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Thread: A question that has been irreconcilable for years....

  1. #1

    A question that has been irreconcilable for years....

    Hello everyone,

    Just joined and this is my first post, I am hoping I can get some clarity on a 'thorn in my side' that I have been unable to remove for over two decades....no pressure then eh?

    A long time Buddhist (not relevant) I have, like many others been through the various traditions before coming to settle (or so I think) in a Shikantaza/Silent Illumination practice.

    What I have found over the years is that my practice has a taste. If 'Zen' it tastes of Japan and Japanese culture....it would often affect what I eat and what music I listen to. If I practice Vipassana it would taste of all things Thai.....Hwadu, Korean etc....etc....

    the problem is that despite being able to be relatively strong willed and disciplined, if when practicing say Shikantaza for several months we had a really hot day ( a rarity here in the UK) it would remind me of my last trip to Thailand and KABOOM!...before you can say "shit there I go again..." I am irresistibly drawn into reading the Suttas rather than Dogen and my practice would shift into Anapanasati. At these times the utter legitimacy of my new found nest is beyond question and I shudder to think of why I didn't remain in that practice in the past.

    Then, (yep you guessed it) I might hear a Shakuhachi playing on a film and KABOOM! <again>....away I go into Zen(land).

    ...I read something extolling the practice of Hwadu....KABOOOM!

    KABOOM...!
    KABOOM...!
    KABOOM...!
    KABOOM...!

    This can often happen several times a day too...it never inhibits me from my practice but it often infects it with a questioning and weighing up of the virtues of each method.

    Has anyone else experienced this or am I just a stupid grasping fool!

    Thanks in advance, I am glad to be 'in here'....feels good!



    Tony...

  2. #2
    Hello Tony,

    nice to meet you this way (btw. a pic would be nice).

    I know exactly what you mean, my two cents simply are that one of these days one has to drill deep, instead of changing drilling spots all the while. Once you've really "found" yourself in a practise, it'll all just be your life anyway, no matter what texture or taste a new experience might have. The question is (or rather one question), can you afford to play around indefinitely?

    Only you can do it, and only doing it will get it done.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  3. #3
    Zen or Buddhism is not a matter of place, food, music, clothing or the like. Don't confuse local wrappings with the Heart of the Matter. To feel so is kind of a hang-up in one's mind, nothing more.

    One does not need to eat Tofu, watch Kurosawa movies and sit on a Tatami Mat to practice Zen from a Japanese Tradition.

    There are many good Paths, suited to different feet. Find the one suited to you, and STICK WITH SO.

    One can still Practice Japanese Zen while eating Italian Ravioli and dancing Cuban Salsa.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello Tony,

    nice to meet you this way (btw. a pic would be nice).
    Ah, just managed to upload a pic of my mug!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    We're not expected to learn Salsa are we? I'm struggling enough with the sewing right now.

    Gassho,

    Chuck

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zen or Buddhism is not a matter of place, food, music, clothing or the like. Don't confuse local wrappings with the Heart of the Matter. To feel so is kind of a hang-up in one's mind, nothing more.

    One does not need to eat Tofu, watch Kurosawa movies and sit on a Tatami Mat to practice Zen from a Japanese Tradition.

    There are many good Paths, suited to different feet. Find the one suited to you, and STICK WITH SO.

    One can still Practice Japanese Zen while eating Italian Ravioli and dancing Cuban Salsa.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Thanks Jundo,

    What is going on there though? Is it nothing more than a grasping mind?

    Tony...
    Last edited by dharmasponge; 10-09-2013 at 03:20 PM.

  7. #7
    Hmm....slightly off topic, but I really fancy some Ravioli now....

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Thanks Jundo,

    What is going on there though? Is it nothing more than a grasping mind?

    Tony...
    Hi Tony,

    Well, I am not sure.

    Why don't you see if you can Practice for awhile sitting Zazen while dropping all the thoughts of music and food cultural associations. When one comes, see if you can just not grab on.

    Let us know what happens.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Hi Tony,

    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    What is going on there though? Is it nothing more than a grasping mind?
    I guess you still have not found a practice where you really, really feel totally at home with.
    Perhaps you need more time to make a nest snug? (to use your imagery)
    So I'd suggest to stay longer with a certain practice - even if you feel drawn to another one after a few weeks/months - and see what happens if you stubbornly stay with it.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  10. #10
    Hi Tony

    I have been through more than my fair share of Buddhist paths. It is true that certain practices are attached to certain cultural traditions and liturgy in different languages but a lot of that is just packaging. I switched from Tibetan Buddhism to Zen early this year and it took a wee while not to feel I should be reciting the mahamdura prayer at the beginning of each sit but that passed pretty quickly. The important thing is the practice rather than the trappings. I still have some Tibetan images around and like a decent momo now and again but that is different to practice. Stick with one practice for a while and, like Timo points to, it soon feels natural.

    If a thought comes up to do anapanasati is it any different to a thought of wanting to eat toast based on smelling someone cooking breakfast? It may be related to practice but its just a thought. Why treat it any differently to any other thought? If you start counting the breath, once you notice just go back to just sitting.

    As regards weighing up each method, I have done this too. In economics it is known as 'opportunity cost' or, in other words 'what am I missing out on by doing what I am doing?'. Again, this is just thinking. if you have resolved to practice one method for a certain amount of time (and I would set this as an intention) then just remind yourself of this and go back to sitting. Everything else is the mind moving. As someone who has done many Buddhist practices, almost all of them come down to the same thing in the end - sitting with all things. As one wise person once said: The great way is not difficult - just avoid picking and choosing.

    Gassho
    Andy

  11. #11
    Hi Tony,

    When you sit, many (or none) thoughts may arise. And when you leave the zafu, many (or none) thoughts may arise. You either let them float by, or you attach to them. The responses above are all wonderful.

    _/\_
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  12. #12
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    I think there might be a tendency, especially from a Western mindset, to somehow indulge a little bit in the mindset that when we study, in this case, Zen with a Japanese flavor, that there is something exotic, mystical or adventuresome about it. It is like doing a travel trip of spirituality in which you experience Thai, Japanese, Zen, Tibetan styles. It becomes like an Epcot version of Buddhism, each little section with it's own giftshop, cuisine and sights to be seen. To me, the extent to which we do this misses the point. I think it becomes more of an exercise of looking without, rather than using the practice to look within. I really like Timo's suggestion of practicing one style for a longer period of time to see where it leads you.

    Maybe you could try doing Zazen while eating some Sheppard's Pie. I personally don't feel the personal practice of Zen, needs to be any more Japanese than the pracrice of Catholicism means you are a citizen of ancient Rome.

    Gassho C

    PS Welcome to Treeleaf it is nice to see you here.
    Last edited by Clark; 10-09-2013 at 05:00 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    All practices are beautiful. The true yard stick though is whether what you practice helps you to "stop all evil, practice good, save all sentient beings".

    Trungpa Rinpoche's "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism" comes to mind - maybe this can offer a helpful perspective. If not, please don't consider it a judgement of your practice in any way.

    Gassho,
    Nindo

    It does not matter what we use to achieve
    self-justification: the wisdom of sacred books, diagrams or charts,
    mathematical calculations, esoteric formulae, fundamentalists
    religion, depth psychology, or any other mechanism. Whenever we
    begin to evaluate, deciding that we should or should not do this or
    that, then we have already associated our practice or our knowledge
    with categories, one pitted against the other, and that is spiritual
    materialism, the false spirituality of our spiritual advisor.
    Whenever we a have a dualistic notion such as, "I am doing this
    because I want to achieve a particular state of consciousness, a
    particular state of being," the automatically we separate ourselves
    from the reality of what we are.

    If we ask ourselves, "What is wrong with evaluating, with
    taking sides?", the answer is that, when we formulate a secondary
    judgment, "I should be doing this and should avoid doing that," then
    we have achieved a level of complication which takes us a long way
    from the basic simplicity of what we are. The simplicity of
    meditation means just experiencing the ape instinct of ego. If
    anything more than this is laid onto our psychology, then it becomes
    a very heavy, thick mask, a suit of armor.

    It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual
    practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means
    stepping out of ego's constant desire for a higher, more spiritual,
    more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue,
    judgment, comfort or whatever it is that a particular ego is
    seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not
    step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then
    we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of
    spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very
    precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western
    philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga or perhaps studied
    under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have
    learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge.
    And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to
    give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen?
    Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of
    knowledge and experience are just part of ego's display, part of the
    grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so
    doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as
    "spiritual" people.

    But we have simply created a shop, an antique shop. We
    could be specializing in oriental antiques or medieval Christian
    antiques or antiques from some other civilization or time, but we
    are, nonetheless, running a shop. Before we filled our shop with so
    many things the room was beautiful: whitewashed walls and a very
    simple floor with a bright lamp burning in the ceiling. There was
    one object of art in the middle of the room and it was beautiful.
    Everyone who came appreciated its beauty, including ourselves.

    But we were not satisfied and we thought, "Since this one
    object makes my room so beautiful, if I get more antiques, my room
    will be even more beautiful." So we began to collect, and the end
    result was chaos.

    We searched the world over for beautiful objects - India,
    Japan, many different countries. And each time we found an antique,
    because we were dealing with only one object at a time, we saw it as
    beautiful and thought it would be beautiful in our shop. But when
    we brought the object home and put it there, it became just another
    addition to our junky collection. The beauty of the object did not
    radiate out any more, because it was surrounded by so many other
    beautiful things. It did not mean anything anymore. Instead of a
    room full of beautiful antiques we created a junk shop!

    Proper shopping does not entail collecting a lot of
    information or beauty, but it involves fully appreciating each
    individual object. This is very important. If you really
    appreciate an object of beauty, then you completely identify with it
    and forget yourself. It is like seeing a very interesting,
    fascinating movie and forgetting that you are the audience. At that
    moment there is no world; your whole being is that scene of that
    movie. It is that kind of identification, complete involvement with
    one thing. Did we actually taste it and chew it and swallow it
    properly, that one object of beauty, that one spiritual teaching?
    Or did we merely regard it as a part of our vast and growing
    collection?

    I place so much emphasis on this point because I know that
    all of us have come to the teachings and practice of meditation not
    to make a lot of money, but because we genuinely want to learn, want
    to develop ourselves. But if we regard knowledge as an antique, as
    "ancient wisdom" to be collected, then we are on the wrong path.

  14. #14
    Thanks for that post Andy.

    I am going through something similar. When I initially started "just sitting" alone didn't seem enough. I used to start with "just sitting" but not satisfied would move to anapanasati and then to counting breaths and then to just sitting and on and on. This used to happen within the same sitting many times.

    After few months of sitting, the issue seemed to subside and I was able to stick and be with one practice - just sitting. But again since the past few days I am seeing those initial tendencies seemed to return. I didn't actually switch practices yet but my mind seems to be strongly urging me to. Now I feel the best solution for this is not to even talk about it. dont even make this post that i am making now. just give it some time and let it pass. however long it takes to pass.

    I think this loss of faith happens mainly with shikantaza as we do nothing. I have a feeling though that in the long run we get adept at dealing with this loss in trust.

    one mistake i did when moving from other practices into zen is not coming in with a fresh mind. In those other practices following forms (bowing, zendo manners etc) was not that important and I assumed by default that it doesn't really matter. In those methods enlightenment was the goal and when zen teachers and senior students kept telling me there is no goal or gaining idea i thought that was just philosophy and not important. i would advise anyone starting in zen especially from other practices to be aware of these tendencies.

    gassho, sam

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Hi Tony,

    Just a technical issue: You uploaded a picture to your profile, but that's not the same as an avatar that shows on your posts. However, you can use the same picture if you want.

    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.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post

    I think this loss of faith happens mainly with shikantaza as we do nothing. I... In those methods enlightenment was the goal and when zen teachers and senior students kept telling me there is no goal or gaining idea i thought that was just philosophy and not important
    Just a point of expression, Sam (and I know you know this, but newcomers may misunderstand).

    We radically sit "without goal or seeking", but that does not mean we are just sitting, twiddling our thumbs, doing "nothing". In fact, one sits as a Sacred and Complete action, as the one and only place to be and action to act in the moment.

    And though we do not seek, that does not mean one will not thus find ... Enlightenment. One might say that we "seek" by radically not seeking such which can only be found by giving up the hunt.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Sam,

    I think that 'loss of faith' happens with all practices. Practice waxes and wanes, sometimes it fills us, sometimes less so. Switching practice is a bit like switching a car or partner when we get tired of them - it fixes the problem briefly but the same boredom occurs some time later. Some people go through life constantly acquiring new toys, others are able to recognise the patterns and let them run, the boredom eventually shifting into something else again.

    If we are looking for excitement, shikantaza is rarely going to provide it. That is one reason it is such a good laboratory for just being with things as they are. At times we will fall out of love with Zen, our teacher, our sangha. This is completely normal and after you have seen it a few times you just watch it with a familiar feeling of 'here we go again!'

    Also, what Jundo said :-)

    Gassho
    Andy

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Sam,

    I think that 'loss of faith' happens with all practices. Practice waxes and wanes, sometimes it fills us, sometimes less so. Switching practice is a bit like switching a car or partner when we get tired of them - it fixes the problem briefly but the same boredom occurs some time later. Some people go through life constantly acquiring new toys, others are able to recognise the patterns and let them run, the boredom eventually shifting into something else again.

    If we are looking for excitement, shikantaza is rarely going to provide it. That is one reason it is such a good laboratory for just being with things as they are. At times we will fall out of love with Zen, our teacher, our sangha. This is completely normal and after you have seen it a few times you just watch it with a familiar feeling of 'here we go again!'
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Thanks Andy - wise words



    Willow

  20. #20
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Welcome Tony

    I guess, I am speaking from experience here so take what I say and do whatever you would like with it. For me, I left my childhood religion behind (fundamental Christianity) and suddenly, there was this huge buffet of other things to experiment with. I was interested in Sufism, paganism, Universalism, even Wicca for awhile. Through this exploration, I always came back to Buddhism, although no clear path had been set yet. So, I had all this stuff coming at me, most of it very beautiful, but too much. Once I quieted my mind, my heart drew me to where, I feel, is where it belong all along--Zen. As for the culture aspect of the path you choose, I think that is bound to happen, but not the focus. I am a little ol' prairie girl from Canada, there's only so much Japanese culture that I can be exposed to here. I'd like to be somewhat more immersed in it, but that's not my focus. Zen, this practice, is not about culture, food etc. etc.


    Treena

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    I'm just here for the Buddha statues and all you can eat rice. I figure it's as good of a reason to pick a religion as any other.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  22. #22
    Me too. The gold colored ones are faved.

    Sent from my RM-860_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  23. #23
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    I'm just here for the Buddha statues and all you can eat rice. I figure it's as good of a reason to pick a religion as any other.


    LOL speaking of rice, I'm keeping my own rice intake to a minimum for weight loss. So I'm just here for the Buddha statues and the sake... er, I mean the tea.


    Rafael

  24. #24
    The subject of old Japanese or Chinese or Indian Rituals and Traditions comes up from time to time. Here is what I usually say ... I call the essay "Un-Turning Japanese" ...

    ======================================

    This practice is not limited to any place or time ... we drop all thought of place and time. It certainly is not Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French or American. But, of course, we live in place and time, so as Buddhism traveled over the centuries from India to China, Japan, Korea and other places, it naturally became very Indian/Chinese/Japanese/Korean etc.

    But what of the cultural trappings?

    Must we bow, ring bells, chant (in Japanese, no less), wear traditional robes, have Buddha Statues, burn incense? ... All that stuff besides Zazen. Are they necessary to our Practice?


    No, not at all!


    We don't need anything other than Zazen, any of those trappings. In fact, they are no big deal, of no importance, when we drop all viewpoints in sitting Zazen.

    On the other hand, we have to do something, to greet each other somehow, read some words, dress some way. Why not do such things? As I often say, for example, we have to do something with our hands when practicing walking Zazen ... why not hold them in Shashu (I mean, better than sticking 'em in your pockets)?

    As well, there are parts of our practice which we do BECAUSE we resist (for example, when visiting a temple for Retreat, I usually put my heart fully into ceremonies and arcane rituals BECAUSE I resist and think some of it silly or old fashioned). Ask yourself where that kind of resistance is to be found (here's a clue, and it is right behind your own eyes).

    What is more, there is method to the madness, and many (not all) customs have centuries of time tested benefits ... embody subtle perspectives ... that support and nurture Zazen Practice at the core. Many parts of our Practice, though "exotic", are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, rigid decorum in the Zen Hall and, yes, weird talks about Koans and arcane ceremonies all fit in that category. They may seem like unnecessary "Japanese" or "Esoteric" elements at first, until you understand the role they serve. I have given talks on all these things recently, for example ... the humility and wholeness of Bowing.

    Many aspects of tradition can be seen in new ways when the barriers of the mind are knocked down. Thus, for example, the Kesa, the Buddha's Robes ... though just cloth ... can be seen to cover and enfold the whole universe, laughter, cries of pain, old age, becoming and fading away ... life ...

    On the other hand again, it is okay to abandon or reject many practices. However, KNOW very well what you are rejecting before you reject it.

    Absorb what is useful and discard the rest. For example, I think Oryoki [formal meal ritual] is a great practice, and worth keeping.. Same for bowing.

    When tasted as such ... every action and gesture in this life is Sacred and Magical when experienced as such, from changing a baby diaper to cooking dinner to chanting the Heart Sutra. So, why not Chant as well as the rest?

    Some things I keep out of respect for TRADITION [the robes, the ways of doing some ceremonies]. It is important to keep ties to where we come from. Some things also have a special symbolic meaning if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu]

    But other stuff, no need to keep: For example, I usually avoid to chant in Japanese or Chinese [except once in awhile, out of respect for tradition]. Tatami mats and Paper screens have nothing to do with Zen practice particularly [but I happen to live in an old Japanese building, so ... well, tatami and paper screens!} Some things I think are just dumb (except symbolically), like the Kyosaku stick. Incense is great, until it was recently shown to cause cancer. Many beliefs of Buddhism are rather superstitious things that were picked up here and there. I abandon many of those.

    The outer wrap of Zen Buddhism is changing greatly as it moves West. The greater emphasis on lay practice over monastics, the greater democracy in what was a feudal institution (arising in societies where the teacher's word was law ... oh, those were the days! ), giving the boot to a lot of magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum, the equal place of women ... heck, the use of the internet to bring teachings that were once the preserve of an elite few into everyone's living room.Those are good and great changes to the outer wrapping (you can read about them in books like this one (author interview here: http://atheism.about.com/library/boo...olemanChat.htm). The coreless core, however, remains unchanged.

    Do not throw out the Baby Buddha with the bath water. Many completely "Japanese" practices which seem silly at first are worth keeping. ...

    ... other things, like some of the arcane incense, bell & drum filled rituals, take them or leave them.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Thank you Jundo for that post ... in setting it out in the manner that you did, help me see that dropping/throwing away somethings is not a bad thing. I also agree that times changes, so some parts of the practice change as well ... but I feel it important to show that respect to dedication and practice the traditional from time to time.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  26. #26
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    I agree with everything you posted here Jundo. I didn't mean to infer by my previous comment that time honored practices should not be used , tried and respected. Just that miso soup, tofu and sumu wrestling don't have to be added as well. Zazen in pajamas, blue jeans or robes can still work. For myself, as I happen to like Japanese culture, I too can see a need to separate decor from function.
    Gassho
    C

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Hi Tony

    I have been through more than my fair share of Buddhist paths. It is true that certain practices are attached to certain cultural traditions and liturgy in different languages but a lot of that is just packaging. I switched from Tibetan Buddhism to Zen early this year and it took a wee while not to feel I should be reciting the mahamdura prayer at the beginning of each sit but that passed pretty quickly. The important thing is the practice rather than the trappings. I still have some Tibetan images around and like a decent momo now and again but that is different to practice. Stick with one practice for a while and, like Timo points to, it soon feels natural.

    If a thought comes up to do anapanasati is it any different to a thought of wanting to eat toast based on smelling someone cooking breakfast? It may be related to practice but its just a thought. Why treat it any differently to any other thought? If you start counting the breath, once you notice just go back to just sitting.

    As regards weighing up each method, I have done this too. In economics it is known as 'opportunity cost' or, in other words 'what am I missing out on by doing what I am doing?'. Again, this is just thinking. if you have resolved to practice one method for a certain amount of time (and I would set this as an intention) then just remind yourself of this and go back to sitting. Everything else is the mind moving. As someone who has done many Buddhist practices, almost all of them come down to the same thing in the end - sitting with all things. As one wise person once said: The great way is not difficult - just avoid picking and choosing.

    Gassho
    Andy

    Thanks Andy....some great advice!

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    I'm just here for the Buddha statues and all you can eat rice. I figure it's as good of a reason to pick a religion as any other.
    Yay...!!!

  29. #29
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi, I'm new here too, and haven't really introduced myself yet, but I just couldn't help but reply to this thread.

    I personally think that switching practices around is not too much of a bad idea. There are many different styles, many different ways of practice, and really, sometimes you just feel like doing one over the other. That's totally fine and totally human, imo. We're not trying to be extremists. In fact, I think if you sit when your mind and body really don't want to and refuse with a force of a thousand typhoons or something and continue forcing yourself to do so, you're going to develop a rigid and hot-tempered disposition.

    Mixing and matching can be beneficial. Culturally being attracted to an idea may in fact be a good thing when it draws you to really deeply know the practice. Although the catch is to eventually let that cultural baggage go. Note: "let" not "force". In my own personal view, there's really nothing wrong in being interested in other cultures! It's not some evil entity that will poison your mind and bar you from all that is good in life. It has no personal power to do so.

    What I mean to say is take what you find useful. And finding may involve being interested, which leads to trying it out, experimentation etc. Experience is the best teacher, in my opinion.

    Gassho
    Ben

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi, I'm new here too, and haven't really introduced myself yet, but I just couldn't help but reply to this thread.

    I personally think that switching practices around is not too much of a bad idea. There are many different styles, many different ways of practice, and really, sometimes you just feel like doing one over the other. That's totally fine and totally human, imo. We're not trying to be extremists. In fact, I think if you sit when your mind and body really don't want to and refuse with a force of a thousand typhoons or something and continue forcing yourself to do so, you're going to develop a rigid and hot-tempered disposition.

    Mixing and matching can be beneficial. Culturally being attracted to an idea may in fact be a good thing when it draws you to really deeply know the practice. Although the catch is to eventually let that cultural baggage go. Note: "let" not "force". In my own personal view, there's really nothing wrong in being interested in other cultures! It's not some evil entity that will poison your mind and bar you from all that is good in life. It has no personal power to do so.

    What I mean to say is take what you find useful. And finding may involve being interested, which leads to trying it out, experimentation etc. Experience is the best teacher, in my opinion.

    Gassho
    Ben
    Hi Ben,

    Mixing and matching is a fine art. One must pick and choose from the spiritual cafeteria well, not just head right for the desert section while neglecting the vegetables that are not as sweet on your tongue. Also, bananas are lovely and ketchup is lovely, but a little strange to mix for most (although, someone pointed out once, some folks do! The flavors just need to be blended carefully) ...



    I fear that, these days, we live in a world of "fast food" cafeteria Buddhism and spirituality, where people head for the stuff they want (high in spiritual sugar and fat), not what they necessarily need ... demanding the fast "drive thru" in their busy day because they have no time or patience for a slow, nutritious cooked meal. People want instant gratification, as if Buddha were a bag of chips.

    One should pick the Path suited for one ... and GO DEEP! DEEP! MEASURELESSLY DEEP! Do not neglect the garden veggies, even if a little bitter sometimes. Experience is a good teacher, if one is a person of some sense and fine taste. If one is mixing and matching to choose a menu, do so with the eye of a master cook ... not grabbing whatever one sees off the convenience store shelf.

    Many Buddhist Paths are pretty much a complete path. One can mix and match, but needs to be careful. For example, when sitting Shikantaza, when on the cushion ... THAT IS ALL THERE IS, THAT IS ALL NEEDED, WHOLE AND COMPLETE! Of course, one can get up from the cushion of Shikantaza and do other things ... bow down to Mecca or pray to the Goddess Isis. But when on the cushion sitting Shikantaza, just sit Shikantaza ... one does not sit Shikantaza while contemplating Allah or praying to the Goddess.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I have sat Zazen during hurricanes and typhoons, both figuratively and literally. To bring one to sit ... dropping aversions and attractions, likes and dislikes ... even when one does not really "want to" is a vital aspect of Practice. Of course, some days are hard ... but "hard" is a state of mind in most case.
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-11-2013 at 01:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Yes I agree that we should be careful. When we experiment, I think we should be very vigilant of possible sources of errors - as a scientist who discovers something new. Research, study, experiment etc. I mean, imagine the type of vigilance they had when they 'discovered' neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light. They didn't run out of the room declaring that Einstein was wrong - they announced their results, had others test it etc. It's a very long process and not at all like going for fast food.

    And about hardships, difficulties etc, there's a Chinese saying, "Good medicine is bitter to the taste". Bitter experiences are also experiences.

    I guess a word of caution and a pinch of salt is needed whenever experimenting, especially in our modern world today.

    Thank you, Jundo
    Gassho
    Ben

  32. #32
    Thanks all for your comments to date. I guess it's not so much the immersion into another culture - that's fine I think it might help as has been suggested. After all a lot of writings will have been inextricably influenced by cultural and environmental stuff which when taken on board can help I am sure...walk a mile in someone else's shoes etc...

    It's the pull to these that I feel is an hindrance to me. I can see the attributes in many different practices but they come with a package. Which again is fine, but when these influences are for all intents and purposes irresistible it can be a real pain in the arse!

    I know the default answer to this is "pick a path and stick to it" (Blavatsky?)....it's just not as easy as that otherwise I'd have knuckled down ages ago and walled myself in.

    To be honest it's become like a Koan....haha!

    There is something in this that once I crack it open it will answer many questions, or it will do something.

    Maybe it's the emptiness of Buddhism?

    I Don't Know!

    Look I've come over all Korean and Hwadu now....Kimchi for lunch....doh!






    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free

  33. #33
    Hi,

    Maybe a good question to ask also is why blending flavors? What is it you search? Search "it"!
    One path another path, where did the mountain go?
    Just a thought

    Gassho

    E.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zen or Buddhism is not a matter of place, food, music, clothing or the like. Don't confuse local wrappings with the Heart of the Matter. To feel so is kind of a hang-up in one's mind, nothing more.

    One does not need to eat Tofu, watch Kurosawa movies and sit on a Tatami Mat to practice Zen from a Japanese Tradition.

    There are many good Paths, suited to different feet. Find the one suited to you, and STICK WITH SO.

    One can still Practice Japanese Zen while eating Italian Ravioli and dancing Cuban Salsa.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Well you said it; I'll be holding you to this for a future sit-a-long... especially the salsa dancing. hahahahahahah

    Gassho,

    Risho

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    What I have found over the years is that my practice has a taste.
    One time Taigu described practice as just being a cow chewing grass. Just chew the grass until the grass becomes the cow, and the cow becomes the grass. For me that speaks to the taste of practice.

    gassho Daizan
    大山

  36. #36
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Banana ketchup. Where do you get all these props?!!
    Gassho
    C

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