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Thread: Attended Brad Warner's Retreat this weekend

  1. #1

    Attended Brad Warner's Retreat this weekend

    I am coming off Brad's retreat in Los Angeles (Mount Baldy) and it was a very good experience.

    I experimented a bit during the retreat on the first two days trying out two different approaches. One just sitting and doing nothing (except maintaining posture) and another in which I tried to be effortlessly aware of what's happening in the present body-mind-environment. I saw that I was able to be much more present with the latter approach. It was a big difference.

    On the last day for the last two sittings I decided, I'll just sit but not meditate at all. I think I am attached to the word and idea of meditation. I decided to try out to just sit there as if I am not meditating but just how I sit normally (whatever that is). So I sat there facing wall and whenever an urge to do something arose, I told myself don't meditate. That was fine too.

    The most important and difficult thing for me looks like is to be able to sit with no judgments and no expectations from the practice. I have always expected the spiritual practices to "improve me" in some way. Also I never considered myself enlightened and/or things to be fine the way they are. So adopting this attitude and expecting no gain from the practice (as Jundo and other Zen teachers suggest) seems like a struggle. I came back from the retreat and (while interacting with my family or at work) was expecting myself to be more composed, less disturbed etc...; I don't know if I am less disturbed or not but it is interesting to see my expectations and judgments about practice


    - Sam

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    So adopting this attitude and expecting no gain from the practice (as Jundo and other Zen teachers suggest) seems like a struggle.
    - Sam

    Sam, I guarantee you that EXPECTING gain from the practice is more of a struggle. Expectations have a way of leading to impatience and, ultimately, to disappointment when they are not quickly realized. That disappointment then leads some to abandon their practice.


    Brad Warner will flat out tell you that, most of the time, sitting is boring. If he didn't tell you that this weekend, then pick up a copy of Hardcore Zen. We just sit. We are not looking for breakthroughs or insights (but sometimes they happen anyway). Be patient and allow your practice to unfold naturally rather than you trying to unfold it yourself, reverse-Origami style.


    Gassho,
    William

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Sam,

    When I began sitting several years ago I had many of the concerns and questions that you have mentioned of late. But there came a day, I remember it very well, when I was sitting and just told myself to "Sssshhhhhh!" I didn't mean that I would push thoughts away...I just didn't engage them in ANY WAY. I sat like this for about 15 minutes and then I had what might be described as kensho...but I tend to think of it more like a light bulb going off over my head in a Looney Tunes cartoon. I said to myself, "I don't know what enlightenment is, but I know one thing for sure: If I try to achieve it, I won't!" I decided that if I never became enlightened that was ok because what I had been doing wasn't going to work. So, I just sat there and I mean exactly that. I had no thought of what I was doing other than sitting with my legs crossed on my zafu and zabuton. Questions came up, sure...and it wasn't an overnight process to find my "still point" as Daido Roshi called it by a long shot.

    I know it's cliché, I know it is often called "stinking of zen", but truly you have to try just sitting there with no thought of what it is you are doing beyond sitting there. It is very hard and it is a skill I am still working to master (with no expectation that I ever will!). Just try not engaging with any thought. Is this meditation? Is this shikantaza? What is that weird sound coming from the other side of the room? Could Batman last in a duel with Superman for more than 1 minute? Am I the entire universe? Is that a squirrel? Any of these may come to one who is sitting, but just sit there! Don't keep notes, don't analyze, don't do anything other than sit for at least a month, 3 if you can do it! Come back then and tell us how it went.

    That's my unsui $0.02 which is very different from actual cents (or sense for that matter!). Just sit.

    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.

  4. #4
    Thanks Dosho. Your advice is spot on

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Great post Dosho.

    Gassho.
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  6. #6
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Dosho,

    Great wisdom and thank you.

    Just sitting in the stillness of the moment no matter how crazy it may seem.

    Gassho
    Heishu

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Thank you, Dosho.

    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

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    I am coming off Brad's retreat in Los Angeles (Mount Baldy) and it was a very good experience.

    I experimented a bit during the retreat on the first two days trying out two different approaches. One just sitting and doing nothing (except maintaining posture) and another in which I tried to be effortlessly aware of what's happening in the present body-mind-environment. I saw that I was able to be much more present with the latter approach. It was a big difference.

    On the last day for the last two sittings I decided, I'll just sit but not meditate at all. I think I am attached to the word and idea of meditation. I decided to try out to just sit there as if I am not meditating but just how I sit normally (whatever that is). So I sat there facing wall and whenever an urge to do something arose, I told myself don't meditate. That was fine too.

    The most important and difficult thing for me looks like is to be able to sit with no judgments and no expectations from the practice. I have always expected the spiritual practices to "improve me" in some way. Also I never considered myself enlightened and/or things to be fine the way they are. So adopting this attitude and expecting no gain from the practice (as Jundo and other Zen teachers suggest) seems like a struggle. I came back from the retreat and (while interacting with my family or at work) was expecting myself to be more composed, less disturbed etc...; I don't know if I am less disturbed or not but it is interesting to see my expectations and judgments about practice


    - Sam
    Whats happenin Sam.
    My advice to you is a little bit different than the advice above.
    I would say the most important thing, is sitting with proper posture until that bell rings or in my case the alarm goes off on my iPhone. I made a vow on something i really cared about that i would do this unless i was too damn sleepy or too sick to continue the sitting and to this day i honour it.
    So my advice:
    I would advise you to engage in thought. I would advise you to have expectations. I would advise you to practice being present. I would advise you to practice not being present.I would advise you to be disappointed. I would advise you to sit with no judgements and sit with judgements. I would advise you to do whatever you want in that timeframe of zazen EXCEPT giving up on the practice. Even when you want to quit it all together. This practice is powerful. Don't ever quit.There is Gold to be found.
    And why would i advise all the things to do that some people wouldn't?
    Because of this truth: This Too Shall Pass.
    So go ahead and Engage in thought.
    You can have an imaginary argument with someone all you want during the sit, ENGAGE IN IT, roll around in it, have fun with all your judgements all you want,it doesn't matter, it's gonna pass whether you want it to or not, that's the nature of impermanence, everything passes.
    Feel like being "present" and watching your thoughts without engaging?
    Go ahead.
    That doesn't matter either. Your attention span when it comes to watching your thoughts has a limit. It is not indefinite. It is subject to the same fate as your attention span of engaging in them. Read that again.
    Eventually your attention of non-engaging in thoughts will turn into wanting to jump out a window to escape the utter boredom of zazen. But guess what? Even the desire to jump out a window is fleeting and you sit through that too.You sit through it all.
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    The most important and difficult thing for me looks like is to be able to sit with no judgments and no expectations from the practice.- Sam
    The most important thing for you to do is to sit with expectations and sit with judgements until you've exhausted them.Sit with no expectations and sit with no judgements until you've exhausted that attitude as well. Struggle to master any skill all you want,struggle until you're completely and utterly exhausted because than and Only than can "you" finally lay down, can "you" finally get out of the way and allow God to take over.


    -Mr.WokiTheCat

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WokiTheCat View Post
    I would advise you to engage in thought. I would advise you to have expectations. I would advise you to practice being present. I would advise you to practice not being present.I would advise you to be disappointed. I would advise you to sit with no judgements and sit with judgements. I would advise you to do whatever you want in that timeframe of zazen EXCEPT giving up on the practice. Even when you want to quit it all together. This practice is powerful. Don't ever quit.There is Gold to be found.
    Hi,

    I like what you are trying to say about "just keep sitting" ... but I would not go so far.

    We do not intentionally engage in thoughts while sitting Zazen. If entangled in thought, we open the "hand of thought" and let them go. Don't engage. Same with expectations and judgments. We should Just Sit liberated from expectations and judgments.

    That being said, if thoughts come, or expectations and judgments ... just keep sitting. If a hurricane comes or Jesus comes, just keep sitting. Just keep sitting no matter what.

    Yet, if entangled in thought, we open the "hand of thought" and let them go. Same with expectations and judgments. We should Just Sit liberated from expectations and judgments.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Actually, if a hurricane comes ... please temporarily go to board up the windows and check battery supplies. Then resume sitting. If Jesus comes, invite Him to sit with you.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2013 at 03:55 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi,


    That being said, if thoughts come, or expectations and judgments ... just keep sitting. If a hurricane comes or Jesus comes, just keep sitting. Just keep sitting no matter what.

    Yet, if entangled in thought, we open the "hand of thought" and let them go. Same with expectations and judgments. We should Just Sit liberated from expectations and judgments.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Actually, if a hurricane comes ... please temporarily go to board up the windows and check battery supplies. Then resume sitting. If Jesus comes, invite Him to sit with you.
    Hey Jundo, I guess what i'm saying is; practicing not engaging in thought, and not engaging in thought are two different things. One of them involves a "self".

    I use to think that by not giving too much attention to thoughts ,they slowed down and this gave us more clarity to see this moment as is. In that order. But upon closer look, i'm not so sure.
    When your taken back by a beautiful sunset, it happens naturally, your senses are stimulated, and your monkey mind isn't chatting, but if you watch that sunset long enough, you'll become more desensitized to it, and soon enough your mind starts chatting again. Your thoughts start becoming more interesting than the sunset. It's all about stimulation.
    What i'm saying is in zazen,engaging in thoughts doesn't matter...it's no big deal...don't fear it...because there comes a point (perhaps because we can't physically act on them)when we are engaged in our thoughts long enough that they become less and less interesting,not as shiny as they first seemed.So eventually now we are effortlessly and naturally not engaging with thoughts because they are no longer as interesting,they are no longer as stimulating,they no longer have our attention :so now the thought and mental picture you once had of a "better future with loads of money" is now not as interesting as the sounds of the birds you hear outside your window during zazen.
    And when the sounds of the birds outside are far more interesting than the thought of a future of fame and riches, than i'd say you found Gold.

    I'm sorry Jundo if that doesn't make any sense, i tried to articulate it.
    Mr.wok woks.

  11. #11
    If Jesus comes, invite Him to sit with you.
    I will certainly bear that in mind, Jundo!

    Very good points, Dosho. I think it often takes a while of clinging to thoughts and expectations before we can let them go. I wonder even if that period of clinging is a necessary stage for most of us to go through before it falls away.

    Gassho
    Andy

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by WokiTheCat View Post
    Hey Jundo, I guess what i'm saying is; practicing not engaging in thought, and not engaging in thought are two different things. One of them involves a "self".

    I use to think that by not giving too much attention to thoughts ,they slowed down and this gave us more clarity to see this moment as is. In that order. But upon closer look, i'm not so sure.
    When your taken back by a beautiful sunset, it happens naturally, your senses are stimulated, and your monkey mind isn't chatting, but if you watch that sunset long enough, you'll become more desensitized to it, and soon enough your mind starts chatting again. Your thoughts start becoming more interesting than the sunset. It's all about stimulation.
    What i'm saying is in zazen,engaging in thoughts doesn't matter...it's no big deal...don't fear it...because there comes a point (perhaps because we can't physically act on them)when we are engaged in our thoughts long enough that they become less and less interesting,not as shiny as they first seemed.So eventually now we are effortlessly and naturally not engaging with thoughts because they are no longer as interesting,they are no longer as stimulating,they no longer have our attention :so now the thought and mental picture you once had of a "better future with loads of money" is now not as interesting as the sounds of the birds you hear outside your window during zazen.
    And when the sounds of the birds outside are far more interesting than the thought of a future of fame and riches, than i'd say you found Gold.

    I'm sorry Jundo if that doesn't make any sense, i tried to articulate it.
    Mr.wok woks.
    Yes, it is hard to articulate. Sounds better when you put it this way, but still hard to convey. In the end, if it feels right and balanced, and seems to be "working" for you, then it should be fine. Keep sitting such way.

    In any case, make sure you sit as described here, the Heart of Shikantaza. ... All Reality, Every Mountain and Stone, All the Buddhas and Ancestors Just Sitting This Sitting ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...CHERS-STUDENTS

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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