. It's true to a point, but when it's used to shut down legitimate criticism it's rather juvenile.
I think it's a valid question: Orthodox Christianity is the fullness of truth. Why do you need pagan imitation religious practices when you have the real thing in Orthodoxy?
It's not about whether anyone here can understand you; it is about whether you are thinking clearly and logically, or whether your thinking is fogged by your experiences and you are unable to be objective. Since you have an obvious emotional attachment to Zen religious practices, you do not have the objectivity to be able to reject them in favor of Christian truth.
Not that anyone can blame you for that; you have made an emotional investment in Zen. But the fact is, you are not coming at this objectively. From an objective standpoint, Christians have no reason to use pagan religious practices.
Heck, Judaism was the forerunner to Christianity, and the Apostles in Acts 15 did away with almost all the Jewish practices. Why would it be acceptable to practice paganism as an Orthodox Christian?
I've been a Christian my entire life. I've practiced and studied Buddhism for nearly 50 of my 60 years, practice that has included priest ordination and Dharma transmission. That's why I feel my perspective may be better informed than yours. Especially with Zen, which defines and describes itself as experiential in nature, a lack of substantial first-hand experience would be so serious a deficit as to render invalid almost any observation one might make or any opinion one might hold hold, except by accident or coincidence.
And I'll mention in passing what many have commented on: Thousands of Roman Catholics, including dozens of priests and religious, practice Zen. Many are fully credentialed teachers who have received Shiho. I personally know several of these, one of whom has a Dharma heir who's a Strict Observance Cistercian. Granted, Catholics aren't Orthodox. But no one can describe OCSO Cistercians as lax or cavalier about their theology. If they can see a benefit to working the Zen field, so to say, we might be smart to at least find out why they think so. This can't be accomplished by reading or discussion, by the way. You have to actually do it.
How do you feel about a Christian bowing before a statue of Kannon upon entering a Zendo?
Then we have a difference of opinion ( FYI, I also have a Dharma transmission and ordination).
First of all, I can detect a different philosophical point of view between us. On the one hand you emphasize intent, do you "Understand" what you are doing when you bow before a Pagen Statue. Do you have a complicated understanding of the Bodhisattva of Compassion ( Kannon) or are you willfully engaged in some sort of worship.
I would prefer not to split those hairs. You have bowed before a Pagan Statue. I am not trying to be overly strict but I see an insidious effect from this bowing ( and often offering a bit of incense) that is not mitigated by what you have in your mind at the time.
In most forms of Buddhism there are a few very pivotal events in life. Being born a human (who has a Buddha Nature ie capacity to become enlightened) is the first. The next is coming into actual contact with the Dharma ( The Buddha's teaching. "Buddha-Dharma" ).
When Buddhists get you to do something very simple, like bowing before Kannon and offering a speck of incense, you have you accomplished what is to the Buddhist, a great passage in life. You may have live thousands of prior lives ( in their way of thinking) without ever once coming into contact with the Buddha-Dharma, and now finally you have. It's a big deal.
This is a form of initiation. Fr. Seraphim Rose ( who was a Buddhist in his youth) specifically warns of this sort of thing.
A few seasons back the TV show "Survivor" took place in Burma ( maybe it was Thailand). During the opening show they took the contestants to a Buddhist Temple for a "Welcoming Ceremony". They were to walk into the Temple with hands folded and then make a deep bow all the way to the floor. They were to then offer a bit of incense in front of the alter where there were Statues of all kinds of Buddhist Deities.
One of the contestants was a Woman who was an Evangelical Christian.. She walked into the Temple looked around and saw what they wanted her to do. To her great credit, she turned on her heals and walked out.
Jeff Probst the host was bewildered by this and argued with her a bit. He was clearly annoyed and kept saying "It's only a Welcoming Ceremony"...."It's only a Welcoming Ceremony" But by her good Christian sense, she could understand that this is not something a Christian should ever do.
You do understand that Christians were put to death in the Arena, torn apart by wild animals or hacked up by soldiers or burned alive for refusing to bow before Statues of Roman God's and offer a speck of incense to them.