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Thread: Cave of Ghosts

  1. #1

    Cave of Ghosts

    I seem to be fortunate enough to focus on the "just sitting' very quickly and as a result bodily off sensation is quite swift.

    I then seem to find my mind in a very comfortable, calm and quiet state. Sounds don't disturb me and thoughts are nominal.

    I am not unaware at this time, I do notice a distinct sense of being disassociated with my body. As if I have come out of it but only a little...just enough to feel separate from it.

    Tactile feelings give the impression of being contrived or imagined. Like a memory of a body.

    There is a sense of self...but its like a dull humming...I cannot explain it any other way.

    I'm concerned that this is some sort of wallowing in a state of numbness rather than a positive result of sitting - I think the Chan practitioners call it "Entering the cave of ghosts on the far side of the mountain"...typically poetic

    Is this a positive state and I should continue or somehow abandon it? I am not attaching to it one way or another in terms of good/bad but I would not want to fall into a trap either.

    Thanks!

    Tony...

  2. #2
    Hi again Tony,

    This is the second post you have made this evening reporting an unusual experience in your sitting. I don't know what to make of this either, right off.

    In our way of sitting, one should not experience a sensation of being disassociated from the body (it happens, but not as a frequent or encouraged experience).

    Can you provide me here a more detailed description of what you are doing with mind and body while sitting? What are you focused on, what are you doing with thoughts? What about your breathing?

    Perhaps we should Skype as well.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Hi Jundo,

    I laughed....just joined and fired off two questions that describe unusual experiences. I promise this isn't all I am made of haha!

    In terms of my practice, I was inspired by Sheng Yens "The Method of No Method". Not in its entirity but it did offer some practical advice as to were to start. As I mentioned I came from a very hands on tradition that was the antithesis of Shikantaza/Caodong.

    So practically I will sit, follow the breath for a minute of two to calm things down. Then become aware of just sitting...nothing else really. I will initially be aware of the weight of my body (but not focussing on it)...there will be an awareness of thoughts and thoughts of thoughts after around 20mins I will notice that I am no longer aware of my body - much as I describe in the first post above. This is then followed by a very serene sense of calm, like being pulled out of the middle of London and dropped into a warm, quiet room. I can still hear everything but its sooooo far away and of no consequence to me in terms of its ability to disturb the serenity.

    I could remain in this 'state' for a while. If its fractured for whatever reason I will return to the breath as a grounding, then the process repeats itself.

    Hope that helps.

    _/|\_

    Tony...

  4. #4
    ps....Skype would be good. I am in work at the moment though awaiting my next patient (I work in Psychologies as a CBT Therapist).

  5. #5
    Hi Tony,

    How long have you been practicing? In zazen, there is no "goal" to achieve. We just sit. Many new practitioners may try and seek a samadhi-like state, and bodily sensations that arise may just be trappings that take you further away from the practice of just sitting. I would speak to Jundo directly. Just my two cents.

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

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

    I laughed....just joined and fired off two questions that describe unusual experiences. I promise this isn't all I am made of haha!

    In terms of my practice, I was inspired by Sheng Yens "The Method of No Method". Not in its entirity but it did offer some practical advice as to were to start. As I mentioned I came from a very hands on tradition that was the antithesis of Shikantaza/Caodong.

    So practically I will sit, follow the breath for a minute of two to calm things down. Then become aware of just sitting...nothing else really. I will initially be aware of the weight of my body (but not focussing on it)...there will be an awareness of thoughts and thoughts of thoughts after around 20mins I will notice that I am no longer aware of my body - much as I describe in the first post above. This is then followed by a very serene sense of calm, like being pulled out of the middle of London and dropped into a warm, quiet room. I can still hear everything but its sooooo far away and of no consequence to me in terms of its ability to disturb the serenity.

    I could remain in this 'state' for a while. If its fractured for whatever reason I will return to the breath as a grounding, then the process repeats itself.

    Hope that helps.

    _/|\_

    Tony...
    Sounds like on quick impression, if you are influenced by Sheng Yen's "Method of No Method", you may be falling into a kind of concentrated Samadhi. It all sounds very pleasant, but we do not emphasize such states in Shikantaza. We remain much more present in ordinary consciousness.

    Please watch all our "Beginner's Videos" to understand. Our sitting is not really about falling into highly concentrated states. Shikantaza might be better described as sitting in the Whole and Sacred action of just sitting as what is.

    After that, you can set up a time when we can Skype.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Tony, thx for posting this. I too have often had the same experiences that you are describing. I guess, for me, I have decided to not cling to them, sometimes I feel this way, and it is very relaxing, but not a goal to achieve, or an attachment to make. If your intention to sit zazen is to achieve this state, then that would probably not be good (although I am very new and feel somewhat uncomfortable giving advice since I'm still learning a lot), but if you can just sit with whatever happens, relaxing feeling, racing mind, just remain calm and let the thoughts go.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    I feel a little left out. No kaboom, no disembodiment, no levitating on a lotus flower to Buddha, just me and the wall getting our shikantaza on. I guess I will have to be happy with numb legs and a sore back as my transcendental experience
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  9. #9
    States of mind are always changing. Not something to dwell or rely on. Just keep practicing.

    Sent from my RM-860_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich

  10. #10
    Someone wrote to ask me about the "Cave of Ghosts". It is an old Chinese phrase that refers to some kind of mental numbness that can arise in practicing forms of mental absorbtion.

    Shikantaza comes in various flavors, and various Teachers will express Zazen in their own ways. As Tony mentioned it, I went back to find the Chinese Chan Teacher Sheng-yen's description of "Silent Illumination" and his understanding of "Shikantaza", as well as his mention of "Cave of Ghosts". I cannot really agree with Sheng-yen's presentation of Shikantaza here. Sheng-yen's way, very typical of some Teachers, is very focused on reaching concentrated states free of thoughts and building deep states of clear concentration and absorbtion. He says that Shikantaza is about having "no thoughts in the mind", and has the goal of reaching some rather special "silent" states of mind in Samadhi. This is not right I feel, and misleading on the non-goal of Just Sitting (he seems to say so too, in the opening lines that this goal of reaching a state where "the mind should be clear and have no thoughts" is not the Soto way in Japan. He also says that in Japan "'just sitting', means just paying attention to sitting or just keeping the physical posture of sitting". While this latter comment does describe how some Japanese Teachers do teach, I feel it misses that mark by an over-emphasis of focus on posture).

    I would say that, in Shikantaza, we also sit in Silent Illumination ... yet this "silence" is not a matter of thoughts or no thoughts, and this "illumination" light up all things as they are without falling into unusually concentrated states of mind Samadhi. So, I think this description by Master Sheng-yen rather mis-presents Shikantaza as being too clear of thoughts.


    Lecture given by master Sheng-yen during the Dec. 1993 Ch'an retreat, edited by Linda Peer and Harry Miller

    The Japanese term "shikantaza" literally means "just sitting." Its original Chinese name, mo-chao, means "silent illumination." "Silent" refers to not using any specific method of meditation and having no thoughts in your mind. "Illumination" means clarity. You are very clear about the state of your body and mind.

    When the method of silent illumination was taken to Japan it was changed somewhat. The name given to it, "just sitting", means just paying attention to sitting or just keeping the physical posture of sitting, and this was the new emphasis. The word "silent" was removed from the name of the method and the understanding that the mind should be clear and have no thoughts was not emphasized. In silent illumination, "just sitting" is only the first step. While you maintain the sitting posture, you should also try to establish the "silent" state of the mind. Eventually you reach a point where the mind does not move and yet is very clear. That unmoving mind is "silent," and that clarity of mind is "illumination." This is the meaning of "silent illumination." ...

    Words are forgotten" means you experience no words, no language, no ideas, and no thought. There is no discrimination. This in combination with the second phrase, "In utter clarity everything appears," means that although words, language and discrimination do not function, everything is still seen, heard, tasted and so on.
    He warns that one is then in danger of falling into the "Cave of Ghosts", which he seems to be describing as still having too many subtle thoughts ...

    Someone told me that when he uses the Silent Illumination method, he eventually gets to a point where there is nothing there and he rests. That is not true Silent Illumination. In Silent Illumination everything is there, but the mind is not moving. A person may think he has no thoughts because the coarser wandering thoughts are absent, but there will be fine, subtle wandering thoughts of which he is unaware. He may think there is nothing there and so stop practicing. In Chinese this is called "Being on the dark side of a mountain in a cave inhabited by ghosts." The mountain is dark, so there is nothing to see, and in the cave of ghosts, what can one accomplish?
    Again, his description of Soto Shikantaza is a bit off to my ear ...

    Now I would like to explain how to use the method of shikantaza. ...

    Next, be aware of your body, but do not think of it as yourself. Regard your body as a car you drive. You have to handle the car well, but it is not you. If you think of your body as yourself, you will be bothered by pain, itchiness and other vexations. Just take care of the body and be aware of it. The Chinese name for this method can be translated as "just take care of sitting." You have to be mindful of your body as the driver must be mindful of the car, but the car is not the driver.

    After a period of time, the body will sit naturally and cause no problems. Now you can begin to pay attention to the mind. If you were eating, your mind should be the "mind of eating," and you would pay attention to that mind. When you are sitting, your mind should be the "mind of sitting." You watch this sitting mind. Two different thoughts alternate: the mind of sitting and the mind, or thought, that watches the mind of sitting. First you watch the body sitting with little attention to the mind. When the body drops away, watch the mind. What is the mind? It is the mind of sitting! When your attention dissipates, you will lose awareness of this sitting mind and the sensations of the body will return. Then you should again watch the body sitting. Another possibility is that while you watch the mind you fall into a dull state, like "Being on the dark side of the mountain in a cave inhabited by ghosts." When you become aware of this situation, your bodily sensations return, and you should go back to watching them. Thus these two objects of attention, the body and the mind, are also used alternately.

    In the state where you watch the mind, are you aware of the external environment, sound for example? If you want to hear sound, you will, and if you do not want to hear sound, you won't. At this point, you primarily pay attention to your own mind. Although you may hear sounds, they do not create discriminations.

    There are three stages in this practice. You should start at the beginning and progress to deeper levels. First be mindful of your body. Then be mindful of your mind, and of the two thoughts alternating in it. The third stage is enlightenment. The mind is clear and, as the poem quoted said, "In silence, words are forgotten. In utter clarity, things appear." When you first practice, you will probably be in the first or second level. If you use this method correctly you will not enter into samadhi.

    This last point needs clarification. It depends on how we use the term "samadhi." In Buddhadharma, samadhi has many meanings. For instance, Sakyamuni Buddha was always in samadhi. His mind was not moving, yet he still continued to function. This is wisdom. Sakyamuni Buddha's samadhi is great samadhi and this is the same as wisdom. When I said that in the practice of Silent Illumination, you should not enter samadhi, I meant worldly samadhi where you forget about space and time and are oblivious to the environment. The deeper kind of samadhi, which is the same as wisdom, is in fact the goal of Silent Illumination.
    http://www.chancenter.org/chanctr/dd...s/02-1995.html
    This may be a wonderful method for some, but I fail to find here an expression of true "Just Sitting" beyond goal and searching, and is not how we sit Shikantaza here in our Sangha and most of the Soto Tradition. Here, one sits Shikantaza, Attaining by radical Non-Attaining, 'Non-thinking' right through both thinking or not thinking.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-10-2013 at 09:43 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    Hi Tony,

    How long have you been practicing? In zazen, there is no "goal" to achieve. We just sit. Many new practitioners may try and seek a samadhi-like state, and bodily sensations that arise may just be trappings that take you further away from the practice of just sitting. I would speak to Jundo directly. Just my two cents.

    _/\_

    Hi,

    I have been sitting in one form or another for many years. However, in terms of 'practicing' Zazen, maybe a year or so.


    I struggle with the 'no goal; thing....

    Four Noble Truths, 3rd cessation of suffering, then 4th the Path...paths lead somewhere whether literally or metaphorically.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    I feel a little left out. No kaboom, no disembodiment, no levitating on a lotus flower to Buddha, just me and the wall getting our shikantaza on. I guess I will have to be happy with numb legs and a sore back as my transcendental experience
    The lotus flower bit would be wonderful....alas this is not the case. I am being honest though with regards to the experience, this is what happens. Frankly I wish it didn't as it has created this concern as to its legitamacy.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Frankly I wish it didn't as it has created this concern as to its legitamacy.
    Hi Tony,

    I would say that it is a very real, legitimate experience. It is just a matter of differences in approaches.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    I struggle with the 'no goal; thing....

    Four Noble Truths, 3rd cessation of suffering, then 4th the Path...paths lead somewhere whether literally or metaphorically.
    Stephen Batchelor's recent re-evaluation of the Pali Canon is interesting. He concludes that the path is actually both the goal and intended destination. Being on the path is the way out of suffering. There is nothing else.

    This seems to chime nicely with Dogen's own idea of practice-realisation and Lam-Dre (taking the path as the result) in the Tibetan Sakya tradition.

    How does it feel to take a path without destination?

    Gassho
    Andy

  15. #15
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    The lotus flower bit would be wonderful....alas this is not the case. I am being honest though with regards to the experience, this is what happens. Frankly I wish it didn't as it has created this concern as to its legitamacy.
    I don't doubt your sincerity. Jundo sometimes talks of "swimming in the deep end" or "cloudless" places. I'm sure many people get all kinds meditative experiences. I usually don't. The closest I've come to that is the one time when I couldn't stop laughing or smiling for a little while after sitting. Also, when I first started sitting, a few times it felt like my arms or legs were changing proportions on me (if that makes any sense.) Odd, but not very "enlightening" hahaha.

    Other than that, it's usually plain old shikantaza for me. For the record, I am quite content with it. A "boring" sit, a few bows, smile at some strangers, try to do some nice things for people, try not to yell at some other people... it's all good practice.

    By the way, the lotus flower bit is from a movie about Dogen called "zen" You should check it out if you haven't. It's pretty good.
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  16. #16
    I don't get any lotus flowers either, Catfish. Today mostly the sound of wind and achy legs. I have often had the spontaneous smiling thing, though.

    Whenever I feel like I am inside a soft cushion that is usually a sign of mental dullness. Noticing that is happening usually brings awareness back to the practice back in much the same way as it does from following a string of thoughts. Tibetan mahamudra practice has a variety of antidotes for mental dullness (also, its opposite, agitation) but I would be interested to hear if there is any advice from a shikantaza perspective.

    Dogen Zen movie is on You Tube:

    Gassho
    Andy

  17. #17
    The Pink Flying Lotus is at the 22:00 mark.

    My "5 Buddha" review of the movie, cheesy special effects and all, is here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post20686

    Hey, they needed to liven things up I guess.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Heh, well, this thread has me a little concerned. I don't know if I enter a "state" like the one Tony is describing, but while sitting zazen, after about twenty minutes, thoughts definitely settle and calm, gaps between thoughts get longer, and I feel a humming concentrated energy running through my body (no big deal, I just assume it's always there and now I'm quiet enough to notice). There are still thoughts and they come and go, but they are definitely less. I don't know if I am "focused" or "concentrated," but, well, I don't know. Also, while this certainly does not always occur, it does seem to occur more often than not. I could be absolutely wrong about this, but like Tony, I don't feel I seek this - it just sort of occurs. And frankly, this just feels "natural," though now I begin to suspect it's not.

    After reading this thread and Jundo's response, I'm a little confused...

    gassho...and thanks for the question Tony.
    Shōmon

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Hi,

    I have been sitting in one form or another for many years. However, in terms of 'practicing' Zazen, maybe a year or so.


    I struggle with the 'no goal; thing....

    Four Noble Truths, 3rd cessation of suffering, then 4th the Path...paths lead somewhere whether literally or metaphorically.
    Hi Tony,

    I know exactly what you mean. I have, through my own searching, believe that my mind is always searching for the next best thing e.g., goal. And when I say that, I imply that the role of the mind is to constantly seek outward and not inward. We see this in our practice of just sitting. The thoughts that swirl, popping in and out, searching..searching..thinking. But the practice allows us to be a witness to these thoughts and realize that they are..not..real. We only assume them to be real because we engage and empower them. We give them life when there is no life to be given. Concepts and constructs, is all. Suzuki-roshi would speak about cultivating your Big Mind and shining a light on your inner awareness like a mirror as an antidote (zazen).

    We read from those before us that we are already Realized. Zazen simply asserts this truth. By sitting and with continued effort and practce, the delusions dissolve. We sit like a stone, sometimes strong and sturdy, and sometimes weak. But there is no difference, we are the stone.

    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  20. #20
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
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    I'm with Catfish. A couple of times, the giggles, sometimes a tear or two, usually a vague sense of contentment.


    Shugen
    Shugen

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Heh, well, this thread has me a little concerned. I don't know if I enter a "state" like the one Tony is describing, but while sitting zazen, after about twenty minutes, thoughts definitely settle and calm, gaps between thoughts get longer, and I feel a humming concentrated energy running through my body (no big deal, I just assume it's always there and now I'm quiet enough to notice). There are still thoughts and they come and go, but they are definitely less. I don't know if I am "focused" or "concentrated," but, well, I don't know. Also, while this certainly does not always occur, it does seem to occur more often than not. I could be absolutely wrong about this, but like Tony, I don't feel I seek this - it just sort of occurs. And frankly, this just feels "natural," though now I begin to suspect it's not.

    After reading this thread and Jundo's response, I'm a little confused...

    gassho...and thanks for the question Tony.
    Hi Alan,

    Oh, what you describe is fine, Alan. Lovely.

    What you describe is very different from intentionally pursuing a highly concentrated and absorbed state of Samadhi as the main purpose and object of Zazen.

    We say that we drop "all judgments of good vs. bad Zazen in Zazen" ... but what you describe is good Zazen nonetheless, Alan! Yes, thoughts slow, sometimes fully clear, and one feels a great sense of balance. Yet, simultaneously, one sits without pursuing any outcome, without judging, embracing all with equanimity!

    Dogen had a very special view of what he called "Zazen Samadhi" or "Jijuyu Zanmai" (something like "the self-fulfilling samadhi"). Yes, there is a balance of body-mind that is brought about in sitting, together with the expected calmness and clarity. Yes, thoughts will lessen or sometimes fully drop away. But vital to our sitting is that one sits free of chasing, free of judging, with equanimity yet with a sense of the Sacredness and Completeness in and as just the action and moment of Sitting. (As I often observe, how rarely in life do we experience some action with the sense that there is nothing lacking, nothing more that need be done in that moment to make the moment more sacred and complete!)

    So, for example, Dogen describes his "Zazen Samadhi" as follows, really going over the roof in describing how Sacred is sitting (he literally talks about the Lotus Posture "with crossed legs" here, yet the posture is really not what is being emphasized as much as the jewel that is the whole doing, the Buddha-ness of the whole event) ... both body and mind, and that which is the balance of both and dropping both away. He also describes the lightness, and lack of lethargy of it all. Put all such together, and Dogen calls sitting itself "the king of samādhis samādhi".



    From: Zanmai ō zanmai

    Abruptly transcending all realms, to be greatly honored within the quarters of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Trampling the heads of the followers of alien ways and the legions of Māra, to be the one here within the halls of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Transcending the extreme of the extremes of the buddhas and ancestors is just this one dharma. Therefore, the buddhas and ancestors engage in it, without any further task.

    ...

    The Buddha Śākyamuni addressed the great assembly, saying,

    When sitting with legs crossed,
    Body and mind realizing samādhi,
    One’s majesty, the multitudes respect,
    Like the sun illumining the world.
    Removed, the lethargy clouding the mind,
    The body light, without pain or fatigue;
    The awareness similarly light and easy,
    One sits calmly, like the dragon coiled.
    King Māra is startled and fearful
    On seeing depicted [one] sitting with legs crossed,
    How much more [on seeing] one who realizes the way,
    Sitting calmly without stirring.”

    Thus, King Māra is startled and frightened to perceive the depiction of [someone] sitting with legs crossed — how much more [someone] actually sitting with legs crossed; the virtue cannot be fully reckoned. This being the case, the merit of our ordinary sitting is measureless.

    ... Clearly we know that sitting with legs crossed is the king of samādhis samādhi, is realization and entrance. All the samādhis are the attendants of this king samādhi. Sitting with legs crossed is upright body, is upright mind, is upright body and mind, is upright buddha and ancestor, is upright practice and realization, is upright head, is upright vital artery.

    Now crossing the legs of the human skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, one crosses the legs of the king of samādhis samādhi. The World Honored One always maintains sitting with legs crossed; and to the disciples he correctly transmits sitting with legs crossed; and to the humans and gods he teaches sitting with legs crossed. The mind seal correctly transmitted by the seven buddhas is this.

    The Buddha Śākyamuni, sitting with legs crossed under the bodhi tree, passed fifty small kalpas [eras of time], passed sixty kalpas, passed countless kalpas. Sitting with legs crossed for twenty-one days, sitting cross-legged for one time — this is turning the wheel of the wondrous dharma; this is the buddha’s proselytizing of a lifetime. There is nothing lacking. This is the yellow roll and vermillion roller [that holds all the Sutras and Commentaries]. ...

    http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/trans...anslation.html
    So, most important is to sit with such an attitude of Zazen as a sacred and complete act, your sitting as the Buddha Sitting, no other place or thing to do in all the universe, sitting in a light and balanced way, not dull and lethargic ... beyond goal and pursuit, in peace and equanimity ... such as a sacred action, the king of samādhis samādhi.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-11-2013 at 04:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Jundo, thank you for posting this response. Lots to mull over here.
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  23. #23
    ...interesting. I can honestly say that there is no sense of pursuing the sensations I describe either - should possibly have made that more clear. It just seems to be a natural progression of the act of sitting. Also it doesn't seem that far way from what Sheng Yen describes in the practice of Silent Illumination, he too states at the start of his description of the method (no method) that despite using stages to describe sitting we should not rely on or look for progression in this respect.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Alan,

    Oh, what you describe is fine, Alan. Lovely.

    What you describe is very different from intentionally pursuing a highly concentrated and absorbed state of Samadhi as the main purpose and object of Zazen.

    We say that we drop "all judgments of good vs. bad Zazen in Zazen" ... but what you describe is good Zazen nonetheless, Alan! Yes, thoughts slow, sometimes fully clear, and one feels a great sense of balance. Yet, simultaneously, one sits without pursuing any outcome, without judging, embracing all with equanimity!

    Dogen had a very special view of what he called "Zazen Samadhi" or "Jijuyu Zanmai" (something like "the self-fulfilling samadhi). Yes, there is a balance of body-mind that is brought about in sitting, together with the expected calmness and clarity. Yes, thoughts will lessen or sometimes fully drop away. But vital to our sitting is that one sits free of chasing, free of judging, with equanimity yet with a sense of the Sacredness and Completeness in and as just the action and moment of Sitting. (As I often observe, how rarely in life do we experience some action with the sense that there is nothing lacking, nothing more that need be done in that moment to make the moment more sacred and complete!)

    So, for example, Dogen describes his "Zazen Samadhi" as follows, really going over the roof in describing how Sacred is sitting (he literally talks about the Lotus Posture "with crossed legs" here, yet the posture is really not what is being emphasized as much as the jewel that is the whole doing, the Buddha-ness of the whole event) ... both body and mind, and that which is the balance of both and dropping both away. He also describes the lightness, and lack of lethargy of it all. Put all such together, and Dogen calls sitting itself "the king of samādhis samādhi".




    So, most important is to sit with such an attitude of Zazen as a sacred and complete act, your sitting as the Buddha Sitting, no other place or thing to do in all the universe, sitting in a light and balanced way, not dull and lethargic ... beyond goal and pursuit, in peace and equanimity ... such as a sacred action, the king of samādhis samādhi.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you Jundo, both for the reassurance and the reminder about Dogen's writing on Samadhi. I remember, though I don't have the book handy, Dogen writing in one chapter something like: is sitting sitting within body-mind. Is it sitting dropping body-mind? Does body sit body and mind sit mind? I can't remember exactly, but I need to revisit it, apparently, because the idea in that chapter, if I'm recalling correctly, has to do with sitting with this attitude of nothing to attain (thus all these questions he tosses at the reader, like "stop trying to figure out your sitting and SIT"), that sitting is fully complete and sacred, and that it is an allowing, an opening, rather than a chasing or a wanting.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Thank you Jundo, both for the reassurance and the reminder about Dogen's writing on Samadhi. I remember, though I don't have the book handy, Dogen writing in one chapter something like: is sitting sitting within body-mind. Is it sitting dropping body-mind? Does body sit body and mind sit mind? I can't remember exactly, but I need to revisit it, apparently, because the idea in that chapter, if I'm recalling correctly, has to do with sitting with this attitude of nothing to attain (thus all these questions he tosses at the reader, like "stop trying to figure out your sitting and SIT"), that sitting is fully complete and sacred, and that it is an allowing, an opening, rather than a chasing or a wanting.

    Gassho
    Hi Alan,

    That is the same section of Shobogenzo, "Zanmai-O-Zanmai". Dogen is really riffing and free jazzing throughout Shobogenzo, so always rather interpretive about his "meaning" (as opposed to musical "feeling" in the words. Here is my typical post on "How to Hear Dogen, Jazz Man").

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...A-Love-Supreme

    But let me give you a couple of impressions of what Dogen was diggin'

    there is sitting with the mind, which is not the same as sitting with the body. There is sitting with the body, which is not the same as sitting with the mind. And there is sitting that is free of body and mind, which is not the same as “sitting that is free of body and mind.” Already to have attained the state like this is the Buddhist patriarchs’ state in which practice and understanding are in mutual accord. Maintain and rely upon this awareness, thought, reflection. Investigate this mind, will, consciousness.
    My feel is that Dogen was recognizing that there is sitting with the body (the physical act of sitting and balanced posture). There is the mental aspect of sitting Zazen (for example, sitting free of or transcending thoughts of this or that, judgments, aversions and attractions). Yet, there is sitting so natural and whole that we even drop and forget about the need to "do" anything with body or mind (even forgetting the idea of needing to drop body and mind).

    When he said " Maintain and rely upon this awareness, thought, reflection. Investigate this mind, will, consciousness." it is likely that Dogen means that we "maintain and investigate" these things by not getting tangled in them or letting them go. Dogen has a way of saying things kind of with a slippery meaning (kind of how a person might sometimes say "I just LOVE baseball" sarcastically, meaning that he really does not care for baseball). So, most scholars agree that, based on his writings overall, Dogen was actually speaking of transcending thoughts, ideas, etc. For example, this from Dogen Gakudo Yojin-shu Nishijima-Cross [Tanahashi in brackets]

    Perceptiveness is not important. Scholastic understanding is not important. Mind, will, consciousness are not foremost. Mental images, thoughts, and reflections are not foremost. Without using these things at all, people in the past have experienced the balanced state of body and mind and entered into the Buddhist Truth [Without using any of these, harmonize body-and-mind and enter the buddha way.]. That is what Gautama Buddha meant when he said that Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara changed direction and lost consciousness of his perception [“Avalokiteshavara turns the stream inward and disregards knowing objects.”]. When it is clear that two faces – movement and calmness – do not really appear, that is the state of balance [Separation between the two aspects of activity and stillness simply does not arise. This is harmonizing.]. ...

    Buddhist students should know that the Buddhist truth is beyond thinking, discrimination, supposition, reflection, perception, or understanding. We spend our lives dallying around inside of these things, so if the Buddhist truth exists within them, why have we not realised the Buddhist truth yet? Students of the truth should not rely on the faculties of thinking, discriminating and so on. At the same time, we are always equipped with thinking and other faculties, and if we apply them with our own body and examine our situation, then it is like looking into a clear mirror.
    Likewise, the other quote from Zanmai-O-Zanmai seems to imply that the sitting of Zazen both embodies and transcends all these philosophical questions and limited points of view. Furthermore, Zazen is whole and complete without need for bowing, incense and all such [during the time of sitting, anyway, because Dogen would bow, light incense etc. at other times]. :

    We should investigate: at the very moment we are sitting, are all realms vertical? Are they horizontal? At the very moment we are sitting, what about that sitting? Is it a flip? Is it “brisk and lively”? Is it thinking? Is it not thinking? Is it making? Is it without making? Are we sitting within sitting? Are we sitting within body and mind? Are we sitting having sloughed off “within sitting,” “within body and mind,” and so on? We should investigate one thousand points, ten thousand points, such as these. “We should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the mind; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body and mind sloughed off.”

    My former master, the old buddha [Dōgen’s teacher in China, Tiantong Rujing], said,

    “Studying Zen is body and mind sloughed off. You get it only by just sitting; you don’t need to burn incense, make prostrations, recollect the buddha, practice repentence, or look at scripture.”
    Dogen had a wild way of playing the music, man.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-11-2013 at 04:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Dropping body-mind with non-thinking thinking, unspecifically unaware of the ineffable is really nothing special eternally.

    Since it doesn't work, it works.

    Thank you.


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

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Alan,

    That is the same section of Shobogenzo, "Zanmai-O-Zanmai". Dogen is really riffing and free jazzing throughout Shobogenzo, so always rather interpretive about his "meaning" (as opposed to musical "feeling" in the words. Here is my typical post on "How to Hear Dogen, Jazz Man").

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...A-Love-Supreme

    But let me give you a couple of impressions of what Dogen was diggin'



    My feel is that Dogen was recognizing that there is sitting with the body (the physical act of sitting and balanced posture). There is the mental aspect of sitting Zazen (for example, sitting free of or transcending thoughts of this or that, judgments, aversions and attractions). Yet, there is sitting so natural and whole that we even drop and forget about the need to "do" anything with body or mind (even forgetting the idea of needing to drop body and mind).

    When he said " Maintain and rely upon this awareness, thought, reflection. Investigate this mind, will, consciousness." it is likely that Dogen means that we "maintain and investigate" these things by not getting tangled in them or letting them go. Dogen has a way of saying things kind of with a slippery meaning (kind of how a person might sometimes say "I just LOVE baseball" sarcastically, meaning that he really does not care for baseball). So, most scholars agree that, based on his writings overall, Dogen was actually speaking of transcending thoughts, ideas, etc. For example, this from Dogen Gakudo Yojin-shu Nishijima-Cross [Tanahashi in brackets]



    Likewise, the other quote from Zanmai-O-Zanmai seems to imply that the sitting of Zazen both embodies and transcends all these philosophical questions and limited points of view. Furthermore, Zazen is whole and complete without need for bowing, incense and all such [during the time of sitting, anyway, because Dogen would bow, light incense etc. at other times]. :



    Dogen had a wild way of playing the music, man.

    Gassho, J
    This is wonderfully illuminative - it makes that chapter really dance in new ways for me. Dogen's play was always there, but, like with jazz, sometimes I feel I can get right in and play and flow with Dogen; sometimes not so much. This chapter always was on the verge, like I couldn't quite catch the flow of the riffing - feeling it more now.

    Thank you so much Jundo. And thanks to Tony for beginning this thread.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  28. #28
    The goal is in your mind. The path is just this moment world.

    Sent from my RM-860_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    The goal is in your mind. The path is just this moment world.
    Rich, you are obviously a man of much fewer words than ol' Dogen. Or just the same?

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    I love dogen, so many things he has said resonate.

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    _/_
    Rich

  31. #31
    dogen never posted using tapatalk, otherwise am sure he too would have said it in much fewer words

    Tony,

    For me the seeking and having goals kind of subsided once I started practicing the correct form of shikantaza. True shikantaza is just sitting and allowing your experience to be as it is. It is sitting with a knowing that whatever happens in your sitting is okay. You don't make any effort to change what is happening. Sometimes you are aware some other times you are lost in thoughts but all of that is okay. So essentially there is no method/technique. Even "allowing your experience to be as it is" is not a goal/method we are trying to stick to. If you find that you are allowing your experience to be as it is then you don't try to set it right either. As someone earlier suggested on the forums the most effective way to do shikantaza is by not trying to be effective at it. You simply sit on the cushion and get up after 30 mins; whatever happens is okay.

    Sheng Yen's silent illumination is definitely not this. The focus on "body sitting there" and trying to bring the mind back to that constantly might set up a goal oriented attitude in my view.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    You don't make any effort to change what is happening. Sometimes you are aware some other times you are lost in thoughts but all of that is okay. ... You simply sit on the cushion and get up after 30 mins; whatever happens is okay.
    Hi Sam,

    What you say is all lovely and a good description, but the above statements are rather misleading I am afraid. We -do not- just sit there and let what happens happen, then get up when the bell rings. This is a very subtle point. We do not sit there, for example, just stewing stewing stewing and are "okay" with it, maybe even keeping on with the stirring of the stew.

    Rather, by sitting dropping all need to change, all resistance to how things are, all feeling that something is wrong ... things change, resistance becomes peace, and wrongs are righted!

    Crazy, huh? 


    Let me offer one quick, simple example:

    Someone is sitting there really angry, stewing about the boss at work, feeling that their Zazen sitting (and all of life) is going wrong because they are stewing!

    So, instead, they sit with an attitude that "nothing needs change, all things are as they are, sitting is complete (and so is all of life) even with its difficulties and pains, that even presently felt "angry thoughts" is just a passing mood and "okay".

    Well, that very acceptance, allowing, dropping of resistance to "things as they are" etc. IS THE BEST MEDICINE FOR ANGER, BECAUSE IT IS SO HARD TO BE ANGRY WHEN ACCEPTING AND ALLOWING LIFE! HARD TO BE 'PISSED' WHEN FEELING THAT ALL IS "JUST AS IT IS, WHOLE AND COMPLETE". Chances are the anger will cool, all to be replaced by increasing feelings of Wholeness, Peace, Harmony etc. even about those difficulties and pains. This is the little self’s ”I want, I need, I don’t like” being put out of a job.

    Funny how that works, huh? But vital to Shikantaza to understand the differen ce between ”Just Sitting, Just Letting Be” and ”ju st sitting there letting stuff happen”. So, please don't be thinking that "just sitting" is "just sitting there, thumb twiddling".

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-14-2013 at 12:12 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Birds flapping about
    in my sometimes quiet pond.
    The should be there
    otherwise Id be dead.
    It`s OK though
    they will fly away soon.

    Gassho

    E.

  34. #34
    Thianks Sam and Jundo and everyone else's input to date.

    It's so hard to see past the fact that to take a step towards the Zafu means we/I am doing it for a reason, I hope for something, an outcome, an alleviation of my suffering maybe? Otherwise why not do something else instead, like wash the car or feed the cat? If everything was ok just as it is, why sit at all?

    My other experience of Zazen as I have mentioned is through the Chan tradition which does at the start explain the rationale for sitting and what might be experienced. Ultimately these conceptions will be burnt up like the two sticks that light a fire (though I have never been able to start a fire with two sticks haha).

    My (probably incorrect) understanding so far is that when we sit in Shikantaza we have no agenda, no expectations, no rationale for sitting either.

    A question if I may; why can we not discuss the modus operandi of Zazen, rather than dance around it - I mean that in the nicest possible way ;-)) If just sitting reveals to the mind it's own capacity for to remain unaffected by our vexations why can we not have that as a goal or agenda? It wouldn't have to affect the actual practice as such but would help newbies like me understand why I am sitting.

    _/|\_








    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post

    A question if I may; why can we not discuss the modus operandi of Zazen, rather than dance around it - I mean that in the nicest possible way ;-)) If just sitting reveals to the mind it's own capacity for to remain unaffected by our vexations why can we not have that as a goal or agenda? It wouldn't have to affect the actual practice as such but would help newbies like me understand why I am sitting.

    _/|\_

    [/URL]
    Hi Tony. Really good question. We don't do it (sit with the goal you describe) because if we don't "reach" that goal we create problems. oh crap, I'm not zazening well - I need to be clearer, purer, more mindful, more aware. So, it's not that there aren't good days during zazen (and, as Jundo mention, it's not that there's not "good" zazen), but it's also true that there are bad days of zazen, and by dropping notions of good and bad, we learn to accept things as they are. Messy mind today is messy mind today - for a beginner, if this keeps happening, I'm sure Jundo can give some advice; for a person who has practiced for a while, it just means it's messy mind today and that's okay, and in the deep experience of it being okay, maybe there is a moment of just sitting in front of the wall and messy mind is gone; maybe not, too, but the point is that we can't have perfect blue sky blue mind every day, and making meditation about "getting" that mind is making it like all the other crap in our life - a thing to chase. So we drop goals and allow.

    I was about to write an analogy about soccer/futbol, but feel I've already said too much.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  36. #36
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Tony,

    I'm also relatively new. I come from influences from the huatou traditions of Chan and Son, so just sitting is new to me as well, ocasssionally perplexing an idea. I come from a very rinzai perspective, and having gone through military training as well, I'm generally more inclined to blasting the ego to bits with fireworks. Why am I here? Well, why not? At any rate, your concerns and questions are not too far away from mine.

    In my readings, if I understand them correcly at least, all things are indeed buddha nature. So why must we sit? Why not some other thing like washing yourself, doing homework, going on a hike, pissing on a roadside, watching stray dogs mate etc? Dogen was posed this question and answered, because we come to this realization through zazen. Just reading about it won't make you realize. Zen is uncompromising in that sense. So actually, sitting does have a goal. But when we sit, we reach this goal, ironically, by dropping the idea.

    When people say there is nothing lacking, they really mean it! But this doesn't mean that we become rocks, wasting all our days in a state of seated sleep, as good old Hakuin says. In the end, we intimately come to the realization that all life is practice. Practice done in activity is a billion times better than practice done in inactivity, says Hakuin. Just do it!
    Last edited by Tiwala; 10-15-2013 at 10:52 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post

    It's so hard to see past the fact that to take a step towards the Zafu means we/I am doing it for a reason, I hope for something, an outcome, an alleviation of my suffering maybe? Otherwise why not do something else instead, like wash the car or feed the cat? If everything was ok just as it is, why sit at all?
    Oh, we have a goal and purpose which drives us to the Zafu each day: ENLIGHTENMENT! Find WHO WE TRULY ARE! (Not to mention the relatively minor accompaniments to Practice of being more 'at home' with the pesky boss at work, the flat tire on the car, the cancer diagnosis).

    It is simply that when one arrives at the cushion and the bell rings, one "finds" all such in Shikantaza by radically dropping the need to "hunt" for it and fix what's missing.

    Hopefully, when the bell rings again and one rises from the Zafu, one can return to life's "hunt and fix" while simultaneously free of the "hunt and fix" At Once, As One.

    Why? What is the rationale behind "finding by non-searching" this way?

    Suppose one were already standing right on Buddha Nature-Mountain, climbing Buddha Nature-Mountain in order to find Buddha Nature-Mountain?

    Well, if one believes that Buddha Nature-Mountain is over the next hill or hills, and that one must climb for days (or lifetimes) to find Buddha Nature-Mountain ... one is RIGHT! That is an excellent way to find Buddha Nature-Mountain. It is over there too. Someday, one will finally look down and find that one has been standing on Buddha Nature-Mountain all along. (In fact, it is not so much that one is standing "on" Buddha Nature Mountain, but that one is and timelessly always has been Buddha-Mountain ... Just Buddha-Mountain just Buddha-Mountaineering Buddha-Mountain).

    But another way to "find" Buddha Nature Mountain while on (and being) Buddha-Mountain is also to radically Sit and Realize that there was never a "place" to go.

    It is kind of a Soto bias perhaps, but we kinda believe that some flavors of Buddhism make Buddha be "far away" because they assume that Buddha is "far away" and that it takes years or lifetimes to "get there". If you think it takes 1000 lifetimes to "become" Buddha ... GUESS WHAT, IT WILL! The Rinzai folks tend to work on their Hua'Tou until they finally crash their "little separate self" into the mountain, into realization just described. That is fine, because all are paths to "Buddha-Mountain".

    In Shikantaza, we radically stop the "hunt and fix" and thus FIND-NON-FIND Buddha-Mountain.

    On the other hand, Zen is not about being "complacent" with all our greed, anger, ignorance, jealousy, spite and all the rest. We do have work to do in order to free ourselves from all that, to become more "Buddha-like". The choices we make in our actions are in each moment, step by step. So, how to resolve that with the "We are already Buddha" point of view?

    By Practice-Enlightenment ... that we are already Buddha, climbing up Buddha ... becoming better Buddha climbers and making progress up the mountain to become more "Buddha-like" ... ALL WHILE, AT THE SAME TIMELESS TIME, we are already Buddha-Mountain just Buddha-Mountaineering Buddha-Mountain in each step-by-step.

    A question if I may; why can we not discuss the modus operandi of Zazen, rather than dance around it - I mean that in the nicest possible way ;-))
    I think that is all we do around here, not only in this thread, but throughout the Teaching in this Sangha. Perhaps, try as we might, we still have not found good ways to let it be understood.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-14-2013 at 06:19 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Thianks Sam and Jundo and everyone else's input to date.

    It's so hard to see past the fact that to take a step towards the Zafu means we/I am doing it for a reason, I hope for something, an outcome, an alleviation of my suffering maybe? Otherwise why not do something else instead, like wash the car or feed the cat? If everything was ok just as it is, why sit at all?
    ..

    ..

    ..
    A question if I may; why can we not discuss the modus operandi of Zazen, rather than dance around it - I mean that in the nicest possible way ;-)) If just sitting reveals to the mind it's own capacity for to remain unaffected by our vexations why can we not have that as a goal or agenda? It wouldn't have to affect the actual practice as such but would help newbies like me understand why I am sitting.

    _/|\_
    I think it is okay to have a goal of realization at the back of your mind initially when you start. We need not beat ourselves up trying not to have one. What I found though is that in other practices where they have a technique, this goal or the need for enlightenment/progress becomes stronger as you practice as you are investing something (by doing a technique) in your every day sitting. With shikantaza though, as you sit investing nothing in your sitting, the need for progress slowly subsides.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    By Practice-Enlightenment ... that we are already Buddha, climbing up Buddha ... becoming better Buddha climbers and making progress up the mountain to become more "Buddha-like" ... ALL WHILE, AT THE SAME TIMELESS TIME, we are already Buddha-Mountain just Buddha-Mountaineering Buddha-Mountain in each step-by-step.

    This is wonderful Jundo ... thank you for this post.

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Sam,

    ....

    Rather, by sitting dropping all need to change, all resistance to how things are, all feeling that something is wrong ... things change, resistance becomes peace, and wrongs are righted!

    ...
    ..

    So, instead, they sit with an attitude that "nothing needs change, all things are as they are, sitting is complete (and so is all of life) even with its difficulties and pains, that even presently felt "angry thoughts" is just a passing mood and "okay".

    ....
    Funny how that works, huh? But vital to Shikantaza to understand the differen ce between Just Sitting, Just Letting Be and ju st sitting there letting stuff happen. So, please don't be thinking that "just sitting" is "just sitting there, thumb twiddling".

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo,

    If I understand this correctly are you saying we need to sit with the kind of attitude specified above instead of just sitting? Is that only for times when an emotion is overpowering or for all the sitting in general?

    Don't you think "sitting with an(y) attitude" is adding something to your zazen? I understand all of that attitude you describe comes as a by-product of sitting. but do we need to try to sit with that attitude specifically? Don't you think trying to maintain an attitude like that itself will set up a goal-oriented approach to your sitting and adds guilt when you realize you are off that during your sitting?

    For me sitting is best described as simple no-manipulative, worry free sitting; whatever happens in sitting is okay. anything else we try to maintain or try to do during sitting only adds to it. even attempts to try to wake up from thought (or coming back to present moment again and again) i found is counterproductive and is not same as just sitting. ofcourse we don't intentionally try to think something in zazen but we don't try to control the mind in anyway otherwise. we might be getting caught up and being aware and again getting caught up; we don't try to change or influence any of that. we just sit and let whatever happens happen, don't try to take care of anything and the sitting takes care of itself. now if someone is worrying that they are having a bad sitting due to lot of anger or other emotions then the suggestion that "whatever happens in sitting is okay" should address that. doesn't it? instead if they try to maintain a specific attitude (if that's what you are suggesting) doesn't tht take them away from the simple pure no-manipulative sitting? May be we are saying the same thing. Please feel free to correct me if not.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  41. #41
    Hi Sam,

    I think I know what you may be getting at. With regards to Jundo's comment, my interpretation is that the when we sit, it is certainly not complacent sitting. For example, there is nothing wrong about thoughts that pass through during zazen, however, clinging onto those thoughts and creating a narrative out of them is not the practice or the actualization of zazen. Witnessing and engaging thoughts are two very different things.

    Zazen is about direct experience. In Jundo's comment he used an example of an office worker stewing and thinking that his practice must not be working because he is very upset. So during practice, he decides to sit and drop the construct of how things -should- be and accepts things for how they are. Instead of getting lost in the powerful emotions of anger, he sees it for what is is-an emotion. A small stone, for example, is more "real" than that emotion of anger. Is it ok to be angry? Of course, but we don't have to allow ourselves to get swept up by it. We see it for what it is, a sensation, and we drop it (or we try to!). To be able to do this, we are alert and not haphazardly "just sitting", even though...we are..just sitting

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  42. #42
    Lu thank you.

    Though I agree with the drift of what you say I see things a little differently. I will probably need correction on this.

    I would say that the mind is always manipulative (this is not necessarily meant as derogatory). Even as we try to drop a construct of how a thing should be we are replacing one assumption with another. To sit with no mind - 'body and mind dropped off' - is to experience 'emptiness'.

    Emptiness is full of everything - we do not need to fight, worry about our emotions. There is room for anger, room for pain and also room for peace. All at once.

    In the midst of this - and maybe it takes many sittings - clarity emerges. Clarity isn't an emotion and is hard to describe in words. It's a way of being that helps to ground us. From it we hope to engage in right speech, right intentions, right actions etc.

    If there is to be a goal in Zazen I see it as clarity. Hard to express in words but we know when we touch it - and when we do it's not a thing of the moment - it's like a clear pathway through all the mind's manipulation. We are always on this pathway - just don't realise it a lot of the time.

    Gassho

    Willow

  43. #43

    Cave of Ghosts

    Hi Willow,

    I don't see a contradiction with what you wrote.
    Even if the mind is spinning, we do not have to spin with it. For example, if the thought, "hungry" pops up, let it pop up. But there is no need to complete it with, "I am hungry...and need a burrito right now".

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Last edited by sittingzen; 10-14-2013 at 01:16 PM.
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  44. #44
    Accepted Lu - no contradiction. I think sometimes when I try to put things in my own words it feels that way.

    Gassho

    Willow

  45. #45
    Willow,

    I agree with you! How can the finite possibly describe the infinite buddha nature? That is Jundo and Taigu's role

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  46. #46
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Words fail actions prevail. Yay Zen!


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

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Hi Tony. Really good question. We don't do it (sit with the goal you describe) because if we don't "reach" that goal we create problems. oh crap, I'm not zazening well - I need to be clearer, purer, more mindful, more aware. So, it's not that there aren't good days during zazen (and, as Jundo mention, it's not that there's not "good" zazen), but it's also true that there are bad days of zazen, and by dropping notions of good and bad, we learn to accept things as they are. Messy mind today is messy mind today - for a beginner, if this keeps happening, I'm sure Jundo can give some advice; for a person who has practiced for a while, it just means it's messy mind today and that's okay, and in the deep experience of it being okay, maybe there is a moment of just sitting in front of the wall and messy mind is gone; maybe not, too, but the point is that we can't have perfect blue sky blue mind every day, and making meditation about "getting" that mind is making it like all the other crap in our life - a thing to chase. So we drop goals and allow.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post

    When people say there is nothing lacking, they really mean it! But this doesn't mean that we become rocks, wasting all our days in a state seated sleep, as good old Hakuin says. In the end, we intimately come to the realization that all life is practice. Practice done in activity is a billion times better than practice done in inactivity, says Hakuin. Just do it!
    Alan, Ben (and Hakuin), nicely said. Cloudy days just cloudy, clear days just clear. One thus finds a "Big C" Clarity and Illumination that shines through and precisely as both "clouds" and "clear".

    And we bring that from the cushion into all of life.

    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    If I understand this correctly are you saying we need to sit with the kind of attitude specified above instead of just sitting? Is that only for times when an emotion is overpowering or for all the sitting in general?

    Don't you think "sitting with an(y) attitude" is adding something to your zazen? I understand all of that attitude you describe comes as a by-product of sitting. but do we need to try to sit with that attitude specifically? Don't you think trying to maintain an attitude like that itself will set up a goal-oriented approach to your sitting and adds guilt when you realize you are off that during your sitting?
    I think that we always need to sit with the attitude that sitting is Whole, Complete, Sacred, Beyond "Good or Bad", with nothing to change, nothing lacking ... the only place to be and action to undertake in the whole universe (during the timeless time of sitting, anyway). Any goals for anything more than "Just This" are dropped away for they are unneeded. It is not just when emotions are overpowering, but always. If one does not do so, it is just what we call "dead sitting". This was Dogen's attitude on Just Sitting.

    Why? Well, I believe that we sit in order to see all of life as Whole, Complete, Sacred etc. ... the only place to be. The "little self" which always needs something, runs toward or runs away, has to be someplace else and do something, feels lack or craving, is thus put out of a job.

    You say that it may "add guilt when you realize you are off that during your sitting"? Well, with the above attitude of "nothing lacking", how can one be off (except by thinking that "something is lacking", I suppose)?

    You said:

    What I found though is that in other practices where they have a technique, this goal or the need for enlightenment/progress becomes stronger as you practice as you are investing something (by doing a technique) in your every day sitting. With shikantaza though, as you sit investing nothing in your sitting, the need for progress slowly subsides.
    I agree. Yet, as the need for "progress" slowly subsides ... we do get better and more experienced at Practice, and find our True Home, Buddha-Mountain (which we never left). We make real progress!

    Funny how that works, huh!?

    Oh, Lu and Willow ... I read your comments a few times. I agree that, during sitting, we best "witness" thoughts and not engage them.

    When doing so, we may actually find that the friction and "hard border" between the self and the "everything not my self" rest of the world softens, or (some timeless times) fully drops away. What comes is the Interflowing Wholeness and Fullness of "Emptiness" (which is anything but "empty!") The friction evaporates because one needs "two to tangle", like needing two opposing parties in order to have a war.

    Without "two", anger is not possible, "problems" and frictions are not possible. One experiences such on the cushion.

    Then, hopefully, rising from the cushion ... back into the world of me and you, bosses and problems, war and tangling, sickness and health, beautiful and ugly ... one may still carry some sense of that "not two"too, the Interflowing Wholeness and Fullness.

    I saw a nice Dogen quote today from Shushogi, resonating with all this. Nirvana is not apart from life and death and all this tangled life ... the ups and downs of the mountain, the good moments and hard moments of the climb, IS Buddha-Mountain.

    The most important issue of all for Buddhists is the thorough clarification of the meaning of birth and death. If the buddha is within birth and death, there is no birth and death. Simply understand that birth and death are in themselves nirvana; there is no birth and death to be hated nor nirvana to be desired. Then, for the first time, we will be freed from birth and death. To master this problem is of supreme importance.
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-14-2013 at 04:37 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  48. #48
    Wow! nice thread. Nothing to add, gonna keep reading.

    Gassho

    kb
    Meditate and Defy.

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