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  1. #1

    Question Why? (a question about dualistic thinking)

    Hello everybody!

    I have been looking at the forum messages and I read some of the books that are listed and now I have my first question.
    During our zazen sessions we have to try to suppress our dualistic thinking but, when zazen ends, we have to suddenly turn on again
    our "dualistic mode": we have to choose between good and bad to observe the five precepts!

    How can these two opposite (dualistic mode "on" again!) things can walk together?

    Thank you in advance for every kind effort in giving me the "solution"

    P.S.: if my English sounds strange it is because English is not my first language, so feel free to correct me!

  2. #2
    Hi Bya,

    Welcome again.

    Well, I would not say we "supress" dualistic thinking during Zazen. It is more gentle, easy ... as we simply let those go, do not play with them. We put aside our judgments of this and that, good and bad. In doing so, we encounter a way of experiencing reality where the divisions and frictions between our "self" and the rest of the world soften.

    We also have thoughts during Zazen too, as well as when we get off the cushion. When thoughts come during Zazen, we do not surpress ... but simply do not grab on, and let go of those we already have grabbed. These are all our busy thoughts of this and that, thinks we like and things we do not.

    We may come to realize both as just two ways to see ... not two in fact. Thoughts are, and are seen right through at once.

    We learn to encounter life like two side of a no sided coin ... a world of "likes and dislikes", places to go and people to see ... and a world without lack or excess, no place in need of going.

    Here is a real example from my life.

    Our daughter was in the hospital a year or so ago, very sick and possibly near death. Part of me was ripped apart like any parent, afraid, hating the situation.

    However, at the same time, I also experienced abiding Wholeness, Just What Isness, a Peace holding all the broken and sharp pieces of that moment. It is beyond what "I" demand, beyond even sickness and health, birth and death!

    Both ways of experiencing, at once ... as one ... not two.

    This is our Practice.

    Gassho, Jundo


    PS - Bya, although you are the birdies and the birdies just you ... might I ask you ... and all our other new folks ... to post a picture of your visible human face (the photographable self … not the True Self, of course! ) in the 'avatar' space. However, for those who wish privacy, some limited measures are fine, for example, using PHOTOSHOP (or some free, online photo editing service as described below to make small adjustments, shading or the like to the photo so that it is "you, but not you". Maybe, just put on a hat! However, we prefer that it not be an abstract drawing, cartoon character, famous actor or the like. One thing we cannot do here at Treeleaf is look each other in the eyes all the time. A photo with warm human eyes is a step in that direction!
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-20-2013 at 08:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Bya,
    We learn to encounter life like two side of a no sided coin ... a world of "likes and dislikes", places to go and people to see ... and a world without lack or excess, no place in need of going.
    Thank you Jundo.

    I think that I may have understood and so I'll push the thing a bit further. I hope that you will kindly tell me if I am going wrong.

    In our zazen practice, we open our eyes to a "second" point of view just to understand that two different points of view are simultaneously possible and to not-understand (but to realize) that, eventually, they are not two, but just one.

    "Every" side of the no-sided coin is to be comprehended as an approach-dependent view of the nature of the reality: without the "softening" of my judgement I could not approach the wholeness itself and without my dualistic thinking I could not understand what is to be done to help all the sentient beings.

    What is to be done, I suppose, greatly depends on a (again) dualistic concept: pleasure and pain. I have, through my actions and thoughts, to pursue pleasure for all the sentient beings and at the same time I have (at least) to avoid the causes of pain.

    I have not to confuse the wholeness with a view of the wholeness: I have to act for the extinction of pain of all the sentient beings just because they can experience pain and pain is painful. If I had to consider the wholeness as just the wholeness (without using my dualistic thinking) I'd have to conceive pleasure and pain as two unreliable friends, assigning them not value at all (no reasons to follow the five percepts!). At the same time, I have to understand that everything is wholeness and the wholeness is everything and so that, from a second point of view, I have not to grasp to things, people and facts... and that's what zazen is for.

    Is that right?



    bya


    P.S: my picture will be updated as soon as possible

  4. #4
    Hi,

    Hmmm. Your description reads like a "how to" manual, and too technical and philosophical. I don't understand much of it. I am much more simple minded.

    We live is a world of me, you, sentient beings in need of rescue, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, this and that. So long as we are alive as human beings it will be so.

    In Zazen, we taste that free of me, you, good and bad, beautiful vs. ugly, this and that. Thus, a great flowing wholeness that is Beautiful as such.

    Simple as that. We learn to live the above, each of the "relative" and "absolute" dancing with and as the other. In our way, we do not get lost in either alone.

    We take a vow to save all the sentient beings. One way is by realizing (and getting the sentient beings to realize) that there never were really any sentient beings to save!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    In Zazen, we taste that free of me, you, good and bad, beautiful vs. ugly, this and that. Thus, a great flowing wholeness that is Beautiful as such.

    We take a vow to save all the sentient beings. One way is by realizing (and getting the sentient beings to realize) that there never were really any sentient beings to save!
    Thank you Jundo.

    You are right, sometimes I think too much

    ...and now I need some time to think about your answer.



    bya

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi,

    Hmmm. Your description reads like a "how to" manual, and too technical and philosophical. I don't understand much of it. I am much more simple minded.

    We live is a world of me, you, sentient beings in need of rescue, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, this and that. So long as we are alive as human beings it will be so.

    In Zazen, we taste that free of me, you, good and bad, beautiful vs. ugly, this and that. Thus, a great flowing wholeness that is Beautiful as such.

    Simple as that. We learn to live the above, each of the "relative" and "absolute" dancing with and as the other. In our way, we do not get lost in either alone.

    We take a vow to save all the sentient beings. One way is by realizing (and getting the sentient beings to realize) that there never were really any sentient beings to save!

    Gassho, J
    I've just read it again, after quite a long time since you kindly wrote your answer to me. Perhaps I've managed to understand something.

    Thank you again Jundo.


  7. #7
    Thought, a calm river.
    Sit and it will, by nature,
    Keep on rolling by.

    For myself, sitting in the Way helps to see the world at work. Allowing one to see life in that moment.
    Sit long enough and it spreads and it becomes easier, "makes more sense" if you like, to see the world as is, to let your preconceptions go.

    Though I am in no ways perfect, I enjoy my philosophical language and the castles that can be built with it.
    But it, as Monty Python would say, will "Burn down, fall over and then sink into the swamp".
    So by all means I say enjoy, but recognize it for the swamp that it is, before you get stuck.


    ~Arthus

  8. #8
    Thank you for sharing your thought Arthus. Me too I like the philosophical language but sometimes concepts tend to keep you far from a non-conceptual answer... words are dangerous, sometimes. Do you know Wittgenstein?



    bya

  9. #9
    Wittgenstein was a true Zen master. Language is just a game we play to pass the time.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I can give you a real life example of how sitting with zazen "just as it is" has helped me. I will be honest, I struggle with meditating, my mind races a lot. But I am learning to just accept it, continue on, and not judge my zazen, it just is what it is and I do my best to calm my mind. This has helped me tremendously in real life. Recently, my husband failed a 3-yr, grueling pursuit to become a Chartered Accountant. It would have meant a big promotion for him and a lot more money for us. But, he could not pass his third course, he had five to complete and he failed, two times. It was heartbreaking for us!! However, with learning to sit zazen and accept things, just as they are, I've learned to bring this into my real life as well. Instead of letting this anger me, or cause bitterness, I've learned to let it go. Yes, I am still sad sometimes, and I just accept the sadness, but then I just let it go, and I am happy again--happy, sad, I just experience it as best I can without the labels, without expectations on myself or my husband.

    I don't know, I hope that makes sense. I am new here and still have much to learn

    Gassho,
    Treena

  11. #11
    Hi Bya,

    what you say sounds so familiar and all of us work on this every day. Below is the way I like to think of it. Just one aspect to try and explain what "letting go" means (what I think it means and that should alarm you right away ):

    Say you are taking a walk in a park near you. In this park is a huge, old oaktree. The kind that has been there for centuries and looks most impressive. Now, as you walk along with a topsy-turvy daily mind, you see the oak and right away a process similar to this starts in your mind:

    Oh, look a beautiful tree,
    Is it oak? Are you sure? Or maybe maple?
    I think it is oak. I wish I knew more, like John does.
    Mental note: must Google and find out when I'm home.
    Oh yeah, The oak floor in the house still needs waxing,
    why can't I just do things when I have to?
    I'm useless.
    That's probably why we can't sell the house anyway.
    I hope we do soon. I hate this place
    I must go get the gear to fix that floor.
    So expensive
    I wish I had more money
    Oh dear look at the time now.
    Must not be late or my wife will........

    JUST A TREE IN THE PARK, M8!!!! Now look at what we all do with that splendid sight! Create a stream of trouble that mostly is not even real in the first place!

    When sitting, we learn to stop that whole train of thought. Not by suppressing (!) but by just not adding on to the thought that initially came into your mind "Oh, a beautiful oak"

    Thinking "Oh, an oak" is just fine. Means you are alive. The rest however, is your mind and ego adding suffering to what is already Whole and Complete ( thank you Jundo and start making trouble for us.

    Sitting means watching something like "oh an oak" come into the mind ( we can never stop that and we don't have to) and then gently letting it float by, on an endless, streaming river ( or clouds in the sky). This way, the rest of the train of thoughts never gets a chance to show up and grab a hold of us. There is no need for it and after some time while sitting, even the "oh an oak" disappears for a while, without something new replacing it.

    Living our busy daily lives with all the hustle and the bustle is fine. Must be done! Sitting just means you have a place you can let all of that go, step out of the dream of illusions and into reality to meet....you. Alice going down the rabbit (w)hole AND getting out knowing the rabitthole is not real.

    You will find, with some practice ( sitting) that our teachers make a lot of sense. IF you sit everyday and practice. There is no secret magical thing to discover, solve or find. It's all there, right in front of us all

    Hope this helps a bit?

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post

    Oh, look a beautiful tree,
    Is it oak? Are you sure? Or maybe maple?
    I think it is oak. I wish I knew more, like John does.
    Mental note: must Google and find out when I'm home.
    Oh yeah, The oak floor in the house still needs waxing,
    why can't I just do things when I have to?
    I'm useless.
    That's probably why we can't sell the house anyway.
    I hope we do soon. I hate this place
    I must go get the gear to fix that floor.
    So expensive
    I wish I had more money
    Oh dear look at the time now.
    Must not be late or my wife will........
    This is so true, E, and this wonderful practice let's us, when seeing trees just see ... just be ... the trees. We let go of all else, and find all as the tree. Most folks do not know how to let go of wives and google and floors and just let the tree be, be the tree. Thus we sit Shikantaza, walk Kinhin, dropping all away but the simplest of simple.

    But do not stop there!

    For somewhere down the road, we again learn to welcome back mental notes and google, and floors and wax and houses and money and wives ...

    ... and find that each and all were just the tree all along too. Nothing wrong or in need of dropping away, each Whole and Complete. Nonetheless, each is not quite the same floors and money and wives that were before.

    So, there is a time to see and be the trees ... there is a time to see and be the floor wax, google and sickness and health and youth and old age and all the rest. To a mind which is free, all just luscious scenery on a summer day.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you, Enkyo, that was a great description!!

  14. #14
    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts! It has been really useful (and touching) to read about your experiences

    Today I was "surfing" the Forum, just looking around for some information about Jukai, when I found this thread.
    I think that the beautiful introduction written by Nishijima Roshi, together with the words that Jundo kindly
    wrote, definitely helped me to better understand what the "Middle Way" is.

    Thank you

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