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Thread: I sat for 30 min...now what?

  1. #1

    I sat for 30 min...now what?

    It seems to me that what we do or not do while we are sitting in Zazen is not different from what we should do when we are awake. When a random thoguht comes to mind during practice I do not bother with it, but when the same random thought comes to mind when I am awake it suddently feels more important, and it generates several other seemingly important thoughts. The problem is that some of these thoughts we have throughout the day are important indeed, while others (most of them I guess) are clearly brain farts. My question to you is...how do you differentiate between a spontaneous thought (that then leads to "right" action) and redundant usless thinking? How do you apply Zazen to your life?

    Gassho,

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Wait, are you saying that we are not "awake" during Zazen?

    gassho,
    william

  3. #3
    Funny...I wanted to either comment on my use (or misuse) of the world awake or to write "awake" instead. I am glad you caught it.

    Ghasso,

  4. #4
    In Zazen, we allow all thoughts to go and do not latch on ... without judgement of "good thoughts" or "bad thoughts" or "half and half thoughts". Let'em all just go.

    Now, getting up from the cushion, we have to think about many things all day ... this, that and the other thing, places to go, people to see. Then, if a thought seems rapped up in greed and excess desire, clutching, attachment, anger, jealousy, division ... we should recognize such and not think so, getting untangled from such thinking as best we can. If a thought is loving, compassionate, flowing, free, wise and forgiving ... we should recognize it and encourage such thinking.

    One should also continue to taste, on or off the cushion, that which shines right through and behind good and bad, this and that, places and people, going and coming, all division.

    It ain't rocket science.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I am "awake" on the cushion, so not sure what you mean.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Is there any difference between "spontaneous thought" and "redundant useless thought"? Thoughts arrive like rain, one after the other, non-stop. Do they belong to you? Are they you? What makes one important and one a brain fart?

    I'm a newb at this (so take this with a giant chunk of salt), but I personally find that the relationship with thoughts that has developed while on the cushion (thought, notice, let go) slowly seeps out of zazen and into other activities. Some thoughts still seem *important* of course, but the act of recognizing them as thoughts saps them of a little of their power.

    So we sit again! (and again, and again).

    Gassho,
    Eric

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ctenny View Post
    t the relationship with thoughts that has developed while on the cushion (thought, notice, let go) slowly seeps out of zazen and into other activities.
    In Shikantaza as I would encourage, one would not even do that. Just don't latch on to thoughts, just let them be.

    A fine distinction, perhaps, but Zazen is not a conveyor belt of "thought, notice, let go ... thought, notice, let go ... thought, notice, let go ... ".

    We simply sit, Buddha sitting, allowing all to be without grabbing on.

    The Sacred-Wholeness-Completeness of "Nothing More Need Be Done" Zazen is described in our "All Always Beginners" series ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-FOR-NEW-FOLKS

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-18-2013 at 02:05 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Hi Andrea,

    Who has these thoughts? What brings up these thoughts? Where do they emerge from?
    (No need to give me an answer, ask that yourself from time to time.)

    BTW: Zazen is probably one of those rare occasions during which we can be really "awake".

    Thoughts are thoughts - only we give them importance.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    In Shikantaza as I would encourage, one would not even do that. Just don't latch on to thoughts, just let them be.

    A fine distinction, perhaps, but Zazen is not a conveyor belt of "thought, notice, let go ... thought, notice, let go ... thought, notice, let go ... ".


    Gassho, J
    Yes. Coming from Vipassana, this was pretty difficult for me at first, but it is a fine and enormous distinction.

    I just want to add this. How do we bring zazen into our life? How do we differentiate between redundant or important thoughts? To me, these are the wrong questions to be asking, just mental games. If you sit zazen fully full, completely empty, it will just become your life (I mean, please take this with a grain of salt too; I'm no example). You don't have to pull the cushion everywhere after you; if we do that, it becomes like a ball and chain. It's like constantly asking oneself: okay, so how in this situation do I experience the beautiful and all-pervading buddha-nature of all things in this stupid moment? You know? So, I guess, when sitting, just sit. When eating, just eating. When talking with somebody, just talk with them. When eating at a dinner party, do that thing. When thinking and analyzing, think and analyze. No need to figure out if you're zazening all the time. (then again, watch for that lazy, loose thing, too)

    gassho

    edit: ps: I don't mean to suggest these are bad questions, we all have them...I'll leave it there...
    Last edited by alan.r; 04-18-2013 at 03:30 PM.
    Shōmon

  9. #9
    Thanks Jundo!

    You said that “In Zazen, we allow all thoughts to go and do not latch on ...without judgement of "good thoughts" or "bad thoughts" or"half and half thoughts". Let'em all just go.”

    ISEE what you mean but I am not sure I UNDERSTAND it (and probably SEEING is enough). Most thoughts are neither good nor bad, butwhat about those that involve important decisions that may affect my life andthose of other people? When you say that “In Zazen, we allow all thoughts to goand do not latch on...” I already categorize that as a thought that is worthspending some time thinking about. The process of discrimination between athough that “seems rapped up in greed and excess desire” vs another that isbased on "love and compassion" is also thinking. How do we “RECOGNIZE such andnot think so”? I am sure it is hard to answer this in writing, but it wouldhelp if you could elaborate a bit more on this process of recognition.
    “Itain't rocket science.”
    Itsurely feels worse that rocket science when I try to explain this logically.However, in those moments when my mind is relaxed and I let things go, thesedifficult questions just...dissolve...until I decide to post them on treeleaf, of course : )
    Thanksagain for your comments!

    Gassho,

    P.S.to clarify your P.S.: I am probably more “awake” (= present) when I sit than when I am awake but my mind wondersaround

  10. #10
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    I agree about the rocket science stuff. it seems that just as an understanding about "Our Way" begins to form in "my mind', it's undermined by its opposite- making understanding, for me, difficult in extremis- give me that logical, reasonable A + B = C any day. I've never used so many "s in my life-

    not complaining and actually totally jazzed,

    Robert
    only saps buy vowels

  11. #11
    Hi Andrea,

    I don't know if I follow your questions.

    Just sit, letting thoughts go. Do not grab them, do not judge.

    Getting up from the cushion, one is angry, greedy, clutching, jealous etc. when it feels like anger, greed, clutching, jealousy etc. Try not to do so so much.

    Beyond that, I really don't see what you are philosophizing about.

    Have you sat with our We're All Beginner's Series yet?

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-FOR-NEW-FOLKS

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Andrea,

    I am not an expert or anything (and I may be wrong), but at some point years ago I let go of all the questions because they are thoughts too.

    Part of our practice is to accept things as they are. Thoughts are just thoughts and we accept them, without labeling them at all.

    And then we just sit.

    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

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo and Alan for helping me see the mental habits I have acquired during the course of my practice! Apologies for any confusion I may have brought to the discussion.


  14. #14
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Kyonin said "at some point years ago I let go of all the questions because they are thoughts too."

    I agree. The German poet Rilke was not a Buddhist (although he did write a poem titled "Buddha"). But he expresed this very sentiment in his "Letters to a Young Poet." I read this passage years ago, and come back to it quite often:

    "have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

    Gassho,
    William

  15. #15
    Ahhhhh, that's great stuff William!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  16. #16
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    what Enkyo said!
    only saps buy vowels

  17. #17
    William, that's just brillant!
    How come I've never read something by Rilke (although I've heard about him, of course)?
    Thanks!

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenell View Post
    This may be an area of confusion- maybe just for me- maybe purely semantic. You say to just sit, let thoughts go, do not think about them. And then, you always say at the end of the beginner videos or dharma talks, (after you've given us something to think about) "shall we sit with that?" That implies to me that we are to contemplate, grab hold, if you will, the ideas just expressed.
    Another paradox?

    Gassho,
    Jenell
    I usually take that to mean, "Now that we've thought about this, let's sit," or, "after that, let's sit," or, "let's sit now." It seems more like a catch-phrase than a literal recommendation to meditate one-pointedly on the lecture. I'm sure Jundo will clarify.
    迎 Geika

  19. #19
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post
    Thanks Jundo!

    You said that “In Zazen, we allow all thoughts to go and do not latch on ...without judgement of "good thoughts" or "bad thoughts" or"half and half thoughts". Let'em all just go.”

    ISEE what you mean but I am not sure I UNDERSTAND it (and probably SEEING is enough). Most thoughts are neither good nor bad, butwhat about those that involve important decisions that may affect my life andthose of other people? When you say that “In Zazen, we allow all thoughts to goand do not latch on...” I already categorize that as a thought that is worthspending some time thinking about. The process of discrimination between athough that “seems rapped up in greed and excess desire” vs another that isbased on "love and compassion" is also thinking. How do we “RECOGNIZE such andnot think so”? I am sure it is hard to answer this in writing, but it wouldhelp if you could elaborate a bit more on this process of recognition.
    “Itain't rocket science.”
    Itsurely feels worse that rocket science when I try to explain this logically.However, in those moments when my mind is relaxed and I let things go, thesedifficult questions just...dissolve...until I decide to post them on treeleaf, of course : )
    Thanksagain for your comments!

    Gassho,

    P.S.to clarify your P.S.: I am probably more “awake” (= present) when I sit than when I am awake but my mind wondersaround
    When sitting, there is no need to categorize the thoughts according to importance or whether they are "Buddhist" or not. Off the cushion, feel free to think about whatever you want! Though, if you are following the Eightfold Path you might want to consider right thinking.
    迎 Geika

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenell View Post
    This may be an area of confusion- maybe just for me- maybe purely semantic. You say to just sit, let thoughts go, do not think about them. And then, you always say at the end of the beginner videos or dharma talks, (after you've given us something to think about) "shall we sit with that?" That implies to me that we are to contemplate, grab hold, if you will, the ideas just expressed.
    Another paradox?

    Gassho,
    Jenell
    Oh my. It certainly does --not-- mean to sit there and contemplate! Perhaps it means something like "now let it go, leave it there, see what happens".

    It is very much like I also sit with whatever else happens to be in the room with me ... a chair, a table, a Buddha Statue, dust balls in the corner. While sitting, I don't think about them, or grab on ... I just let them rest without giving them thought, without judging them (no "Oh, look at those dust ball, they could use a sweep, where did I put the broom?") and simply sit.

    What is more, Dosho once suggested that I should change the words to "Shall we sit --AS-- that", because all may come to dance together and through-and-through as wholeness, oneness ... the Shining Great ChairJundoTableBuddhaYouDustBall.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Once the sitting is over, then is the time to start thinking "clean vs. dirty" again. I do not philosophize about that either ... I do not worry too much about "at what exact point does clean turn into dirty?" or "how dirty is dirty?" or "why do we humans judge something dirty?" ... but simply grab a broom, sweep away the dust balls, wipe the table, straighten the chairs. I know clean and straight when I see it, filth and mess when I see it (just as I know anger or peace, greed or generosity, etc., when I encounter them. Try to sweep those away from my life too ... even as they have a tendency to try to come back the next day. A housekeeper's work is never done!).

    Yes, rising from the cushion, I get to work in a world of "clean vs. dirty" ... although, now, perhaps I also still see, shining beyond and through the world's dirty and polish, that same Shining-Great ChairJundoTableBuddhaYouDustBall found on the cushion, beyond and sparkling through-and-through small human judgements of "clean vs. dirty".

    So I clean each day as best I can, clean though there is nothing truly in need of cleaning.

    PPS - Sometimes, when we just let some of these questions go and "just sit", when we rise from the cushion we may actually find that some resolution has come, or that the question itself has vanished. Sometimes it remains as big as before, no solution. It is much like that quote from Rilke above.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-19-2013 at 03:23 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    andrea, ive been here big time too lately. out in public, waiting in lines, in traffic, feeling anxious, etc. and was wondering this myself. thanks for asking this. gassho, Justin,

  22. #22
    "have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
    Truly beautiful William. Thanks!
    Part of the problem is that it is impossible for the mind to investigate itself. It can analyze everything else but not itself. It is just like trying to cure your illness using the poison that coused it. I do not mean to sound philosophical, but I am sure that many of us are stuggling with this very problem...that is hard to avoid. I have a scientific background and tend to over-analyze things. It works great for my job, but when applying the same analytical method to my life I constantly hit a wall. All I can come up with is a model of reality that is just that...a model and nothing more. The reason why I am so attracted to Zazen is that sitting is helping me to SEE that there is no point to this neverending thinking. One bit a the time I am giving up my need to KNOW who I am for simply BEING who I am. The road ahead is still veeeeeeery long, but I do SEE more clearly than I have ever had.

    PPS - Sometimes, when we just let some of these questions go and "just sit", when we rise from the cushion we may actually find that some resolution has come, or that the question itself has vanished. Sometimes it remains as big as before, no solution. It is much like that quote from Rilke above.
    YES! Sometimes I think I should leave a notepad right next to my cushion : )

    Thank you all for your comments and for sharing your experiences. This is awesome!

    Gassho,

  23. #23
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post
    YES! Sometimes I think I should leave a notepad right next to my cushion : )
    Interesting idea, but perhaps a little too ambitious? If we try to collect to many insights we will just be chasing them.
    迎 Geika

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    Interesting idea, but perhaps a little too ambitious? If we try to collect to many insights we will just be chasing them.
    I agree.

    Just sit and let go.

    Keep going with life.

    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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