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Thread: The Ango Journey

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    The Ango Journey

    Over the past few weeks, while I've been distracted by school, food, intoxicants and social networking, a feeling has been growing. Intuition has been whispering to me, saying that there must be a period of intense practice and study; though mostly practice. After realizing that, I of course fell into future thought, my monkey mind not wanting to give up its bananas. "Sure, that sounds great. I'll do it after I get this part in the book I'm writing done," or, "Maybe I'll wait until the weather is nice again and I can sit outside." The problem with this kind of thinking is, of course, that there is only ever now. So, I've decided to go ahead and dive right in. Currently, life seems to lack discipline. I went from sitting regularly to sporadically, and that just won't do. I've talked about Zen, read about Zen, intellectually understand the concepts therein, but that's all just shadows when compared to practice.

    That being said, I'm going to begin rising before the sun, joining in on the early morning sits on Google+. I am letting go of Facebook, and will only use the computer for school, studying, and to sit and talk with the Sangha. I currently have a cigarette habit, so I'm cutting down to five each day, and then I'll see where that leads. I don't feel the need to do this to achieve anything (for what is there gain or lose?), but I am compelled nonetheless. Anyway, just thought I'd share this with you. Not sure how long this personal Ango will last, but intuition is guiding me into it, so I'm trusting that it will also let me know when it has passed. Much love and kindness to you all!

    Gassho, John

  2. #2
    Junior Member Yukontodd's Avatar
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    I thought I'd pass on some Zen advice I received years ago about quitting smoking. When you quit, think of the addiction as a thing you created, a living being. A living being born from smoking, strengthened by smoking over the years. It will die someday, at the end of its life, like all beings who live. When you quit smoking, it's time for that being to weaken and die. When you quit, comfort the addiction as it weakens; when you feel withdrawl, the addiction is kicking and fighting: it's afraid. Don't fight back: hold it tight to your chest like you would a child, and try to make its last moments as easy as possible: it's dieing, it's afraid. Help this being you brought into being to not suffer as it comes to the end of its life.

    This advice helped me quit a pack a day habit ten years ago.

    For the rest, I hear you! I let my practice falter for years, putting it off until later. It doesn't make it easier now, but there's no other time to do it! It must be now!

    Gassho,
    Todd

  3. #3
    Ah, I believe it was just about this time last Ango when I posted this caution ...

    ... there are no mistakes in Ango, no way that life can intervene, that obstacles are just "opportunities for Practice" ...

    ... that ALL OF LIFE IS PRACTICE!


    ... nonetheless, ONE CAN DO ANGO WRONG!

    ...

    Fortunately, in this way of ever new beginnings in each moment ... ONE CAN EVER BEGIN RIGHT FROM HERE!
    More here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...oose-%21%21%21

    As to smoking ... I quit a pack a day habit about 20 years ago. Zazen was a big part of that, learning to let the cravings "just come, and just go" without grabbing on. It was not easy, and I failed 1000 times (like the old joke, "Quitting is easy. I have done it 1000 times). But, finally it took. After the first hard day, then hard second day ... then sometimes hard first week ... the cravings became less and less. Just don't stick one of the damn things in your mouth ... don't physically put one in your mouth (not even "just one") ... and grit your teeth. I found at the start that craving come in about 20 minute cycles. Just grit it out for 20 minutes, and most craving attacks will fade. Repeat and repeat, and the cycles lesson.

    Also, I hear (never used them) the patches and such are great.

    I could tell a story about going to Sesshin here in Japan once, back in 1990, in part to quit smoking. That was until I found where the "bad" young monks hung out at night, and could bum a cigarette. Then, I found out they had a cigarette machine in the monastery! That was the end of that! However, I won't tell that story. Anyway, the quitting took for good shortly thereafter.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-25-2013 at 07:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Thanks for sharing the reality of all our practices John. Who knew 'just sitting' would become so much of a mental challenge?
    Getting up in the cold morning to go sit is the hardest thing. Winter is coming fast and there is that "Yeah, here we go again" feeling I had for some years now. Sitting on glorious, peachy summer mornings is easy. Now the real practice starts again. Oh Boy, I really wish I could to move to California sometimes, lol
    Jundo, so glad you did not share that story .

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    Over the past few weeks, while I've been distracted by school, food, intoxicants and social networking, a feeling has been growing. Intuition has been whispering to me, saying that there must be a period of intense practice and study; though mostly practice. After realizing that, I of course fell into future thought, my monkey mind not wanting to give up its bananas. "Sure, that sounds great. I'll do it after I get this part in the book I'm writing done," or, "Maybe I'll wait until the weather is nice again and I can sit outside." The problem with this kind of thinking is, of course, that there is only ever now. So, I've decided to go ahead and dive right in. Currently, life seems to lack discipline. I went from sitting regularly to sporadically, and that just won't do. I've talked about Zen, read about Zen, intellectually understand the concepts therein, but that's all just shadows when compared to practice.

    That being said, I'm going to begin rising before the sun, joining in on the early morning sits on Google+. I am letting go of Facebook, and will only use the computer for school, studying, and to sit and talk with the Sangha. I currently have a cigarette habit, so I'm cutting down to five each day, and then I'll see where that leads. I don't feel the need to do this to achieve anything (for what is there gain or lose?), but I am compelled nonetheless. Anyway, just thought I'd share this with you. Not sure how long this personal Ango will last, but intuition is guiding me into it, so I'm trusting that it will also let me know when it has passed. Much love and kindness to you all!

    Gassho, John
    Well, you've just pretty much described my Ango as well. I would say I'm doing my best, but I'm not sure that is true. When I am really stressed I tend just to sit and goof off. I COULD sit shikantaza, but instead I'm going to eat crackers and watch youtube videos (then get up in a panic and start studying because I'm behind again...how did I watch two hours of monkeys versus dogs?)

    I quit worrying about the bad days (the ones full of tests, driving home, lab work, social functions) and just make extra effort when I can. I try to be as consistent as possible, but don't beat myself up when it doesn't go according to plan. I still need to work on my sewing, work on saying metta, and my meal gathas have been hit or miss during lunch times.

    One of the things that helps, like Yugen mentioned in an earlier thread, is bringing your practice off of the cushion. You can always smile more, or find other ways to be kind, compassionate, and meditative throughout your day!

    Metta
    Nengyo
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  6. #6
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    ". . .for what is there to gain. . ."

    Hello,

    As there is nothing to gain the gaining is limitless! Be easy.


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

  7. #7
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Ango starts and finishes everyday...at every hour, at every task....thank you all for reminding this to me...there is no way lLfe can interfere with Ango....Life IS Ango....now, back to work,to Ango, to Life

    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



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

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for that Jundo! Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances, and I definitely anticipate that my body will beg for it. Fortunately, it'll get over it Both of my parents are long time smokers, and I remember being a kid and saying, "I'm never going to do that! It's nasty and bad for you!" Then high school came around. I had my first one, and never really stopped since. It's mind blowing to me that they had a cigarette machine in a monastery! I wonder if it's still there? haha.

    Nengyo, it's so true that practice isn't just on the zafu. Nor is Ango just during Ango. When not sitting Shikantaza, I'm going to be as mindful as I can. And you're right, it never pays to beat yourself up over botching a routine, having wandering thoughts during sitting, or the like. It seems that all we can really do is accept, learn and move on.

    Todd, that's great advice! I never thought about addiction in such a way. It could definitely be beneficial.

    Well, I begin my intense practice and study period tomorrow morning. Going to rise and shine at 4 a.m. I noticed that no one's having any early morning sits this week, so I may start one on here if I can find a quiet spot in the house (the bathroom is my usual zazen chamber), and get the webcam working. I guess we'll see!

    Gassho, John

  9. #9
    Hi John,

    I have to applaud your efforts at reducing/quoting smoking. Former pack a day here over a decade ago, although I can clearly recall how crutched I felt to them. Like Jundo said, applying a zazen approach can do wonders. Instead of recoiling from the fear of the craving, let it come like thoughts that pop up when sitting, and watch it pass on. Witness it, but don't engage it.

    And I have to agree with those above. Bring your sitting off the zafu and into each moment of your life. This attitude is what has shaped my own practice overall. We don't have the luxury of sitting for hours a day, but we are able to be alert and present for each minute of the day as best we can.

    Gassho,

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

  10. #10
    Hello John,

    thank you for sharing your own struggles, which I am sure we can all relate to in our individual ways. One person's nicotine is another person's computer game addiction etc.

    What I personally find important is to come round to the fact that we are ultimately responsible for our own practise.

    No one can magically MAKE us face what is really there, ugly or beautiful, the real "jumping off the cliff" moment has to come from inside ourselves.

    Another important lesson which took me a long time to integrate into my practise (and I am not sure I am finished with that process yet) is the fact that comparisons are of no use whatsoever. We have no idea whether we are being just undisciplined, or whether what we are facing in terms of beahavioural patterns might be worse than somebody else's addiction to something.

    Don't think your practise depth is more shallow than someone else's. Don't think your practise depth is deeper than someone else's. Stop and look at that which you are dealing with right now, and deal with it to the best of your ability.

    If we fail, that is what we do. We get up again and continue. Whether in the Martial Arts or in Zen, the practise journey never ends, and maybe one should even look forward to being "shot down", for during such moments the chance of some clarity dawning is particularly great.


    Gassho,

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

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