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Thread: "Enemies," Confessions & Chances to Practice!

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    "Enemies," Confessions & Chances to Practice!

    "I must emphasize again that merely thinking that compassion and reason and patience are good will not be enough to develop them. We must wait for difficulties to arise and then attempt to practice them.

    And who creates such opportunities? Not our friends, of course, but our enemies. They are the ones who give us the most trouble, So if we truly wish to learn, we should consider enemies to be our best teacher!" ~ His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama

    This quote really struck home this week/weekend! I was really surprised at the little things that really set me off, I'm ashamed to admit. But every time I'm in a situation like that, I think about this quote. I spent literally hours on the phone with DirecTv over bill issues/an extreme amount of money being taken out of my bank account- each person I talked to was seemingly unhelpful, rude, and transferring me purposely to the wrong departments. I was almost in tears, and almost extremely unkind, and definitely thinking MORE than unkind thoughts. Even went so far as to "revenge" thoughts towards the company. Just little things I could do to annoy them. Automated phone systems, and large corporations where I can't talk to someone who knows what's up really get to me, to the core, the minute a robot voice comes on. I was definitely not very compassionate! Opportunity to practice #1. I took a step back, and was extremely polite to the next few people, and had some results. Not the best, but not bad.

    Sometimes your enemies are closer to home, too, though. For instance my dogs. They destroyed an impressive amount when left alone for only a few hours. My first feelings was concern, and the minute I saw they were okay, I became so angry, which was so pointless as they don't even understand what they did! I didn't take it out on them at all, of course, but what an uncomfortable feeling to be going through my head. I did not roll with the situation well and was definitely overcome. Opportunity to practice #2. I went into the bedroom, sat for some time, let things go, then went out and gave the dogs love. After all, my initial concern was their health- did they eat anything in the garbage that could poison them?? I had just cleaned out the fridge, after all. The one dog locked himself in the bathroom- did he drink the mop water I had left in haste? How the heck he did that I won't figure out- I had made sure the door was securely closed when I left the house (due to mop water/cleaning supplies being around.) My initial reaction to the situation was fine, just worry, but the following anger was not. So I sat, and after I was calm reflected on my initial emotion. I then acted off of that, not the anger, which led to RELIEF- no one was harmed! Left the mess to clean up until today.

    Then there are the myriad little things- in a social situation, my husband accidentally cut me off twice in about 30 seconds, and I snapped at him (which is unlike him and rather unlike me, to the contrary of this confession post.) To through in a little funny aside, I had posted on Facebook that I was undertaking the precepts, and a few friends joked that I forgot the "Lloyd factor." He's the one super close friend that enjoys pushing my buttons- and he was in the car when I snapped. They joked that he would be a trigger and a test!!!

    But really, aren't all these big and little scenarios that we face in daily life incredible blessings? I remember hearing a story about TNH torching a student's hut because they were too attached to their solitude. Things were too easy there! Don't know the truth to that story, but the point is there.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_thur...ompassion.html Robert Thurman rather wittily tells the story here of Asanga (the whole video is more than worth watching, but that story starts at 03:05.) He goes on retreat, for multiple long periods of time, but because he is living in a cave and not actually practicing and understanding he just isn't getting it right, despite the devotion!

    Anyone else have confessions to make on trigger situations?? Those wonderful opportunities to practice?


    To throw in a positive, my job has been an awesome opportunity to practice- I work in detox with the mental health group out here, and I get called in to work at all hours. It is so EASY to be grumpy at 2am when you are shaking off sleep to go to.. dun dun dun... WORK, but I look at my job as helping people and worked on changing that outlook. When I did that, I was more engaged, and better able to get people in to treatment for their addictions- voila! Awesome opportunity, that happened to come with an immense reward!

    Okay gonna wrap up this long post now,
    Gassho,
    Dani

    PS. I'm rather new to Treeleaf so please don't get the impression that I am an angry person. These situations are few and far between, which is why they stand out so much to me and worry me. I know the exact date of the last time I acted so.. icky! Just a disclaimer
    Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012 at 02:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    From one multiple dog owner to another. Think about crates. They are humane, the dogs consider the crate their personal den and you can have peace of mind when you can't be there. They will still love you.

    Gassho
    Alan

  3. #3
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Crates are in their future! I am definitely not against them, but typically don't have issues with misbehavior :/ It is a sad recent development, and there hasn't been a lifestyle change or trigger! I've tried to kennel the old one before and it triggers severe anxiety for him, but I'm going to try to ease him into it. He's pretty set in his ways- a 10 yr wolf mix that I adopted about 2 years ago. The younger dog I'm sure will adapt. (Should throw in too that the kitchen was blocked off pretty severely. I'm baffled as to what happened last night- initially thought someone had come in the house!)

    Gassho, Dani
    Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012 at 03:35 AM.

  4. #4
    Hi Dani,

    Great post!!!

    really honest and open.

    And helpful that you have seen your mind's pattern for yourself. How difficult and how scary it is for so many of us to even admit to ourselves our mental habits.
    It is one thing to sit and hover over a lotus leaf during practice, ( hehehe) but actually being able to put into practice what we do, is such a wonderful thing indeed....

    Humbly,
    Seiryu
    Humbly,
    Seiryu

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kuanyinlove View Post
    But really, aren't all these big and little scenarios that we face in daily life incredible blessings?
    Hi Dani.

    Thank you for a great post and opening to what can become an great thread.
    Yes,they can be.
    I know there's a guy around Treeleaf that always says "Its all good practice", and once you start getting there, the real work begins.
    We all have those opportunities whether just an old fool like me, or an lama in robes, the question is not if we have them but what we do with them.

    Thank you for your practice.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Treeleaf Unsui
    Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    When we pay attention, life itself becomes a place for practice.

    One of my commitments for this Ango is to be mindful of my speech, to wait at least for a second before opening my mind and I have found it's been a great exercise for me.

    Just this last Saturday I was listening to my girlfriend talking about some of her family members and my mind was too quick to make judgments. I was about to say how dumb those people were, but I realized that and I simply let go of it and didn't say anything.

    And you have no idea how much trouble I have brought to myself in the past for being too quick to make judgments.

    Thank you for this post.

    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

  7. #7
    Hi Dani,


    Don't give a a dam about great posts and threads and...
    But what you write here is spot on.
    It is where it shows.
    It is where it is met.
    And it is meeting us.


    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  8. #8
    Corporations and the people that handle the phones don't want to talk to me but they don't mind email as much.

    Unless you have a video surveillance system you will never know exactly what happened and why. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try different and new things.

    Thanks for the post. I'll let you know the next situation or person that pulls my trigger.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    I have many similar struggles on a similar basis, with people I care about, too.

    One friend, we'll call him Liberty, just seems to take every opportunity to let me know when I'm screwing things up. It could be as complex an issue as our differences of opinion regarding respect for the dead, or as minor as my attempts to cook spaghetti (he confronted me as I cooked the meat for the sauce, telling me I was about to screw it all up and that he should take over - yeah, this one bothered me a LOT!)

    What makes Liberty all the more frustrating is that he is the least receptive to criticism despite his willingness to dish it out. Arguments undoubtedly follow over the stupidest crap as we reflect our defensiveness onto one another. Every interaction with him risks becoming a screaming match.

    My other friend, we'll call her Crayola, is in a destructive relationship with another friend, who we'll call Biff. Biff and Crayola started together about three years ago, and over the course of the relationship, Biff continually exploited Crayola's neediness, turning all sunshine and rainbows when time came to do the mattress mambo, but disappearing the moment she started being too attached. At first, we condemned Biff for his exploitation, but as Crayola became more a part of the group (and less Biff's girl) we started telling her what was up, how she was being used. Biff had covered himself with a "we're not dating" clause - so down to the letter of morality, I suppose he wasn't at fault - but we tried to show her how he was just going to continue hurting her. That was two years ago. Skip ahead to now, and this same sad girl is stuck in the same relationship and is still controlled by Biff despite her own knowledge of everything. It's so hard for me to interact with her - it's gotten to the point where she only calls to hang out if Biff isn't around for her, as though she's basically using us for those times when Biff's letting her down. Every time this happens, I have the hardest time not just screaming at her for bringing all of her issues on herself. I found myself so disgusted with just the thought of her (and her unwillingness to change her own situation) that I cut off most extended contact. After some time, I realized that this was not the way to proceed - I have additionally concerns about her health that are multiplied by her handling of her situation with Biff, and so I curbed my pride and apologized to her. Picking back up where we left off, though, I sort of realize why I cut back in the first place...

    My life has many opportunities for practice, and I am grateful for them... I just wish that I knew better how to deal with all of this junk! How can I help friends that won't help themselves? How do resist the taunts of a friend who persistently and without provocation assualts my (every) way of life? Knowing that Liberty is insecure or that Crayola is "afraid of dying alone" (her words) don't change my ability to deal with them. Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that? This is all so convoluted, in part, no doubt, because it comes from a place of judgment - clearly I have judged Liberty to be an insecure asshole, and Crayola to be a weak-minded child. I don't believe these traits to be the only thing they are, but I can see myself defending my position with these assertions about their character. In a way, I find myself in the position of the prosyletizer - wishing to convert the aforementioned sinners to the side of Good so they can be Redeemed... I'm so full of myself!

    I am not sure why it is so important to me that I be right about each of these people, or any of the others that give me agita. I don't know why I can't just hold my tongue.

    I guess that's my confession.

    Thanks for this opportunity for reflection!

    Gassho,
    Frankiel
    "and if i claim to be a wise man, it surely means that i don't know"

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankiel View Post
    ...Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that?...
    Don't over-think it, just let what needs to happen happen, whether by your effort or not. You already recognize that trying to "convert" them, in a sense, is not really what you should be doing.
    迎 Geika

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankiel View Post
    My life has many opportunities for practice, and I am grateful for them... I just wish that I knew better how to deal with all of this junk! How can I help friends that won't help themselves? How do resist the taunts of a friend who persistently and without provocation assualts my (every) way of life? Knowing that Liberty is insecure or that Crayola is "afraid of dying alone" (her words) don't change my ability to deal with them. Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that? This is all so convoluted, in part, no doubt, because it comes from a place of judgment - clearly I have judged Liberty to be an insecure asshole, and Crayola to be a weak-minded child. I don't believe these traits to be the only thing they are, but I can see myself defending my position with these assertions about their character. In a way, I find myself in the position of the prosyletizer - wishing to convert the aforementioned sinners to the side of Good so they can be Redeemed... I'm so full of myself!

    I am not sure why it is so important to me that I be right about each of these people, or any of the others that give me agita. I don't know why I can't just hold my tongue.
    There are always difficult people in our lives. We are always surely a difficulty in somebody else's life too.

    In dealing with people who I thought needed correcting, I have done everything from simply ignoring the situation (people are people, and maybe I am wrong) and letting it roll off me like water (most cases) to organizing a drug intervention (for a friend really in serious trouble) to calling the police (for a friend who was being physically abused). For dealing with large corporate computer glitches, I have sometimes let it go ... sometimes put on my lawyer hat. For political issues, there is a time to let it be and see through it all ... a time to march in the streets. Case by case, and all we can do is follow our heart in the moment. Even when concerned and intervening, even when silent or when loudly protesting ... we should SIMULTANEOUSLY let it roll through us ... and us through it ... like water. Don't get "agita".

    For our non-Sopranos fans ... Agita (from the Italian), Heartburn, or a general pain from stress.

    Still, it is hard. My son or wife (usually the people closest to us) can push our buttons sometimes. In our house, it is the usual stuff. Yesterday, I almost broke a foot stepping on some toy my son had left on the floor. Then, my wife got the chocolate ice cream when I SPECIFICALLY said cookies-&-cream!

    I am not so much for a literal teaching of Karma and "Karmic Seeds" from past births (agnostic on that), but I do believe very much in the power of this nurturing seeds practice. We have one here we encourage as a daily practice, very much influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh and others. Please have a look.

    RECOMMENDED DAILY Nurturing Seeds PRACTICE
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Seeds-PRACTICE

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-23-2012 at 03:23 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Frankiel,

    I am sure Jundo or Taigu will comment on this response with more insight, and Zen related reflections. They are the men you need for these topics, but I will take a stab

    One thing that helped me was the teachings of the Buddha on karma. I learned about them in a Tibetan sense but also have read writings by TNH on them that lined up, and these basics are found in many sutras (which of course are not Shakyamuni's direct words.) Disclaimer aside, the point is that the things that happen in your life are the result of karmic seeds ripening. The situations gain steam when you react in ways that encourage the growth of that seed. You can also choose to mindfully uproot that seed- TNH calls it mind gardening.

    For instance, in the case of your friend being hypercritical of you but not receptive to criticism himself, some Buddhists would say that is because you have been hypercritical and not receptive. The situation is in your life because the seed you planted by the action ripened into a scene. So how do you change that? It's all about your reaction to the situation. Were you annoyed, angry? You say that yelling matches occur- that is continuing the undesirable karma, encouraging the growth of a seed that could be uprooted. So how to uproot it? React with how you want the situation to play out in the future!

    Those are just perspectives that helped me out, and I noticed a very pronounced change in my life. For instance, I used to have people (co workers specifically) yell at me, like flat out rage fits, quite frequently. I didn't respond well. I began consciously responding how I felt I should, to uproot the seed, and maybe it's a coincidence (maybe not) but my last few jobs have had only awesome co-workers and no yelling! I actually started a journal about the mind-gardening I've been pursuing and the changes I've been marking, and it's really astonishing me.

    You can look at it as karma and the Buddha's teachings, or even just psychologically/from a neuroscience perspective. Our brain creates patterns, on a neuron level it has to do with actual routes between neurons being carved (maybe read Buddha's Brain if it interests you) and end of the story is we react to things in accordance with the patterns set, with what neurons we get used to firing. When we are consciously reacting we can rewire our brains, quite literally, changing the patterns and making new carvings. Our neurons begin firing differently, and we create patterns for more desirable reactions, and other people feed off of our reactions and outcomes can change just from that I believe.

    All these words are just things I learned that seemed to help me- I don't mean to come off preachy, this is just a subject I spend mass amounts of time thinking about!!! I can get quite nerdy when I go off on a curiosity tangent.

    It takes work to change situations, from a science or spiritual aspect, but that is the opportunity to practice!

    Gassho,
    Dani
    Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012 at 07:57 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuanyinlove View Post
    Frankiel,

    I am sure Jundo or Taigu will comment on this response with more insight, and Zen related reflections. They are the men you need for these topics, but I will take a stab

    One thing that helped me was the teachings of the Buddha on karma. I learned about them in a Tibetan sense but also have read writings by TNH on them that lined up, and these basics are found in many sutras (which of course are not Shakyamuni's direct words.) Disclaimer aside, the point is that the things that happen in your life are the result of karmic seeds ripening. The situations gain steam when you react in ways that encourage the growth of that seed. You can also choose to mindfully uproot that seed- TNH calls it mind gardening.

    For instance, in the case of your friend being hypercritical of you but not receptive to criticism himself, some Buddhists would say that is because you have been hypercritical and not receptive. The situation is in your life because the seed you planted by the action ripened into a scene. So how do you change that? It's all about your reaction to the situation. Were you annoyed, angry? You say that yelling matches occur- that is continuing the undesirable karma, encouraging the growth of a seed that could be uprooted. So how to uproot it? React with how you want the situation to play out in the future!

    Those are just perspectives that helped me out, and I noticed a very pronounced change in my life. For instance, I used to have people (co workers specifically) yell at me, like flat out rage fits, quite frequently. I didn't respond well. I began consciously responding how I felt I should, to uproot the seed, and maybe it's a coincidence (maybe not) but my last few jobs have had only awesome co-workers and no yelling! I actually started a journal about the mind-gardening I've been pursuing and the changes I've been marking, and it's really astonishing me.

    You can look at it as karma and the Buddha's teachings, or even just psychologically/from a neuroscience perspective. Our brain creates patterns, on a neuron level it has to do with actual routes between neurons being carved (maybe read Buddha's Brain if it interests you) and end of the story is we react to things in accordance with the patterns set, with what neurons we get used to firing. When we are consciously reacting we can rewire our brains, quite literally, changing the patterns and making new carvings. Our neurons begin firing differently, and we create patterns for more desirable reactions, and other people feed off of our reactions and outcomes can change just from that I believe.

    All these words are just things I learned that seemed to help me- I don't mean to come off preachy, this is just a subject I spend mass amounts of time thinking about!!! I can get quite nerdy when I go off on a curiosity tangent.

    It takes work to change situations, from a science or spiritual aspect, but that is the opportunity to practice!

    Gassho,
    Dani
    Dani,

    I think you covered that very well. It does take some work to live with what life presents. I liked that.

    Gasssho,
    Alan

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Case by case, and all we can do is follow our heart in the moment.
    Love it! Clean and simple, thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ecoist View Post
    Love it! Clean and simple, thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Michael
    yes - absolutely!




    Willow

  16. #16
    One further important point is that we do not see people as "bad", even if some of their actions are so. Even the criminal who commits the most heinous crime is also, in his or her way, a victim of greed, anger and ignorance ... the true culprit. That does not mean we don't put such people in prison, but we also see them as sentient beings driven by delusion.

    Also, even for smaller matters, it takes two to tango ... the annoying and the annoyed, and ultimately all is empty. I sometimes tell this personal story, and a famous parable of the boat from Joko Beck ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I am going to post a version of one of my favorite old stories on anger (as told by Joko Beck, I am sure many already know it). But I would like to tell my version of a similar story from my life (100% True Story).

    For several years, my wife and I volunteered at a Hospice for the terminally ill. I was late to get to my post one morning, and took the toll road ... but did not have any small change (I think it was 25 cents), and only a large bill. The woman in the toll both could not take the large bill, refused to accept my promise to pay double on the return trip, gave me a hard time, filling out forms and blocking traffic too. I got a bit hot under the collar and told her off a bit. Jerk!

    Not two hours later, I run into the same woman, crying next to her dying mother's bed in the hospice ...

    Everyone's life has many causes and conditions that brought them to that place. The fellow who cuts you off in traffic may be worried about losing his job, or the rude sales clerk may just be having a bad day. I try to keep that in mind now.

    Joko relates this ...

    Say you're on a lake in your rowboat that you just painted and you're taking it out for the first time. The lake has a little fog on it.. not too much fog but just enough to make visibility difficult. As you're rowing, enjoying your time on the lake suddenly another rowboat comes out of the fog and is headed straight for your boat. Instantly you start screaming to the other boater... "look out.. what are you doing?" Then the boat smashes into your newly painted boat. You are so upset that someone would do this to you and your boat. How on earth would someone be so careless to let this happen. (Just imagine how angry you'd be.) Well this is when you realize that the other rowboat is empty. How do your feelings/anger change? Are you still mad at the other boat. After all it is just an empty boat.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Also, even for smaller matters, it takes two to tango ... the annoying and the annoyed, and ultimately all is empty. I sometimes tell this personal story, and a famous parable of the boat from Joko Beck ...
    Right! It takes two people to have a fight. This has been a big truth trough all my life. I am often labelled as a nihilist or people get really uncomfortable when I don't engage in conflict.

    That's not because I don't care, it's because I truly believe that things can get solved in a civil and calm way.

    Still, it takes a lot of attention to emotions to realize when you are about to drop a verbal bomb that will spark a fight.

    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

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    One further important point is that we do not see people as "bad", even if some of their actions are so. Even the criminal who commits the most heinous crime is also, in his or her way, a victim of greed, anger and ignorance ... the true culprit. That does not mean we don't put such people in prison, but we also see them as sentient beings driven by delusion.
    For me, this is very important! If and when you can truly see the three poisons at work in your antagonist, you will automatically see him as the victim he really is. Just putting him in the "three poisons box" isn't enough though. You have to look deeper. Really try to understand who the other person is and why he does what he does. If you do, sometimes compassion will arise instead of anger.

    It is equally important to know how the poisons work in yourself. Why are you clinging so hard to this particular idea of yours? What is it in you that makes you feel so much anger/aversion towards the other person or what he's saying? Could it even be possible that you are wrong, but you hate to admit it? Are you missing an opportunity to learn (or teach) because of your own pride?

    It's important to accept people as they are and not wish they were different. Learn who they are, and you may find they are not so different from yourself after all... Accept all the faults and short comings in yourself, others and the world we live in.

    Last, but not least, forgive both yourself and others. Don't carry things around. Don't nurture the wrong seeds. When you drop it all and forgive, you can start to understand and be compassionate.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

    PS. Marriage is a great opportunity for practice! DS.
    Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 10-23-2012 at 06:55 AM.
    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

  19. #19
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    Still, it is hard. My son or wife (usually the people closest to us) can push our buttons sometimes. In our house, it is the usual stuff. Yesterday, I almost broke a foot stepping on some toy my son had left on the floor. Then, my wife got the chocolate ice cream when I SPECIFICALLY said cookies-&-cream!


    Also, even for smaller matters, it takes two to tango ... the annoying and the annoyed, and ultimately all is empty.


    Love the first part Jundo- it made me giggle out loud. And the second part I really take to heart!

    Gassho

  20. #20
    For me the "enemies" are the real scorched earth ones... a spouse's cancer diagnosis, collapse of income, the
    kid's Tourette's syndrome seeming to cast a shadow on his future. These are challenges to my equanimity. I'll be
    calm and just do what needs to be done during such times, but then suddenly some little comment or additional
    nuisance will bring out a burst of temper.. or a need to walk away and get some air. I just need to be messed
    up.. or be the messedupedness, including the acting-out when knowing better. Though apologies may be needed.

    The little enemies, like getting speeding ticket, or having a proposal flop, tend to disappear after the next
    zazen reset. A couple of days ago there was a chaotic morning in this multi-generational house, with all kinds
    of chatter and raised voices at the front door. Our neighbor, who was just heading to work, appeared to look at
    us and ... roll his eyes. "Did he roll his eyes at us?". Suddenly, he was the bad neighbor.. and if in that
    moment I were to engage that bad neighbor, there would have been a sick little feedback loop. As it happens
    the next morning I saw him after sitting zazen, and because of that reset, he was a fresh face, and that is how
    I engaged him. He responded with equal freshness, because all it takes is one of us to make it fresh.

    My wife and I use to have a joke that our favourite game for long road trips was "The little things about you
    that bug me". That was long ago, and we have just learned not to juice that kind of thing, because we are
    imperfect and weird, but our family is a big basket that can easily hold everything. So, not picking on those
    things is good skill IMHO..


    Gassho, kojip
    大山

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip View Post
    For me the "enemies" are the real scorched earth ones... a spouse's cancer diagnosis, collapse of income, the
    kid's Tourette's syndrome seeming to cast a shadow on his future. These are challenges to my equanimity. I'll be
    calm and just do what needs to be done during such times, but then suddenly some little comment or additional
    nuisance will bring out a burst of temper.. or a need to walk away and get some air. I just need to be messed
    up.. or be the messedupedness, including the acting-out when knowing better. Though apologies may be needed.

    The little enemies, like getting speeding ticket, or having a proposal flop, tend to disappear after the next
    zazen reset. A couple of days ago there was a chaotic morning in this multi-generational house, with all kinds
    of chatter and raised voices at the front door. Our neighbor, who was just heading to work, appeared to look at
    us and ... roll his eyes. "Did he roll his eyes at us?". Suddenly, he was the bad neighbor.. and if in that
    moment I were to engage that bad neighbor, there would have been a sick little feedback loop. As it happens
    the next morning I saw him after sitting zazen, and because of that reset, he was a fresh face, and that is how
    I engaged him. He responded with equal freshness, because all it takes is one of us to make it fresh.

    My wife and I use to have a joke that our favourite game for long road trips was "The little things about you
    that bug me". That was long ago, and we have just learned not to juice that kind of thing, because we are
    imperfect and weird, but our family is a big basket that can easily hold everything. So, not picking on those
    things is good skill IMHO..


    Gassho, kojip

    Oh, wonderful wonderful.

    I told a friend yesterday that I have been Still and Thoroughly At Peace even amid serious car accidents, fires, emergency room visits where one of our kids was very seriously ill and near death, my own illness, a cancer scare, the death of loved ones, the cat being hit by a car, hurricanes shaking the roof, earthquakes, an emergency landing on a jet with one engine, my mother's cancer and death, and last year's nuclear meltdown just 100 miles from here and our evacuation ... Thoroughly Totally Okay with it all. I don't mean that I was just okay at the time, but Totally Timelessly A-Ok before, during and after.

    (Oh, don't get me wrong. When I say "Still and at Peace" and "Thoroughly Totally Okay with it all" ... I mean that certain Buddha Stillness and One Piece-Peace that is at the center and sweeps through the simultaneous and totally natural experiences of fear, adrenalin release, heart pounding, sometime worry, sadness and grief that is hard wired into us humans and is part of being alive in such situations. Our Zen Practice is not always an "either/or" experience, and one can know Peace and panic, a Buddha's Smile and tears at once sometimes! I am the kind of guy who feels that, when there is a tiger at the door, we were built to run with our hair on end ... even if part of us has thoroughly transcended "life and death". I talk about that from time to time).

    Here is when our daughter was in the ICU ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post69978

    Here is after the Tsunami and meltdown ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/w...-of-storm.html

    Now, that being said ... if my wife says something in the car about "let's ask for directions" when we are lost, or my kid doesn't do his homework after my telling him for the 5th time, or the bank clerk is rude and I snap back on a bad day ... I sometimes forget everything I ever learned about Buddhism and make a complete ass of myself. It is sometimes the "small things" that are hard to practice with.

    I am not yet a Perfect Buddha who manifests equanimity in each and every situation (Even though, of course, you me and the other guy are always, ever, Perfect Buddha from the start). Fortunately, I know how I was 30 years ago before all this Zen Practice, and how I am now. In the ongoing wrestling match between Buddha and Mara (Ignorance), Buddha wins every time and is undefeated, even if Mara sometimes temporarily gets him in a headlock. That is one reason we say this Zen Way is always good "Practice".

    I sometimes post the following on what I think ultimately makes a good Zen Teacher, and it is the reason Taigu (if I may speak for him) and I still have the chutzpah (nerve) to stand here as the "teachers" in this Practice Place despite being sometimes more "Zen Ass" than "Zen Master".

    ------------------------------------------

    In our Zen practice we taste a realm beyond all desire ... beyond "we" ... a view by which there is nothing lacking, so no base or object for greed ... where all hate, longing and despair evaporate, all swept away in peace and wholeness. There is such Liberation, and it can be known by anyone who follows this Way of Zen.

    But so long as we are human beings ... whether an 80 year old man or a child of age 3 ... we must also live in this ordinary realm of flesh and blood, among its choices and desires ... a world where "you" and "me" are separate too, where we may feel lack and greed ... be subject to anger, longing and times of despair. So long as we are in this world ... so-called "Zen Master" or not ... we cannot escape fully the realm of Samsara (even if, ultimately, there is no other to stumble into, no place we can fall).

    Oh, I am not trying to excuse any truly heinous abuses or scandals which have been seen among clergy of all traditions, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist no less. NOT AT ALL! I have little tolerance for members of the clergy who abuse their positions of trust and hurt others, sometimes children. But also we must be cautious of anyone who wants to be our teacher by telling us that they are beyond all failings, never ever break a Precept (not even the small ones), are "Perfectly Enlightened Beings" who never trip and fall down. I'll believe it when I see it! I believe that the only "perfect" masters are those that may exist in the the pages of old Zen stories, written when the real folks were long dead, scrubbing them clean of every blemish and failing. In fact, if we might travel back in time to meet these fellows "in the flesh," we would find that each and every one was probably just "people" like you and me, with good points and (likely) a few rough edges and minor bad habits... like all people. Okay, maybe extra-ordinarily Wise and Compassionate and Enlightened, sure ... but people.

    Of course, "Enlightenment" is a realization that there is no place to fall, no self to stumble, no "mistake" that can ever be made from the start. That is true. But it is just as true that there is no place to fall, no stumbling or possible mistake... even as we may fall and stumble and make mistakes!

    All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time. I guess it is just a matter of what the person does then ... picking themselves up, recovering balance, getting back on the trail, apologizing and learning from any damage caused. Like any great athlete, the point is not that we never get knocked around, never trip or stumble ... but how we handle the fall (as in the martial arts ... there is no training offered on how to never fall, but endless training on how to fall well). Show me the man or woman who falls down sometimes ... but who demonstrates how to fall well and recover one's footing ... and I will show you a great Zen teacher.

    ---------------------------------------

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-24-2012 at 03:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Daido's Avatar
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    But so long as we are human beings ... whether an 80 year old man or a child of age 3 ... we must also live in this ordinary realm of flesh and blood, its choices and desires ... a world where "you" and "me" are separate too, where we may feel lack and greed ... subject to anger, longing and times of despair. So long as we are in this world ... so-called "Zen Master" or not ... we cannot escape fully the realm of Samsara (even if, ultimately, there is no other to stumble into, no place we can fall).
    Great post and a great reminder for me. In a line of work where when I clock in i become infused with the three poisons it so easy to get lost and poisoned myself. A continuous practice of the three treasures. Letting it go and fighting all at the same time.

    Gassho,

    Daido


  23. #23
    For those into Brother Brad Warner, I was pleased to see that he wrote something in a similar vein to the above today (phrased in a Brad sort of way, of course) ...

    http://hardcorezen.info/why-i-am-still-a-buddhist/1373

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time. I guess it is just a matter of what the person does then ... picking themselves up, recovering balance, getting back on the trail, apologizing and learning from any damage caused. Like any great athlete, the point is not that we never get knocked around, never trip or stumble ... but how we handle the fall ...
    Deep gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    I have no words to reply, Jundo, but I felt a reply was warranted!



    Gassho

  26. #26
    Thank you Kojip

    I also agree with Jundo that it's often the little things that throw us. Sometimes we may have a sense of satisfaction that we have coped well with a major crisis - but I get very niggled with myself whan I over-react in trivial situations. That's when I'm reminded that practice needs to be worked upon moment to moment because we are all too human.

    Gassho

    Willow

  27. #27
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Thank you, Jundo.

    Deep 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

  28. #28
    Thank you for this wonderful, grounded, encouragement and teaching, Jundo.

    Gassho,kojip.
    大山

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi,
    This is very good. Thanks everyone.
    Gassho,
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

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