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Thread: Where am I?

  1. #1

    Where am I?

    I have come across a way to bring my attention to the present moment. I wanted to know if this worked with other people or is my mind playing a game on me.

    On my run today I closed my eyes for 2 seconds and forgot where I was. When I opened my eyes I asked out loud Where am I? I tried to see the world I was in without knowing anything about it. From the ground I was on. To the sky I could not put into words. To the feeling of the wind on my skin. To the feeling of Joy. To the sound of birds.

    Then I closed my eyes again and forgot where I was and repeated for 15 mins. The more I did it the more I came to the present moment. Just asked myself where am I? At the end of the run I was not able to put into words the world I was in. I was just as big as the sky.

    I understand this is a little different then just sitting but I found it helped clear the clouds of thought before sitting. If anyone has a chance to try this please let me know if it was helpful. Or if this idea is part of another school of thought. Thank you

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    I ran sixty miles a week when I was younger, so I know that running has a meditative quality to it. I believe it even has its place in some Buddhist practices (if I correctly recall the so-called "marathon monks" of Mt. Hei). But it is not the same meditative experience as Zazen. Which is not to suggest that I am minimizing your experience. It sounds awesome. Sitting gives rise to its own set of questions.

    Where are you? Here.

    What time is it? Now.

    What/Who are you? This moment.

    gassho
    william

  3. #3
    Interesting observation!

    I have not done exactly this, Ultrarunner, but a teacher of mine gave a similar instruction of asking 'What experiences this?' to similarly drop away body and mind.

    Likewise, Korean Zen teacher Kusan Sunim (the one time teacher of Martine and Stephen Batchelor) had his students sit with the phrase 'What is this?'. Tibetan Mahamudra teachings also use pointing out instructions to the same effect.

    You are right that it is different to just sitting but does induce a similar feeling of 'no separation'.

    One thing I would say is that, from experience, my mind can only be 'tricked' for so many times by the same words before that particular instruction runs out of juice. It might be different for you, though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I've done that, Ultrarunner, but not while running. I like to do it from time to time since I read some Krishnamurti talks. I'll sometimes try to observe the world without the "observer" and my personally crafted "image/ memory/ experience/ past" of what I'm observing.

    Maybe not Zen, but something.
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    HI,

    It sounds like a lovely practice ... although be sure not to run into any light poles when your eyes are closed! Short of that, it sounds lovely.

    However, I sometimes speak of Shikantaza as more about living "wholly as and at one with the moment, just as-it-are" rather than awareness of being or feeling "in the moment". I think it is a bit of a mistake when some Buddhist Teachers seem to emphasize the latter for "mindfulness" rather than the former.

    I sometimes write this ...

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


    It seems to me that many people in Zen Practice have come to confuse "being present/mindful in the moment" (for example, "when drinking tea, just drink tea" ... a sometimes appropriate and lovely way to experience life) ... with "being at one with the moment" (allowing and merging with conditions of life "just as they is"). The two are not quite the same, and are often confused, and the latter is much more at the heart of this Shikantaza Path ...

    Yes, I believe that there are times to be "mindful" ... and there are times not. Sometimes when I eat, I just eat ... when I sip tea, I just sip tea ... when bowing, just bowing ... fully absorbed in that action. A wonderful, insightful practice. When doing one thing, just do one thing with all one's body-and-mind.

    At other times, I just grab a sandwich and a coke while reading the newspaper and thinking about the job I have to do. That's life too. Nothing wrong with it.

    (I do not know where the idea started among some folks that the 'goal' of this practice is to live the first way every moment of every day. That would be pretty awful (if not harmful) to live like that all or even most of the time. What's wrong with also sometimes reading the paper, thinking about work, while grabbing a quick sandwich? There is a place for all of that.)

    ....

    In my view, the heart of this Practice is merely "being at one" with self-life-world just as it is ... dropping the resistance, barriers, separation between our "self" and all the circumstances in which that "self" imagines it finds itself in ... until even the walls between "self" and "life-world" (or self and itself) soften or even fully drop away ...

    So, for example, when drinking tea, just do that and fully allow that. When grabbing a sandwich while reading the paper and thinking about your annoying co-worker in the office, just do that and fully allow that (and fully allow the craziness in the newspaper and your annoying co-worker too).** When your kid plops in your lap during Zazen, just do and allow that ( http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=16432 ) When temporarily falling into sadness or anger, just do and allow that (although remember that "mind theatre" and see if you truly need to be that way, and seek to be not that way if you can). When overwrought with life for a moment, just do that and fully allow that (remembering in the back of your mind that the clear, boundless blue sky is behind the clouds of thought and emotion even when momentarily covered over). When suffering with old age and sickness of ourself or someone we love (as was discussed on another thread today), just do that and fully allow that.

    In my view, all of the above together is truly balanced, "mindful" living.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** PS - "fully allowing" does not mean necessarily "fully allowing". We have something called "acceptance-without-acceptance" around here ... So, for example, we can "fully allow and be one with" the wars and pollution described in the newspaper or the bothersome person at work or the sickness we are suffering ... yet take steps to deal with each too. Not mutually exclusive perspectives.

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

    Also, with regard to "Shikantaza Running", I might point everyone to this "beginningless beginners" thread ...

    [I]n Shikantaza too, we do not give up. We keep pushing ahead diligently with our practice, step by step and inch by inch, seeking the goal. However, the “goal” turns out not to be where we thought it was, and the way of its crossing not as first imagined.

    For, in Shikantaza we must come to realize that the “goal” is not the crossing of some far off line. Instead, each step-by-step of the race itself IS the destination fully attained, the finish line is ever underfoot and constantly crossed with each inch. Each step is instantaneously a perfect arriving at the winner’s tape!

    To know that there is no finish line to cross even as we run the race, no target to hit, is to perpetually arrive at the finish line with each stride, ever hitting the target, always arriving home. But despite the fact that the “trophy” was ours all along, we do not give up, do not sit down at the starting line, do not quit and jump out early from the race (of our practice, our life). We do not turn back or waste time. For that reason, some call our Practice a great, constant striving for the “Goalless goal.”
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...s-%28Part-V%29
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-18-2013 at 04:27 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Thank you, Jundo. Sometimes when I grab a Coke and land myself on the couch I think of that wall of text you occasionally post about mindfulness.
    迎 Geika

  7. #7
    Jundo,

    Is it that there is still some effort, some separation going on in mindfulness? Whenever I notice myself *try* to be mindful I think that I have already separated earth and sky.

    Andy

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    That has never happened to me while running and I think I should try it!

    What I do on long runs is to "sit zazen" while running. I focus on the ground and on my breathing, let go of all thinking. After a while I forget fatigue and I don't feel my legs, I just keep on going.

    This lasts for maybe a couple of minutes. Then I get back, breathe and do it again.

    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
    Let me drop in that we are always "in the present" ... always. Where and what else could we be? Yesterday, you were "in the present" then, tomorrow you will likely be "in the present" too.

    You may mean that, from time to time, it is good to be aware that one is "fully in the present", and nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is a vital aspect of this Practice to have such moments. They are eye opening and educational for Wisdom.

    But one is just as much "in the present" even when one does not notice so. Furthermore, one can be "wholly with things as they are" which includes sometimes feeling "in the present" and sometimes not ... for both are "wholly how things are in that moment".

    Got the drift?

    These moments of feeling totally "in the present" are nice, useful reminders that we are always "in the present". But they can then be discarded for the simple awareness that we are always "in the present" at all moments in life.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Substitute the words "Buddha" "Emptiness" "Reality" or silence for the above phrase "in the present", and the Buddhalogic is just the same.

    PPS -

    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Jundo,

    Is it that there is still some effort, some separation going on in mindfulness? Whenever I notice myself *try* to be mindful I think that I have already separated earth and sky.

    Andy
    Well, in Shikantaza we find out how to arrive where we always have been by radically giving up the desire and effort to "try" to be elsewhere. Your nose does not have to "try" to be your nose in order to be your nose. The present does not have to try to be the present in order to be the present.

    Same with Buddha, Enlightenment, as plain as the nose on one's face!
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-18-2013 at 10:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ultrarunner View Post
    I have come across a way to bring my attention to the present moment. I wanted to know if this worked with other people or is my mind playing a game on me.

    On my run today I closed my eyes for 2 seconds and forgot where I was. When I opened my eyes I asked out loud Where am I? I tried to see the world I was in without knowing anything about it. From the ground I was on. To the sky I could not put into words. To the feeling of the wind on my skin. To the feeling of Joy. To the sound of birds.

    Then I closed my eyes again and forgot where I was and repeated for 15 mins. The more I did it the more I came to the present moment. Just asked myself where am I? At the end of the run I was not able to put into words the world I was in. I was just as big as the sky.

    I understand this is a little different then just sitting but I found it helped clear the clouds of thought before sitting. If anyone has a chance to try this please let me know if it was helpful. Or if this idea is part of another school of thought. Thank you
    Try this exercise:

    Say to yourself "I am" without finishing the sentence. What follows the "I am" is where you are, I think.

    Gassho, John
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  11. #11
    nice, john. i will try that. thanks, jundo. "just drink tea", sounds like thich naht hahn lol. i notice that its good for reminding me where i am and to break up my attachment to thoughts.
    also, i go for laser on two arms worth of tattoos. the pain is so unbareable, that ive tried everything from mantras to disassociation to examening the pain, etc. nothing worked well and figured that the pain was not avoidable, so this last time i sat and dropped everything and when the pain came i noticed it withouth thought and moved on. it was like sitting shikantaza but while somebody is shooting hot lasers at you. the dude said that i didnt flitch. normally i shake some, my foot is wagging out of control, and in my mind i just want it to be done.

    i dont know if this is right practice, or what is ment here, but im working with what ive got right now. im not even completely sure that putting myself through the laser thing, which has been in progress for a little already, is a very buddhist thing to myself, if it goes against a precept, etc.

    gassho,
    justin

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by jus View Post
    nice, john. i will try that. thanks, jundo. "just drink tea", sounds like thich naht hahn lol. i notice that its good for reminding me where i am and to break up my attachment to thoughts.
    also, i go for laser on two arms worth of tattoos. the pain is so unbareable, that ive tried everything from mantras to disassociation to examening the pain, etc. nothing worked well and figured that the pain was not avoidable, so this last time i sat and dropped everything and when the pain came i noticed it withouth thought and moved on. it was like sitting shikantaza but while somebody is shooting hot lasers at you. the dude said that i didnt flitch. normally i shake some, my foot is wagging out of control, and in my mind i just want it to be done.

    i dont know if this is right practice, or what is ment here, but im working with what ive got right now. im not even completely sure that putting myself through the laser thing, which has been in progress for a little already, is a very buddhist thing to myself, if it goes against a precept, etc.

    gassho,
    justin
    I do something like this in the dentist's chair or other medical procedures. Good Shikantaza.

    As to Tats, we have had a few threads on that ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post93423

    Is this laser to remove old ink? Then I guess it is a kind of Karma coming home to roost.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    oh yeah karma big time!! it has been my greatest teacher, out of all the crazy things ive been through, just seeing karma play out in almost real time, seeing the attachment, the mental pain, the suffering, that all of this has caused. its nothing offensive or anything, just old-not so good work ive hated and am getting better cover ups. i read in an old thread somewhere, somebody from a more conservative point of view was saying that doing something like this would be breaking precepts. i started on this (laser) journey before i decided to become serious about the buddhist one. so for now i just try and view it as a great teacher, or like the mud where a lotus flower will blossom (spiritually, but also for more beautiful art work).

    gassho,
    justin

  14. #14
    Hi Jus,

    I am not sure what Precept it could break. I sometimes speak against cosmetic surgery to the degree it represents over-attachment to physical beauty (but not, for example, to fix a medical issue or psychological trauma). Same if it interfere's with your work, that seems a reasonable reason to get it cleaned up. If your arm says "I LOVE MARY", but you are now married to "SANDY", probably good to get that fixed too.

    I just spent several months reading in great depth the Vinaya, South Asian Precepts, written some 2000 years or more ago. Though prescribing everything from the proper size of beds and the kinds of shoes one might wear, there is not a single mention of "lasers" in there.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-21-2013 at 05:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    haha the vinaya and lasers. i like your take, jundo. i practice buddhism, but i still have to live everyday in this world at the same time.

    gassho,
    justin

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