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Thread: Shikantaza or tranquilizing the ego?

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Shikantaza or tranquilizing the ego?

    At the risk of starting a more contentious conversation than I'd like to start, I heard something from a talk that got me thinking about this practice and my approach to it.

    Shikantaza is pretty radical. Radically normal, but still pretty radical.

    I think there's a difference between tranquilizing the ego (that's the phrase that was used and it seemed pretty appropriate) and really coming to each moment with a willingness to throw out everything you know and start at zero. It's not that you have to actually throw it out (although maybe for actual Shikantaza sitting practice you do), but I think you have to be able to.

    I think that's why this practice is, as Taigu has said (as I seem to recall), that this is a practice of subtraction, not one of addition.

    So, is our practice one of ego tranquilizing or Shikantaza? What is your honest assessment of your practice?

    Chet

  2. #2
    I find this practice a kind of vibrant existential being ... or better, vibrant existential fulfilled LIVING. It does not tranquilize (although sometimes it calms, at times when otherwise the world seems running away into hysteria and confusion and excess right off the cliff). Beyond tranquility, I find how to be thoroughly and vividly immersed in the moment and passions of this life ... love, smiles, tears, loss, celebration, times of boredom, calm or excitement ... all while not being their prisoner or clinging. Yes, there is a Peace that holds it all ... even the anything but peaceful days.

    No, Shikantaza is not just some valium for the ego and emotions.

    Shikantaza is Liberated Life!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-18-2012 at 08:47 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    I am very new to Shikantaza and maybe my opinion is not valid.

    All I can say is that (like Jundo says) I feel liberated from a lot of things, even if I am the same guy with the same old attachments and opinions. I am more aware of my own reactions, even if that doesn't mean anything at all.

    And at risk of sounding pretentious, I feel I am a less selfish man of what I used to be.

    But again, I am very new to Shikantaza.

    Need to sit for a few more years to have a better opinion, I guess.

    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

  4. #4
    Study and acceptance. I don't believe in tranquilizing the ego. Like Suzuki's cows, give the ego space. It's a part of you, don't hate it. See through it, get to know it intimately, learn to live with it. Our minds are not completely pure. There will be egotistic impulses. No need to fight them or try to tranquilize them. No need to follow them either. See them arise, watch them play, let them go. This is my current practice.

    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

  5. #5
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    Study and acceptance. I don't believe in tranquilizing the ego. Like Suzuki's cows, give the ego space. It's a part of you, don't hate it. See through it, get to know it intimately, learn to live with it. Our minds are not completely pure. There will be egotistic impulses. No need to fight them or try to tranquilize them. No need to follow them either. See them arise, watch them play, let them go. This is my current practice.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Are egoic impulses impure?

    I just don't think Zazen is only for crafting a better personality. That's why I'm always a little suspicious when people say 'Zen helped me ....(anything)'. Not that it doesn't help, but that it isn't for that.

    Chet
    Last edited by disastermouse; 11-18-2012 at 12:04 PM.

  6. #6
    The name on that pill bottle over on the window sill is my father-in-law's, not mine. We are one, but "he" is
    not "me". Sitting this morning there is no "me" and "him", because thought isn't engaged, but when the mail
    comes, "me" and "him" are a good idea. It's not like ego is a thing that can be put to sleep. It is an action, a natural
    function of social interface. So I sit every day , and thinking... ego, is not so opaque, even in the midst of
    function. It can still get pretty opaque and reactive, but a bit less so. So I just keep sitting.
    Last edited by Daizan; 11-18-2012 at 12:07 PM.
    大山

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Are egoic impulses impure?

    I just don't think Zazen is only for crafting a better personality. That's why I'm always a little suspicious when people say 'Zen helped me ....(anything)'. Not that it doesn't help, but that it isn't for that.

    Chet
    He he. You're right of course.

    In a sense, egotistic thoughts are impure, in analogy with the mirror that needs to be polished constantly. But originally, where can dust alight? The mirror is always pure. Egotistic thoughts are Buddha nature.

    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

  8. #8
    disastermouse
    Guest
    I don't know if egoic thougthts are a problem. Believing them? Certainly a problem.

    Chet

  9. #9
    Exactly. See through them, see them for what they are, and they are nor so problematic anymore.

    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

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    Exactly. See through them, see them for what they are, and they are nor so problematic anymore.

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    Right. Who sees through them? You're saying it the only way you can, but it's still not exactly right and as long as you realize it's not exactly right either, then I think Zen is pretty straightforward. Maybe?

    Look at a wall. Now look at that which looks at a wall. Now look at that which looks at that which looks at the wall. Now look at........

    Chet

  11. #11
    I don't know anyone who sees through their egoism all the time. Some people are trapped most of the time and know nothing else. Others know what seeing through their ego, being free, is like, but still get trapped from time to time. I don't really believe in enlightened people. Sometimes sentient beings are Buddha. Sometimes Buddhas are sentient beings.

    And I don't claim to be right, just sharing my thoughts!

    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
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Look at a wall. Now look at that which looks at a wall. Now look at that which looks at that which looks at the wall. Now look at........
    I dunno. That just makes me dizzy!
    It won't tell me who I am.

    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

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    You ask a lot of questions Chet.

    So do I.

    Sit.

    'nuff said.

    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.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Sit.
    I tried to tell my dog that, but he kept chasing his damn tail! As if it was in his nature!

    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

  15. #15
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    I don't know anyone who sees through their egoism all the time. Some people are trapped most of the time and know nothing else. Others know what seeing through their ego, being free, is like, but still get trapped from time to time. I don't really believe in enlightened people. Sometimes sentient beings are Buddha. Sometimes Buddhas are sentient beings.

    And I don't claim to be right, just sharing my thoughts!

    Gassho,
    /Pontus
    I think it's kind of strange - because if you seek to see through your ego, then that becomes a vocation of.....the ego! That is, you can actually get trapped by trying not to get trapped by ego.

    And yet, there seems to be a way of being that is radically different than a pursuit....a sort of 'resting within' or better yet, a 'letting-rest-within' - just straight up natural mind.

    Chet

  16. #16
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    You ask a lot of questions Chet.

    So do I.

    Sit.

    'nuff said.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    I did sit. Asking isn't a problem. Expecting an answer that isn't 'just this' is a problem. But 'just this' isn't what the answer is either - not exactly.

    Gassho.

    Chet

  17. #17
    Chet, go sew. Everyone, go sew. Sit and sew.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Just sit. Shikantaza.

    But is it sitting and tranquilizing the questioner or sitting and being the questionless question?

    I specifically don't mean chasing discursive thought either.

    Chet

  19. #19
    Sew.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sew.

    Gassho, J
    Yes ...

    Gassho
    Michael



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  21. #21
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sew.

    Gassho, J

    Hmmm...Didn't think I'd have to reconsider Jukai, but this exchange makes me think I've made a mistake.

    I'll have to let it sit with me a while.....so....

    No sewing for now.

    Chet
    Last edited by disastermouse; 11-18-2012 at 10:10 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Don't get caught up in mental gymnastics Chet, it doesn't work. Just sit. It does work. The ego can convince us that there are any number of reasons not to sit, or sew stitch by stitch for that matter.
    Gassho, Shawn.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Hinton View Post
    Don't get caught up in mental gymnastics Chet, it doesn't work. Just sit. It does work. The ego can convince us that there are any number of reasons not to sit, or sew stitch by stitch for that matter.
    Gassho, Shawn.
    No doubt it works. So does anesthetic. Is that what is being suggested?

    Chet

  24. #24
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Ha! Just realized that none of this matters.

    Whaddayaknow?

    Chet

  26. #26
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    All this tail chasing does no good.
    迎 Geika

  28. #28
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    All this tail chasing does no good.
    Show me. Is it live or is it Memorex?

    Chet

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Oh my god, I know what he's talking about now! I didn't realize that the 'short' and 'long' pieces as shown on the rakusu were two pieces of cloth with the 'fold' between them as a bar - I thought there were THREE pieces of cloth there.

    Chet

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi View Post
    the mirror that needs to be polished constantly. But originally, where can dust alight? The mirror is always pure. Egotistic thoughts are Buddha nature.

    Thank you Pontus...spoke my heart.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

    Ps - Haha Jundo...thanks for making me laugh out loud in the airplane...(Crazy guy in seat 4b).
    Last edited by Dokan; 11-20-2012 at 05:42 PM.
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anas Nin

  31. #31
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Hinton View Post
    Don't get caught up in mental gymnastics Chet, it doesn't work. Just sit. It does work. The ego can convince us that there are any number of reasons not to sit, or sew stitch by stitch for that matter.
    Gassho, Shawn.
    So I've been sitting with this for awhile....

    I've decided not to believe a single thought for a while...including this one.

    Also reconsidering Jukai.

    *edited for clarity*

    Chet
    Last edited by disastermouse; 11-21-2012 at 08:44 PM.

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    So I've been sitting with this for awhile....

    I've decided not to believe a single thought for a while...including this one.
    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.

  33. #33
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Also reconsidering Jukai.
    You take Jukai when you've already arrived at Jukai.
    When it feels right in a visceral way.
    When there is no consideration.


  34. #34
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    You take Jukai when you've already arrived at Jukai.
    When it feels right in a visceral way.
    When there is no consideration.

    Right. Because certainty is the surest sign we're on the right path.

    Are you sure we're talking about the same religion?



    Chet

  35. #35
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Certainty? Who said certainty?

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    You take Jukai when you've already arrived at Jukai.
    When it feels right in a visceral way.
    When there is no consideration.

    Yes, Jukai comes when it feels right.

    Thank you, Nindo.

    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

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