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Thread: Mechanics of Enlightenment

  1. #51
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    I recently think I got it myself. Actually, right now, I feel like I don't, again. So you're not alone, but we signed up around the same time. So we can be Soto-style Zen beginner buddies. Hahaha.

    I think shikantaza, theoretically, requires faith or great understanding. For complicated minds like mine, understanding is crucial. I think for Rinzai folks, they think the same way... requiring various kenshos and a final satori before they settle in shikantaza. The readings about Once Born Twice Born Zen thing kind of struck me. Hakuin hated silent illumination because he couldn't get it, he couldn't settle the great matter. I honestly dunno how Soto settle the great matter. Not thinking about it seems like an escapism.

    For example, this morning, my mom was telling me about a bus that fell over a skyway recently, killing at least 18 people. She asked me rhetorically why this had to happen to those innocent people and why so close to Christmas, perhaps expressing her disappointment, the dukkha of life. To me, living in the third world, dukkha feels so very very real. I feel as though it's not just something you can easily ignore like the boogey man. To do so would make me callous, apathetic. I can't seem to just not think of it because it's almost always right in front of me. So to sit in perfect contentment while faced with so much suffering is extremely difficult.

    I mean, so many people came to Buddhism because they found that samsara was unbearable. You're born, you age, you get sick, you die. Even the intro in the Dogen movie moves me... seeing a little boy watching his own mother dying... telling him he must find a way to escape this dreadful existence. I sometimes get the feel that what's happening is that the great matter is being gently sweeped under the carpet, pretending it's not there. I probably misunderstand, everyone here seems like they have found relative peace. Moreover, Soto Zen appealed to the masses in Japan, usually the target of so much suffering. But to me, suffering seems so very real. And some things just totally unacceptable to accept.

    Gassho
    Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 12-17-2013 at 12:38 PM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Now I am starting to conclude that 'Just Sitting' means developing a refined and philosophically impressive apathy.


    A bit more regarding the above ...

    I happened to listen to this Dharma Talk today on Master Hongzhi and Silent Illumination, the root of Shikantaza and inspiration for Dogen. The talk touches on the vibrancy of sitting in such way. It quotes from some of the writings of Glassman Roshi on engagement with the ugly in the world, and how sitting is not some "black cave" passivity but instead a vibrant act.

    Some lovely poetry in there too from Hongzhi which wonderfully expresses the power of sitting.

    http://www.upaya.org/2013/11/brian-b...aster-hongzhi/

    Probably worth a listen for Tony.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-18-2013 at 01:37 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #53
    And P.S. ...

    To me, living in the third world, dukkha feels so very very real. I feel as though it's not just something you can easily ignore like the boogey man.
    Dukkha is front and center for us, as it should be for all Buddhists. We do not ignore it, look the other way, just accept it. Better said, we "accept it" in that way a doctor needs to accept disease if he is going to have the energy and focus to combat it. We say "Yes" to this world even as we say "No" and fight the good fight. A care giver, doctor, charitable worker or the like who cannot do so risks fast disillusionment and burnout!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #54
    Now I am starting to conclude that 'Just Sitting' means developing a refined and philosophically impressive apathy.
    I guess that is one way of looking at it.

    I prefer to think it is standing up to that part of the brain we usually indulge that always wants to know why and instead listening to the quiet voice inside that says 'Just be. It is enough.'

    Until we let the concepts and questions run their course, just sitting will rarely feel enough.

    Gassho
    Andy

  5. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    I sometimes get the feel that what's happening is that the great matter is being gently sweeped under the carpet, pretending it's not there. I probably misunderstand, everyone here seems like they have found relative peace. Moreover, Soto Zen appealed to the masses in Japan, usually the target of so much suffering. But to me, suffering seems so very real. And some things just totally unacceptable to accept.

    Gassho
    Ben
    Not to speak for anyone else, but I have not found relative peace. Also though, I'm not always searching for peace anymore. When sad, sad. When depressed, depressed - no fighting. When happy, happy. When thinking and overanalyzing and searching, thinking and overanalyzing and searching. When confused (a lot), confused. Only difference now is not getting too carried away by any of these things, including trying to find peace, avoid suffering, or being consumed by how awful the world is, all the suffering, and trying to fix it.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Thanks Timo...all good stuff!

    I think there is a lot of faith required here too - what do you think? An intellectual appreciation that in the grand scheme of things all is equal in the eyes of Emptiness has never really cut the cloth for me. I have had moments, in my Tibetan years, of real breakthroughs in my understanding of Emptiness and found that its made a palpable difference in my everyday life. Maybe that's why I find just sitting so difficult to grasp. Like in your quote of the old Zen saying. I can see impermanence of phenomena, I get the illusory nature of appearance. But these are merely intellectual experiences. Only when I have sat and gone looking have I 'experienced' the lack of self-hood of whatever the object of meditation might be.

    Again, I am sure that I have missed something fundamental regarding Shikantaza as you guys all seem to have 'got it'. I am still in 'this won't get the rice cooked' mode

    _/|\_
    I don't have it. None of us has it. There is no "us" who have "it" and "you" who don't have "it" and I don't mean that in any zennie philosophical way - you have it just as much as any of us, and none of us, no alan, no timo, no willow, none of these little selves, has it. There's a great video by Taigu where he says, When you're sitting and you think, I've got it, well, you don't have it. I don't remember what video it is.

    Also, this: about these experiences and breakthroughs concerning emptiness and how they made a palpable difference in your everyday life - that's great, I guess, but it's also just normal. The same goes for someone who smokes weed in the morning; there's definitely a palpable difference to their everyday life. Or someone who doesn't have time to make the usual cup of coffee - a palpable difference. I don't mean for my tone to be dismissive of these experiences, and I don't mean to denigrate great Buddhist ideas, but experiencing a lack of selfhood - special in idea only; otherwise, just normal, just what is, and beautiful for its ordinariness.

    The goalless attitude doesn't arise by trying to goallesly let thoughts ago. The goalless, complete, whole thing arises naturally of itself, of its own accord - you do nothing. It blooms through you, normally, non-specially. You won't even experience it b/c you will be it, unwatching, for once - you may look back and go, oh, there it was, but you'll have already lost it, though you can't lose it.

    Also: amazing thread. Really enjoyed reading it. Great posts, Timo.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  7. #57
    Hi Tony,

    Sorry for the late reply - have been busy today...

    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    I think there is a lot of faith required here too - what do you think? An intellectual appreciation that in the grand scheme of things all is equal in the eyes of Emptiness has never really cut the cloth for me.

    I can understand that.

    However, it is not about faith for everyone, i.e. there is at least a chance to get a tiny taste of it (or more). I don't know if one can force this - in the Rinzai way probably.
    But in the end, it does not matter at all!

    The more you wish to experience something, the further you'll move away - at least that is my opinion.
    The more indifferent you are to have an experience (call it what you will), the better. You won't get attached, you won't put yourself under pressure.

    You should ask yourself (this is personal, just delve into this in private):
    Why do you practice?

    There must be a reason. I guess you don't do it just for kicks.
    And when you know it, just try this stupid shikantaza thing out. It's crazy, too simple to be true.
    Just sit - e v e r y d a y. No excuse. At least once a day for 20 mins. (Better a bit every day than a single marathon session at the weekend).
    Drop all questions whether this makes sense or not - Jundo and Taigu will both tell you that this practice is useless. They have been saying it countless times, so you can drop this question as well.
    Give it time.
    And only when this time has passed you should ask yourself:
    Is this good for you? Has something changed in your life?
    This is something only you can answer.

    And if it turns out that things have changed in a positive way, to hell whether you need faith or had a "proof".
    If it does you good, then do it.
    If not, look for another practice that suits you better.
    But you really should give it a chance. Two months, better more.

    And here is another paradox:
    There is even a chance you'll forget why you started to practice in the first place, but keep on practicing. It will have become an integral part of your life.

    Don't get attached to those enlightenment stories you read everywhere - that's why I made some jokes about it in my first post here.
    Because after all - you are in this dream, so let's make the best out of it.



    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Again, I am sure that I have missed something fundamental regarding Shikantaza as you guys all seem to have 'got it'.
    There is nothing to get - there is just practice.

    Gassho,

    Timo



    PS: Just want to add this: I am no teacher, so you should always, always refer to the advice from Jundo or Taigu!
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 12-17-2013 at 05:56 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

  8. #58
    Thanks Timo,

    Great advice again. All taken on board.

    However....

    "There is nothing to get, just practice"

    Felt like screaming the house down! If there's nothing to get, why oh why bother?

    I have asked others this and been told "practice for practices sake" which means absolutely nothing to me at all.

    Why not stay in the warm bed with my wife and not get up in the cold to sit if there is nothing to get? Practice implies working towards something, to be fulfilled at some point. Practice implies fruits and the rewards of practice - doesn't it?

    I am really struggling with this though I understand (I think) Just Sitting, with no expectations. But no goal? I toy mischievously with the idea that Zennies say there is no goal but secretly are gagging for the cessation that the Four Noble Truths speak of. :-)

    I guess it might help me understand more if I could see what the differences are between Silent Illumination and Shikantaza?

    Tony...





    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Thanks Timo,

    Great advice again. All taken on board.

    However....

    "There is nothing to get, just practice"

    Felt like screaming the house down! If there's nothing to get, why oh why bother?
    Because you have to get that there's nothing to get, and that's getting something great, but you can't get it by wanting to get it, you already are it, and practicing is the expression of that.

    That being said, I have no idea what I'm talking about. These words, ech. (and this coming from a "writer"). Also, don't know anything about silent illumination. This can be frustrating stuff, I realize.

    Why bother? You don't have to bother. No one is making you bother. But, just simplify, don't you want to sit? If so, just sit. Listen, why do some people run marathons? You know, most people I know that run marathons don't run marathons because they want to be the best runner in the world. They maybe want to prove something to themselves; they maybe want something special in their life; they might want some great challenge - so, they have to fight, and will it, and work hard, and practice. And then, eventually, over time, they one day just are gone, lost in the run, the run is them, no difference, no more fighting, willing, or practicing, now, just running. Same with sitting.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  10. #60
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    A bit more regarding the above ...

    I happened to listen to this Dharma Talk today on Master Hongzhi and Silent Illumination, the root of Shikantaza and inspiration for Dogen. The talk touches on the vibrancy of sitting in such way. It quotes from some of the writings of Glassman Roshi on engagement with the ugly in the world, and how sitting is not some "black cave" passivity but instead a vibrant act.

    Some lovely poetry in there to from Hongzhi which wonderfully expresses the power of sitting too.

    http://www.upaya.org/2013/11/brian-b...aster-hongzhi/

    Probably worth a listen for Tony.

    Gassho, Jundo
    I listened to this. It seems very interesting, but one thing I don't understand is how sitting in the beautiful poetry of nature can help with dealing with the harsh realities of life. As far as I'm aware, it's quite impossible to deal with reality without facing it head on, without dwelling in any particular place except for that which is present before you. Isn't the primary function of the Buddhadharma to illuminate reality? Isn't what's right in front of you the very expression of the Buddhadharma, be it horrifically disgusting, terrible, sad, depressing, edgy etc? It seems to involve force to dwell in the silence, the peace love and joy. It kind of feels like a bunch of hippies babbling on and on about peace and love. Taigu was criticising them in one of his videos. I hope he comes in here to explain what he means. I'm sorry if I sound closed minded or anything. I'm just truly baffled.

    Then again, I can do some mental gymnastics, take the slogan "everywhere I step is home" of Dogen and apply it there. When faced with harshness, with suffering, this is all there is etc. Is that a correct interpretation?

    I dunno. I just can't feel the seriousness and gravity of the Buddhadharma unless I'm periodically hit with a stick. What does Taigu mean when he says that the Buddhadharma is a serious matter?


    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  11. #61
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Because you have to get that there's nothing to get, and that's getting something great, but you can't get it by wanting to get it, you already are it, and practicing is the expression of that.

    That being said, I have no idea what I'm talking about. These words, ech. (and this coming from a "writer"). Also, don't know anything about silent illumination. This can be frustrating stuff, I realize.

    Why bother? You don't have to bother. No one is making you bother. But, just simplify, don't you want to sit? If so, just sit. Listen, why do some people run marathons? You know, most people I know that run marathons don't run marathons because they want to be the best runner in the world. They maybe want to prove something to themselves; they maybe want something special in their life; they might want some great challenge - so, they have to fight, and will it, and work hard, and practice. And then, eventually, over time, they one day just are gone, lost in the run, the run is them, no difference, no more fighting, willing, or practicing, now, just running. Same with sitting.

    Gassho
    When I read things like nothing to get, I feel that it's just being so engrossed in an activity that there really is nothing except that activity. Is that what is meant by nothing to attain? Shunryu Suzuki also states it similarly with his essay about bowing, saying that when bowing, there is just one complete bow encompassing the entire universe. At that moment, there is no you, or I, or Buddha, etc.

    A literal interpretation of nothing to attain seems absolutely absurd to me. It's not literal right? In the Heart Sutra it says nothing is to be attained, but then later on it says that all Buddhas attain AnuttaraSamyak sambodhi. The mumonkan says something similar... when the world is destroyed, it is not destroyed. But this only makes sense in light of emptiness, to me at least.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  12. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    When I read things like nothing to get, I feel that it's just being so engrossed in an activity that there really is nothing except that activity. Is that what is meant by nothing to attain? Shunryu Suzuki also states it similarly with his essay about bowing, saying that when bowing, there is just one complete bow encompassing the entire universe. At that moment, there is no you, or I, or Buddha, etc.

    A literal interpretation of nothing to attain seems absolutely absurd to me. It's not literal right? In the Heart Sutra it says nothing is to be attained, but then later on it says that all Buddhas attain AnuttaraSamyak sambodhi. The mumonkan says something similar... when the world is destroyed, it is not destroyed. But this only makes sense in light of emptiness, to me at least.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Yes, right, I think, though it is literally "nothing to attain," but only from a certain perspective. It has to be considered/contemplated from the relative and universal perspective at once, both intertwined.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  13. #63
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    So to attain is to not attain. So whatever we attain is indeed nothing. Is that right? Otherwise, why not just jump over the bridge and die if there's no point to anything, or sit around like a log for all eternity doing literally nothing, or maybe a comatose badger enjoying the tranquil repose of a rotting corpse, a burden to those around him. Surely this is not the Buddhadharma (but, in emptiness, it still is). Right?


    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  14. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    So to attain is to not attain. So whatever we attain is indeed nothing. Is that right? Otherwise, why not just jump over the bridge and die if there's no point to anything, or sit around like a log for all eternity doing literally nothing, or maybe a comatose badger enjoying the tranquil repose of a rotting corpse, a burden to those around him. Surely this is not the Buddhadharma (but, in emptiness, it still is). Right?


    Gassho, Ben
    No, not at all. It's not that what you attain is "indeed nothing." What are you right now? Is that "nothing." The attainment is whatever you are right now, wholly complete, lacking nothing, fully part of the universe and the universe itself - how can you attain that? How can you attain what you already are, right? But what you already are is not your small self, so we practice. It's not nothingness; it's just seeing through the same game as everything: getting what's better, getting better, getting great. It's dropping all that, all attempt at attainment, and then you've attained. It's the attaining part that causes problems, because it's our ego that wants - focus on that part. Not the nothing part.

    Think of the koan about the guy that asks the other guy why's he's meditating. And the guy's like, I'm sitting zazen. And the other guy goes, Why are you doing that? And the sitting zazen guy says, To get enlightened. And the other starts polishing a tile. And the sitting zazen guy says, Why the heck are you polishing that tile? And the polishing guy says, To make a mirror. And the sitting zazen guy says, That's a ridiculous reason - it's impossible. And the polishing guy says, Same with your sitting zazen to get enlightenment. (also, of course this story is just from my memory - please check out a better version)

    Though of course, please Jundo, Taigu, and others, please correct me.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  15. #65
    Hi Tony,

    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    Thanks Timo,

    Great advice again. All taken on board.

    However....

    "There is nothing to get, just practice"

    Felt like screaming the house down! If there's nothing to get, why oh why bother?
    I am sorry to drive you insane, believe me, I just want to help.

    And I apologise in advance for the following sentence:
    Don't expect anything and you'll gain nothing and everything at the same time. (It's a bit like in order to achieve something you must stop wanting it.)

    IMHO it is not possible to approach this with the intellect. Because it is the thinking mind that discriminates. Be the you before thinking sets in.
    Sit zazen without any expectations whatsoever. If you don't expect anything, how could you get disappointed?
    Many of the zen guys, mystics like Rumi or Meister Echkart, and many Taoists had to use poetry and the arts to express it - because intellectual words fail. They must fail, because they are product of our thinking mind. So practice Non-Thinking! (shikantaza)
    I know how you must feel, believe me.
    It can make you feel as if all people around you tell the same insider joke...

    The following is not a Zen text, but from the Taoist classic (Tao Te Ching; Mitchell translation). I think it should be compulsory reading for every Zennie, too:

    The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

    Yet mystery and manifestations
    arise from the same source.



    And:
    Colors blind the eye.
    Sounds deafen the ear.
    Flavors numb the taste.
    Thoughts weaken the mind.
    Desires wither the heart.

    The Master observes the world
    but trusts his inner vision.
    He allows things to come and go.
    His heart is open as the sky.


    And finally:
    Look, and it can't be seen.
    Listen, and it can't be heard.
    Reach, and it can't be grasped.

    Above, it isn't bright.
    Below, it isn't dark.
    Seamless, unnamable,
    it returns to the realm of nothing.
    Form that includes all forms,
    image without an image,
    subtle, beyond all conception.

    Approach it and there is no beginning;
    follow it and there is no end.
    You can't know it, but you can be it,
    at ease in your own life.
    Just realize where you come from:
    this is the essence of wisdom




    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    I have asked others this and been told "practice for practices sake" which means absolutely nothing to me at all.
    I think the following quotes by Kodo Sawaki might be helpful (but it can be even more confusing, which I don't hope):

    When somebody asks me what zazen is good for, I say that zazen isn’t good for anything at all. And then some say that in that case they’d rather stop doing zazen. But what’s running around satisfying your desires good for? What is gambling good for? And dancing? What is it good for to get worked up over winning or losing in baseball? It’s all good for absolutely nothing! That’s why nothing is as sensible as sitting silently in zazen. In the world, “good for nothing” just means that you can’t make money out of it.

    [ ... ]

    We’ve got to practice genuine, pure zazen, without mixing it with gymnastics or satori or anything. When we bring in our personal ideas – even only a little bit – it’s no longer the buddha-dharma.
    In a word, Buddhism is non-self [muga]. Non-self means that “I” am not a separate subject. When “I” am not a separate subject, then I fill the entire universe. That I fill the entire universe is what’s meant by “all things manifest the truth”.





    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post
    I guess it might help me understand more if I could see what the differences are between Silent Illumination and Shikantaza?
    Sorry, can't help you here, I'm afraid, as I don't know what Silent Illumination is...

    Don't try to understand, just practice, just do it, just be it. Drop EVERYTHING, let go EVERYTHING - relax and enjoy the silence in the head.
    Believe me, most things will fall into place by themselves.

    Must go to bed now, past 3:00 am here...


    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  16. #66
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    No, not at all. It's not that what you attain is "indeed nothing." What are you right now? Is that "nothing." The attainment is whatever you are right now, wholly complete, lacking nothing, fully part of the universe and the universe itself - how can you attain that? How can you attain what you already are, right? But what you already are is not your small self, so we practice. It's not nothingness; it's just seeing through the same game as everything: getting what's better, getting better, getting great. It's dropping all that, all attempt at attainment, and then you've attained. It's the attaining part that causes problems, because it's our ego that wants - focus on that part. Not the nothing part.

    Think of the koan about the guy that asks the other guy why's he's meditating. And the guy's like, I'm sitting zazen. And the other guy goes, Why are you doing that? And the sitting zazen guy says, To get enlightened. And the other starts polishing a tile. And the sitting zazen guy says, Why the heck are you polishing that tile? And the polishing guy says, To make a mirror. And the sitting zazen guy says, That's a ridiculous reason - it's impossible. And the polishing guy says, Same with your sitting zazen to get enlightenment. (also, of course this story is just from my memory - please check out a better version)

    Though of course, please Jundo, Taigu, and others, please correct me.

    Gassho
    Hi,

    Bolded part kind of bothers me. Zen is supposed to be a practice for daily life, but daily life without thought and attempt at attainment seems absurd to me. What about the Four Great Vows? Are they not an attempt to attain something? A life of perpetual stagnation in no moving, no desire, no nothing seems like a terribly selfish way to live. If everyone had no desire or attempt at attainment, wouldn't all society fall apart? Society falling apart can hardly be considered a good thing.

    It kind of makes me think about non-thinking. It's not thinking, it's not not-thinking... but realising that transcendent reality above and beyond thinking and not thinking. Doesn't this also apply to daily life? When desiring, desire non-desire. When acting, act non-acting etc.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi,

    Bolded part kind of bothers me. Zen is supposed to be a practice for daily life, but daily life without thought and attempt at attainment seems absurd to me. What about the Four Great Vows? Are they not an attempt to attain something? A life of perpetual stagnation in no moving, no desire, no nothing seems like a terribly selfish way to live. If everyone had no desire or attempt at attainment, wouldn't all society fall apart? Society falling apart can hardly be considered a good thing.

    It kind of makes me think about non-thinking. It's not thinking, it's not not-thinking... but realising that transcendent reality above and beyond thinking and not thinking. Doesn't this also apply to daily life? When desiring, desire non-desire. When acting, act non-acting etc.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Yeah, I agree with you. First, I'm sure I'm not expressing this very well, so my sincere apologies. Second, it's difficult to talk about this thing that can't be talked about. It's ineffable, by definition - that's why Dogen gives me a freaking headache some of the time!

    Anyway though, I don't say anything about stagnation or no desire or having no thoughts - we have desires, thoughts, and move around; it's just not attaching to these things, letting them go, and it's seriously difficult work. When cooking, do we try to make a meal for the Gods every day, or just a nice meal for ourselves/family - if I tried to attain such a meal every day, I would literally go insane. Same with sitting for me (but heck, maybe I'm doing it wrong; that could very well be).

    In any case, maybe I'm just talking past you and not really hearing you - I completely acknowledge this as a failing of my own. Sometimes all this zen talk gets muddy (especially by me) - anyway, time for me to sleep.

    I hope I haven't caused more confusion, but if so, someone around here can make things clear, I suspect.

    Gassho

    PS: It was nice talking to you and I'll check this thread in the morning.
    Shōmon

  18. #68
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    It was nice talking to you too. I'm not exactly sure what I'm babbling on about either.

    Maybe some others will add in their thoughts later on.

    Gassho
    Gassho
    Ben

  19. #69
    Great thread. beautiful wisdom.

    Tony,

    If you see the past threads opened by me, I have asked many questions like you are doing now. Over the past few months, my desire for enlightenment seems to have greatly subsided. Don't know whether it is a good or bad thing. lol. I also am loving just doing the practice, the sitting, the bowing, all of that.

    Also, I feel you raised a very good point below:

    "Also, I think you're overestimating my ability to 'let thoughts go and not follow them' - I think that this is incredibly hard and a 'goal' in and of itself."

    I don't get that instruction either. I too feel it is a goal in itself. Whenever I try not to get caught up or try to wake up from thought, my sitting feels like any meditation with an object. May be I am misunderstanding the instruction but I completely agree with you it is misleading. In practice I let my thinking also be as is. Just like everything that's happening is fine, getting caught up in my thoughts is fine too. Nothing that happens in sitting is wrong. There is nothing in sitting like "oh this shouldn't be happening" or "I need to fix this". Same thing applies for thoughts too in my view. When I get caught up in thought and feel "oh this shouldn't be happening" -- it is okay! There is no goal/state we are trying to be in. Right? There is nothing else that should be happening instead. So whatever is happening should be okay. Let me also add, I don't intentionally or purposefully try to think anything during sitting. But if thoughts come and I get caught up, it is fine. I definitely can't let them go or not follow them. The only option I have is to tell myself getting caught up is okay once I realize I am off the thought stream. May be teachers and senior students can clarify. But I feel this is a very important point.

    Gassho, Sam

  20. #70
    oh about the difference between silent illumination vs shikantaza

    I did explore both the methods initially. I read Sheng Yen's Method of no Method and also his other books and have spoken to his student (Guo Gu who is a teacher now) and main translator of the former book

    In Silent Illumination essentially you focus-on/try-to-be-aware-of your whole body sitting on the cushion. If your mind wanders, you bring it back to that awareness. I feel there is a clear method to it. Shikantaza as everyone here described is totally different. Really no method or technique. I feel there is a great beauty in not doing anything and giving it all up and letting it happen. Any agenda, any method, any tool in your hand is fine as a technique that may latter lead to shikantaza but it is not shikantaza.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  21. #71
    Hi Ben,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Zen is supposed to be a practice for daily life, but daily life without thought and attempt at attainment seems absurd to me.
    You are not supposed to do that anyway!
    You cannot "function" in daily life without thinking, withouth having goals.
    Having goals in everyday life is not bad! However, you should take those goals lightly, not get attached to them.
    You should follow your goals in daily life on the basis of what you (non-)do on the cushion.

    Thinking is not bad - without it we would still live in the caves (and probably fight each other with clubs instead of machine guns, but that's another topic).
    The human brain is wonderful, where would we be without it?
    However, thinking is not the be-all and the end-all when it comes to who we really are. In order to know who you really are, thoughts are misleading. Because it is the thoughts that give you the impression you were a separate individual. They kind of project/generate the image of there being a you existing apart from other people. It makes you think "This here is me, and everything else is not me." Because it is the job of the brain to do so. That which we call our "self" is something like a tool that facilitates living in daily life, doing maths, writing a letter, etc. It is just a construct of our brain.
    There was a very fascinating article in the magazine "New Scientist" about the illusion of the self. Today's science also asserts that our conception of a separate, independent self is just a construct.

    So yes, go about your things in daily life, but with the knowledge of our great delusion in the "back" of your head. Live your life fully, but see through the delusion at the same time.
    It is actually a bit like in a lucid dream (see above in this thread).
    Dropping thinking and goals all the time would make you into a kind of mindfulness zombie...

    Jundo and Taigu have lots of beautiful talks about this in the video section. These videos are priceless and worth watching again and again.

    BTW: Sorry for not commenting on the other posts in this thread, I just don't have the time right now. Thank you all for your great posts!

    Gassho,

    Timo


    PS: Again: Sorry if I come across like teaching something. This is not my intention. I just want to help, because I know that many, many practitioners have these questions.
    Jundo and Taigu are the ones whose advice to follow!
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 12-18-2013 at 10:10 AM.
    no thing needs to be added

  22. #72
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Thank you Timo.

    But then it raises the question of what delusion really is.

    Reminds me of something from Dogen... someone asking him what is meant by someone being enlightened, but nevertheless deluded

    Gassho,
    Ben


    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  23. #73
    Hi all

    I don't think that anyone is recommending not thinking, either on the cushion or in life. Just don't take thoughts as something concrete and real other than machinations of the brain, and most likely ones driven by short-term pleasure seeking which is how the brain usually operates.

    If you want to attain something you are immediately looking to the future and make the present moment inadequate. By dropping all thoughts of attaining anything (and by dropping I mean letting be without taking them as the real analysis of the situation) we are in the present moment as it is and that is all shikantaza (and life) is.

    Tibetans call westerners lazy because we spend so much time chasing our tail to achieve something yet we fight so hard against just sitting still for a while. Read all the Madhyamaka texts and Abhidamma you like, it is going to get nowhere need where you want to be than just sitting still. But we have freedom of choice to follow our own deluded thoughts or take note of what people like Dogen, Hongzhi, Huineng and Kodo Sawaki Roshi have been saying for centuries/decades.

    If you don't like just sitting there are plenty of other Buddhist paths with stages and goals to appease the 'get something' mind. My last teacher spent a large amount of his first three year Tibetan retreat working out how Vajrayana practice worked. He said it was completely pointless. What you need to do is practice and have some degree of trust that what other students and teachers say is true. I can understand it may all sounds bonker but you must have been drawn to Soto Zen for a reason so why not agree with yourself to take it on trust for 12 weeks or so and just practice with a review at the end of that?

    Gassho
    Andy

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Not to speak for anyone else, but I have not found relative peace. Also though, I'm not always searching for peace anymore. When sad, sad. When depressed, depressed - no fighting. When happy, happy. ...
    I have found a Peace (Big "P") that holds all the broken pieces, both peace and war ... a Joy (Big "J") that holds happy days and sad. When sad I am sad, when happy just happy. "I" found such behind and right through the "I" that judges peace and war, happy vs. sad.

    Though Peace transcending peace and war ... let us stop the war and make peace on this earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    The goalless, complete, whole thing arises naturally of itself, of its own accord - you do nothing. It blooms through you, normally, non-specially.
    Lovely.

    Quote Originally Posted by dharmasponge View Post

    "There is nothing to get, just practice"

    Felt like screaming the house down! If there's nothing to get, why oh why bother?

    I have asked others this and been told "practice for practices sake" which means absolutely nothing to me at all.

    Why not stay in the warm bed with my wife and not get up in the cold to sit if there is nothing to get? Practice implies working towards something, to be fulfilled at some point. Practice implies fruits and the rewards of practice - doesn't it?
    Tony, I have to say that this conversation is now just going around in circles ... going nowhere ... covering the same ground ...



    This "non-paradox" of Shikantaza has been explained to you from many angles, and advice handed out by the carload about how to non-go about it in order to non-get "it". Sorry, seems that Karma has rendered you unable or unsuited to getting the point. Perhaps it is not for you. Maybe "you" will never get this nothing to "get".

    Or, you might just try it for awhile (my advice) and ... like many folks here ... it will just non-come to you one timeless day! Like a joke that somebody tells you in a bar that you don't get until, suddenly one morning, you get it! Oh, that is what it was all about! So obvious! Silly me!

    In the meantime, enough talking about it. More than enough has been said. Time to just sit and see what non-happens.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Many Buddhists are so good at chasing their tails that the chase goes on for (traditionally) lifetimes! Others realize that such was here all along, and there were no lifetimes even as we dreamed of lifetimes. If you dream of stages and progress, mountains to cross ... sure enough, one must cross them, climb them and reach for progress. But when one realizes that the dream of the mountain was ever underfoot Buddha climbing Buddha ... abracadabra ... the mountains are crossed.
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-18-2013 at 03:16 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #75
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Isn't it just that the root of our suffering is all of this seeking for something other than what is? If you're seeking to be somewhere other than your cushion, then you're going to be disappointed. You can only be where you are. Even if you get yourself somewhere else. The old saying, "No matter where you go, there you are." turns out to be a bit of a koan.

    So when we sit with the intent of achieving something other than what we're doing. The only thing we can be doing. We're, as Shunryu Suzuki put it "wasting our time".

    At least that's my understanding of "just sitting"

  26. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    I listened to this. It seems very interesting, but one thing I don't understand is how sitting in the beautiful poetry of nature can help with dealing with the harsh realities of life. As far as I'm aware, it's quite impossible to deal with reality without facing it head on, without dwelling in any particular place except for that which is present before you. Isn't the primary function of the Buddhadharma to illuminate reality? Isn't what's right in front of you the very expression of the Buddhadharma, be it horrifically disgusting, terrible, sad, depressing, edgy etc? It seems to involve force to dwell in the silence, the peace love and joy. It kind of feels like a bunch of hippies babbling on and on about peace and love. ... I'm just truly baffled.

    ... take the slogan "everywhere I step is home" of Dogen and apply it there. When faced with harshness, with suffering, this is all there is etc. Is that a correct
    No!

    You obviously missed the passage from Bernie Glassman, written during one of his Zazen sittings at Auschwitz ...

    "In my view, we can't heal ourselves or other people unless we bear witness. In the Zen Peacemaker Order we stress bearing witness to the wholeness of life, to every aspect of the situation that arises. So bearing witness to someone's kidnapping, assaulting, and killing a child means being every element of the situation: being the young girl, with her fear, terror, hunger, and pain; being the girl's mother, with her endless nights of grief and guilt; being the mother of the man who killed, torn between love for her son and the horror of his actions; being the families of both the killed and the killer, each with its respective pain, rage, horror, and shame; being the dark, silent cell where the girl was imprisoned; being the police officers who finally, under enormous pressure, caught the man; and being the jail cell holding the convicted man. It means being each and every element of this situation."
    We bear witness to it all ... then march forth to do what is possible to prevent future men, women and children from suffering so.

    When I read things like nothing to get, I feel that it's just being so engrossed in an activity that there really is nothing except that activity. Is that what is meant by nothing to attain? Shunryu Suzuki also states it similarly with his essay about bowing, saying that when bowing, there is just one complete bow encompassing the entire universe. At that moment, there is no you, or I, or Buddha, etc.
    Sometimes, that is what it is ... when drinking tea, just drink tea. When running or bowing, just run or bow.

    But other times, it is just totally being with what is, at it is.

    When sitting in Auschwitz witnessing the fear of children, just sit in Auschwitz witnessing the fear in children.

    When rising from sitting in order to march against war, to start a soup kitchen to feed hungry children ... just march, just serve soup.

    Anyone who thinks our way is about some form of passivity is ignorant about our way. Our way is a Stillness (Big "S") that is sometimes still and sometimes moving to get things done.

    So to attain is to not attain. So whatever we attain is indeed nothing. Is that right?
    No!

    This "No--thing" is not just nothing, and this Emptiness is not simply empty. It is an Emptiness that holds and manifests as the interflowing dance that is everything, each thing and all things.

    daily life without thought and attempt at attainment seems absurd to me. What about the Four Great Vows?
    We non-think right through thoughts and no thought ... thus, thinking-non-thinking. We vow to "save all sentient beings" in part by showing the "sentient beings" that there was never anything to save for all is as a dream (nonetheless, dream or not, let us save the frightened children from war and hunger in this world too).

    It's not thinking, it's not not-thinking... but realising that transcendent reality above and beyond thinking and not thinking. Doesn't this also apply to daily life? When desiring, desire non-desire. When acting, act non-acting etc.
    Maybe there is hope for you yet. You are "very very warm" in our Zen game of "pin the non-tail on the dream donkey" ...

    But in the meantime, I will repeat for you too what I wrote above.

    You might just try it for awhile (my advice) and ... like many folks here ... it will just non-come to you one timeless day! Like a joke that somebody tells you in a bar that you don't get until, suddenly one morning, you get it! Oh, that is what it was all about! So obvious! Silly me!

    In the meantime, enough talking about it. More than enough has been said. Time to just sit and see what non-happens.


    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-24-2013 at 03:41 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #77
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Actually, a little after that passage by Bernie Glassman, the speaker says that the practice is sitting with the poetry in order to face reality. But I guess what you said is, in my opinion better, I guess.

    Also the nothing I referred to is precisely (not ever precise with words, but yeah) what you are trying to express. . . I guess it all falls down on misunderstanding. Zen is a language in itself with a trmendous number of dialects with their idioms etc.

    Yes, yes. Now time for silence. Thank you, thank you. Everyone !


    Gassho,
    Ben

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  28. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    'let thoughts go and not follow them' - I think that this is incredibly hard and a 'goal' in and of itself."

    I don't get that instruction either. I too feel it is a goal in itself. Whenever I try not to get caught up or try to wake up from thought, my sitting feels like any meditation with an object. May be I am misunderstanding the instruction but I completely agree with you it is misleading. In practice I let my thinking also be as is. Just like everything that's happening is fine, getting caught up in my thoughts is fine too. Nothing that happens in sitting is wrong. There is nothing in sitting like "oh this shouldn't be happening" or "I need to fix this".
    YES! ... however ... NO!!

    Having thoughts is fine, not having thoughts is fine, getting caught up in thoughts or not getting caught up in thoughts is fine. Nothing that happens in sitting is wrong, and there is nothing to fix. There is no bad Zazen, never was and never can be.

    NONETHELESS ...

    There are many things in sitting that can be wrong and we need to fix. If caught up in thoughts, things are not fine and that is bad Zazen. Open the hand of thought, put down the thoughts, and get uncaught.

    Only then might you encounter the clarity, illumination and equanimity which might let one truly realize why there was "nothing in need of fixing" even as there was stuff to fix!

    Does it sound to you like I am saying diametrically opposed things? Yes, that is a Koan.

    To "let thoughts go and not follow them" is most certainly a goal! Who said we don't have goals?

    And when one attains this "letting thoughts go" one may attain a clarity, illumination and equanimity that shines right through and through both "thoughts" and "absence of thoughts", that is so available and all encompassing that there is no goal to hit and never was!

    How to say it a better way?

    There is a goal we hit by the goal of not having a goal ... which is a goal we can hit only by being goalless.

    And when we hit this goalless goal we realize that the goal was already always hit from the start ... but our own ignorance and delusive thoughts kept us from realizing so.

    One day Governor Liu asked Master Nan-Chuan,
    “Let’s say someone raised a goose in the bottle. The goose has grown so much that it can no longer come out the bottleneck. Now without destroying the bottle, without harming the goose in anyway, how would master get the goose out?
    Master: “Governor!”
    Liu: “Yes?”
    Master: “It is out.”
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-18-2013 at 01:45 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #79
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


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

  30. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    There is a goal we hit by the goal of not having a goal ... which is a goal we can hit only by being goalless.
    Thank you Jundo ... 🙏

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  31. #81
    Hello there,

    I just wanted to say I have gained a lot from this thread.

    I think the best way to explain is to say it's been a bit like the past two years, since joining Tree Leaf, speeding rapidly through my mind.
    All of my niggles, doubts, burning questions, lapses of faith, irritations and sense of gratitude to the teachers/teaching here is in this thread.

    I think we can all agree - no one on this path is home and dry. It's a continual process and one we commit to day by day.

    I think we can also agree that a question chases a question chases a question. Nothing wrong with asking questions but the mind does have a tendency to keep chasing round in circles.

    Sitting doesn't always proffer release - it's the place where we're probably most aware of the circling. But it's also the place where we can experience, stillness, peace and a state of equanimity.

    I can not begin to put into words how precious this is and how it holds the key to all meaningful ACTION in our lives.

    I used to get niggled when Jundo said - 'come on - it's not rocket science you know' (sorry for paraphrasing Jundo). Straight away my mind was - but this - but that - but, but, but!

    I think we can put layer of complexity upon layer of complexity - but really 'just sitting' is incredibly pure and simple if we allow it to be ( and also - at times - incredibly hard if we allow it to be).

    These poor words of mine don't fully capture it - as others have said more eloquently - it has to be experienced to be understood.

    Gassho

    Willow

  32. #82
    I feel like my inability to grasp this has irritated some - I apologies if it has tried your patience.

    Sometimes an intellectual grasp is a good starting point. I spent a long time studying the Prasangika and Nargajuna (tricky ) and that was invaluable. But there you go. In terms of actually trying this, I have been sitting every morning at 5am for a long time now....I'm not new to the discipline of practice. Not new to Sheng Yens teachings on Silent Illumination, I believe the inspiration for Dogens Shikantaza. I am new however to the Soto dialect. What might seem poetic logic to some, to others is indecipherable , like me ...that's what I have been trying to grasp.

    Several posts ago Jundo said enough talking, time to sit. Maybe he is right, despite being drawn to a Shikantaza for some reason, maybe my Karma isn't up to it...

    Thanks for all your replies, it's been fascinating :-)

    ...back to the breath....

    Tony... _/|\_


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  33. #83
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    We are not always held down by our karma. Let's keep on sitting! Keep pushing that pushless push or whatever. We're both on the same boat here. Don't give up!

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  34. #84
    Hi Tony,

    Here is a good link to the Silent Illumination practice

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...lightened.html

    Gassho,
    Sam

  35. #85
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Hi Tony,

    Here is a good link to the Silent Illumination practice

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-a...lightened.html

    Gassho,
    Sam
    Let me explain a fine point on how to define "Enlightenment" in such essay ... but I believe that such is a vital point, and makes all the difference (and sameness!) in the world.

    Guo Gu defines "Enlightenment" as some states or stages that are reached ...

    The clarity of the second stage is like looking through a spotless window. You can see through it very well, almost as if the window were not there, but it is there. In the second stage, the self lies dormant but subtle self-grasping is present. In other words, seeing through a window, even a very clean one, is not the same as seeing through no window at all. Seeing through no window is one way of describing the state of enlightenment, which is the third stage. In utter clarity, the mind is unmoving. Why? Because there is no self-referential mind.

    The third stage of silent illumination is the realization of quiescence and wakefulness, stillness and awareness, samadhi and prajna, all of which are different ways to describe mind’s natural state. Experiencing it for the first time is like suddenly dropping a thousand pounds from your shoulders—the heavy burdens of self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies. Prior to that, you may not know exactly what self-attachment or vexations are. But once you are free from them, you clearly recognize them.

    Self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies run deep. So practitioners must work hard to experience enlightenment again and again until they can simply rest in mind’s natural state. The key is to practice diligently but seek no results.

    By practicing in this way, our life gradually becomes completely integrated with wisdom and compassion, and even traces of “enlightenment” vanish. We are able to offer ourselves to everyone, like a lighthouse, helping all those who come our way, responding to their needs with*out contrivance. This is the perfection of silent illumination.

    You might ask, “I’ve been practicing for ten years now—exactly when is this going to happen to me?” The difference between delusion and enlightenment is only a moment away. In an instant, you can be free from the constructs of your identity and see through the veil of your fabrications.
    We also experience and prize such momentless moments of Shikantaza. So what is the subtle difference?

    I believe that such moments can be over-valued and over-emphacized by Teachers as the state to be reached and maintained ... and they confuse the point by saying that the goal is to get better and better at reaching such states and maintaining them. I believe that such Teachings send students on a chase for certain experiences like a "pot of gold under the distant rainbow". Rather, I view such moments as "reference points" that we sometimes encounter on our long hike up the Buddha-mountain ... a moment perhaps when the trees drop away and clouds clear and one sees without obstruction. But the point is not to stay in that place or get better at turning all of the mountain into a place like that.

    Rather, we suddenly realize that all of the mountain ... the whole hike ... was Buddha all along. We can get on with the hike ... up and down ... cloudy or sunny, grass fields or dense forests ... and now experience that every step by step up and down the mountain was Buddha hiking Buddha from startless-start to finishless-finish. Such moments are very helpful for us to see such, but not the point ... any more than seeing a certain famous waterfall and snapping a photo is the point of the trip. Nor is the hike about arriving at any destination or some pot of gold over the hill.

    The point proves to be Total Arrival in each step by step up and down the mountain, and the "treasure" ever always already in hand.

    A subtle difference.

    The funny thing is that, even though we come to see the beginner's bottom of the mountain and the high points of the mountain as all Buddha ... and "no place to go" because the mountain was ever and always underfoot (and your foot too!) ... still, a fellow practicing 30 years is probably better able to realize that fact (of "all is Buddha Buddhaing Buddha") better than a fellow practicing 30 minutes or 30 days.

    We come to realize that all the hike is Buddha, each step by step ... both when the path is clear and when we stumble into poison ivy or fall into the mud (nonetheless, the experienced climber gets better at avoiding the stumbles). We do get better at seeing all the mountain as Buddha and the total hike as constant arrival ... and we do get better at avoiding the pitfalls of excess desire, anger and divisive thoughts which blind us to that Truth.

    As I wrote above, students can be sent into a "chase of the tail", a "wild goose-in-the bottle chase":

    PS - Many Buddhists are so good at chasing their tails that the chase goes on for (traditionally) lifetimes! Others realize that such was here all along, and there were no lifetimes even as we dreamed of lifetimes. If you dream of stages and progress, mountains to cross ... sure enough, one must cross them, climb them and reach for progress. But when one realizes that the dream of the mountain was ever underfoot Buddha climbing Buddha ... abracadabra ... the mountains are crossed.
    So, this is why I do not care for how Sheng-yen and his student explain Silent Illumination, and they are not alone by any means. Sheng-yen, in some of his writings, was even more insistent on attaining certain unusual Samadhi mind states as the "stages" or goals of Practice. Pages 17 to 19 here ...

    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=t...nation&f=false

    I do like the closing statement of the essay ...

    emember that practice is much more than following a particular method or going through stages on a path. Practice is life and all of its “furniture.” Practice helps us see the room and not attach to the furniture. Enlightenment is not something special—it is the natural freedom of this moment, here and now, unstained by our fabrications.
    That is the sameness that dances all differences.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-19-2013 at 05:15 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #86
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zazen on the cushion is all there is, Enlightenment realized, not one drop to add not one drop to take away ... Wholly Holy Whole, Completely Complete ... Buddha sitting Buddha ... Buddha Buddhaing Buddha. Enlightenment is sitting itself.

    But that is when sitting on the cushion!

    Rising from the cushion (as we do and must), all of life manifests and is manifested as Zazen in its Vast meaning ... in the kitchen, the child's nursery, the office, driving the car ... Enlightenment realized, not one drop to add not one drop to take away ... Wholly Holy Whole, Completely Complete ... Buddha sitting Buddha ... Buddha Buddhaing Buddha.

    One will have various momentless moments of "a non-conceptual experience of Emptiness" now and then ... but such realization (piercing, grocking) is not enough, for more vital is the realization (making it real, bringing to life) of how one thus lives. THAT is Enlightenment as Practice itself ... for Enlightenment must be put into Practice.

    Emptiness, beyond me and you and love and hate and lack and gain and coming and going ... must simultaneously be realized (grocked) to be, and realized (brought to life) in/as/through this world of me and you and love and hate and lack and gain and coming and going. That is the real trick that takes Practice!

    Gassho, J
    Jundo, wonderful teaching, thank you!!!

    Gassho,
    Treena

  37. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    Jundo, wonderful teaching, thank you!!!

    Gassho,
    Treena
    Actually, I am like a broken record when it comes to saying stuff like so.

    Gassho, j
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #88
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Jundo, what is a "record" that you speak of? "Sounds like 20th Century to me!"^^

    Thank you.


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

  39. #89
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    YES! ... however ... NO!!

    Having thoughts is fine, not having thoughts is fine, getting caught up in thoughts or not getting caught up in thoughts is fine. Nothing that happens in sitting is wrong, and there is nothing to fix. There is no bad Zazen, never was and never can be.

    NONETHELESS ...

    There are many things in sitting that can be wrong and we need to fix. If caught up in thoughts, things are not fine and that is bad Zazen. Open the hand of thought, put down the thoughts, and get uncaught.

    Only then might you encounter the clarity, illumination and equanimity which might let one truly realize why there was "nothing in need of fixing" even as there was stuff to fix!

    Does it sound to you like I am saying diametrically opposed things? Yes, that is a Koan.

    To "let thoughts go and not follow them" is most certainly a goal! Who said we don't have goals?

    And when one attains this "letting thoughts go" one may attain a clarity, illumination and equanimity that shines right through and through both "thoughts" and "absence of thoughts", that is so available and all encompassing that there is no goal to hit and never was!

    How to say it a better way?

    There is a goal we hit by the goal of not having a goal ... which is a goal we can hit only by being goalless.

    And when we hit this goalless goal we realize that the goal was already always hit from the start ... but our own ignorance and delusive thoughts kept us from realizing so.



    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo,

    Tony reminds me of myself few months back. Trying to make sense of this practice, getting frustrated and even thinking about going back to breath following. Part of that could be attributed to the questioning mind and the lack of ability to take things on blind trust and give sitting the time to work. But I feel there is another major reason why (some) students are getting frustrated. I don't know how to put this. I tried telling this several times but couldn't muster the courage to do so. But I am going to do this now as I don't want more students get frustrated and lose hope in this wonderful practice. The below is completely my own view and I could be completely wrong but this is sincerely and truly what I feel.

    With all due respect, I feel the way you express the method is kind of misleading and confusing at times. You understand the method very well. You are very compassionate and try to help everyone by taking time to answer the questions in detail. You are in every thread repeatedly trying to explain things. But have you ever thought why you have to keep repeating things like (as you said) a "broken record"? Part of the reason is that the method is simple yet subtle and very different from traditional methods. But the other reason is that the way you explain it makes it difficult to understand especially to beginners. What you say may be legally/academically correct and even beautiful but the usability of it to beginners is questionable to me. Few examples

    - What could buddha buddhaing buddha mean to beginners? I probably need enlightenment for me to understand statements like that. That certainly does not feel to me like a practice instruction for a beginner to understand and put to use.
    - All the pairs of opposites you use makes what you say harder to understand (for example instead of saying "it will come to you one day" you say "it will just non-come to you one timeless day!" and then you add "Time to just sit and see what non-happens"). I understand there is nothing to get in this method and there is no concept of time/space in an awakened mind. But telling that once is enough. Don't you think using that kind of language in everything you say makes it more confusing?
    -
    For the sitting instruction, you give a complex description and ask students to sit with all of that in the mind/attitude/bones. I believe the instructions for the method should be simple and easy to follow. The method is subtle and the more things you keep in mind or the more you try to do the more there is the chance of doing it wrong. Why do some places like Antaiji sometimes ask students to sit without any instructions? Moreover you can't nail down this practice in any fixed set of instructions no matter how complex and beautiful they are.
    - I feel you make it sound like doing this method a bit incorrectly or differently (from what you instruct) doesn't work. For example Brad Warner and some other teachers tell not to worry about thoughts and instruct to let thinking be as it is. You teach students to keep waking up from thought (which is fine too and can be one way to do it) and insist any other way is incorrect. Some teachers don't correct minor things as long as the student's overall direction is correct. The sitting will eventually help the students to figure out the way themselves. What is more important in this type of sitting is to trust and not be intent on following the right way or any fixed way. On the other hand correcting minor things or insisting the method be followed correctly will only discourage the student and may lead them to give up the practice. I believe nobody will be doomed forever for not doing some minor instructions correctly. My personal experience has been that if I leave my thinking as it is (not trying to wake up a lot or not trying to purposefully think something) my thinking slows down on its own. There is some seriousness already in our committing to sit and I felt that is enough and there is no need to do anything more with the mind or the thought processes. There is no need to try to keep waking up from thought. Any of the attempts to wake up makes me feel like I am in control and doing something to get somewhere and there is something wrong with what is already happening. I can tell myself there is nothing to fix but then that sounds so artificial when I am at the same time repeatedly trying to fix something. Also whenever I tried using it, there is a heaviness/trance-likeness to it which are usually associated with meditation following an object. I feel it may be used as a technique initially that later leads to pure shikantaza but mixing it with all the wonderful descriptions about shikantaza and then telling people to follow a method will definitely confuse beginners. It is exactly same as telling people to follow breath and adding wonderful descriptions of shikantaza and saying breath following is shikantaza.

    I am sorry for this post but I have spent many months confused by what you said even though you have been only trying to help. I learnt a lot from the senior students here and in fact after few months of sitting one post by some senior student made me suddenly realize the correct way to practice. I am sure I might have said lot of stupid/incorrect things in this post but I also feel I have a point which hopefully I made clear. Please excuse my ignorance. Also there is no disrespect here. There is only agony and a desire for others not to be mislead. Also please don't get me wrong. I'm only talking about the practice related stuff. Lot of other things that you say are beautiful and explain things clearly to me. Also I'm sure your practice related instruction will make much more sense to senior students and other teachers. It is only the usefulness to beginners that I am talking about.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  40. #90
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Throw it all away. Do or don't.


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

  41. #91
    Hi Sam,

    This is Zen, after all. Not easy to understand or to express in normal language. Have you read that Dogen fellow? All the old Koans? The Sixth Patriarch? Now those were guys who talked straight, but could not say a straight sentence!

    I have actually been criticized in some Zen quarters for being TOO CLEAR and too down to earth, when one needs to really throw a wrench in the mental machinery.

    My feeling is that some folks will get it, and some not. Everyone has different Karma. Today I was just trying to explain about Zen to an evangelical Christian friend, and realized that people hear what they wish.

    I believe that if you sit this method even a tad incorrectly, it does not work and one is as far apart as earth and sky. Dogen famously wrote ...

    The way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth.
    Although there is no way to sit as the way is originally perfect and all-pervading and the whole body is already free from dust ... without such attitude in the marrow it is impossible to sit it right, with the slightest deviation the gap is as between heaven and earth!

    And please keep releasing those tangled streams of thought. Maybe Dogen had the best description of how to non-sit when he timelessly wrote (in Zazenshin) ...

    While Great Master Yakusan Kōdō is sitting, a monk asks him, “What are you thinking in the still-still state?” The master says, “Thinking the concrete state of not thinking.” The monk says, “How can the state of not thinking be thought?” The master says, “It is non-thinking.”

    Experiencing the state in which the words of the great master are like this, we should learn in practice “mountain-still sitting,” and we should receive the authentic transmission of “mountain-still sitting”: this is the investigation of “mountain-still sitting” that has been transmitted in Bud dhism. “Thinking in the still-still state” is not of only one kind, but Yakusan’s words are one example of it. Those words are “Thinking the concrete state of not thinking.” They include “thinking” as skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, and “not thinking” as skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. The monk says, “How can the state of not thinking be thought?” Truly, although “the state of not think ing” is ancient, still it is “How can it be thought about!” “In the still-still state” how could it be impossible for “thinking” to exist? And why do [people] not understand the ascendancy of “the still-still state”? If they were not the stupid people of vulgar recent times, they might possess the power, and might possess the thinking, to ask about “the still-still state.” The great master says, “It is non-thinking.” This use of “non-thinking” is brilliant; at the same time, whenever we “think the state of not thinking,” we are inevitably using “non-thinking.”

    In “non-thinking” there is someone, and [that] someone is main taining and relying upon me. “The still-still state,” although it is I, is not only “thinking”: it is holding up the head of “the still-still state.” Even though “the stillstill state” is “the still-still state,” how can “the still-still state” think “the stillstill state”? So “the still-still state” is beyond the intellectual capacity of Buddha, beyond the intellectual capacity of the Dharma, beyond the intellectual capacity of the state of realization, and beyond the intellectual capacity of understanding itself.
    http://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dB...enzo2_2008.pdf
    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-24-2013 at 03:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  42. #92
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo,

    Do we literally mean that this body, this life, is perfect with nothing to change? Or is this in terms of emptiness? I can't possibly sit down to my core believing this to be true. It feels like a surrendering of reason, along with compassion. If there is nothing to change, why did numerous people from the past have to search relentlessly for an answer? Even Dogen?

    Please answer this in illusion if necessary. If what I read is correct, Dogen considered the relative to be the absolute, so please be as clear as possible with this one great question I have of practice. It bothers me to no end, and I don't think I can practice correctly if this doubt is not put to rest.

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  43. #93
    From my own experience, stop, drop and roll with what Jundo ( and Taigu) are saying bro's. I cannot begin to express of what value Jundo's way of explaining has been for me in the past year. Ever since I stopped running around in circles on my own and feeding my ego while sitting and carefully studied the answers given by Jundo and Taigu like koan's, practice has deepened greatly for me. Precisely because the way the answers are given and due to the unprecedented level of care and attention.There was even an inside view of the way our teachers measure our answers on Zen issues (about squeezing balloons) by Jundo once! A teacher explaining his methods ? This is UNHEARD OFF in other zendo, dojo or anywhere and is precious indeed ! It stole my hart there and then, but that is just me .

    So I feel a little gentle feedback from my humble place closest to the door is in place, if that's OK?

    Do you think you could interact and build an open relationship like this, with teachers like these, being the novices that we are, in say Eiheiji today? We would both be digging latrines and opening the door for the rest of the sangha for the first year m8! A little bell ringing right away, is all we would ever get for our "I don't get this" questions. Count your fortunes very very carefully now!

    Yes there is a lot of repetition but this has NOTHING to do with the qualities of the teachers m8. The flavor our teacher serve us here is as plain and straight as it comes. The problem our teachers face every time we decide we have a question, is to give an answer, consider who it is given to and to stay true to Zen and squeeze the balloon at both sides at the same time. If the questions are the same every time, so will be the answers, no? I personally would start to worry if the answers would differ and appreciate the fact Jundo and Taigu are kind enough not to just copy and paste a thread as an answer, every time we start about enlightenment again! That's just well, very COOOL!

    Not getting it, is your problem (and mine) every time. It's not in the teachers way of explaining or the way they decide to answer the question. Buddha buddhaing Buddha while giving Buddha a Buddha answer about Buddha being Buddha, is as straight forward as it gets, if you get it that is?

    I feel you make it sound like doing this method a bit incorrectly or differently (from what you instruct) doesn't work. For example Brad Warner and some other teachers tell not to worry about thoughts and instruct to let thinking be as it is. You teach students to keep waking up from thought (which is fine too and can be one way to do it) and insist any other way is incorrect. Some teachers don't correct minor things as long as the student's overall direction is correct.
    Isn't this precisely what Treeleaf is about? Or did you get a precise and rigid breathing or posture instruction class that I missed somehow? Kyosaku practice or strict do or die Dokusan procedures maybe? Titles and a rigid hierarchy structure? NO! Just gentle and patient guidance about what IT is not. I'm not you, you are not me nor are we other people, right?

    My kid has a way of asking me questions by starting to explain to me how ice cream is made, an engine or even the universe works. Makes him feel like a big boy. He thinks up some complicated process or situation ( complicated because all grown up things must always be complicated ) and then starts telling me how it works. He is searching, because he is now getting the sense things just might be even greater and even more magical then he thinks. A good thing.

    Should I explain to him in detail how an ice cream factory actually works? Is it of any use? Don't want to put wrong ideas in his head and all. Does it change the flavor? It might even ruin ice cream for him forever, if he really knew how it is made and take away all that summer pleasure still to come in his young life? No way! I always listen to how the question is asked, in what words or time and then decide how I should answer it. Jundo thought me that in some answer on this forum, not too long ago. A 6 year old phrases a question very differently from an 18 year old, would you not agree? To me, this is the same in our zen practice and questions. The huge task at hand for our teachers here at Treeleaf, is to hold that fine balance, keep the precepts and try to help people find their own questions to the answers ( (phun intended) by giving an answer that is not an answer, yet being your answer. Get it?

    All in great appreciation and gratitude for your practice.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  44. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Do you think you could interact and build an open relationship like this, with teachers like these, being the novices that we are, in say Eiheiji today? We would both be digging latrines and opening the door for the rest of the sangha for the first year m8! A little bell ringing right away, is all we would ever get for our "I don't get this" questions. Count your fortunes very very carefully now!
    Yes, very true

    Gassho,
    Sam

  45. #95
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    Do we literally mean that this body, this life, is perfect with nothing to change? Or is this in terms of emptiness? I can't possibly sit down to my core believing this to be true. It feels like a surrendering of reason, along with compassion. If there is nothing to change, why did numerous people from the past have to search relentlessly for an answer? Even Dogen?

    Please answer this in illusion if necessary. If what I read is correct, Dogen considered the relative to be the absolute, so please be as clear as possible with this one great question I have of practice. It bothers me to no end, and I don't think I can practice correctly if this doubt is not put to rest.

    Gassho, Ben
    Hi Ben,

    Let me make this as clear as I can, and if it is hard to compute and digest, the reason is mostly because such is not our usual way of thinking about life. (Sorry Sam).

    Position "A" - There is a certain "Perfection" beyond small human judgments of "perfection and imperfection". In the Wholeness of reality, there is a certain way to experience that nothing is lacking. Things might not be "perfect" (small "p"), but each and all is perfectly just what it is ... and even a flaw is completely flawed, a garbage dump is perfectly dumpy when we drop human judgments and personal aversions and attractions. Yes, I am speaking with regard to emptiness. There is nothing in need of fixing because there is no "thing" in need of fixing. Thus Dogen wrote (and countless Mahayana Buddhist folks agreed through the centuries) ...

    The way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean?
    Position "B" - On the other hand, OF COURSE this world is not "perfect"! There are ugly diseases we should try to cure, flaws we should try to avoid, wars to end, smelly garbage we had best pick up. There are things that are good and things that are bad in this world.

    Zen (and most of Mahayana Buddhism) is rather a "Super-Position AB" ... in which A and B are met as both true at once from different perspective, and actually so intimate and simultaneously true that "Position B" is perceived very differently from before this fact is realized.** Now, we have "stinky garbage" that is just what it is ... but we had best clean it up too. We have disease that is flawlessly flawed with nothing to cure ... but let us also try to find a cure and take our medicine nonetheless. Thus, Dogen and the other Mahayana and Zen teachers remind us, we need to do some practice to realize this "Super-Position".

    Why?

    Because our brains are too flawed and filled with mental garbage to perceive this Truth easily.

    Sorry, I don't know how to make it any clearer than that ... and am probably doing a disservice by spelling it out at all.

    Gassho, J

    ** Side note: "Position A", in a sense, is constantly changing too as "Position B" changes because B and A are not separate so every change in "B" is just "A" changing too ... yet simultaneously, "Position A" might be said to be beyond change because so Whole and because there is no separate "outside viewer" or separate "things to change" within it. However, pointing that out may only confuse someone's flawed brain more (so please forget I mentioned it!). Thus, there is no enlightenment to be "pursued" or to "get" because no separate "person" to pursue "it" that is apart ... and such is precisely what the separate person realizes as Truth when she "gets" it! Most of the Koans, by the way, are about stuff like this. Here is Case 32 in the Book of Serenity

    CASE 32: Ky˘zan's Mind and Objective World

    Ky˘zan asked a monk, "Where do you come from?" The monk said, "I am from Yű Province" Ky˘zan said, "Do you think of that place?" The monk said, "I always do." Ky˘zan said, "That which thinks is the mind. That which is thought about is the objective world. Within that are mountains, rivers and the great earth, towers, palaces, people, animals, and other things. Reflect upon the mind that thinks. Are there a lot of things there?" The monk said, "I don't see anything at all there." Ky˘zan said, "That's right for the stage of understanding, but not yet for the stage of personalization." The monk said, "Do you have any special advice, Master?" Ky˘zan said, "It is not right to say that there is or there is not. Your insight shows that you have obtained only one side of the mystery. Sitting down, putting on clothes – from now on you see by yourself."
    Commentary: I wonder why Kyozan could not just have been a straighter talker?
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-22-2013 at 10:58 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  46. #96
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo,

    Firstly, I would like to thank you on being so patient with me. It pains me to have to bother people asking about this.... I feel great shame and gratitude at the same time.

    And this stupid kid still has questions, but this time I would only like to express them... if it's better to leave them unanswered to your discretion, do so without, hesitation.

    But if we practice to realize there was nothing to realize, whatever that is, and a prerequisite of sorts for practice is to sit with the wholeness (perhaps from the nothing to realize bit), how can we practice?

    As to why he could not be clear, well, I did read an article or a paper once about how someone insisted that calling the old masters' methods irrational were doing them a disservice... giving it so weirdly apparently makes the student keep practicing... as youve seen with me I'm still relentlessly struggling like a pig being slowly butchered, with, the internal squeeling and shouting and kicking etc. I just sometimes feel guilt that I feel this way....which I think is bad? Its like the complete opposite of wholeness, etc. Obviously this clarity hasn't penetrated in me at all. There are so many questions.

    The only thing that's keeping me on my cushion is, ironically in a soto zendo, great faith, great doubt, and great, albeit grave, determination. I see no wholeness anywhere at all.



    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  47. #97
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post

    But if we practice to realize there was nothing to realize, whatever that is, and a prerequisite of sorts for practice is to sit with the wholeness (perhaps from the nothing to realize bit), how can we practice?
    We practice diligently and sincerely to realize what has been here all along ... because otherwise we do not realize such was here all along.

    We sit in Wholeness ... all while feeling anything but whole (and that is the reason most of us start to practice).

    How to Practice? ... Sit Zazen, fetch water and carry wood, chant the Heart Sutra, go to work, feed the kids ... repeat as needed.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  48. #98

  49. #99
    I just want to add something to the discussion. I think there are two components of sitting practice

    1. Acceptance/Allowing-things-to-be-as-they-are/Sitting-in-Wholeness/Nothing-to-be-fixed/No-future-thing-to-be-desired or attained (Goalless)/Beyond-time-space/Letting-go-of-control
    2. Awareness/Presence/Not-being-lost

    Traditional methods: Cultivate awareness first through shamatha practices (breath counting/following) and once certain level of concentration is attained you sit in wholeness

    Awareness requires effort and doing something. Sitting-in-Wholeness doesn't involve a technique or intentional effort and is more of a "letting go of control" process. In my experience at least, just doing #1 is enough and it will eventually lead to #2 too. Trying to do #1 along with #2 somehow didn't work for me. Whenever I tried to "do something" (for example waking up from thought (Jundo) or being aware of sounds (Taigu)) my practice felt like a struggle and my sitting had none of the qualities described in #1 (nothing-to-be-fixed, goalless, letting-go-of-control). Things really started to fall in place for me when I did just #1.

    Just wanted to add this.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  50. #100
    Hi Sam,

    You do understand that there is a way in which letting go of trains of thought is not "doing something", but rather it is -not- to do something (not to engage in trains of thought)?

    It is like my joke about thoughts being like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. To "stop hitting yourself with the hammer" is not to "do something". Rather, it is to stop "doing something" (to stop hitting yourself!).



    Anyway, it is just semantics ... this "do" or "not do". Just stop hitting yourself in the head with long trains of thought and tangled emotion, and put the thought hammer down.

    However, if someone's idea of Zazen and "not doing" is just to sit there and let long trains of thought play out, or their idea of "allowing" is just to "allow yourself to wallow in emotion", they miss the point of "allowing" and "not doing".

    By the way, I don't see so clearly this 1 and 2 you mention. All seems like one to me.

    Anyway, Sam, you just sit however you sit. If it works for you, that is fine. Only you are the ultimate judge.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-24-2013 at 03:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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