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Thread: "Zazen is actually not complicated" - C.J. Beck

  1. #1

    "Zazen is actually not complicated" - C.J. Beck

    Hi,

    I just wanted to share a few sentences I read in a book by C.J. Beck entitled "Nothing special". I was having a hard time understanding how to apply zazen practice to real life and, coincidentally, I found some inspiration and comfort in the following words (isn't is great when "accidents" like these happen? : )

    "Zazen is actually not complicated. The real problem is, we don't want to do it. If my boyfriend begins to look at other women, how long am I going to be willing simply to experience that? We all have problems constantly, but our willingness just to be is very low on our list of priorities, until we have practiced long enough to have faith in just being, so that solutions can appear natuarally. Another mark of a maturing practice is the development of such trust and faith".

    Gassho,


    Andrea

  2. #2
    Perhaps the hardest thing to get across about Zazen ... and the aspect that chases most people away ... is that human beings really cannot tolerate what it means to just be, just open, allow, let go, not chase or do ... Just Sit. It is really not that different from my trying to get our two year old daughter to "just sit still" for a few minutes. It is so hard to get folks to realize how to sit as the fruition of all that need be in that moment, no other place to go or hole in need of fixing as we sit .... just being the very flowing of the flowing going! It is so hard just to fathom the Sacredness and Wholeness of Just This. Folks confuse "Just Sitting" with "just sitting around", and the "Mudra" in which we hold our hands with "just twiddling our thumbs". They confuse "Nothing Special" with "doing nothing special", and sitting in the Timeless free of the clock with "killing and wasting time".

    You might think it is the easiest of all things ... just to tell people to stop and "give up the hunt" for a time ... that sitting is the one space in life where there is nothing to win, nothing to pursue, nothing to think about or plan in that short space when the bell rings (our way of finding a Treasure Always Present Yet Rarely Perceived).

    But rather, people quit and walk away from Zazen ... much preferring to do something constructive, less boring, pursue some dream or goal, solve some problem, deal with things, figure something out, get to the promised land which is likely over the next hill ... or the next ... or the next. People do not like to just sit and let life go and flow for a few timeless minutes, enjoying the Promised Land where they sit.

    People are also very attached to things, to anger and greed and thoughts of this and that and the other.

    Sometimes I wish all my students were stones or trees or mountains. They already know how to sit without running after things or being filled with their problems. They are not angry or greedy, or live in comparison and division with the rest of the world. Our Zen Way is tricky, because it is about being a person of thoughts and feelings and feet with places to go ... and being the stones, trees and mountains ... all at once.

    Zazen is Nothing Special ... which includes the "Special" of all things.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Joko Beck is always near the top of our suggested reading for folks around here ... you might also try "Everyday Zen: Love & Work". Although nothing to get, it seems there is always another book to read to tell us so!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...REELEAF-SANGHA
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-12-2013 at 02:23 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sometimes I wish all my students were stones or trees or mountains.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...REELEAF-SANGHA
    Yeah, but then you'd literally have nothing to do.

    Really like this. So hard to give up, every day, every sit. Thanks Jundo.

    gassho
    Shōmon

  4. #4
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    This arrived on the mail yesterday
    IMG_20130411_201521.jpg

    So Happy

    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    This arrived on the mail yesterday
    IMG_20130411_201521.jpg

    So Happy

    Gassho
    Everyday Zen is a wonderful book. Enjoy!

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo for your wonderful reply. It made me think about the importance of trust in our practice and our own nature. We are thought since an early age to cultivate the unrealistic idea that we can think our way out of all problems (at least this os my experience). But when it comes to life there is no right amount of reasoning that will help us to figuring it out. If anything, reasoning can tell us at best that reasoning is not the way to go if we want understand who we are. Faith in our own nature starts to develop as soon as the mind runs out of schemes and abandons the idea that life is yet another problem to be solved...there is nothing to solve. Now if I could only find a consistent way to live these words in my own life that would be great

    I find it liberating to write my thoughts down. Sharing them with other people that are likely to be on the same frequency as myself makes it even sweeter. Thanks for taking the time to read the scambled words I wrote at 430 am, well before I even had the chance to drink my coffee. Looking forward to your comments...

    Gassho,

    A.

  7. #7
    I just posted an essay by Uchiyama Roshi in which he says something similar, Andrea ...

    Uchiyama Roshi: Right now, right here, I live simply
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-I-live-simply


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    This arrived on the mail yesterday
    IMG_20130411_201521.jpg

    So Happy

    Gassho

    Both books are amazing... even if they are nothing special.

    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

  9. #9
    thank you andrea and jundo. I can really get bent out of shape complicating this. especially when it comes to dharma, philosophies, different traditions, etc. im finding it a lot easier to just sit and try to be present and mindful (for now, atleast). and I generally notice that when I do these things, that things go much smoother. if I look to deep into it I start to think its a waste of time and don't want to do it. so for now I will just sit just to sit.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by jus View Post
    thank you andrea and jundo. I can really get bent out of shape complicating this. especially when it comes to dharma, philosophies, different traditions, etc. im finding it a lot easier to just sit and try to be present and mindful (for now, atleast). and I generally notice that when I do these things, that things go much smoother. if I look to deep into it I start to think its a waste of time and don't want to do it. so for now I will just sit just to sit.
    Quote Originally Posted by jus View Post
    thank you, again. and im not sure if this is the right place for this question, but im having trouble with "just sitting", as opposed to other forms of meditation like "breath counting" or "insight meditation", where it feels like my brain is getting to do something. just sitting and facing the wall i start to feel a little bit nuts. any suggestions? thanks..
    Hi Jus,

    Yes, the little "self" just does not like having all its little crutches, distractions, amusements that feed it pulled away. Don't worry, this is actually the trickiest part of Shikantaza for everyone, not only you! Even after 30 years, there are such days for me too! As I wrote above:

    Perhaps the hardest thing to get across about Zazen ... and the aspect that chases most people away ... is that human beings really cannot tolerate what it means to just be, just open, allow, let go, not chase or do ... [They can confuse] "Just Sitting" with "just sitting around", and the "Mudra" in which we hold our hands with "just twiddling our thumbs". They confuse "Nothing Special" with "doing nothing special", and sitting in the Timeless free of the clock with "killing and wasting time".

    You might think it is the easiest of all things ... just to tell people to stop and "give up the hunt" for a time ... that sitting is the one space in life where there is nothing to win, nothing to pursue, nothing to think about or plan in that short space when the bell rings (our way of finding a Treasure Always Present Yet Rarely Perceived).

    But rather, people quit and walk away from Zazen ... much preferring to do something constructive, less boring, pursue some dream or goal, solve some problem, deal with things, figure something out, get to the promised land which is likely over the next hill ... or the next ... or the next. People do not like to just sit and let life go and flow for a few timeless minutes, enjoying the Promised Land where they sit.
    All I can say is that even learning something as simple as the natural balance of riding a bicycle or simple "staying afloat" of swimming can take time. However, once someone gets it, all really is child's play! Why not try to go back and forth to a little breath counting/observing and "open spacious awareness, on everything and nothing in particular", as described here ...

    Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (Part XI)
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XI%29

    Also review "Right and Wrong Zazen", about sitting in the Sacredness and Wholeness of this one moment and action, beyond all "Right and Wrong" ...

    SPECIAL REPOST: Right Zazen and Wrong Zazen
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nd-Wrong-Zazen

    Actually, I am kind of happy that this Shikantaza thing is not something most people can just pick up in a day, because then Taigu and me would be out of a job! (just kidding)

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-13-2013 at 02:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    This is also a pretty good place to post this (from blogger Barry Briggs), a little story of a monk trying to sit a certain kind of meditation free of distractions and annoyances.

    The only thing I have to say is that it is a little longer than it needs to be, which I find somewhat annoying!




    And this is a good place to link to another thread on sitting with little annoyances like spiders and such, including the famous "Dalai Lama Swats a Mosquito" clip.

    We sit with "what is" ... and sometimes that "what is" includes allowing the flies to buzz on our nose freely, and sometimes that "what is" includes freely swatting the flies!

    Itchy nose, achy leg, earthquake ... when to move, when not?
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-move-when-not

    Isn't my linking to all these thread just really annoying!?
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-13-2013 at 09:26 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    That little film says it all - I can really relate !
    Last edited by willow; 04-13-2013 at 09:39 AM.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Great thread. Thanks guys.

    Isn't saying Zazen is really not that complicated a bit like saying that the ocean is basically just water?

    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."

  14. #14
    Thank you for these lovely reminders! I've had several books on my list for a while and haven't been able to decide which one I should read first - I think I'll start with "Everyday Zen".

    Jundo, I love the video! Yes, like Willow said, I can relate.

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  15. #15
    awsome! thanks jundo. after posting yesterday, i found a wealth of information on this site. im going to check out the links and videos and hopefully ill find what i need regarding shikantaza. ive also noticed that this issue arises for me mainly when ive been sitting with you guys, i think its because its a little bit longer than what im used to (10-15 mins twice daily on my own, and a lot of times in a chair) and the fact that i can see on my screen more experienced practitioners, and even though im worlds away i can still feel a little self conscious about my sitting lol. i try to bring focus back to the top of my palm, but then i either get wrapped up in thought or the anxiousness and frustration that arises.

    which may lead me into another question. is it ever alright to go into "insight" mode? if feelings keep coming up, do i want to go into them? or the best way i can put it, somehow "become one" with them?

    thanks again for your reply, jundo. i have a feeling im going to be online for a little doing research now..

    gassho,
    justin
    Last edited by jus; 04-14-2013 at 04:12 AM.

  16. #16
    awesome, those links were really helpful. I guess its just a case of the "beginners mind" here. a lot of my information about sitting zazen is a little dated, where it seemed that breath counting was the end-all-be-all. or else maybe they were just speaking to beginners. but ive noticed that most of the great teachers today hardly if ever recommend it. I even read something yesterday about if you start to get lost in thought, to not go back to breath, but to straighten your spine each time (ouch). it also seems that in most other practices, that breath counting (or awareness) is used solely to quiet the mind, in attempts to prep oneself for the "real meditation" (for lack of better terms). its also funny, that when I get lost in thought, your words about "there is no bad zazen" come to mind, and then I get lost in that. sort of like I already assume that im sitting a "bad zazen". and then that gives me reason to just slack off (man, I need a teacher with a hitting stick!). and youre right, if shikantaza was easy you guys would be out of a job, but also if it were easy, itd probably be not so much fun for me to continue to sit and learn more! gassho, Justin (sorry, "enter" key is broken on this comp.)
    Last edited by jus; 04-13-2013 at 11:13 PM.

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Thanks Jundo; I think this may be my new best favorite video

    Of course, this is my all time favorite (interactive) zen site http://www.do-not-zzz.com/
    but, this might now just definitely be my new best zen quote;
    Actually, I am kind of happy that this Shikantaza thing is not something most people can just pick up in a day, because then Taigu and me would be out of a job! (just kidding)
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

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