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Thread: Dogenís Circle of the Way

  1. #1

    Dogenís Circle of the Way

    A very nice article from Bro. Brad Warner on "Continuous Practice" ...

    Dogenís Circle of the Way


    Until Dogen met his teacher Tendo Nyojo, he had been taught that zazen was a means to an end, a way of attaining a specific goal. You do zazen in order to become enlightened.

    Thatís the way most meditation is taught. You want stress reduction? Do this! You want peace of mind? Do this!

    But itís not just meditation thatís taught this way. Nearly every activity we do in life is divided into ends and means. You do your job to get a paycheck. You jog to lose weight. You practice violin to play at Carnegie Hall. You write books to become a famous author. The list goes on and on.

    The problem is that we often do not attain our goals. Maybe our paycheck is less than we deserve, or we never get to play at Carnegie Hall, or we donít lose that weight as fast as we want, maybe we become a well-known author but not a famous one and we donít make any money, etc. This causes us a lot of disappointment. It often is enough to make us give up whatever it is weíre doing well before its benefits become evident.

    Many, many people give up meditation practice for this reason. I canít tell you how many times someone has forwarded me a very eloquently written essay by someone about what an obvious waste of time meditation is. This one by John Horgan is a great example. Horgan was disappointed by Zen practice and he explains why in terms that are very hard to refute. But Iíd say he was just doing it for the wrong reasons. And the wrong reasons for doing Zen practice are any reasons for doing Zen practice.

    http://hardcorezen.info/dogens-circle-of-the-way/2548
    By the way, I have given up on trying to get Brad here to lead a Zazenkai for us at Treeleaf. After months and months of promising, he kept pleading that he was too busy and promised it would be soon and soon. I have finally given up, and expressed my regrets to him. In any case, we will have some other guest teachers here in the coming weeks, stay tuned.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    By the way, Brad's essay also pointed to a great comment on this from Alan Watts ...

    Tendo Nyojo told Dogen that zazen practice is enlightenment itself. There is no separation between the activity and the goal. This doesn’t just go for Zen practice. It goes for everything.

    There’s a very good piece by Alan Watts about this idea. He compares the absurd idea of doing something in order to reach a goal to a composer who creates music that is all about the ending of a performance. The South Park guys did a great animation of it.


    I would say that neither do we need to be still. We have things to do ... projects and dreams. Nothing wrong with that. Build buildings, compose music, learn the violin, raise children, get that degree, work for world peace. One cannot and need not just simply sit on one's laurels or hindquarters, letting life drift by.

    However, one can know the Stillness right at the heart of both stillness and motion ... the "Non-attaining" right all through attaining, win or lose. The best of both views As One.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-18-2014 at 06:13 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Thanks for that Jundo,

    It's a good article. I constantly have to remind myself of this very fact, when playing guitar, when playing Go etc. Play just to play, not always to get better so the next time you play it will be better, that process will take care of itself.

    I just wish the website wasn't banned at work because it has the word "Hardcore" in the url!!.

    Gassho,

    Dave.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincinho View Post
    I just wish the website wasn't banned at work because it has the word "Hardcore" in the url!!.

    Gassho,

    Dave.
    Hmmm. Right now, just work to work. You can look at internet websites later.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Right now, just work to work. You can look at internet websites later.
    Touche!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo. Much of the unhappiness in our lives comes from reaching for future external incentives. As we know, there is really on Now, and that peace can never be attained externally or otherwise (can't get what ya already have). In articles for meditation journals I've been saying, "let the motivation be the incentive," lately. Sweep to sweep, not to clean. Go to school to learn, not to get a degree. Whatever comes of the behavior is just a fortunate byproduct.

    In psychology, this Zen concept was described by Gordon Allport as the functional autonomy of motives in which motivation is only intrinsic, and the means to an end become the end itself. Just another example of researchers stumbling upon the Dharma without knowing it. Also an example of how society sometimes sweeps these things under the rug. Allport formed that theory in the 1930s...

    Gassho, John

  7. #7
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    It's quite complicated, isn't it? We all get attracted to Zen - or other forms of meditation - because of the understanding of suffering, or an overall feeling of dissatisfaction in life. After all, that's the first noble truth (sort of). It's very difficult for that to change to sitting just for sitting's sake.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

  8. #8
    Hi Kirk,

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    It's quite complicated, isn't it? We all get attracted to Zen - or other forms of meditation - because of the understanding of suffering, or an overall feeling of dissatisfaction in life. After all, that's the first noble truth (sort of). It's very difficult for that to change to sitting just for sitting's sake.
    On the one hand, I agree, it is difficult, but on the other hand it is not! (IMHO)
    In my personal experience you "just" have to give up (yourself). Or as Taigu says "Throw yourself away."
    The best thing to do is to sit (shikantaza) Zazen with an attitude that you are ready to die on the cushion. I don't want to sound melodramatic, I just don't know better words how to express this.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu


    PS: Thank you for posting Brad's article, Jundo!
    no thing needs to be added

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    It's quite complicated, isn't it? We all get attracted to Zen - or other forms of meditation - because of the understanding of suffering, or an overall feeling of dissatisfaction in life. After all, that's the first noble truth (sort of). It's very difficult for that to change to sitting just for sitting's sake.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    And is that not the best medicine for our Suffering? The Third Noble Truth, the Cure for our unease and dissatisfaction: Just Sitting for Sitting's Sake, with no thought of a payout. Why?

    Because dissatisfaction is the need to do, the need to go, the drive to get, the longing to reach some goal. Sitting in and as full satisfaction of the goal ... and so, oulŗ, the Payout!

    Strange how that works!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    But we do work for a paycheck. It's nice to work for work's sake, but if that doesn't pay the bills, then you need to find a job that does. After you can pay the bills, work for work's sake. lol Isn't that the same as sitting for sitting's sake? I mean if that isn't curing the "dis-ease", then why sit?

    It's a crazy koan. If you sit with some agenda, then it's just more of the same. But that agenda is what brings us to the cushion. It's almost like coming into life as a child; we think we are the center of the universe, but it turns out that it's backward.

    I have to sit for just sitting's sake even though I constantly catch myself sitting for other reasons. I honestly do find myself sitting for stress relief, etc. But then I just come back, sitting for sitting's sake. It's like a life version of shikantaza.... on the cushion, coming back from some daydream or heated debate I'm having with imaginary people, just come back... breath of fresh air. In life... living for myself, caught in delusion... drop... ah breath of fresh air.

    I'm very selfish; I don't mean that in a fishing for compliments sort of way. The more I practice, the more I realize almost all of my aim is for myself despite the welfare of others. So sitting is atonement, and I guess that's why this is ceaseless practice.

    Gassho,

    Risho

    P.S. This was probably already said, but my bonehead had to restate it. hahahahaha

  11. #11
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Nicely put, Risho
    迎 Geika

  12. #12
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    My Kung Fu Sifu hates the belt system. The reason is he finds people begin to learn and train with an agenda. The agenda turns away from self development, and perfection of the art to the endless quest to just get to the next level. People then train martial arts just to get a belt. So many people train martial arts to become a black belt, they either get frustrated that they aren't attaining belts at the rate they thought they would, or eventually they do get a black belt and then they quit. Few of his students just train to train, but those are the ones that make it a part of their life and see the most benefit, because they just train for the sake of training.

    Gassho
    C

  13. #13
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post




    an attitude that you are ready to die on the cushion.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu


    PS: Thank you for posting Brad's article, Jundo!
    Thank you. Very nice. To approach death with an open heart, paradoxically, opens you up beautifully to life as it is.

    As for goals and guest speakers,
    I'm still waiting for the day we somehow get Hyon Gak Sunim in our zazenkais! Haha. That would be interesting.


    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    But we do work for a paycheck. It's nice to work for work's sake, but if that doesn't pay the bills, then you need to find a job that does. After you can pay the bills, work for work's sake. lol Isn't that the same as sitting for sitting's sake? I mean if that isn't curing the "dis-ease", then why sit?
    I respectfully submit again that this is not an "either/or" choice. Sometimes we work for works sake ... sometimes we work for a promotion or a pay raise ... sometimes we work just to get through the day, pay the overdue bills.

    At the same time, through Shikantaza we encounter that there is no "promotion", all raised to the level of Buddha transcending up and down. Such is a realm beyond "aversions and attractions" known simultaneously even as the job sucks, the boss is a pain in the butt and we want to get home. It is a Treasure always in hand, but does not pay the bill collector at the door.

    Can you encounter life as both ways as one, like seeing the world out of the right eye one way and the left eye another? He who only sees through one eye is blind.

    When the two merge and intermingle, well, the sucky job still sucks ... but perhaps not quite as before. Shall we describe even the "suckiness" as Sacred, and the "pain in the butt boss" as also a Buddha? We may actually work to accomplish projects, build and create and reach great goals (no need just to sit around all day, even as we sit sometimes) ... all while being not quite so attached to the outcome, and much less greedy about it all. It is a good way to experience life.

    We might also learn not to fall so easily into our negative emotions, fears and resentments about it all. We may actually find a Light and Peace that shines through. Yippee! Nonetheless ... the job still stinks sometimes, we desperately want to get home sometimes, the boss is still a tremendous pain sometimes.

    Not an "either/or" proposition, and more a dance of partners.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-19-2014 at 02:39 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15

  16. #16
    I sometimes write like this on having "goals in life" ... on the job, to loose some weight and head to the gym, to learn to play the guitar, to bring world peace ... all while being "Goalless". It is often confused that they are mutually exclusive. Nonetheless, one much have balance and not be a prisoner of one's goals and ambitions ...

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

    I like to speak of "goals without goals" or "goals while simultaneously dropping all need to attain".

    Zennies can be very "goal oriented" people, as much as anyone! Dogen brought Soto Zen from China and built a great monastery! Buddha got up from under the Bodhi Tree and started teaching, walking all across India to do so. These were folks with goals, dreams and plans. It is just that Zen folks can hold "Goalless goals" ... seeing every step by step and inch by inch as itself a Total Arrival and Complete Culmination, both when we are sitting still and walking up up up the mountain. We see every instant as a prize, no matter whether our goals are achieved or crash in flames (but work diligently and sincerely at them nonetheless). So, I would say that we are "Goalless" folks, but not that we can't have goals.

    We also have "not a thing in need of change", yet simultaneously some bad habits in ourselves that we need to change! Both views as one. This is a good reminder at this time of year of "resolutions". I spoke about that too in one of the "we're always beginners" series ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-XIV%29

    One can shed a few pounds around the waist, all why experiencing that there is not one thing to gain or lose! (Said as someone trying constantly to lose 30 pounds) ...

    Zazen is rather like a diet in which we drop all thought of loss (or gain), and see that we are always 'perfect' just at whatever weight we are. If we 'cheat' and eat a big piece of chocolate cake ... that is just what is. If we are 'good' and eat lots of carrots and celery ... that is just what is. We drop all thought of a target, any need to be or look some way other than we do. Be at one with all, just as it is ... even one's rotundness. We are always a perfect Buddha ... even if we look like this ...



    However, accepting that "the chocolate cake is just the chocolate cake" is not an excuse to eat chocolate cake! If fat and unhealthly, we are perfectly fat and unhealthy ... yet also can strive to lose and be healthy, AT ONCE! As strange as it sounds, we embrace that we are "perfect just as we are, right here and now, and there is nothing to lose, gain or change" even as ... simultaneously from another perspective ... there is much to change, bad habits to fix, much to gain or lose. ALL AT ONCE, AS ONE.

    A ZEN DIET: No thought of gain or loss (even as we may cut or add the calories to get healthy) ... nothing to achieve, even as we stick with it. Nothing to measure, even as we check the scale.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-19-2014 at 06:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Gassho
    C

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I have to sit for just sitting's sake even though I constantly catch myself sitting for other reasons. I honestly do find myself sitting for stress relief, etc. But then I just come back, sitting for sitting's sake.
    Oddly for me, sometimes shikantaza can be stressful. Many times the thoughts that come to me are disturbing past events and current uncertainties. Most of the time I can let them drop away, but other times they persist in my thoughts (this is not the norm by any means). I think this really depends on the individual. I would say that I started sitting because of some kind of goal (stress reduction, enlightenment, etc.), but as of late, I've noticed it's been more like "Oh, hey it's 9 o'clock, time for zazen!"

    Gassho,
    Steven

  19. #19
    Hi Steven,

    Yes, this is part of the "non-process" too. Sometimes, in the "sensory deprivation chamber-like" quiet wall staring of Zazen, thoughts and emotions well up (often things that we usually distract ourselves from by having our heads so busy and racing all day). We remember a hard memory, a problem seems to loom large, we feel some anger or fear about something ...

    The greatest Peace is the one which says "oh, here is a stressful thought, a disturbing event, a fear, a current uncertainty ... I will just let this be, simply observe, allow this to rest." I will allow such, just as I allow the chair across the room, the sounds of birds or passing cars. Usually, the memory, the problem, the anger or fear grow smaller (becomes less controlling of us, or may even fully vanish), becomes light, and a certain Peace, Stillness and Illumination shines through.

    Such is a more profound Peace and Harmony than any valium pill or glass of booze will temporarily bring.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-19-2014 at 06:01 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Such is a more profound Peace and Harmony than any valium pill or glass of booze will temporarily bring.
    I struggled for a while before I figured out that getting drunk to start the day would not solve my problems. In the end, drugs and alcohol only worsen the condition that was trying to be suppressed, and often times we don't even notice until we've hit rock bottom.

    Gassho,
    Steven


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  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    The very reason I drive a Dodge Journey; otherwise I would have bought a Destination

    gassho, Jindo Shokai, an itinerant monk emeritus still learning the way and knowing nothing.
    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.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    The very reason I drive a Dodge Journey; otherwise I would have bought a Destination
    Hahahahaahahahaahahahah

    Gassho,

    Risho

  23. #23
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Never give up; never, never, never, never give up.
    W. Churchill

    "On the great road of buddha ancestors there is always unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained. It forms the circle of the way and is never cut off. Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap; continuous practice is the circle of the way. This being so, continuous practice is unstained, not forced by you or others. The power of this continuous practice confirms you as well as others. It means your practice affects the entire earth and the entire sky in the ten directions. Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so.” - Dogen


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Last edited by Myosha; 02-20-2014 at 12:04 AM. Reason: "
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajŮa from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    By the way, I have given up on trying to get Brad here to lead a Zazenkai for us at Treeleaf. After months and months of promising, he kept pleading that he was too busy and promised it would be soon and soon. I have finally given up, and expressed my regrets to him....
    Gassho, Jundo
    Having met Brad a number of times over the past year, I came to the conclusion that he some how lacks interest or doesn't really care about this whole teaching zen stuff. He doesn't have the same amount of diligence and care that Jundo, Taigu or other sincere Zen teachers have. I feel he is doing a kind of disservice by signing up for being a zen teacher and not giving his 100%.

    I have become quite frustrated trying to attend his saturday meetings as you don't know when he is in and when he is out of town (and one of his students is leading the sittings). On top of that recently he ordained two of his students as priests and they now even have the permission to teach. One of them is a yoga teacher and based on whatever I have seen she is certainly not qualified to be a zen teacher. The other guy is okay but not sure if he is ready to be a teacher yet. Whether it is Brad or these guys leading, during the dharma talk periods most of what they discuss about is music, movies and other general "cool stuff" with occasional zen. He is a good writer, has the knowledge, has good sense of humor but it looks to me like he is not really dedicated to being a teacher.

    Gassho
    Sam

  25. #25

  26. #26
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    迎 Geika

  27. #27
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Great stuff, Jundo thank you for what you posted. Let's just say it was very timely advice for me

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    On top of that recently he ordained two of his students as priests and they now even have the permission to teach.
    Brad is Brad. Everyone has their own style. I sometimes describe Brad as more an artist, a wandering troubadour, a wise man ... someone like Alan Watts. Even if his Teaching style seems too loose and relaxed for one's taste, well, he is a punk rocker playing his music.

    I will say that one place I do disagree with Brad is on the fact that one should not simply Ordain folks and cut them loose. Not except in very special cases. I am not about building dusty churches or seminaries with all kinds of institutiony hoo-hah, but then again, I don't just hand someone a white coat and knife and tell 'em to start being a heart surgeon (and don't think that Zen Teachers ain't messing around with folks' hearts, and have no skills to master). This ain't Domino's Pizza, where we give someone an hour of instruction and they can start making pizza! This has been a point of some disagreement between me and Brad, and I have spoken openly about it ... I think one of the reasons he is not willing to come here. I have written this about our own Ordinations at Treeleaf. The wording is a bit formal because it is based on language contained in the recommended training standards that most Soto Zen groups in America who are members of the SZBA are abiding by:

    The period of formation that follows upon novice ordination (shukke tokudo) may continue for any number of years prior to possible (although never inevitable) Dharma Transmission, but truly continues as a lifelong endeavor that will sustain individuals dedicated to exemplifying the Dharma and the Bodhisattva ideal. Completing formal priest training will mean that an individual has internalized the tradition, is capable of transmitting it, and vows to devote her or himself to a life of continuous practice and service.The individual’s dedication to the elements of priest training must enable him or her to maintain a regular, disciplined zazen practice, to instruct and guide others in their practice, to present and discuss the history and teachings of Buddhism and Soto Zen, to perform services and ceremonies in the Soto style as appropriate and required in the circumstance, and to actively nurture and serve both Sangha and the larger community and society.

    In addition, priest training must make the individual aware of the highest ethical standards which must always be maintained by a member of the clergy, thereby assisting him or her in maintaining such standards in his or her personal life at all times. Training will also enable the individual to demonstrate personal qualities that inspire trust and confidence and encourage others to practice. Finally, training will enable the individual to clearly understand – and communicate to others – the relationship of Zen teaching and practice to everyday life.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ng-ORDINATIONS
    Somewhere between building some stiff and stuffy churchy institution and just handing out Teaching Certificates right and left like they are pizzas is a good Middle Way.

    That is all I have to say.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-20-2014 at 02:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    I feel very fortunate to have all of you rockstars as my teachers. Thank you for being part of our path.
    Gassho
    C

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    This ain't Domino's Pizza, where we give someone an hour of instruction and they can start making pizza!

  31. #31
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Steven, I can relate to your feelings that arise during zazen. I have, recently, realized by sitting, that my greatest "enemy" is the one within, my inner demons. In sitting, I must sit with this, and it can be very painful and difficult. However, as I continue to sit with these painful feelings and memories, I am becoming more aware of it, and it slowly loses it's grip on my mind.

    It's interesting, though, because as the inner demons slowly lose their power, the people that used to scare and intimidate me, no longer have the same control over me that they used to. It's a very slow process though, no instant fix. But, as Jundo said, there's a peace that comes that booze, valium etc. etc. could never replace.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  32. #32
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Right! I was never a BIG drinker, but I have almost completely want to drink anymore. I am not suggesting that moderate drinking is bad, nor am I suggesting this is THE cure for over drinking, but for ME I just have noticed there seems to be no more desire to do it.

    Gassho
    C

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Joyo View Post
    Steven, I can relate to your feelings that arise during zazen. I have, recently, realized by sitting, that my greatest "enemy" is the one within, my inner demons. In sitting, I must sit with this, and it can be very painful and difficult. However, as I continue to sit with these painful feelings and memories, I am becoming more aware of it, and it slowly loses it's grip on my mind.
    I believe that is what is referred to as "Mara" in traditional imagery, the "enemy emissaries" of the various fears, doubts, lack of energy, distractions, depressions, cravings that seek to drag us away during Zazen (and other times in life) ... as depicted in old images like this of the Buddha just prior to his "Ah ha" (and said to have returned at various times even later in his life) ...

    I like this picture, because the emissaries look a bit bored and frustrated that they are not getting anywhere with this guy!



    Here is an even older image. Notice that in the first centuries, they did not even depict a Buddha image ... just an empty seat ...



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-21-2014 at 01:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    My Kung Fu Sifu hates the belt system. The reason is he finds people begin to learn and train with an agenda. The agenda turns away from self development, and perfection of the art to the endless quest to just get to the next level. People then train martial arts just to get a belt. So many people train martial arts to become a black belt, they either get frustrated that they aren't attaining belts at the rate they thought they would, or eventually they do get a black belt and then they quit. Few of his students just train to train, but those are the ones that make it a part of their life and see the most benefit, because they just train for the sake of training.

    Gassho
    C
    Which is exactly why I love taking Tai Chi. Our Sifu makes no mention of advancement at all, and the closest thing to it is the numbering of the forms. However, even when you "get to the end" of the forms, you then go back to the "beginning" and begin to refine them...to make them your own, if you will.

    I completely agree with your Sifu!

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  35. #35
    Dogen's Circle of the Way podcast from Upaya with Brad and Kaz Tanahashi:

    http://www.upaya.org/2014/02/kaz-tan...ns-circle-way/

    Gassho
    Andy

  36. #36
    Personally I think a goal is a great starting point! Is there any other starting point?

    I love that Alan Watts video, Jundo, It hits the right note!

    Anyway, I was in this sucky job, and I set the goal for myself to find a better job. But since there weren't any jobs in my country at that time (and still so) I quickly forgot about that, and set a new goal to make my job a better one. Later, out of frustration- "it ain't gonna happen anyway", I forgot about that goal too and simply did the job, trying not to think anything about it. Eventually I noticed the suckyness would not stick to my mood and thoughts anymore. And now, much later, I find myself doing the same job, but the suckyness is gone. I feel this applies to virtually anything. Just letting go dissolves it all, without really changing it. Funny stuff

    Gassho

    Vincent
    For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

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