A question I ask myself often, and yet I don't always have an answer. I am curious as to how others would answer this question. Why do you practice Zen?
A question I ask myself often, and yet I don't always have an answer. I am curious as to how others would answer this question. Why do you practice Zen?
I don't know anymore.
Learning to live. Learning to die.
Life is better because I practice and I guess that is why I continue to do so. Not always better for me but somewhat better for those that must be around me.
I practice to quiet the mind and yet I practice to hear as well. I practice to get a grip on how an insignificant creature such as myself is interconnected with everything in this vast universe. I practice to rest for a bit and yet also to strengthen my resolve to live with everything that exists. I practice because I don't much care for the person I was before I started to practice but of course I am still the same as I was before I started my practice.
Such a simple question but no right nor wrong an answer that I can give to explain to someone why I do now what I must do.
I am sorry that I failed to give you an answer to your question but I continue to practice.
Heishu, no need to apologize. Your answer is also a main reason as to why I practice. In fact, my answer is the same as everyone who has posted here so far. Sometimes others can just write it down better than perhaps I can.
I started practice largely to escape suffering. That's not all or maybe even most of the reason I practice now, but I'm not sure what the reason is, really. In a way, I find that not knowing very freeing.
After avoiding practicing Zen for a couple years, after a while I thought I should get back to the practice; things seemed better somehow then, though I wasn't really sure why. It's not like I wasn't having fun being very un-Zen all this summer long! But I started lurking around on Treeleaf just the same, and started wondering if I'd ever take Jukai there or anywhere, and what difference it might actually make to me.
It was in that state of mind that I went away for a week with some family and friends, and like anytime you spend some time together, some things about my most loved ones started to annoy me. And of course they started to annoy each other and I was annoying them. Without getting into specifics on everybody's personal faults, I was thinking about just that (everyone's personal faults) around the same time I was thinking about getting back into practice, and how I'd need these people's help if I were to actually do Jukai this year and if I should bother to try, I just fell quiet and watched the people around me as they all tried to struggle through the suffering they were feeling. That's when I knew I had to do Jukai for them. Yes, for me, but for them. A less suffering me, a less caught-up me, a less chained me is much better suited to help them, and to remember that the annoyances that prick at my ego stem not from the people I love hating me, but rather the suffering in them is just doing what suffering does, reaching out to make more suffering.
Now many of my loved ones are helping me in small and large ways with all the logistics of Ango, and Jukai. And they'll see me do it. And that in itself is something, a small positive direction for us all. So, it's all very daunting for me still, but that's why I'm doing it. Not for them entirely! But because suffering gets suffering, and there just is really no other way to be once you get that. Though for some reason I still don't get, it all still scares the pants off of me.
Thanks for the excuse to write about this, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Good to let it out. I hope what I actually wrote makes some sort of sense.
Words have trouble capturing why I practice, and every year I practice it gets harder. If pressed on the issue, I guess it's mostly because I like obscure Japanese rituals and a love for that one darker spot on my wall. [morehappy] gassho1
I have looked for sometime for something that most closely matches with me. I went through a very rough time the last few years, and things still are not wonderful, but through reading about and studying Zen I found a way to process all that into the wonderful phase of my life that it was/is. Now that I am practicing regularly, I find that I like myself better, that it is helping me be the person I want to be and I really do feel it is helping me find me. Other people are beginning to notice too, though I don't go around proselytizing, people are responding to me differently. I feel more centered, grounded, real and whole than I have in a long time.
Ask me again in ten years.
PS: Based on today's performance Zen does not help you golf better, but I accept my lack of skill more gracefully:cool:
Zen slowly appeared in front of me after years of physical and metaphysical meanderings. I wasn't necessarily unhappy with things in my life and thinking, but through readings, experiences, and lessons from wonderful people, I plopped down in Zen. It has felt less like a choice than a natural evolution. And now I practice because I feel it is what I need to do in this moment.
To live a life without whys and to let life live me.
I did not choose Zen. It has nothing to do with me or my choices. Zen practices me. Really.
It's like when I'm driving the car. I don't think about each move. The car drives me. The road makes the decisions.
But there is room for improvement in my driving and I had to learn to drive before I got behind the wheel. Still am learning ... ;-)
I have so enjoyed reading all of your responses. I could probably write a 10-pg essay on this topic, but it boils down to this--I practice Zen for myself, I practice Zen for all beings, because we are all connected. It has only been through Zen that I have found my true home, my true self (or no-self)
I practice Zen because I haven't found or thought of anything else that makes sense.
I have practiced it since I was a kid, even if I didn't know there was a name for it.
I practice because it feels natural :)
Thank you all for your practice
To yield to life and be happy. Gassho.
Initially, I sat to re-learn what I had forgotten since I was 3 yrs old. Then after some time I realized a gathering faith that it made sense to live this way. A practice that benefits all beings, a practice that can change people's way of percieving reality.
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If we are to regain our original mind, the mind that is free of defilement, delusion, greed, hatred and anger, then we must understand the source of those feelings, which are largely cultural and aquired. Thus, they are learned behavior. And learned behavior can always be unlearned. I sit to unlearn.
For me, it started as initially as a curiosity. A lot of folks would say that something I said sounded very " Zen". So , out of curiosity, I began to look across the internet and found Treeleaf. After that, I was almost immediately hooked. Something about Zen practice just strikes an inner chord. Something about it just resonates with me in an inexplicable way. So I sit, sometimes a lot , sometimes a little. Read a book here and there. I haven't found any reason to stop practicing so I haven't stopped. I haven't actually gone a day without some phrase or precept or bit of philosophy entering my mind at some point. I'm just along for the ride, while still wondering " What is all this REALLY about?"
To flourish through fading away
I think I started so I could be cool. Different. It made more sense to me than Christianity, particularly since I came from a Jewish background. It gave me some comfort over the fear of dying.
I just sit now days. It feels natural, the way things are supposed to be. :)
I guess I practice so I feel more connected. I find that it helps me ride the waves of my emotions rather than drown in them. I practice because it helps me to look beyond my own tunnel vision and nourishes something deep within me that no other way could ever fill.
To get rid of everything, all the illusions of getting or having something more than this.
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I sincerely do it now, because I want to realize what I've read about for myself.... not in a selfish way. I sincerely want to realize Emptiness is Form, Form is Emptiness.
I sit to drop/let go of self that conceptualizes, speculates, fears and suffers. But it seems more about realizing that there no constructed self that sees/hears/smells/tastes/touches/conceptualizes separate, apart and alone from the ground upon which to stand, air to breath, and water to quench. Life is not obstructed and all phenomenon "fit" , yet it takes the concept of obstruction to learn of it's immateriality.
I practice to become genuine human.
Thereupon, Nangaku took a roof tile and began rubbing it on a rock near Baso’s hut.
Baso, upon seeing this, asked him, “Reverend monk, what are you doing?”
Nangaku replied, “I am polishing a roof tile.”
Baso then asked, “What are you going to make by polishing a roof tile?”
Nangaku replied, “I am polishing it to make a mirror.”
Baso said, “How can you possibly make a mirror by rubbing a tile?”
Nangaku replied, “How can you possibly make yourself into a genuine human by practicing?”
Ha! I was just thinking about that. When I said "not in a selfish way", that was BS. I always have ulterior motives; I think it's just a natural part of the ego.
During tonight's zazen I thought about when I ask questions about Zen, such as: "Am I doing it right?", "What about this?" I'm not asking those innocently; I'm usually really asking, "How do 'I' do this correctly so 'I' can get the most out of this?" It's how I live my life... or get through life to solve problems. I usually need to find the most efficient way to get something done. But it also causes problems, when that approach is taken to life. Living for efficiency is just joyless and it doesn't always take into consideration other people.. who are me as well.
So anyway during tonight's zazen I thought, it's not about that. Those are the wrong questions. It's not about what to get, it's about how to give. How do I best give myself to this practice? And it really is just sit... or as Taigu sensei says, "throw it all away". You have to... you just have to because those thoughts of getting constantly creep into practice. And it's not about rejecting them either; that's just another way of "getting" something, "getting" a sense of feeling pride because you aren't allowing those thoughts anywhere near you. It's just about letting them pass without grasping or rejecting. How do I give to this? How do I fully give myself to this practice without worrying about what may happen to "I" or how "I" will benefit?
I think that is an important question and not just on the cushion but in life. How do I give to this situation? Instead of how do "I" get the most out of this?
When "I" want something and dont' get it, I really can get disappointed... even during zen for some reason my eyes have been getting crosseyed lately. I have no idea why... sometimes my back gets sore, I'm in a crosseyed phase. hahahaah In any case, sometimes I get frustrated like why is this happening to "me"? But if I give myself to the moment and drop that it just goes away.
Just some random zennie thoughts.
Of course, I do not mean that we do not Practice in order to be better people, freer of Greed, Anger and Ignorance ... embodying Wisdom and Compassion ...
We do! And this Practice helps with that.
It is just that How can you possibly make yourself into a genuine human by practicing?
Even as we change, who and what is there to change?
As I said on another thread today ...
No matter what you say, you can't get out of the conundrum. You can't win for losing, any which way you turn.Quote:
We strive sincerely, with all our hearts, for perfection, to do something well and get it right ... all while dropping from our hearts all "striving" (even as we strive) ... all while realizing the perfect "just what it is-ness" of things even as we try to do the best possible, perfectly right or perfectly wrong.
Zen is not a one or the other way.
Leads to another famous Koan on Practice, cited by Dogen at the end of the Genjo ...
Buddha is everywhere, there is no need or way to fan (Practice) to make Buddha. Yet by fanning, we bring Buddha to life.Quote:
Master Ho-tetsu of Mt. Mayoku was using a fan. At that time, a monk came in and asked him, “[It is said that] the nature of air is to be ever-present, and there is no place that air cannot reach. Why then does the Master use a fan?”
The Master said, “You only know that the nature of air is to be ever-present, but you have not understood the fact that there is no place the air cannot reach.”
The monk said, “What is the meaning of the principle ‘There is no place the air cannot reach’?”
At this, the Master just [carried on] using the fan. The monk prostrated himself.
[Dogen says:] The real experience of Buddhism, the vivid behavior of the Buddhist tradition, is like this. Someone who says that because [the air] is ever-present we need not use a fan, or that even when we do not use [a fan] we can still feel the air, does not know ever-presence, and does not know the nature of air. Because the nature of air is to be ever-present, the behavior of Buddhists makes the Earth manifest itself as gold, and ripens the Milky Way into delicious cream.
Zen folks talk out of both sides of the no-sided mouth.
When I saw this report, I could not help feeling that ultimately our Practice is like a skateboarding goat trying to be a genuine goat or a genuine skateboarder.
Nonetheless, we do our best to get into the Buddha Book of Records.
Righteous ridin' everyone!
gassho1 Thank you Jundo
I started out to escape the suffering i was feeling at the time.
10 years after i can tell you that i dont really practice. ofcourse i sit zazen everyday, i dont really practice in the sense its a practice. the person i am now is inseparable from practice. i cant say if i am who i am because of zen practice, in spite of it or nothing to do with it. but its just me... it is who i am. i cant tell you in what ways practicing zen manifest in my life, if i think about it, it probably doesnt manifest at all in anyway. but it is a part of anything and everything i do, say or think. so i dont practice zen i just live.
Because life kept bouncing me back to the First Noble Truth again, again and again until I in my limited capability understood the causes of suffering. So Buddha seemed to be onto something. Now, Theravada makes most sense than other kinds of Budhism, but it takes infinite aeons to get anywhere, and we live in the last age or Dharma when no one gets enlightened anymore. So you switch to Mahayana, and you get a decent Madhyamika teachings that make a lot of sense, but you also don't get anywhere unless you serve million Buddhas or get a Tantra transmission that can drive you crazy. Then you realize you get crazy from conflicting ideas and views and you need something direct and simple. That's when you hit Zen. Zen is super-charged Yogacara beyond any traces of reason. You can't believe it, it forces you to practice. In Japan Zen was tough and was not meant to be a way for everyone. Samurais.
In the West, Zen became a safe haven for burned out hippies and suburban moms all about peace, love and flowers but the teachings are simple and are still available. There is no other way to deal with life than Zen. My humble five cents.
Mike,your post seems to be a bit confusing.If Theravada makes the most sense to you , then why Zen at all? I agree modern Western Zen is much different from the traditional Way. But the difference is more in that it is available to the layperson. One doesn't have to become a monk or nun in order to have access to the Dharma. And we beat each other less. Katsu is still valid in my view tho. :) So as you say Zen is the only way to deal with life, which of those stereotypical categories do you fall into if I may be so bold as to enquire?
P.S. I'm most undoubtedly a love and peace soccer mom. Just so we're clear. :)
When you read Pali Theravada suttas, people ask questions, Gautama responds. In 80% of the cases you say to yourself - "Yes, this makes sense. I think he is right.". Very tough, very "ascetic", but it may be true. Anicca, anatta and the third thing. You can't find the self, the world is suffering, the stuff is arising in your mind and he describes it pretty down to earth and there is nothing that goes against reason.
When you move to Mahayana sutras, suddenly you see all of those miraculous displays of billions of worlds with jewels, lotus flowers, beams of lights and what not. Fast forward to Nirvana Sutra, and you have an Atman, which sounds like a blasphemy. Lots of stuff to swallow.
In my limited view, Zen cuts through all of this, tells me to shut up and sit. If there is a way, it must be simple.
Shut Up and Sit
Isn't that the frontispiece of the latest 'Buddha Book of Records'?
I must confess sometimes I sit to become enlightened some day, and some days I realise that realisation is not a point to reach, the point is reached here and now, not once, but forever:as Dogen suggests in the Genjokoan(IMHO) "this no trace continues endlessly " is when we actualise moment after moment without appropriate one realisation by the ego "no traces of realisation remain" . I would prefer to use actualise rather than reached in this last case. to fall into the illusion of reaching enlightenment is spiritual materialism. Even after years of practice.
I may be wrong about Dogen, caution it's just a tought who will be corrected by our teachers
A good thought though. I liked it anyways but I'm just a dude. Whether interpreting Dogen correctly or not, I couldn't say. But I especially like the thought about actualization vs. reaching. Just sit and all things fall into place.
We reach ... partly by realizing that there is no place to get or ever in need of getting (that there was nothing apart to "get", nobody apart to "get it"[scared]), partly by walking the road which is ever under foot and without beginning or end.
I just posted this today, to a statement that our Way is not about kensho-satori-enlightenment. The comment was made ...
to which I said ...Quote:
But forget about Kensho/Satori/Enlightenment/etc. This practice is not about these things.
Perhaps for Rinzai practitioners.
Maybe you might check out the stuff from Kodo Sawaki...
HUH!?! Where did this come from?
I believe you confuse our "not chasing after, radically giving up the hunt" with "not finding". Who said that our Way ain't about Kensho-Satori-Enlightenment? Certainly not Kodo.
Here, please, carve this in your bones ...
More here ...Quote:
Who ever said that there is "nothing to find" in, through and as this practice of "not seeking", no place to "get", no treasure to snare at the end of the rainbow?
Not me. I never would say such a thing. Then why pursue this path?
Who ever said there is no "enlightenment" to be achieved? I never would say that. It would not be Buddhism in that case.
there's only one main reason, one main teacher, suffering...
First, I'm on the same path as buddha once was, searching for answers, for something to make sense, why do we live if it's all about suffering. Second, buddhism/zen seems like the best system to describe reality as true as possible, of everything that I have stumbled by so far in my life. And why the zen tradition. It feels like zen is at the core of the dharma teachings, striped off everything unnecessary.