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Thread: SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: gratitude & Great Gratitude

  1. #1

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: gratitude & Great Gratitude

    This "Buddha quote", however nice it sounds, is not something the Buddha likely said at all (turns out to be from the cheery 70's writer on love, Leo Buscaglia). Oh, the Buddha certainly taught us to be grateful for this precious life, but also to be Grateful (Big "G") in a way that puts down the balance sheet and any need even to hunt for the "silver lining".

    What is the difference between gratitude and Great Gratitude seen in a Buddha's Eye?

    Daido Loori once recommended this elegant, simple practice on daily gratitude. I will second the recommendation:

    Expressing gratitude is transformative, just as transformative as expressing complaint. Imagine an experiment involving two people. One is asked to spend ten minutes each morning and evening expressing gratitude (there is always something to be grateful for), while the other is asked to spend the same amount of time practicing complaining (there is, after all, always something to complain about). One of the subjects is saying things like, "I hate my job. I can't stand this apartment. Why can't I make enough money? My spouse doesn't get along with me. That dog next door never stops barking and I just can't stand this neighborhood." The other is saying things like, "I'm really grateful for the opportunity to work; there are so many people these days who can't even find a job. And I'm sure grateful for my health. What a gorgeous day; I really like this fall breeze." They do this experiment for a year. Guaranteed, at the end of that year the person practicing complaining will have deeply reaffirmed all his negative "stuff" rather than having let it go, while the one practicing gratitude will be a very grateful person. . . Expressing gratitude can, indeed, change our way of seeing ourselves and the world.
    This is a lovely, transformative practice. Yet, Daido would also remind us, there is a greater, transcendent, boundless Gratitude in the Buddha's Teachings that does not even need the subtle "see the bright side" "find the positive to counter the negative" or "personal pay-off of what's ultimately nice for 'me'" in the above sense of ordinary gratitude. Rather, there's an even Greater "Non-Pay-off" than that! A Jewel so precious, it shines as both earthly jewels and life's thrown bricks and stones in our shoe.

    Ordinary human gratitude is what we are encouraged to feel in the above exercise, and it is fine. In fact, it is wise, healthy and important. Yet there is a "Buddha's Gratitude" which is not dependent on what we "like" that momentarily pleases the selfish-self, that is not based simply on "looking out for the good side" or experiencing the "gorgeous" day. This Emptiness that is all Fullness -is- both the glass "half full" and "half empty!"

    A Buddha's Gratitude is Vast and Unlimited ... a Gratitude both for that which we love and that which we may not, a Treasure beyond yet holding mere "silver linings" "brass rings" and "lumps of coal". It is a Peace and Wholeness which transcends "pro vs. con", a Beauty which sees even the ugly times as "gorgeous day". We are grateful for life, for death, for health, for sickness .. each and all as Sacred. It is a Gratitude in the face of a cancer diagnosis, Gratitude that dances all disappointments, a Gratitude which comfortably holds even the tragedy of Syria or any other bloody field (a Gratitude that is Grateful, even as we seek to stop such tragedies in the world).

    This last point is vital too, for while such is a Gratitude ever Grateful for this world of both peace and war, health and disease, nonetheless we may seek for peace, fight the disease. While Grateful for this garden of both flowers and weeds, each a Jewel in Indra's Net, we may seek to water the flowers and pluck the weeds we can.

    Yes, it is a lovely Practice to not complain, and to learn to see the "bright side" of life's ups and downs. But I also recommend to sit Zazen, sit as Gratitude sitting, sit as this Light which holds light and dark and all shades in between.

    Yes, please practice daily the expressing of gratitude, and complain less and see the "negatives" less. Simultaneously, please let us work to make this world nicer, more peaceful, to end the wars, feed the hungry, nurse the sick. Yet let us also Sit a Buddha's Gratitude for ALL OF IT.



    Last edited by Jundo; 09-01-2013 at 12:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Beautiful. This is a practice that is very important for me. Gratitude for all things in the fabric of life, including the tears and frayed edges!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Treeleaf Sangha Shuso Ango Head October 2014
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  3. #3
    Thank you Jundo ... I too think this is a very valuable practice. Sometimes life gets too busy and one can loose sight of all those wonderful things to be thankful for.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo
    Sitting really is helping me to understand this.

    I shall resist the temptation to play this for my family at Thanksgiving.

    Gassho
    C

  5. #5
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Thank you.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  6. #6
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    So beautiful and concise! I feel as though I always want and want, gratitude is something I am working on realizing.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo.

    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.

  8. #8
    Today, I would have to say that I am grateful for this moment, this moment has brought my family together, if only for this moment, after 28 years ... my mom, brother, and uncle sat, laughed, and created a lasting memory.

    I am thankful!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Today, I would have to say that I am grateful for this moment, this moment has brought my family together, if only for this moment, after 28 years ... my mom, brother, and uncle sat, laughed, and created a lasting memory.

    I am thankful!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    Lovely!
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    I am grateful that I have achieved some degree of equanimity to accept all aspects of life - the good and the not good. Acceptance of the life force itself. A work in progress but I see some light at the end of the tunnel.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo.
    Gassho
    Matt

  12. #12
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.

    Please excuse a paraphrase: "(We) have no cause for anything but Gratitude and Joy." - B


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  13. #13
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo. This was indeed an meaningful talk.
    Gassho

    Richard

  14. #14
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Thank you, Jundo.

    It's nice to make a list of all the things we can feel grateful for in a moment, even if just in your head.
    迎 Geika

  15. #15
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Out of the anesthetized life that we usually live...with joyful eyes ... eyes of a child ... an amazed eye and grateful to learn.

    Gassho.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Thank you for this, Jundo. Recently, I have been doing a short, daily gratitude journal. Which, yes, is helpful. Your commentary, though, has helped put this in perspective.

    We are grateful for life, for death, for health, for sickness .. each and all as Sacred.
    Deep bows, Matt J

  17. #17
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    thank you teacher

    sent from Tapatalk 2
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  18. #18
    Thank you.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  19. #19
    Many thanks, Jundo!

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  20. #20
    Thank you Jundo,
    being the master of rejection I'm at least very grateful for tis teaching,
    Gassho
    Myoku

  21. #21
    "When we sit shikantaza, we are this gratitude."

    Thank you for this talk and for the above in particular.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  22. #22
    That is an important and difficult (to practice) distinction. Thank you, Jundo.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  23. #23
    There is a beautiful subtlety, a powerful subtlety, in this Jundo. Thank you for the heart-honesty with which you have offered it.

    Sean

  24. #24
    Thank you Jundo. It is always important to be reminded of this.

    Gassho

    Simon

  25. #25

  26. #26
    Bows,

    Thank you Jundo for this wonderful piece, as always your words are a gift to be grateful for.

    However; and pardon my Begginer's Mind here, I must ask: how does one do this? I've tried to experience this Gratitude, but I find my inner voice constantly seeking something to compare it too, something positive to cling to. Even in things (your Syria example, for instance) that have no room for positivity (although much room for optimism) when trying to look with these Grateful eyes, I still find myself thinking, "Well, I could be grateful that it can eventually get better."

    I still find that silver lining, and I somehow always do, my mind speaks it with little to no effort on my part. How can I practice being Grateful without the need for a silver lining when I always, always seem to find one?

    Gassho,
    Dylan

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Dylan View Post
    However; and pardon my Begginer's Mind here, I must ask: how does one do this? I've tried to experience this Gratitude, but I find my inner voice constantly seeking something to compare it too, something positive to cling to. Even in things (your Syria example, for instance) that have no room for positivity (although much room for optimism) when trying to look with these Grateful eyes, I still find myself thinking, "Well, I could be grateful that it can eventually get better."
    Ah, in Shikantaza we let go of the "I" trying to "do this", we quiet the "inner voice" that is "seeking" something, put away all comparisons and measures of "positive" vs. "negative". We sit, finding the clear, boundless mirror that reflects and holds all events of this life and world without resistance or judgement.

    Then, somehow, what presents itself is not some cheap "silver lining" ... not some simple optimism or searching for the bright side. Rather, there is found a certain Wholeness, Completeness, Light (All Caps) that sweeps in and enlightens all the worlds broken shards, incompleteness, dark and light. One may say that there is a Silver that is hidden even amid the world's ugly tarnish (and no polishing ever was needed, even as we polish nonetheless ... a world in which we try to polish away greed, anger and division, and end all wars ... yet nothing to polish too ). My Teacher, Nishijima, used to call Buddhism a kind of Optimistic philosophy ... but a special kind of "Optimism" and "Postive" (Caps) which simultaneously is and shines as both our ordinary human optimism and pessimism, positive or negative.

    Just Sit ... allowing the Clear, Boundless, Open Mind to Shine ... and find out what transcends and holds this sometimes ugly world.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I had to recall this "bright side" ...



    It is not this Monty Python bright side, but rather the "Bright Side" that holds light and dark. Understand? Maybe the real Jesus did.
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-25-2014 at 01:45 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    Deep bows,
    Thank you Jundo, I will allow myself to ponder this as I allow understanding to come.

    I think it's becoming clearer. ^^;

    Gassho,
    Dylan

  29. #29
    I have a question about this (and maybe compassion) : why be grateful, why be compassionate, on the relative level ? Because well, grateful or not, we are still part of the same stuff, wether we want it or not.

    I don't really understand why acting kindly is better than acting like a jerk, from the buddhist's philosophy point of view.

    My idea is that it is because, well, since all the life we get to live is a representation, based on some absolute rules, we'd better work on making that representation a cool place to live in ; and buddha discovered that, due to the cause/effect relation, doing certain things in this world results in certain effects. Killing leads to suffering, for example. But is this precept based on absolute compassion, or relative compassion ? Are they the same in the end ? I wonder, because relative compassion is just based on "good feelings", which are as empty as anything else... So, should it be trusted as good just because it feels good ? I mean, the guy that crashed a plane in the twin towers, killing hundreds, certainly felt he was doing something good. So, on what should relative compassion be based ?

    What i have trouble understanding is the link between the absolute compassion, which is, the feeling that every single thing in life is sacred, and the relative compassion, which means to be nice to your neighbour.

    Thanks in advance !

    Ugrok
    Last edited by Ugrok; 09-20-2014 at 11:58 AM.

  30. #30
    Ugrok,

    Grab your own nose and twist it and see if that pain is real. Is it absolute, relative pain or both at once? 😄

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

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    I have a question about this (and maybe compassion) : why be grateful, why be compassionate, on the relative level ? Because well, grateful or not, we are still part of the same stuff, wether we want it or not.

    I don't really understand why acting kindly is better than acting like a jerk, from the buddhist's philosophy point of view.
    Hello Ugrok,

    My answer is too simple perhaps.

    I believe we should act with relative compassion because it helps make a better world, town and family when we act toward others with compassion. Acting with compassion helps free our own heart too.

    When we are driven by excess selfishness and desire, anger, jealousy, uncaring or divisive thinking, the world becomes that much more filled with ugliness and our own heart tends to grow cold and to become chained by that desire and hate. Compassion leave our heart warm and open, better able to see the Dharma.

    Yes, we act with compassion because we are all connected in this world, all are one. We are connected and share this world, all as one, both in some absolute and relative view.

    That is my too simple answer.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-20-2014 at 09:07 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hello Ugrok,

    My answer is too simple perhaps.

    I believe we should act with relative compassion because it helps make a better world, town and family when we act toward others with compassion. Acting with compassion helps free our own heart too.
    Hello and thanks for the answer.

    But how do we know if we are really acting with compassion, from a buddhist point of view ? Since it is said in buddhism that everything we feel or see or anything is just a representation of some sort, then it means that nothing can guarantee that we act with compassion, even our strongest feeling ! So in the end, we can only act with our own, personal, conditional values ; just like a kamikaze who runs a plane in a tower, thinking and being conditioned to feel that it is the best thing he can do for the world.

    On what do the precepts stand ? Who says "don't steal", on what truth is it based ?

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    PS : an answer, maybe (tell me if i'm wrong) : this is maybe why dropping beliefs of all sorts is important. With zazen practice, you lose the attachment to beliefs. So you are in a state where your actions are most likely to be in adequation with the "world as it is" (whatever it is). So maybe the question is not "why do this or that" ; it's just that when you practice being without beliefs, then you naturally don't do certain things. (?)
    Last edited by Ugrok; 09-21-2014 at 02:59 PM.

  33. #33
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Personally, this helps:

    When the mind's as is, circumstances also
    are as is;
    There's no real and also no unreal.
    Giving no heed to existence,
    and holding not to non-existence -
    You're neither saint nor sage, just
    An ordinary man who has settled his affairs.

    LaymanP'ang


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Hello and thanks for the answer.

    But how do we know if we are really acting with compassion, from a buddhist point of view ?
    Yes, I feel that you are overthinking this from the point of Zen Practice. Our Three Pure Precepts (which we are reflecting on this week for Jukai) are too simple. In one formulation, they say ...

    Seek to cease to do harm.

    Seek to do only good.

    Seek to do good for others.


    What is harm. what is good, what is good for others? Hard to say in any one case, and so often things are very ambiguous, with a mix of good and bad.
    However, the violence and killing of crashing a plane intentionally is not good because of the intentional taking of life through anger and divisive thinking. It might be someone's political protest, but there are better and gentler ways to do so (as Gandhi and MLK taught).

    What is good, what is evil? No hard and fast rules, so generally we follow our hearts and the examples set in Dharma stories and the like.

    My too simple answer.

    Now, please sit, dropping all measurement of good and evil, all the philosophical analysis (there is a time and place for that in life, but not in Zen Practice) ...

    Then, rising up from the Zafu, please try to do good and to fight evil. All is Zazen.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #36
    Thank you !

    Edit : i found a great article on the apparent contradiction between detachment and compassion : http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...ris/bl141.html
    Last edited by Ugrok; 09-21-2014 at 10:27 PM.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Edit : i found a great article on the apparent contradiction between detachment and compassion : http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...ris/bl141.html
    Perhaps more than "detachment", the Mahayana of later Buddhism came to emphasize "non-attachment" ... a kind of attachment without being imprisoned, and attachment and freedom from attachment at once!

    I sometimes write this ...

    I would say that our practice is about "non-attachment", not "detachment". We need not be "cold" toward life or people. I might give as an example our loving deeply those we are with when with them, crying when they leave us ... yet simultaneously being open and allowing of the change, also content to let go. Perhaps it is the way we deeply embrace an experience when happening, but moving on and not clinging to it when it is over. We savor our ideas and feelings, but don't become their prisoner.

    I would also say that we feel Compassion toward all sentient beings, perhaps "love" the human race and all sentient beings. We love all equally. However, I would not say that there is call to love each and every person we encounter equally. This is not a contradiction although it may sound like one.
    One can experience human emotions richly, fully present and savoring life but without getting caught in excess and clinging ... all while simultaneously encountering the freedom of the Buddha Realm beyond and right through all thoughts and emotions. For example, we can love and be fully there with and for those we love, able to grieve when we lose them too ... all while not falling into the excesses of clinging and sorrow ... all while encountering a certain realm of Love and Togetherness in which all questions of "two people" and gain or loss and grief are dropped away.

    Again, do not philosophize overly about such things, but come to experience and put them into Practice!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-22-2014 at 12:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    Thank you jundo ! I do my best to practice, and sometimes this brings questions of course...

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