Re: Is Zazen the highlight of your day?
I thought of this tread this morning as I was getting ready to do some work and found myself emotionally just not ready to handle much in the way of responsibilities. Just a bit out of sorts. I really felt like do some zazen before work and found that 20 mins settled my mind to the point of being much more focused. Ideally I like to do one 20 min session and a 40 min as well...not that it always turns out that way. I find that when I follow this schedule emotions and thoughts are a lot less "sticky", to use a phrase Norm Fischer refers to in one of his podcasts. Zazen may not be the highlight of my day, although it can be, but it does seem to smooth the day out. My mind also seems a lot more "open" and "fluid".
Re: Is Zazen the highlight of your day?
I want to say a little more about this. The relationship of "enlightenment" and "practice" and "delusion" in our "Dogen-y" way of seeing things is very subtle. They are neither separate, nor are they apart. Let me give a simple example:
Originally Posted by Jundo
Suppose our Buddhist Practice were our learning to surf.
Suppose that "delusion" were the big, rough waves that tended to knock us off the board, and suppose that "enlightenment" were just realizing the balance of the sea itself on our board. Our "practice" is working to manifest that natural balance of the sea via our ability to maintain balance at one with our board.
In Dogen's vision, the balanced sea is always present, and the waves are just the sea. Whether we keep our footing on the board, or fall off the board, it is all still the sea. (Enlightenment is never somewhere else distant, always here). What is more, "practice", like surfing, is not a stagnant "once it is accomplished, it is finished" thing ... but is an ongoing activity. Moment by moment, with all the changing conditions of life's waves, we must surf ... just taking it as it comes. Sometimes we might keep our balance, sometimes we might fall.
If we fall ... it is just the sea. If we stay on our board ... it is just the sea (we are always enlightened, even though we fall into delusion). Yet, we try our best to stay on our board. If you fall off your board ... get back on! In fact, you cannot be a master surfer unless you learn to fall very well, swim back to your board and recover your footing! Nobody (except perhaps a perfect Buddha) stays poised on their board all the time without taking a tumble!
Actually, to be precise, "enlightenment" is not "The Sea" (don't think of it as that ... not "The Great Cosmic Sea") ... but is the total "surfing" function of sea and surf and surfer on the cutting edge of "hanging ten" right this moment! .
Got the image?
Okay, my point was that, sometimes, the best way to "learn surfing" is to take lessons, make an effort, read surfing magazines, listen to more experienced surfers, check the weather conditions, practice hard to "stay mindful of the moment" and make effort to "keep balance". However, sometimes (maybe most of the time), the best way to practice surfing is ... just to grab your board and surf. Stop "trying to surf" ... and just get out there! Let go of all thoughts of "trying to stay balanced on the board" and just do what you can ... don't think of staying on the board; instead just pick up the rhythm and ride the tide! (You will become a better surfer when you stop trying to become a better surfer ... and just keep surfing!) Be accepting of each wipeout, and learn from each one ... again and again (there is really no place to fall, and wipeouts are part of life's wild ride. "Wipe outs". when correctly perceived as such, are just "enlightenment" too, are just "surfing" too ... yet we go again and again to get back on our board and not wipe out!). Heck, sometimes just hang out on the beach and enjoy that sunrise! All the surf experience! Even put the board back in the garage, watch some tv and get some sleep (ya can't surf 24/7 without burning out!)
Is that kind of clear?
Dogen has a lovely section of Shobogenzo called "Daigo" in which he makes this point in his jazzy way. Norman Fischer has a couple of good talks about it ...
http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?It ... xt-698-192
http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?It ... xt-700-193
When life leaves you hanging from a thin branch, death around the corner ... there you are! Do that!
The priest Hsiang-yen said, "It is as though you were up in
a tree, hanging from a branch with your teeth. Your hands
and feet can't touch any branch. Someone appears beneath
the tree and asked, `What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's
coming from the West?' If you do not answer, you evade your
responsibility. If you do answer, you lose your life. What
do you do?"
If you can get down, do that! If you can't get down, do that! If you fall to your doom, do that! If you are relaxed about it, do that? If you are shitting your pants, do that!
If you are hanging there, trying to do deep spiritual practice of "being in the moment". Just do that! If hanging there, thinking about the World Cup and what's for lunch and going to the beach to surf and whether you will get that promotion at work. Just do that!
It is all just Bodhidharma hanging from a branch, the question is answered without a word spoken (whether you speak or not)! :)
Anyway, we are all hanging from that branch, right now. No place to fall, yet we all one day go "splat!"