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Thread: Applying practice to real life.

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  1. #1

    Applying practice to real life.

    Hello everyone.

    I'm reasonably new to Treeleaf and I love the community of people on here. This is the first thread I have started so please be gentle!
    I have a question that I thought I'd put out there to get a different perspective. In my newbie understanding of Zen (correct me if I'm wrong) there are days when the mind is clear and days when the mind is cloudy. When it is the latter (it tends to like that most of the time for me) I try to be one with that whilst mindful of 'the clear blue sky.'
    There are some days, though, when my mind is so scattered when even this seem hard. Does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with this or is it just because I'm new and just starting out? My job can be quite hectic sometimes and it can be hard to find a breather to focus my mind.
    Any thoughts would be welcome.

    Gassho,

    Simon.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Just sit. I too am new to the Sangha, but I have been sitting for a few years now. With sitting, the intervals of clarity seem to lengthen and calmness sets in.

    Gassho,

    William

  3. #3
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    I sometimes go with the idea that between practice and life (not 2) the influence goes both ways. if I am mindful and present in my everyday activities and try to silence my inner monologue during the day, concentration seems to come more easily when I sit. Similarly, those periods while sitting that feel like samadhi give strength to what I try to do in daily life and provide me a reminder of the optimum state of mind.

    christopher robin-like caveat: it doesn't always work.

    I like your idea of being one with the scatteredness. also, breathing is always available to focus on.

    hope this helps, I'm new too,

    gassho,

    -Robert
    Last edited by Oheso; 03-15-2013 at 04:36 PM.
    . . . and neither are they otherwise.

  4. #4
    Hi Simon,

    Yes, Just Sit.

    Also, take the opportunity to bring "Shikantaza" off the cushion into countless life situations. Here is an example from our "Always Beginners" series of talks, a bit 'tongue in cheek' but actually the traditional practice of bringing Zazen into all our daily activities (be it eating, chanting, working in the garden as in an ancient monastery ... or working in an office, using the microwave, changing the baby diapers in our modern life) ...
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ighlight=insta

    The sky is fully clear and unbounded even when hidden by clouds and storms of thought and emotion. Most people get lost in the clouds and dark storms. Shikantaza allows us to experience that clear and unbounded, letting the storms settle and the clouds drift away.

    So I used to feel, early in my Practice, that the point of Zazen was to get to live in an always clear sky with never a cloud.

    But, ya know, we could not live as human beings without thoughts of this and that and emotions. The sky would not be the sky without some clouds, and the rain makes the flowers bloom. The clouds and changing weather (in moderation) are lovely.

    So, then I realized that one could come to see that clear, bright, boundless even shining right in/as/through-and-through the clouds. One could experience some clouds and the bright and boundless as one, at once. Master Dogen spoke of Zazen as "thinking not thinking = non-thinking" which I take to mean seeing clouds of thought and the cloudless openness at once in a great wholeness. No need to even feel "peaceful and clear" all the time, cause rain and snow and howling wind (in moderation) is lovely!

    And I also realized that we have some control not to become prisoners of the clouds, lost in the clouds and drowned in emotional storms. We could lighten and soften the clouds, tune the lighting and rain at will. Even when life tosses a hurricane our way, we can still somehow come to see the bright blue open space at the center of the twirling storm.

    So, that is how I Practice now.

    Gee, I suppose the sun in the picture is Buddha! But then again, the whole is Buddha.



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-16-2013 at 02:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Hi Simon and all,

    There are some days, though, when my mind is so scattered when even this seem hard. Does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with this or is it just because I'm new and just starting out?
    I can honestly say, that I've been with Treeleaf for going on 5 years now, but I'm still a beginner. We all have those days when the mind just wants to take control and leave you feeling lost, scattered, clouded. But it's okay. Stop what you are doing, take a few breaths, count them if you need to. Then get up, and do one thing at a time, putting all your focus into that one thing. Once it is completed, do another thing, putting all your focus and attention into that thing. Keep doing this each moment, each day. Don't get caught up in the thinking that the clouds will never pass and you will never see the clear blue sky again. Let the clouds come and go as they please.

    I hope I haven't been completely useless...hang in there, keep breathing, keep sitting and let things pass.

    bows,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  6. #6
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Simon,

    I can only speak from my own experience, as I too have a hectic job, but I have found sitting Zazen hugely liberating. I sometimes count the breath if I'm very worked up or upset before sitting Zazen but not so much recently. Developing a routine of regular Zazen practice will also help. Being quite new here I've also found the beginner's talks from Jundo and Taigu very very useful.

    Gassho
    Matt
    Last edited by Genshin; 03-15-2013 at 09:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Hi Simon,

    Same here. The beginners talks of both our sensei are the best starting point once you join Treeleaf Zendo.

    As for me personally, I also look for those little jobs around the house or elsewhere and try to do them slowly and very precisely. My wife sometimes says "let me do the vacuum cleaning ( or whatever) so you can relax. I always answer: "No, I feel very selfish today, so let me do it!" It makes her laugh every time. Not originally my own saying I admit, but that is how it feels sometimes.

    Stay clear of time limit or goal I’d say. Let yourself really get absorbed in that what you are doing right there. A lot like kinhin and it does wonders for me. Expect it to take some practice and patience, but once you get it, it is a great addition to sitting practice and a easy way to start bringing Zen into daily life (that expression always seemed an abstract thing to me). Get a broom and get sweeping, get a zafu and sit. I think it's because we sit that we can do the little tiresome chores in that way, Jundo or Taigu can explain this way better than I can, I’m sure?

    Hope you find this useful in any way?

    Gassho

    Enkyo/Peter/ Potato peal

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by simon View Post
    Does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with this or is it just because I'm new and just starting out? My job can be quite hectic sometimes and it can be hard to find a breather to focus my mind.
    Any thoughts would be welcome.

    Gassho,

    Simon.
    Actually we are all new and just starting out. This why we need to continue our practice. Dogen said somthing like 'practice itself is awakening'. For me that's very encouraging and true. Its just that what I awaken to is not always what I want but it is the truth. So whether clear or cloudy, calm or hectic, try to find a moment for one of the suggestions made by Kelly and the other great contributers here.

  9. #9
    Thanks for everyone's imput! Your suggestions have been really helpful. I think it's time for me to go and sit.

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    When the mind is relaxed and peaceful, go sit.

    When the mind is cloudy and talkative, go sit.

    It's hard to understand at first. We tend to think zen is this peaceful way of life that promotes calmness. But we accept life as it comes.

    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

  11. #11
    Wow ... There are some amazing folks here with wonderful guidance! I cannot add anything that has not already been said.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Wow ... There are some amazing folks here with wonderful guidance! I cannot add anything that has not already been said.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    Truly. The collective Wisdom of this Sangha is wonderful. Thank you.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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