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Thread: Sweeping..... under the carpet?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Sweeping..... under the carpet?

    Hello everyone!

    When sitting shikantaza we are to sit like Buddha, dropping body and mind and "think not-thinking".
    However one thing that has been troubling me lately is that when having a trouble, like for instance someone or something troubling us at work or at school, during zazen, the mind produces thoughts about this.
    It feels very good to just "open the hand of thought" and let this thoughts of trouble and problems just drift by.

    Sometimes I feel that doing this sweeps the problem under the carpet so to speak and that it will come up later, maybe even worse than it is now.
    I wonder when its best to deal with the problems and when its best to let them drift away. Sometimes I feel like the right thing is to just dig in to the troubles and problems and really look at them. Then its easier to let them go afterwards.

    Any thoughts or non-thoughts about this?

    Gassho
    Kantai

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Kantai,

    Before I say anything, please note that I might be wrong since I still have a long way to go before being a fully trained priest.

    That said, the way I see it, shikantaza is not hiding problems or hiding from them.

    By sitting daily we come to terms with what life is and what it means to be part of the universe. We accept what there is, what we are and what we have around us.

    Whether it's good times, hard times, nice people or challenging relationships with people, we calm ourselves. We learn patience and perseverance and we train to see life from a better perspective.

    Dealing with problems and challenges is like if you were a football player right in the field. You have to react to what you see in front of you. You are in the action line.

    Zazen, in the other hand, helps you see the field from up in the sky from the Goodyear zeppelin. You see all the field, all the players, the public, the referees and the hot dog vendors. You see all the options and courses of actions the player might not see.

    While sitting you let go of your attachments and opinions to situations in life. You can even see your own opinions from afar.

    In my experience problems are as bad as you want to make them. If you are too attached to ego, you'll feel violated and hurt by stuff. If equanimity is present, you'll accept things as they are and that will be the solid ground where you'll stand to solve problems. They might be tough, but you'll be able to see different paths and choices available.

    Sitting and practicing shikantaza is not about inaction or hiding. It's about morphing with the universe to be calm, letting go of ego, judgments and opinions to be present right here and now.

    This way you'll be calm and serene to take part of life.

    But then again, I might be wrong

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  3. #3
    Hej Kantai!
    I have lately let thoughts of this kind stay for a while when I sit zazen. If they have been worth working on they have often been "solved" quite smoth. And if they have not been worth working at they have just drifted by.
    I'm not the right man to tell you how to not think, this is how I think.

    Gassho
    Genki




    Bjrn

  4. #4
    Hi,

    Kyonin speaks my heart.

    When sitting Zazen, we let our problems just be with equanimity ... much as we let 'just be' the chair or table in the room. Rising from the cushion, the problems will still be there, and so will plenty of time to think about them. But during sitting, we let the world rest and flow by.

    As Kyonin said, our problems ... and the whole world ... may appear quite different and clearer when we put them down, step back and view them from high above. Nothing in need of solving.

    And then perhaps we will learn the fine art of both at once! Facing our problems head on with vigor, and realizing "nothing in need of fixing" AT ONCE! Planning how to get out of a predicament, and nothing to escape from AS ONE!

    Nothing is swept under the rug. Rather, all is illuminated!

    By the way, it is okay if (like Genki describes) thoughts of a problem come into mind and hand around for awhile during Zazen. It is natural for such thoughts to come and go. It is just that, during Zazen, we are not "pondering and chewing over" the problems as usual. Rather, we are letting them come, sit, just be and illuminate themselves before moving on.

    Gassho, J (dealing with many problems in my own life, every day like everybody).
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-12-2014 at 11:01 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Kantai;
    These three guys appear to have hit the nail on the head. You are probably best to sit with what they say and you will be amazed at how problems/troubles sort themselves out.
    And, thank you Kyonin, Genki and Jundo, this seems to essentially sum up every thing you've ever told us about zazen.

    Sent from my Note 2 using Tapatalk4
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Hi Kyonin and Genki,
    thanks for your responses.

    Kyonin said:
    In my experience problems are as bad as you want to make them. If you are too attached to ego, you'll feel violated and hurt by stuff. If equanimity is present, you'll accept things as they are and that will be the solid ground where you'll stand to solve problems. They might be tough, but you'll be able to see different paths and choices available.
    Maybe Im a bit attached to dwelling on prolems, working them over and over in my mind. I somehow think that if I dont brood on problems Im not worthy of letting them go. Its hard to get used to the bigger picture from the Zeppelin, especially if youre afraid of heights!

    Sometimes the best solutions pops up when not thinking of the problems.
    I will sit with/without this.

    Gassho
    Kantai

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    And then perhaps we will learn the fine art of both at once! Facing our problems head on with vigor, and realizing "nothing in need of fixing" AT ONCE! Planning how to get out of a predicament, and nothing to escape from AS ONE!

    Nothing is swept under the rug. Rather, all is illuminated!
    Thank you Jundo,

    Gassho
    Kantai

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Hey Kantai,

    Treeleaf is wonderful, so many great responses. Agreeing with what's been said, this can also be thrown in: on the zafu we can just sit in the rain while accepting it, off the zafu we can open an umbrella but still not be averse to the rain. From this fool's perspective, there are no problems, only experiences. It's best to respond rather than react. Troubles are impermanent. We can respond to the rain by letting it fade, or use an umbrella. Either way we can only accept the rain for what it is... rain. Either way, the skies are clear above the clouds. This is the awareness of the Original Mind, the Buddha, who is the zeppelin, the players, referees, hot dogs, the sport, and the field. Hope this helped buddy!

    Gassho, Foolish John

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    .... You are probably best to sit with what they say and you will be amazed at how problems/troubles sort themselves out.
    And, thank you Kyonin, Genki and Jundo, this seems to essentially sum up every thing you've ever told us about zazen.
    Listen to the wise voice, who is sitting here even as we speak with a wife very sick in the hospital, and doctors who need a kick in the butt to get moving.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    ... on the zafu we can just sit in the rain while accepting it, off the zafu we can open an umbrella but still not be averse to the rain. From this fool's perspective, there are no problems, only experiences. It's best to respond rather than react. Troubles are impermanent. We can respond to the rain by letting it fade, or use an umbrella. Either way we can only accept the rain for what it is... rain. Either way, the skies are clear above the clouds. This is the awareness of the Original Mind, the Buddha, who is the zeppelin, the players, referees, hot dogs, the sport, and the field. Hope this helped buddy!

    Gassho, Foolish John
    I feel you really described the sensation here. Yes. Like that. Stay warm and dry as best you can, but when it rains ...

    I still do not like getting my picnic ruined, my shoes drenched or catching my death of pneumonia. I very much dislike it in fact. Yet, there is aversion AND no aversion AT ONCE, AS ONE. Buddha don't mind getting wet!



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-13-2014 at 12:49 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  10. #10
    Wow again ... Some amazing responses! I have to say we have some amazing folks around here, thank you all for your reflections. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

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

  11. #11
    Kantai, I've been wondering about the same thing. So, thanks for articulating it so well. And thanks to Kyonin for the blimp analogy.
    Shinzan

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kantai View Post

    Maybe Im a bit attached to dwelling on prolems, working them over and over in my mind. I somehow think that if I dont brood on problems Im not worthy of letting them go. Its hard to get used to the bigger picture from the Zeppelin, especially if youre afraid of heights!
    Hi Kantai,

    I just wanted to add that I do this (dwell on problems) a lot - I have a strong attachment to "working things out" (less so now, but in the past, to the point of anxiety and depression), and I'm guessing that if anyone is conscious and really trying to live in a particular way, this kind of thinking occurs and can be a trap. What I mean is, I totally empathize, and think this is a fairly normal trend in contemporary life. Just recognizing it, I think, is good, then you can sit in the way described by others here.

    Anyway, hope you're well and gassho
    Shōmon

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I was going to respond, and then I read what other's had posted, and well, can't say it any better. Thank you everyone for what you posted here, wonderful, wonderful stuff!!!

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  14. #14
    Every thing has its time. The thoughts will arise and they will come back. That is their nature. But when sitting, just sit. Let the problem be what it is, let it be Buddah. It will come up in its time.
    Gassho,
    "Heitetsu"
    Christopher

  15. #15
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this.

    Nameless/John, what's the difference between to react and to respond?
    It's best to respond rather than react. Troubles are impermanent. We can respond to the rain by letting it fade, or use an umbrella. Either way we can only accept the rain for what it is... rain.
    Gassho
    Kantai
    Last edited by Kantai; 02-18-2014 at 11:12 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Kantai, and John, if I may speak for John:

    I think he means that to react to something is to react to it habitually, without presence of mind. Honestly, though, respond and react mean the same, so it's all about context.
    迎 Geika

  17. #17
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Thank you Amelia for the clarification.
    Im a bit uncertain with the English language sometimes.
    John I didnt mean to criticize your post in any way, it was more of a language thing, wondering if it was some other meaning with the words that I missed.

    Gassho
    Kantai

  18. #18
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Aha!
    Now I get it
    Found this:
    http://www.serenejourney.com/2009/06...ct-or-respond/

    Gassho, Kantai

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kantai View Post
    Aha!
    Now I get it
    Found this:
    http://www.serenejourney.com/2009/06...ct-or-respond/

    Gassho, Kantai
    Wow! This was really helpfull for me.
    Thank you Kantai.

    Gassho
    Genki


    Bjrn

  20. #20
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you all. Jundo I love that picture of "wet Buddha", worth a thousand words.

    C

  21. #21
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Sweeping..... under the carpet?

    When we are not sitting, I think there are times it is ok to think about our problems. Not with the intention of solving them but with intention of acknowledging them and learning to be ok with ourselves despite our issues. It is a process of accepting ourselves for who we are. Then the problems seem to work themselves out. I will say over thinking our problems and spending a lot of time doing so can cause confusion and be counter productive. Zazen is teaching me to let go of problems much easier than in the past and I do not dwell on every little issue, but there are times some issues will not be still and facing them with a little extra focus has been helpful to me. I look at as a matter of finding the middle path. Please understand I do not claim to have the correct answer. As I grow in my practice, maybe this will change but it is where I am at right now.
    Last edited by Troy; 02-25-2014 at 06:41 PM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    When we are not sitting, I think there are times it is ok to think about our problems. Not with the intention of solving them but with intention of acknowledging them and learning to be ok with ourselves despite our issues. It is a process of accepting ourselves for who we are. Then the problems seem to work themselves out. I will say over thinking our problems and spending a lot of time doing so can cause confusion and be counter productive. Zazen is teaching me to let go of problems much easier than in the past and I do not dwell on every little issue, but there are times some issues will not be still and facing them with a little extra focus has been helpful to me. I look at as a matter of finding the middle path. Please understand I do not claim to have the correct answer. As I grow in my practice, maybe this will change but it is where I am at right now.
    And I want to be VERY VERY CLEAR about something:

    Even "off the cushion" when I think about something ... how to solve a problem at work, whether to move house, whether my feeling of sadness or (as you talk about Troy) shyness in a situation is justified ... I NON-THINK IT! Oh, I try to not fall into extremes, recognize excess, not wallow in emotions and become a prisoner of extreme thoughts, anger, greed and such. However, basically, this is normal thinking about stuff like all folks do about their choices and problems.

    What does that mean, to "NON=THINK" it? Well, I think about the problem in the normal way ... he said she said, I love this, hate that, blah blah blah, I'm right he is wrong ... blah blah blah, trying to plan a way to handle the mess. However, simultanesouly (as if seeing one way by one eye, another way by Buddha eye) ... I bring the same mind of Shikataza to the process. Same as on the cushion. I drop the need, the judgments, the feeling of lack etc. etc.

    THINKING-NON-THINKING the problem!

    And in most cases, a great Peace and Clarity comes even to the hardest questions.

    Now, I do not mean that I do so for every decision in life ... what socks to wear today, whether to buy peas in the grocery ... etc,. but it is wonderful for the hard or big decisions and questions.

    Nor will I claim that this method always presents a clear choice on what to do, that it "solves the problem" and makes it vanish. IT DOES NOT! On the other hand, quite frequently IT DOES!

    And what is more ... even when the clear choice still is muddled, and the terrible problem still remains terrible ... simultaneously, there is Peace and Illumination and Muddle and Terrible as a Beautiful Whole!


    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-26-2014 at 02:25 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Sweeping..... under the carpet?

    Thank you for your words Jundo. I agree with you 100%. We may be saying the same thing but with different words? Or maybe not? During Zazen itself, the thoughts come and go with out clinging. The thoughts are there for a brief time and then gone. During non-Zazen times, I do allow myself to think more in depth but in a manner that is about acknowledging mysef/issues I am having. I do it in a way that is accepting/at peace not in a way that is judging. I do it in a way that seeks understanding. I call it the opposite of Zazen because I am actually having a thought process. I called it the middle way (probably the wrong word choice as that can have other connotations) because it is in between non-thinking and thinking too much. When I recognize myself and am accepting of myself, then I am able to let go of the pain. It is a non-clinging and letting go process kind of like being on the cushion but in slow motion. It is like Zazen but it is not Zazen. It is not fighting my shyness. It is recognizing it and letting go. I don't do this for every issue, but sometimes it helps me. Maybe later when I have grown more in my practice I will not feel the need to do this. I am not suggesting this as a replacement of sitting. I sit Zazen everyday. Zazen is one of the most important things I do in my life. My head is starting to spin a little thinking about it all which is usually an indicator I have more to learn and to let it go for a while.
    Last edited by Troy; 02-26-2014 at 11:52 AM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo. Once again, I come for confirmation of my understanding.

    Can this non-thinking thing be described as thinking through your problem, but somewhere, there's this gut feeling that it doesn't really matter? Because everything is swimming in the wonderful abode of Buddha? Or maybe my Catholic side would say, nothing can separate us from the Love of God and we are continually saved and united with Christ over and over again from beginning to forever or something like that. So what do we do in response? Chop wood, carry water (think about your problem) with Joy and maybe also joy?

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  25. #25
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi Jundo. Once again, I come for confirmation of my understanding.

    Can this non-thinking thing be described as thinking through your problem, but somewhere, there's this gut feeling that it doesn't really matter? Because everything is swimming in the wonderful abode of Buddha? Or maybe my Catholic side would say, nothing can separate us from the Love of God and we are continually saved and united with Christ over and over again from beginning to forever or something like that. So what do we do in response? Chop wood, carry water (think about your problem) with Joy and maybe also joy?

    Gassho, Ben
    Hi Ben

    As I understand it, when we sit in shikantaza; we sit. It is not an effort to try to sit WITH a problem, but instead an effort to radically stop all thoughts of anything. Perhaps better expressed as not holding onto any thoughts, whether they be problems, excitements, creations, illusions, etc. But in stepping into this space we sometimes can discover that what we THOUGHT was a problem, is only a problem from a very limited small me perspective. And YES, we can see everything as swimming in the wonderful abode of Buddha. We can see things as sorrowful, problematic, wonderful, stressful, but at the same time recognize that this is just ONE eye looking at the issue. There is another eye too which can see things from the Buddha view, everything just as it is, nothing to add, nothing to take away.

    Gassho C

  26. #26
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Thank you, Clark. That sounds like what I do, except "stopping thinking". I prefer not engaging thoughts, letting it settle. Today's zazen was kind of boring, actually, but that's ok.

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  27. #27
    In my case,
    sometimes when I had problems or hard situations to solve, I feel that the solution is there, but I dont have the force to take a decision that respond adequately (in my experience there are not many options: to accept, to wait, to renounce or to make a gesture). In those situations I try to dont pay many attention to the thousands of ideas that came in zazen, but often I receive something more general after my sitting. Something like courage or determination or an unknown undefined energy that finally help me to take the right decision. Something that I didnt search, but I found. Logically the decision taken is not always the best, but as Joko Beck sensei said “Your decisions are your masters”, and I learn from the consequences.
    Gassho
    Senryu
    Please forgive any mistake in my writing. Like in Zen, in English I am only a beginner.

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