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Thread: Nothing to attain?

  1. #1

    Nothing to attain?

    Hey everyone, this is my first post after my introduction.

    Let me preface my question by saying that I hope it doesn't cause any contention, as I suspect it might be a "hot topic." (though I could be wrong). I truly just want to know what your thoughts are.

    For the last month I have been reading "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" by Daniel Ingram, who claims to be an arhat. I won't speculate one way or the other, it sounds like he is way more realized than I am, and his book has indeed inspired me to practice, so all is good.

    Last night, I read a part in the book which I felt was almost slanderous about the "nothing to attain" schools of Buddhism. I don't have enough experience to judge these statements with any sort of clarity, so I thought I'd ask! Apparently the author worked his butt off at insight meditation and became an arhat through this hard work and discipline. According to him, there absolutely *IS* something to attain, and teaching the "nothing to attain" philosophy is confusing and damaging to students' practice (though it wasn't presented in such a nice and friendly way as I've written here).

    I am confused here. I really have enjoyed and benefitted from my sitting zazen (though I am of course no arhat!!), as much as I've benefitted from insight meditation. This book has been a good inspiration for me to practice, but so has treeleaf and the work that Jundo and Taigu have done here.

    Can anyone help me understand this? Why is there such contention, at least one-sided? Ultimately, is there something to attain, or isn't there? I don't imagine that one practice is better than another, are they simply approaching the goal from different directions as I suspect?

    Much appreciated everyone.
    Duane

  2. #2
    disastermouse
    Guest
    If it could be attained, it could be lost...or never attained.

    I'm certain there is something that could be attained by willpower and effort - possibly something very good. However, what is it that can never be won regardless of effort? What is the natural state of the mind? Is it enlightenment or confusion? What is I?

    The only way to answer is to look. More people fail to realize it than not, and yet it's inescapable. A very funny joke, no?

    Chet

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Duane,

    People differ on their views of the dharma like any other religion or philosophy. Ultimately you'll have to answer those questions for yourself and decide their relevance to your practice.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  4. #4
    Ultimately, there is nothing with a separate, independant existance, so in the absolute sense, there is nothing to attain. But in the conventional, relative world, there sure is! We live in both the absolute and the relative, all the time. None is more "true" than the other. Although it is not so much about attaining as it is about dropping, losing, abandoning, giving up what we once thought was important, holy, precious, necessary, but wasn't. Leaving old destructive habits behind as we see them for what they are. So there is no "thing" to be attained. There's only getting rid of ignorance, aversion, unwholesome attachments to pleasures and wrong views, judging, expectations etc. In getting rid of the extra, we attain freedom, peace, wisdom, empathy. But don't go chasing anything out there, it's only chasing your own tail. You have it all, right here, right now. Trust youself completely. You are not your enemy.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 11-16-2012 at 04:30 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
    Hi Duane,

    To keep it short (which is sometimes hard for me):
    What's an attainment "worth" if it is just a moment, something that is not applied to life?
    To me Treeleaf Sangha is primarily about life, a living practice, applied Buddhism - not just a path to Satori/Kensho.
    However, I don't claim that other paths are not practical.
    As has already been said - you must find out for yourself which path fits best for you.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  6. #6
    Thank you guys, these are just the kind of answers I was looking for.
    Do you think that by switching my practice from vipassana to zazen, whether temporarily or not, will derail the other? Is it effective or efficient to "zig zag" toward the goal (if there is one)?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sandworm View Post
    Hey everyone, this is my first post after my introduction.

    Let me preface my question by saying that I hope it doesn't cause any contention, as I suspect it might be a "hot topic." (though I could be wrong). I truly just want to know what your thoughts are.

    For the last month I have been reading "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" by Daniel Ingram, who claims to be an arhat. I won't speculate one way or the other, it sounds like he is way more realized than I am, and his book has indeed inspired me to practice, so all is good.

    Last night, I read a part in the book which I felt was almost slanderous about the "nothing to attain" schools of Buddhism. I don't have enough experience to judge these statements with any sort of clarity, so I thought I'd ask! Apparently the author worked his butt off at insight meditation and became an arhat through this hard work and discipline. According to him, there absolutely *IS* something to attain, and teaching the "nothing to attain" philosophy is confusing and damaging to students' practice (though it wasn't presented in such a nice and friendly way as I've written here).

    I am confused here. I really have enjoyed and benefitted from my sitting zazen (though I am of course no arhat!!), as much as I've benefitted from insight meditation. This book has been a good inspiration for me to practice, but so has treeleaf and the work that Jundo and Taigu have done here.

    Can anyone help me understand this? Why is there such contention, at least one-sided? Ultimately, is there something to attain, or isn't there? I don't imagine that one practice is better than another, are they simply approaching the goal from different directions as I suspect?

    Much appreciated everyone.
    Duane
    Hello Duane,

    I would be very, very cautious about someone claiming to be an Arhat/Arahant--in my personal experience, the people that are most strikingly obvious Noble Disciples (in the Theravadin sense of the phrase) are also, coincidentally, those who will most studiously avoid talking about attainments. I'm not about to say whether he is or isn't as I don't know a thing about him, but all the same I would be cautious.

    Before I came to Treeleaf, I practiced in a Theravadin school for several years (this has bearing because from what I can find about Mr. Ingram, he seems to approach things from a Theravdin perspective). In Theravada, practicing the Buddha-Dharma is also called "the karma leading to the end of karma." Now, ending karma--is that an attainment or not? Isn't attaining something planting the seeds for future Karma? In letting go of the five khandas, seeing through the illusion of a permanent "Self" (one of the markers of Stream-Entry, a comparatively less impressive "attainment" than Arahantship), what is attained? Who attains it?

    A few years ago, I would have talked about Awakening or the Fruits of the Path or something. Now, I don't know.

    I will say, though, that Zen is a much more demanding path in my experience than the Kammathana. There may be "nothing to attain," but realizing this "nothing to attain" takes energy, focus, discipline, and persistence. It takes flinging yourself, without reservation, into the practice each and every moment. It takes failure again and again, and starting over again and again. They don't call it "practice" for nothing!

    And that's key--practice. If you have Doubt, EXCELLENT! Explore it. Find out why some say "attainment" and some say "non-attainment" and some go make a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Ultimately, what is being talked around in this topic goes beyond words--say a word about it and you're wrong.

    The only thing to do is to "practice the Way as though saving your head from fire."

    That's my take, anyway.

    In Gassho,

    Saijun
    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

  8. #8
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I would not recommend switching meditation styles, but I also wouldn't say there is great harm in it, either. It is just good to focus. When I used to switch meditation styles a lot, I was forced to eventually ask myself the question, "What am I looking for with each of these different practices?"

    I preferred trippy, eyes closed, mantra meditations to zazen, though I knew that zazen had the best, most piercing results. Eventually, zazen won out because it points directly to that which does not change.
    迎 Geika

  9. #9
    Thanks again everyone this has been very enlightening for me.
    Amelia, you said that zazen points to what does not change. To me this feels like the exact opposite to vipassana which seems in my mind to point to what DOES change, the impermanence of sensation, etc. Is the difference really so great as to be completely opposite?

    You said that zazen has the best, most piercing results. What do you mean by that specifically?
    Duane

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I guess you could say that because zazen points to what does not change, by negation it also points to what does change, so the difference is mute. They are just different practices, is all.

    What I mean by "best, most piercing results" is that after I started practicing zazen, my intentions became more clear. I could see where I was fooling myself and to what I was I was clinging. Though zazen is not as peaceful or mesmerizing as some other meditations I've practiced, I have decided that it is the most beneficial.
    迎 Geika

  11. #11
    Does and does not change is not so important in my opinion, Both can be right view. None holds the truth. Vipassana and Shikantaza eventually lead to the same essential practice. If you take a look at choiceless awareness for example, an advanced Vipassana practice, it's not so different from Shikantaza. I used to practice a Vipassana-style form of meditation when I first got interested in meditation and buddhism many years ago. For me it was natural to progress from that to Shikantaza, but for someone else the opposite may be true. Some say Shikantaza is an advanced and very difficult form of meditation, not suitable for beginners. That at least you should first study your thoughts, get to know your inner geography, count/follow your breath. But I like the approach practiced here. A beginnner's practice and the practice of an advanced student are more or less the same. The style of Shikantaza practiced here cuts to the chase and goes directly to the core. You may feel you are failing, but success in practice is an illusion anyway. Practice is enlightenment and enlightenment is practice, even if it won't always feel that way.

    And by the way, what's the difference between an Arhat and an Asshat?

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    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

  12. #12
    Haha looks like the difference is only a couple letters. Then again, a couple letters can obviously make all the difference

    Well put, you guys, thanks again. This really helps. Looking forward to more zazen!

  13. #13
    Hi Duane,

    Many important and wise things have been already said here.

    Shikantaza is the ultimate practice and your life as it is your only goal.

    To answer your question one has to live. Books won t do, they will add stuff on stuff.

    When in the dokusan moment, a student is getting bare to the naked bones, it is attaining what has already been attained. The proof is in the pudding.

    Nothing to attain means what Pontus and Chet meant. No separation with others and YOURSELF. What gets in the way is created by ten thousand expectations , even by a light agenda. Our effort is not to take things on board, acquire knowledge and realiisations, our direction is the practice of poverty: the self abiding the self, nothing extra.

    Claiming we have anything is like bragging about having a nose and a pair of eyes!

    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.

  14. #14
    is there something to attain, or isn't there? ... what does not change, what does change

    All these dichotomies! Let us pass beyond and through "either/or"!!

    So many wise comments here in this thread. This subject of attaining-non-attaining comes up quite often, and here is the usual response from my mouth ...

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

    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.

    What's more, this practice lets us be happy, joyful. Who said not? Not me.

    Ya really got to pay attention to what is being said. You see:

    Just because we are "not seeking" does not mean we are "not seeking" ... nor that there aren't wondrous marvels thus to find!

    Enlightenment!

    To the marrow sitting free of seeking ... is a dandy way thus to find that which can only be found by sitting radically free of seeking. Realizing that there is no where to "get to", and no place you can get or need get ... is finally getting somewhere that will revolutionize life, and put your "you" out of a job. One gets very far, one finally arrives ... by sitting still.

    Being the "Buddha" all along, and having not a thing about you that is in need of change ... that does not mean you don't have some work to do to realize truly that you are the Buddha without need of change. To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a VERY BIG CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two) to add or take away, and tasting that there is "nothing to add" is an irreplaceably important addition!

    By being "goalless" we hit the goal ... a goal which is hit by being thoroughly goalless.

    ...

    "Shikantaza" Zen practice is a radical, to the marrow, dropping of the self's demands that something needs to be attained to make this world "right", that something must be added or removed from our lives to make life complete, that something is defective and needs to be changed., that we need to get some place to find our "True Home".

    HOWEVER, radically dropping, to the marrow all need to attain, add or remove, or change in order to make life right and complete --IS-- A WONDROUS ATTAINMENT, ADDITION and CHANGE TO LIFE! Dropping all need to "get somewhere" is truly finally GETTING SOMEWHERE! The True Home is here and everywhere! Abandoning all need in life's race to cross some finish line over a distant hill, is simply arriving at the finish line which is our every step!

    ALL THAT, even as we continue to move forward, make choices, have preferences ... LIVE! Moving forward, yet as still and unmoving as a mountain or a stone ... having choices and preferences while choices and preferences are fully dropped, and we drop all demands to get somewhere ... living passionately, yet not a prisoner of passions ... at once, the still mountains walking, the stone women dancing ...

    We fix what needs to be fixed .. in this world, in our life ... all without thought of something to repair. We clean what needs to be cleaned ... the messes and disasters and filthy oil spills ... yet there is no "clean" or "dirty".

    GOT HOW THAT WORKS?

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...IKANTAZA-ZAZEN

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

    HOWEVER ...

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

    But we have to be very cautious here, not misunderstand … Saying that there is “no place to go, no destination” does not mean that there are not good and bad paths to get there! Saying “there is nothing that need be done” does—not—mean there is nothing to do. Saying that “nothing is in need of change” does—not—mean that “nothing is in need of change.”

    Saying “we are already Buddha” is not enough if we don’t realize that, act like that!

    Simple, exaggerated example …

    Perhaps a fellow sits down to Zazen for the first time who is a violent man, a thief and alcoholic. He hears that “all is Buddha just as it is“, so thinks that Zen practice means “all is a jewel just as it is, so thus maybe I can simply stay that way, just drink and beat my wife and rob strangers“. Well, no, because while a thief and wife-beater is just that … a thief and wife-beater, yet a Buddha nonetheless … still, someone filled with such anger and greed and empty holes to fill in their psyche is not really “at peace with how things are” (or he would not beat and steal and need to self-medicate). In other words, he takes and craves and acts out anger and frustration because he does not truly understand “peace with this life as it is” … because if he did, he would not need to be those violent, punishing ways.

    If the angry, violent fellow truly knew “completeness“, truly had “no hole in need of filling“, “nothing lacking” everything “complete just as it is” … well, he simply would not have need to do violence, steal and take drugs to cover his inner pain.

    You see … kind of a non-self-fulfilling Catch-22.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-XIV%29

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

    I don't know Mr. Ingram and whether he is an Arhat or just a hat (although he is certainly Buddha, as are all). He is described (by Vince Horn at Buddhist Geeks) ...

    The author, Daniel Ingram (aka Dharma Dan) hasn’t been a meditator for 30-odd years, and doesn’t lead meditation retreats worldwide. He isn’t well-known, and doesn’t have a huge following. Instead he’s a MD who works in Kentucky, and who very quickly (in a decade or so) mastered the insight practices that were handed down from Gautama Buddha. He focuses on gaining insight through consistent and focused practice while at home, and while doing occasional retreats. What he claims is possible through practice sometimes flies in the face of what most current Western Buddhist teachers say.

    Here are some talks by him.

    http://vimeo.com/28182419

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-17-2012 at 05:55 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    By the way, we also value vipassana "insight" into the working of the mind theatre, just as do all Buddhists of all flavors. However, the manifestation of that in Shikantaza is rather subtle ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post76928
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Thank you Jundo and Taigu for weighing in. For my first question posted on this forum, the wise responses have been overwhelming! What other place on the internets can you post something like that and not get flamed by at least half the users?

    Much appreciated everyone. This is such a caring community, it is my honor to be a part of it.

  17. #17
    Junior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandworm View Post
    is there something to attain, or isn't there?
    I think there is much to attain, but striving to attain it can be a problem in itself.
    I found some Buddhists in another group that talked a lot about “Enlightenment” and although they agreed they had no clue what it was they did agree that they were striving towards it, and even had discussions about how many lifetimes “Enlightenment” is possible within.
    I realised that sitting or doing good deeds “in order to become enlightened” was pointless but sitting or doing good deeds could be the acts, goals and ends in themselves. I left and don’t have any desire to attain enlightenment now, although I also have no desire to not attain enlightenment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    To answer your question one has to live. Books won t do, they will add stuff on stuff.
    I suspect books have helped me get to my current point of understanding but I also find them helpful when talking to non-Buddhists who are interested in Buddhism. I work at a university so logical, and rather academic, arguments are usually more persuasive to people than “I have mediated for over ten years and spoken to some monks and priests and think…”.
    I find non-Buddhist philosophers very helpful as some reach conclusions that can support basic Buddhist understanding. I have criticised David Hume quite a bit for his basic principles in a recent essay but his understanding of the “self” as an illusion we create has helped shape arguments in favour of my own understanding of rebirth and karma.

    I did see a brilliant line written recently on amazon which I think fits well here:
    "Reading about Zen is like reading about swimming: truly useful only if you act the practice." - SandeChan (Priest, Lam Te School)

  18. #18
    I really like this question, Duane, as it points to something at the heart of practice.

    My teacher talks about the difference between method and results. Method is something we can (largely) have control over in the type of practice we do and the regularity and enthusiasm with which we do it. Results are none of our business. As soon as we try to attain a result, practice is largely derailed.

    The very moment is perfect as it is, and yet also not so. There is nothing to attain. But plenty to engage with. Attainment is a thing of the future, what we have attained is a thing of the past. You can guess the remainder for yourself ;-)

    Keep practising and attainment will happen. Or it won't. Life (and practice) is like that.

  19. #19
    In my experience the thing to "attain", is overcoming a deeply ingrained habitual way of being. It is a habitual way of being that is so pervasive, it is the invisible "normal" most people share, like the common ground we walk on. This habitual way is a kind of samadhi, an absorption, in the continual stream of compulsive thinking.. thinking that is felt to be safe and real, and essential, for keeping "me" afloat.. which it actually is. This mental "theater" of "Me" and my hopes and fears, is like an enclosed bubble of highs and lows, ....swinging between this and that, going around and around. It is shut in. It requires hearing the Dharma, and putting in the effort to go against the inertia of this habit/karma, and just sit, without following the compelling emotional narrative.... When the absorption is broken, and thinking isn't followed, and the running stops, .....the virtual bubble vanishes, and I realize that everything is already perfectly complete as-is, open and edgeless. Suffering and all dukkha, ceases.

    So there is definitely something to do, and it takes discipline and faith because the karma of delusion is so deep and old (the Buddha could not fathom a beginning to it). To sit and not follow the narrative, goes against the fiber of habit. Being really thick headed, it took me almost fifteen years of sitting to actually just sit, and I really mean just sit... nothing special, and realize the simplicity of non-Dukkha. It was like I was always searching for solid ground , never satisfied or secure, ....and then one day just looking at the reaching itself, the dukkha, and giving-up into/as the feeling. ...then finding that I was sitting on solid ground the whole time. My favorite image of the Buddha is the "Earth touching Mudra". Instead of pointing to transcendent heaven, he is just touching the ground, and it is sane and clear and solid. So... there is nothing to attain at all. Just the old blind habit of reaching which is seen through and dropped. ..

    ...also it isn't a one shot deal, practice goes on, because greed, anger, and ignorance is apparently beginningless. And in that ongoing practice there is ongoing transformation all by itself... in just sitting every day.

    That's my best understand up until now. maybe it will change.

    Gassho, kojip
    Last edited by Daizan; 11-20-2012 at 01:28 PM.
    大山

  20. #20
    It is so hard for people to pierce that "nothing to attain" means "nothing to attain" and TOTALLY AT HOME. So at home, the home is home.

    'Tis to be thoroughly "at home walking in one's own moccassins", thoroughly "at one moccassin home", thoroughly "hitting home the moccassin, always walking never owned".

    Are you looking for more? Not enough freedom for you in that? What more could you possibly look for when nothing is lacking? By looking, you actually dig the hole of lack.

    Yet people keep looking for it, the fix to fill the hunger ... the next spiritual high or higher ... and so they never find ... led by teachers who are like drug pushers, selling an addiction.

    Most Buddhism is a wild goose chase. Wild geese leave no traces.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-20-2012 at 04:51 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip View Post
    ...also it isn't a one shot deal, practice goes on, because greed, anger, and ignorance is apparently beginningless. And in that ongoing practice there is ongoing transformation all by itself... in just sitting every day.
    Nice Kojip ... I like that.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

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

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip View Post
    ... Being really thick headed, it took me almost fifteen years of sitting to actually just sit, and I really mean just sit... nothing special, and realize the simplicity of non-Dukkha. It was like I was always searching for solid ground , never satisfied or secure, ....and then one day just looking at the reaching itself, the dukkha, and giving-up into/as the feeling. ...then finding that I was sitting on solid ground the whole time. My favorite image of the Buddha is the "Earth touching Mudra". Instead of pointing to transcendent heaven, he is just touching the ground, and it is sane and clear and solid. So... there is nothing to attain at all. Just the old blind habit of reaching which is seen through and dropped. ..

    ...also it isn't a one shot deal, practice goes on, because greed, anger, and ignorance is apparently beginningless. And in that ongoing practice there is ongoing transformation all by itself... in just sitting every day.
    As fine a way of expressin' Practice-Enlightenment as can be.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Kojip

    Willow

  24. #24
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    either/or !?

    It seems the expression 'not two' may lead to some confusion. Expressed alone, the coin cannot stand up-right, without the other side of 'not one'. It may be compared, in relativity (there is not choice on that matter, of which teaches, there is the choice of no relativity in no-mindedness), to another double or paradoxical truth that there is no up without down, no high without some understanding to be compared to what could be called low. 'Not two' creates separation/other and may confuse one with the fact that duality is real.

    In ZMBM, Suzuki expresses it in the opening chapter on Posture, when explaining the sitting nature of leg crossing... "The position expresses the oneness of duality: not two and not one." And goes on to say that is the most important teaching... ie, not two not one. "Each one of us is both dependent and independent." He uses the coin analogy in other chapters, but here when expressing mind and body as... they both have their end but at the 'same' time they both exist eternally.... "Even though we say mind and body, they are actually two sides of one coin."
    Last edited by galen; 11-20-2012 at 08:15 PM.
    Nothing Special

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Nothing to attain is to just be with things as they are.

    You walk, but only walk for this step. Nothing more. Then take another step and that's a full arrival. Dropping all expectations and desires, just be with what is.

    But at the same time you can have goals in life, without creating fantasies and getting attached to them.

    And sit. And sit some more.

    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

  26. #26
    sitting at work today (having not read this thread) my thoughts were "does one strive for enlightenment/attainment or smile at the realization that they have already acquired it?".
    ~Gassho~
    Shinko

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by galen View Post

    In ZMBM, Suzuki expresses it in the opening chapter on Posture, when explaining the sitting nature of leg crossing... "The position expresses the oneness of duality: not two and not one." And goes on to say that is the most important teaching... ie, not two not one. "Each one of us is both dependent and independent." He uses the coin analogy in other chapters, but here when expressing mind and body as... they both have their end but at the 'same' time they both exist eternally.... "Even though we say mind and body, they are actually two sides of one coin."
    When one can sit such that, through and through to the marrow, one realizes that merely crossing the legs and holding the hands in mudra is the only place to be in all space and time, the only place one can be, the only such action to do or which needs doing in that moment ... one is well on one's way.

    How rarely does one encounter any aspect of life so whole, fulfilled, with nothing lacking. We are always on an endless search for more more more of the things we love, less less less of those we do not.

    Then, rising from the cushion, we go about all life's tasks in such way ... thus endlessly dropping away greed, anger and division in/amid/through-and-through this samsaric world of greed, anger and division ... beginninglessly realizing that there is no place in need of going, nothing to add even as we try to make a better life-self-world as we can.

    It ain't rocket science.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-21-2012 at 01:16 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    When one can sit such that, through and through to the marrow, one realizes that merely crossing the legs and holding the hands in mudra is the only place to be in all space and time, the only place one can be, the only such action to do or which needs doing in that moment ... one is well on one's way.

    How rarely does one encounter any aspect of life so whole, fulfilled, with nothing lacking. We are always on an endless search for more more more of the things we love, less less less of those we do not.

    Then, rising from the cushion, we go about all life's tasks in such way ... thus endlessly dropping away greed, anger and division in/amid/through-and-through this samsaric world of greed, anger and division ... beginninglessly realizing that there is no place in need of going, nothing to add even as we try to make a better life-self-world as we can.

    It ain't rocket science.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you Jundo, I always love your clear expression of practice.

    Gassho
    Michael
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-21-2012 at 01:16 AM.
    真 眼

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

  29. #29
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    When one can sit such that, through and through to the marrow, one realizes that merely crossing the legs and holding the hands in mudra is the only place to be in all space and time, the only place one can be, the only such action to do or which needs doing in that moment ... one is well on one's way.

    How rarely does one encounter any aspect of life so whole, fulfilled, with nothing lacking. We are always on an endless search for more more more of the things we love, less less less of those we do not.

    Then, rising from the cushion, we go about all life's tasks in such way ... thus endlessly dropping away greed, anger and division in/amid/through-and-through this samsaric world of greed, anger and division ... beginninglessly realizing that there is no place in need of going, nothing to add even as we try to make a better life-self-world as we can.

    It ain't rocket science.

    Gassho, J


    Unless you are a scientist, but then `still...


    Gassho
    Nothing Special

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by galen View Post
    Unless you are a scientist, but then `still...


    Gassho
    Actually, this is a good time to bring up something you mentioned, Galen, on another thread.

    I got weekly booklets and studied this new thought form and after about a year and a half of meditating this way, by accident, naively fell deep inside, also noticing I was barely using any breath, but could feel out side body parts, but felt fully engulfed. This they called super-consciousness or early stages of Samadi. I could `fall-in at the drop of a pen, sitting or laying, no special positioning needed. I used the direct will power not to think, and stayed with it over quite a period till I arrived in this very beautiful state, and noticed it was there with me out `there with other.... Our teachers probably would not approve, and with out a goal to get back `there (its back `there but I am not clinging to it, because that makes it much harder, an accident will happen again at one point), but just recently I am doing what I did then and with eyes closed, this seems to be my most comfortable path for now. I sit and I lay , and it is getting better and better.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post90009
    What you describe may be a lovely and powerful Practice, but it is not what I would call goalless Shikantaza as we Practice here. Why? The reason is rather subtle.

    When we sit, we just sit, radically dropping all need or encouragement of some "super-consciousness" or deep experience of samadhi. The reason is simply that, to the marrow, we drop the self's need to get somewhere other than here. Now, if "here" happens to be some deep flavor of samadhi or the like ... that is fine. However, neither do we sit with any desire or attraction to be or remain there over here. In fact, we tend to move on and return to this ordinary awareness, right here in the room where we sit. If "here" happens to be boredom or thinking about the laundry, that is fine too ... although we likewise drop all desire for such thoughts too. We drop all desire for any thoughts ... even thoughts that we want to be either free of or filled with desire (thus realizing true freedom even from such desire!). We let them drift away too without grabbing. We simply sit, dropping all clinging and "running after", thus letting thoughts and emotions (of greed or anger and attachment) drift out of mind without grabbing or stirring them up and becoming all tangled in their net. The radical forsaking of both "special or unusual states of mind" and "getting tangled in ordinary emotions, thought trains and attachments" --IS-- a most special state attained. By repeatedly falling into either some deep concentrated samadhi which pulls one from this world (much as if one were always sitting in some drug induced trance) ... or indulging in thinking long trains of ordinary, unspectacular thought such as "how much I love/hate peanut butter" ... one is losing the point and power of Shikantaza.

    Now, of course, rising from the cushion ... we can engage in all manner of activities as a form of "Shikantaza". We can chant the Heart Sutra, change a tire or baby diaper, clean the monastery kitchen or the kitchen at home, work in the garden or the office, with the same core of non-attachment amid attachments, peace at the heart of life's messy pieces, non-doing in/as/through-and-through the 1000 things in need of doing in our busy day. That might include, I suppose, a period devoted to tasting some samadhi as much as making peanut butter sandwiches (both sacred acts, by the way, when the magic of the most ordinary is realized as such).

    However, when sitting ... we just sit. We do not seek to feel peaceful, to feel bliss, to feel some other-worldly state or anything such. We simply sit ... crossing the legs and holding the hands in mudra as the only place to be in all space and time, the only place one can be, the only such action to do or which needs doing in that moment.

    It is not the samadhi state so much or lack thereof (Dogen and others' definition of "Zen Samadhi" was unrelated to attaining or not attaining such states), but your words "and it is getting better and better."

    For us, the Buddha's revelation in seeing the morning star was most ordinary and wonderfully extra-ordinary at once! Here, just here, is here all along ... when one's eyes are finally open, and the mind is open to see. Peanut Butter from the jar is, when tasted with a Buddha's tongue beyond and piercing right through both aversion and attraction (and peanut allergies and the moderation of a healthy diet ), the flavor of all time and space, simply ambrosia.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-21-2012 at 02:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    As fine a way of expressin' Practice-Enlightenment as can be.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you, Jundo. Like you say it isn't rocket science. This .."By looking, you actually dig the hole of lack..also sums it up for me. Gassho, kojip
    大山

  32. #32
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    As I read this, I thought of an analogy between my own zen practice and love of working out. It may not be a great analogy for non attainment (I'm winging it), but I will give it a shot:

    When I first started lifting weights I did so because I was short, skinny, and weak. None of that was a primary problem though. The real problem as I saw it, was that girls dug big strong guys (yeah, I grew up in the 80's action hero days). So I began to lift weights. I had no plan, had no clue what I was doing, but I knew I was on the path that would fix all my problems. After a couple years of lifting weights I got stronger. I got better at lifting and I got a girl (a pretty one too, so it was very positive reinforcement.) However, I did not stop lifting weights, I actually began lifting more often. I wanted to be as strong as I could for my body weight. I worked hard and got strong. It was good. However I joined the army and strength was no longer everything. I had to run, do pullups, and all that fun stuff. I still lifted weights, but mostly to help out the other stuff I was doing. After years of just working out as assistance to other things, I put a gym in my house to lift every day. I wanted to get really strong again. I wanted to squat and deadlift over 400 pounds and bench over 305 pounds. I lifted big for a couple of years working towards this goal... until I got hurt. Then I had to start over from the bottom. It sucked, but today I'm almost fully recovered and back on the road to getting strong as ever. Of course you are thinking, "how the hell does this relate to non-attainment?"

    At every step of my lifting life, I've had goals. Short term goals, long term goals, daily goals, and sometimes goals that I made up on the spot just to test myself out. For most of my life I would have told you that the goals are it. Lifting without them is spinning your wheels. But here is the funny part. When I was hurt, lifting less than I did when I started 20 years earlier I still loved the gym as much as ever. I would walk into my gym with the same clothes, the same shake, the same rituals and press my tiny physical therapy bands, just like I was pressing a million pounds. I was happy just to be there. I realized that I lift, just to lift. The goal is invented. The experience isn't. One day I will be weak and old as if I never lifted at all. The goals will have all melted away, but the underlying spirit will be there. The calmness of chalking up my hands, the feel of the bench, the smell of rubber matting, friends pushing you to lift more, and the solitude of lifting in my garage on a cold winter morning will always be there. The goals will fade away, but the life, the experience, the path was what mattered all along. I think running is the same. One day you wake up and it isn't about going faster or longer. It's about lacing up your shoes and feeling the crunch of gravel through the sole of your shoes.

    It seems to me that some Buddhist schools of thought have you walk along a long path with many goals along the way. They may promise that you will accomplish something at each level and I'm sure you do accomplish something. However the master knows that when you get to the end you didn't accomplish anything at all that wasn't already there. They are like competing exercise programs and Soto zen is the old crazy guy in the gym telling you that it doesn't matter what program you do, but that you should pay attention to your time in the gym because it is more important than you think. Shikantaza is going to the gym after spending years on different programs and realizing the old man was right and that you are just happy to be there.

    So, did I get close or is my understanding of zen as bad as my current lifting numbers?
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  33. #33
    ...the magic of ordinary... this rings my bell!...if there is any magic to seek in zen (zazen) it's in this ordinary ...and not that I am seeking any magic...

  34. #34
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Actually, this is a good time to bring up something you mentioned, Galen, on another thread.



    What you describe may be a lovely and powerful Practice, but it is not what I would call goalless Shikantaza as we Practice here. Why? The reason is rather subtle.

    When we sit, we just sit, radically dropping all need or encouragement of some "super-consciousness" or deep experience of samadhi. The reason is simply that, to the marrow, we drop the self's need to get somewhere other than here. Now, if "here" happens to be some deep flavor of samadhi or the like ... that is fine. However, neither do we sit with any desire or attraction to be or remain there over here. In fact, we tend to move on and return to this ordinary awareness, right here in the room where we sit. If "here" happens to be boredom or thinking about the laundry, that is fine too ... although we likewise drop all desire for such thoughts too. We drop all desire for any thoughts ... even thoughts that we want to be either free of or filled with desire (thus realizing true freedom even from such desire!). We let them drift away too without grabbing. We simply sit, dropping all clinging and "running after", thus letting thoughts and emotions (of greed or anger and attachment) drift out of mind without grabbing or stirring them up and becoming all tangled in their net. The radical forsaking of both "special or unusual states of mind" and "getting tangled in ordinary emotions, thought trains and attachments" --IS-- a most special state attained. By repeatedly falling into either some deep concentrated samadhi which pulls one from this world (much as if one were always sitting in some drug induced trance) ... or indulging in thinking long trains of ordinary, unspectacular thought such as "how much I love/hate peanut butter" ... one is losing the point and power of Shikantaza.

    Now, of course, rising from the cushion ... we can engage in all manner of activities as a form of "Shikantaza". We can chant the Heart Sutra, change a tire or baby diaper, clean the monastery kitchen or the kitchen at home, work in the garden or the office, with the same core of non-attachment amid attachments, peace at the heart of life's messy pieces, non-doing in/as/through-and-through the 1000 things in need of doing in our busy day. That might include, I suppose, a period devoted to tasting some samadhi as much as making peanut butter sandwiches (both sacred acts, by the way, when the magic of the most ordinary is realized as such).

    However, when sitting ... we just sit. We do not seek to feel peaceful, to feel bliss, to feel some other-worldly state or anything such. We simply sit ... crossing the legs and holding the hands in mudra as the only place to be in all space and time, the only place one can be, the only such action to do or which needs doing in that moment.

    It is not the samadhi state so much or lack thereof (Dogen and others' definition of "Zen Samadhi" was unrelated to attaining or not attaining such states), but your words "and it is getting better and better."

    For us, the Buddha's revelation in seeing the morning star was most ordinary and wonderfully extra-ordinary at once! Here, just here, is here all along ... when one's eyes are finally open, and the mind is open to see. Peanut Butter from the jar is, when tasted with a Buddha's tongue beyond and piercing right through both aversion and attraction (and peanut allergies and the moderation of a healthy diet ), the flavor of all time and space, simply ambrosia.

    Gassho, Jundo


    Thank you Jundo....... for pointing that out to me again. I am not confused or misled, and was waiting for you to comment on this, much like you have here, once again, thanks. I am not trying or clinging to anything past or in the future. I am also just sitting and in no hurry to get to any level or state, just sharing what was and what process I am comfortable with. No insinuation that someone else might either, but also realize you must make a point for the larger whole that view this site.

    Your reading a little into what I said and that is just fine. 'better and better' means nothing but my comfort level, as you could be said about zazen or other meditations.
    Nothing Special

  36. #36
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    This is going up in my gym for sure. I'll have to put up a notice that any similarities in our built is purely coincidental!
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by galen View Post
    Thank you Jundo....... for pointing that out to me again. I am not confused or misled, and was waiting for you to comment on this, much like you have here, once again, thanks. I am not trying or clinging to anything past or in the future. I am also just sitting and in no hurry to get to any level or state, just sharing what was and what process I am comfortable with.
    Lovely. Just be so.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    Senior Member galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Lovely. Just be so.

    Gassho, J

    You are the online clever one.



    G a s s h o !!!!!!, g
    Last edited by galen; 11-22-2012 at 02:48 AM.
    Nothing Special

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