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Thread: off the coushin

  1. #1

    off the coushin

    **cushion**

    excuse me if there are already topics on this, but I was wondering what in soto zen is to be done away from shikantaza sitting, as far as mindfulness goes? just chop wood? as some of you may know I have an overactive mind which can cause anxiety, so I do a lot of focusing on the breath stuff, and things learned from other traditions. so when I just chop wood, are there any tips on being present/mindful, or are those things fruits of shikantaza?
    gassho,
    justin

  2. #2
    Hi Justin,

    ONLY Zazen on the cushion is Zazen, and so we sit each day ... the only place to be in that moment, the only action to do in all the universe just there ... letting thoughts go, Just Sitting.

    That being said, rising from the cushion, ALL of LIFE is Zazen in its wider meaning ... riding on the bus, going to the doctor or to the office, making dinner, changing a baby diaper or a flat tire. Nothing is omitted.

    What I find is that, out in the world with places to go and people to see, things to worry about happening tomorrow, things to regret about yesterday, sick days and healthy days, that which we love or hate or fear or feel neutral about ...

    ... we can simultaneously experience (like two sides of a no sided coin) a life of Shikantaza, with no place in need of going, no tomorrow or yesterday, flowing beyond and right through "sickness and health", a certain Wholeness and Peace holding both that which we love and that which we do not ... No Fear.

    ... such that we go without going through Life, all shining through at once. Shikantaza - Living as humans in a complex world, yet also experiencing the world with a Buddha's Eyes. (Maybe, for example, next time you feel anxiety, you can also let some of that go, see through it ... when our over active mind floods us with thoughts, we can let thoughts go ... to that way of being in which there is no anxiety or overthinking possible).

    Learning to live such way is Zazen that holds all of Life. It is a wonderful way to live and be.

    So, sitting on the cushion ... then rising from the cushion and encountering the "whole catastrophe" of life, we put that into Practice.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - this may help too ... Jundo's "Patented" Insta-Zazen!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XX%29
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-22-2013 at 02:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Hey Justin,

    My brain has always been very active. I didn't realize how much so until I started Shikantaza. WhenI first started practicing, I did the counting breath thing. Still do when my mind is particularly active. After I sat a few times, all the background clutter faded away. Still hasn't returned actually. Just the ever present inner monologue and even that is beginning to quiet as I sit more. Anyway, I could give a few different ways to calm the mind and "just sit." But Jundo could help you more than I can. Here's the link to a video from the TALKS FOR NEW FOLKS thread, I would suggest checking them all out. http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...rs-(Part-VIII)

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4
    thank you for the reply, jundo. that's funny that you mentioned "experiencing the world with a buddhas eyes", as I was just outside watching the desert sunset practicing doing exactly that, which lead to a deep peace and reverence. I picked that up from a TNH quote just now and thought id give it a go. ive never read much of him but im thinking now I should pick up his books, in that I think that hes speaking to people like me, as far as I can grasp (at this moment in practice) what hes saying.

    and it does sound like a wonderful way to live and be..

    gassho,
    justin

  5. #5
    thanks, john. ive checked out a few of the videos, and im sure all the questions I ask can be found in them, just don't know which ones. ive also noticed that the background noise lessens, sometimes, and sometimes almost entire days with little background noise. thanks for link, im checking it out now, trying not to "fight the clouds"!

    gassho,
    justin

  6. #6
    When you can see the grey urban landscape or the pile of tax papers on your desk or the desert sunset or the doctor's examination table or a child's smile or the ugly news on the TV all with the same equanimity, peace and reverence ... well, then that's getting somewhere! Shikantaza.

    I posted this PS to what I wrote above, want to make sure you catch it ... Jundo's "Patented" Insta-Zazen!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XX%29
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    wow, this is awesome. thanks again. working with the sky/clouds analogy, letting thoughts come and go, putting focus on the mudra, etc. are all things Im a little familiar with and think I can work with here. I think ive been doing.. other things..

    gassho,
    justin

  8. #8
    Insta-Zazen! hah nice. I think that might be what we were talking about with the dentist chair/laser tattoo removal stuff not long ago. aside from my 1 or 2 longer sittings a day, I always try to get a bunch of "mini shinkatazas" in through out the day as well, even if they are for a minute or much less.
    gassho
    justin

  9. #9
    This is something I have struggled with too, Justin, as one of the symptoms of my illness is adrenal dysfunction which can often mean a whizzing mind like being constantly caffeinated.

    One thing I am finding helpful at the moment is Dogen's idea of Being Time (Uji). Thinking of being time itself helps me to drop into the present moment. I may be misunderstanding his meaning but it seems very like instead of 'going with the flow' to be the flow itself.

    The way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world. See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
    Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. The way-seeking mind arises in this moment. A way-seeking moment arises in this mind. It is the same with practice and with attaining the way. Thus the self setting itself out in array sees itself. This is the understanding that the self is time.



    I also have a 'mindfulness bell' installed on my phone which goes off randomly through the day. This just allows me to pause, take three breaths and re-centre. If I notice myself completely disconnected from the present moment during the day I also breathe a few times and focus on the hara. Of course we are always in the present but our thoughts can be all over the place.

    Gassho
    Andy

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    One thing I am finding helpful at the moment is Dogen's idea of Being Time (Uji). Thinking of being time itself helps me to drop into the present moment.
    Karasu,

    That's preeeetty mind blowing actually, and it makes complete sense. I get the same taste from it as you, that we are the flowing.

    I also have a 'mindfulness bell' installed on my phone which goes off randomly through the day.
    That's a great idea! I think my phone only has the standard alarm clock. I wonder if there are other ways oneself can get a hint that we are out of the present? I tend to catch myself these days when I'm performing an action. Especially pouring things for some reason. Making tea has become a whole new experience now.

    Gassho,
    John

  11. #11
    I wonder if there are other ways oneself can get a hint that we are out of the present? I tend to catch myself these days when I'm performing an action. Especially pouring things for some reason. Making tea has become a whole new experience now.
    That is great, John. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we use certain daily cues to bring ourself back to the moment at hand such as the telephone ringing, car horns and such like. it seems like pouring works for you!

    As Jundo would doubtless say, we are always in the present moment but I guess we can be thinking about something different which is the point of bringing attention back to now and letting mind and body fall away.


    Gassho
    Andy

  12. #12
    Thanks Jundo,

    Great stuff here again! Insta Zazen! Works very well for me! Lost time turned into practice opportunity, beautiful. You again show how to have zen on your mind all the time and not only on the zafu? Not theoretical but practical. Really living it!

    A word of advice for the overactive minds (like me): As we know body and mind are not two. Try doing some physical work when thoughts you can’t shake off bother you. Find something you would consider boring and then do it with your full attention as slowly as possible! Take the focus from the inside to the reality of the outside world. A dirty toilet needs no explanation, identification or reasoning. Never mind Buddha or no Buddha, coins, mouths or whatever things that may or may not be two sided. No Dogen, Hui Neng or even Jundo and Taigu! It all won’t get any cleaner by thinking, so let's get busy with a zen attitude! No mind, just doing only that. Really get sweating and then sit zazen. Works for me anyway!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    One thing I am finding helpful at the moment is Dogen's idea of Being Time (Uji)
    wow!


    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    A word of advice for the overactive minds (like me): As we know body and mind are not two. Try doing some physical work when thoughts you can’t shake off bother you. Find something you would consider boring and then do it with your full attention as slowly as possible! Take the focus from the inside to the reality of the outside world. A dirty toilet needs no explanation, identification or reasoning. Never mind Buddha or no Buddha, coins, mouths or whatever things that may or may not be two sided. No Dogen, Hui Neng or even Jundo and Taigu! It all won’t get any cleaner by thinking, so let's get busy with a zen attitude! No mind, just doing only that. Really get sweating and then sit zazen. Works for me anyway!
    this makes a lot of sense. ive been pretty inactive lately, partly circumstance, but shouldn't be an excuse. inactivity breeds inactivity which breeds more active mind.

    gassho
    justin

  14. #14
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    That is great, John. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we use certain daily cues to bring ourself back to the moment at hand such as the telephone ringing, car horns and such like. it seems like pouring works for you!
    That's a great idea Andy! Cues that just let you stop, and be.

    Take the focus from the inside to the reality of the outside world. A dirty toilet needs no explanation, identification or reasoning.
    Enkyo, I wish I would have known this when I was a janitor at Wal-Mart a few years ago. There were many times that I became so frustrated, not because of the cleaning, but because of my mindset about the cleaning.

    Gassho,
    John

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by jlpendall View Post
    Enkyo, I wish I would have known this when I was a janitor at Wal-Mart a few years ago. There were many times that I became so frustrated, not because of the cleaning, but because of my mindset about the cleaning.

    Gassho,
    John
    This is so true. A "problem" or "disturbance" in life takes "two to tangle" ... an outside situation that "just is what it is", and you internally to impose a value judgment on it. The dirty toilet is just the toilet ... until you impose your inner value of "yuck" "I hate this" "I don't want to do this" on it. Even "clean and dirty" are, in a sense, ultimately human judgments imposed upon "just what is" (the toilet does not think of itself as "clean" or "dirty" or even "toilet", and only people do that!) ... and in Zen Practice, we often learn to clean the dirty while simultaneously dropping all thought of "clean vs. dirty".

    If you go to a Zen Temple in Japan for a Zazenkai, one of the most prized jobs during the work period is cleaning the toilets, because it is considered this excellent Practice of dropping all thought of "clean vs. dirty" even as we diligently clean what is dirty ... all at once. Then a funny thing happens ... and one can even come to taste a certain "Pristine Wholeness" whereby, even the filth is a jewel in its own way! Even a filthy toilet suddenly seems like a Sacred Altar!

    Now that being said ... my wife Mina often reminds me that I talk a good game! She sometimes says, "Hey Zen Guy, you tell folks all about how wonderful it is to clean the toilets, and you run to clean the toilet at Sesshin, so why can't I get you to take that job around our house more? And why don't you remember to put the seat down?"

    So, I am just a big hypocrite.

    Here is a nice little blog entry I found on cleaning toilets at a Zen temple.

    http://miahansson.com/cleaning-the-toilet/

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-23-2013 at 03:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    If you go to a Zen Temple in Japan for a Zazenkai, one of the most prized jobs during the work period is cleaning the toilets, because it is considered this excellent Practice of dropping all thought of "clean vs. dirty" even as we diligently clean what is dirty ... all at once. Then a funny thing happens ... and one can even come to taste a certain "Pristine Wholeness" whereby, even the filth is a jewe
    hah, a few years ago I was doing zen without really knowing it, while doing community service at a homeless shelter. most disguisting bathrooms there. but id clean them every morning. just dropping thought and staying focused on the job at hand. id even tell my buddy I enjoyed doing it, he thought I was nuts..

    jundo, when you clean toilet around your house, just clean toilet around your house..
    gassho,
    justin

  17. #17
    Thank's Jundo,

    My point exactly! The toilet or the floor are not dirty, the mind is dirty! So let's clean it!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Just don't forget to wash your hands after ...
    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.

  19. #19

  20. #20
    Ahhh the toilet ... My second zafu.

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    One other hot tip:

    As when one sings the "Star Spangled Banner" and automatically thinks to oneself, "Play Ball!"
    When saying the Toilet Gatha, silently add, "Put the seat down!"
    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.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Ahhh the toilet ... My second zafu.


    Gives the expression "Let's sit with that" a new flavor somehow.
    And no, please don't add a consonant here...

    Cheers,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post


    Gives the expression "Let's sit with that" a new flavor somehow.
    And no, please don't add a consonant here...

    Cheers,

    Timo
    Nice one ... yes, one of those practices where no explanation is required.



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

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