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Thread: Ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Ch-ch-ch-changes

    Part of the self I have been studying in all my years doing zazen is when my mind goes wandering. What makes that happen? What starts that process? What flips that switch from calm abiding to active discourse? Typically, and for the longest time, I blamed the noise associated with the AC or heater turning on or the refrigerator running, that sort of thing. It's like these slight noises start a little electrical current in my brain that sets monkey mind off. But as I learned to pay better attention I began to realize that sometimes those noises actually settled my mind from running, just the opposite effect. Strange. Strangely inconsistent, I am, which can be a troubling place to be... unless your a Zen Buddhist.

    Then the other day I realized that it's not one or the other, not noise or absence of noise that set me off. Rather, it's the change from one to the other. As we all know, change is hard, and apparently this applies to zazen, too, which seemed like quite a realization at the time. But wait, the day before the other day I was doing zazen outside in the evening as I watched the sun play with shadows on a porch post. I watched the shadows come and go, shift and move, and it was wonderful, beautiful, peaceful. In other words, I watched change happen with calm abiding and no real agitation of any kind. So change doesn't have to be hard after all. It depends on what is changing and how, as well as how I approach that change. Ah, now this seems useful, trivial in so many ways, yet useful, at least to me.

    All this reminds me of an old favorite David Bowie song that I now have greater appreciation for because I understand the lyrics in a whole new way.

    AL (Jigen) in:
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    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Alan!

    I have noticed too that when a small change comes, the mind grabs it to monkey around. It could be a strong noise outside or any other distraction.

    A few days ago my cat discovered that she can sit zazen with me. So a few minutes into my morning sit, comes the kitty and settles right at my feet. This makes the mind jump all around for a couple of minutes.

    At the end, it gets back into zazen mode... so all is good.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin.
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  3. #3
    disastermouse
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    Accommodating change is actually a great opportunity! Sometimes a shocking noise is what makes me aware that my mind is wandering. Immediately upon discovery, I am able to dissolve into the change, so to speak. Zazen is not the attainment of an equilibrium, although sometimes equilibrium happens - it's the constant opportunity to look, look, look. If the discursive mind didn't arise, there could be no zazen.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  4. #4
    In my view, it is the natural functioning of the mind to focus its attention on any sudden change. The ones who didn't have this ability were probably eaten by sabre tooth tigres back when we were hunters and gatherers!

    A few times I have been sitting with the guard down, letting everything be without trying to interfere, but with a small part of my self holding me back, wanting to stay in control, keeping me from passing through the gateless gate. The self trying to get rid of the self, cementing the self in place. Then a sudden noise, like thunder breaking through the sound of the falling rain, fills the whole universe. And its enough to shake the clinging self loose. For only a moment, the self is forgotten, but that moment is enough to turn awareness around, to merge the the observed and the observer into one.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 09-27-2012 at 05:59 PM.
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  5. #5
    Great song, was one of my favorites, seems like yesterday. He was right 'pretty soon your gonna get older'. And that's a pretty big change. We don't like big changes because they are scary and make us feel uncomfortable. But without change we can't exist because we were made to change. Just sit and watch the change.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    The truism is that change is hard, but the real truth is it is happening all the time and most of it is pretty easy; we just don't pay attention. We tend to notice life changes when they are hard, hence the truism, but zazen allows us to see all the change in a nice and (usually) peaceful and meaningful way.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    The truism is that change is hard, but the real truth is it is happening all the time and most of it is pretty easy; we just don't pay attention. We tend to notice life changes when they are hard, hence the truism, but zazen allows us to see all the change in a nice and (usually) peaceful and meaningful way.
    Or the change is outside of our perceptual capability.

  8. #8
    disastermouse
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    The truism is that change is hard, but the real truth is it is happening all the time and most of it is pretty easy; we just don't pay attention. We tend to notice life changes when they are hard, hence the truism, but zazen allows us to see all the change in a nice and (usually) peaceful and meaningful way.
    Brilliantly stated! We usually don't notice easily the entire flux happens.

    Chet

  9. #9
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    And it's all flux...
    always...
    and there is no always.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  10. #10
    Thanks Al. Just sitting now.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  11. #11
    Member glow's Avatar
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    Lovely post - thank you all. I'll be sitting with change/non-change now.

    Glow

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