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Thread: Zazen and Reflection

  1. #1
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Zazen and Reflection

    Hi, I want to talk about some benefits I have been getting from both Zazen and a meditation I am calling Reflection meditation. It might be called something different but I don't know.

    When I Zazen, I let my self just be. I sit with my thoughts and emotions. I allow them to come and go without clinging to them. They arise and dissipate, arise and dissipate, forever and ever amen :-) Most times (but not always) my thoughts slow and my emotions calm down, and I have a great sense of well being and calmness. I have a better clarity about life. I don't make this my goal but it is what happens naturally to me and is why I continue to do it.

    For me, it has also been beneficial to meditate Reflectively. It is kind of the opposite of Zazen. The yang to its yin. It is sitting and contemplating myself. I do it in a room free of distractions where I can really really focus on myself.

    For example, I am a shy person. I have always struggled with it. When I look deeply at it during Reflective meditation, I realize it causes me a lot of stress and anxiety.

    Shyness makes me a passive person and I allow myself to be a door mat, and when I can't take it anymore I suddenly become aggressive and act inappropriately. The aggression leads to stress and anxiety for how I bahaved.

    Shyness has made me less successful in my career because I am not assertive enough to express myself in an effective way. This leads to more stress and anxiety.

    Shyness has prevented me from having a lot of friends. I have missed out on many meaningful relationships which again leads to stress and anxiety.

    You can see how this list can go on and on. One aspect of my personality permeates every part of my life.

    With out taking the time to Reflect on myself, I would have never realized this. In fact, I was in denial thinking oh, I am not shy because that is weak and I am not a weak person.

    Discovering I was shy, accepting it and here is the most important part: BEING OK WITH IT, has brought indescribable relief for me. A near end of suffering in that part of my life. The suffering diminishes daily as I discover how this realization affects my life. In this case, the "being OK with it" is enough I don't need to focus on solutions. The solutions happen naturally. This is what Reflective meditation has and is doing for me.

    Thanks for listening :-) Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Troy,

    I am very glad to hear that your practice has been helpful to you. Yes, we do it with no thought of gain, but over time I don't think we'd continue doing it if we didn't feel some benefit.

    I can't say that I have ever heard of reflection meditation as such, but I think this is a process that arises naturally. For me it happens sometimes during zazen, sometimes in a dream, and sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet. For me, all is zazen...no separation.

    So, while I am only a novice priest trainee, I will simply encourage you not to think of these practices as two different things. I can relate to everything you described and one pitfall for me was eventually starting to keep a "scorecard" of what had been "improved" and what had not. I don't think you are doing that, but it is something to be aware of in your practice.

    You can be a weak person in some experiences or a strong person in others. But just focus on being a person; the rest will sort itself out.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I am glad that Reflection Meditation has helped you, however, here we focus on the practice of shikantaza. It may seem restrictive to focus on this one style of sitting, but it is very important that we do so that this place remains a valid resource and sangha for Soto Zen Buddhist practice and study.

    Shikantaza is yin and yang as one, complete. It requires no complementary practice.

    I am not telling you not to do Reflection Meditation. Also, I am not a teacher. There are many "medicines". Here, it's Shikantaza. I encourage focus on zazen while you're here, but of course you may do as you wish.

    I have a lot of anxiety too. Zazen doesn't fix it, but I am now able to look a bit past it as it occurs, within it, but present and knowing it will pass. It occurs less and less.
    迎 Geika

  4. #4
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    I just made up that word "Reflection meditation." I do not know if it is technically meditation (what ever that means, lol) but it kind of feels like it is. Dosho, I like what you said about not keeping score. I think that is important. I don't know if I am doing that, but I do take note when I see changes in myself. I feel like the two are different process (maybe I don't have a clear understanding of Zazen), but I think Zazen led me to reflection and in a way they are connected and the same. I did think of it that way before, but it makes sense to me now thank you.

    Amelia, I have great respect for Zazen and I do it daily. It remains the center of my practice. Reflecting on the roots of my suffering has been beneficial to me as well. For me, it does not take away from Zazen, but complements it. Maybe yang to the yin were the wrong words. What I was trying to say is during Zazen I let the thoughts and feelings come and go. I take note of them, but don't cling to them. During reflection I dive deep in to my thought process and the reasons I am having those emotions. But, like Dosho said maybe it is really the same. I can see how they are interconnected.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Troy,

    I am very glad to hear that your practice has been helpful to you. Yes, we do it with no thought of gain, but over time I don't think we'd continue doing it if we didn't feel some benefit.

    I can't say that I have ever heard of reflection meditation as such, but I think this is a process that arises naturally. For me it happens sometimes during zazen, sometimes in a dream, and sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet. For me, all is zazen...no separation.

    So, while I am only a novice priest trainee, I will simply encourage you not to think of these practices as two different things. I can relate to everything you described and one pitfall for me was eventually starting to keep a "scorecard" of what had been "improved" and what had not. I don't think you are doing that, but it is something to be aware of in your practice.

    You can be a weak person in some experiences or a strong person in others. But just focus on being a person; the rest will sort itself out.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Gassho,

    Risho

  6. #6
    Your reflective meditation sounds to me like a kind of self-inquiry. I think it is a natural outcome of lot of spiritual practices and is a good thing. The teachers can speak more on this but to me it sounds good

    Gassho,
    Sam

  7. #7
    Hello Troy,

    I can understand why you might describe your reflections as 'reflection meditation' because it feels like a very focussed process - perhaps more
    focussed than the normal reflective thoughts that come up as we go about our daily lives.

    I think it's fine to differentiate between Zazen - 'letting go and letting be' and the more analytic diving into introspection and self analysis.

    It's all fine - and no doubt interconnected - but maybe not quite the same?

    So I can see where Amelia's coming from - though I don't feel you're introducing another method here - more just writing about a process that's helped you.

    I like what you wrote Dosho

    Gassho

    Willow

  8. #8
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Zazen and Reflection

    Yes, this is not any thing new . It is more something I am discovering :-)
    Last edited by Troy; 02-20-2014 at 09:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Hi Troy,

    I would say that so long as one is sitting Zazen with no thought of gain or payoff at all, complete in the Complete Wholeness of that action, sitting like Buddha sitting Buddha, the Sacredness of Just Sitting as the only place to be and only thing to do in that moment in all time and all space ... no points, no scorecard (for the game is won & one just by taking the field of sitting!) ... nothing in need of adding or taking away, nothing to improve ... Yes, as in your lovely description, Troy, we do not buy into, grab onto or wallow in thoughts and emotions during Zazen (I took out the "I" to emphasize):

    When Zazen, let just be. sit past thoughts and emotions ... all comes and goes without clinging ... arises and dissipates, arises and dissipates, forever and ever amen :-)

    ... then, rising from the cushion getting on with our day, one can do many things. No problem. One then even finds that the "many things" and Zazen are not two. So if something is helpful, then good.

    I would say that this "reflection" rings of the following, a kind of Vipassana awareness. I sometimes write this:

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

    Pretty much all schools of Buddhism instruct us to become aware of the games the mind plays, the "monkeymind", or "mind theatre" as I sometimes call it.

    When sitting Zazen, we "just sit" ... we let thoughts go without analysis during Zazen. There is nothing to do or attain in the sitting, nothing to examine or focus upon ... and that non-doing and non-examining is VITAL and SACRED. Even during our busy day, when annoyances or resistance, anger or upset come into mind, we can turn to a bit of "standing Shikantaza" ... just release them, let them go, do not become trapped.

    However, "vipassana" (in the meaning of insight into the human mind theatre) is also vital in about every corner of Buddhism, Zen included. For example, "thought awareness" as thoughts and emotions arise during our busy day ... when tired, hot, a little angry, happy, etc. ... is a wonderful practice. I might not go so far as to encourage a practice of detailed labeling morning until night, but I also advocate a practice of being aware of the different thoughts that come into mind (just not --during-- Zazen itself, when we are not to be adding anything). This awareness is, however, a very important part of learning to observe our mind's workings and tricks. So, for example, instead of just feeling angry, greedy or tired, and instead of just saying to ourselves merely "I am feeling angry/greedy/tired now", we should learn to say to ourselves such things as "this is my mind now temporarily feeling angry/greedy/tired during present conditions ... I can feel it arising, I can feel it developing, I can feel it passing away, I can let it go". When we learn to do that, experiencing the emotions of the mind becomes just watching a bit of theatre.

    All that is good, just not a practice for "during" Zazen, when we observe everything and nothing in particular.

    Here is more that I wrote on the topic ...

    Buddhist Practice is usually described as flying upon the twin wings of Samatha (calming thoughts and emotions, illuminating and dropping body-mind) and awareness and understanding of vipassana (insight and awareness primarily into the nature and workings of 'self' and mental functions). That is true in Zen practice no less than most other forms of Buddhist practice.

    In a nutshell, Vipassana might be described as insights and awareness, based on Buddhist psychology, as to how the mind works and plays it games. It is an understanding of the Skandhas (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness ... those words always sung in the Heart Sutra), how our thoughts and emotional reactions arise, how we label and divide the world. We should also understand the Buddha's ideas about how suffering arises within us, which is intimately tied to all that.

    However, unlike some schools of Buddhism, in Shikantaza we do not pursue any particular practices --during-- Zazen itself in order to cultivate such vipassana insight ... and much insight naturally arises from Zazen as "Zazen does its thing". Perhaps we might say that, just in "just sitting" Shikantaza ... dropping thoughts of this and that, thus quieting the mind's "mind games" ... we develop a natural sensitivity and understanding of the mind's "mind games" (much like one first comes to really appreciate what "urban noise" is when one first drives out of the city to the middle of the desert or some other truly quiet place).

    Off the cushion too, we can learn to bring Shikantaza out into the world, learning to release thoughts and emotions which arise without being trapped by them.

    And, apart from "on the Zafu" sitting times, it is also good to develop some insight and insight into the "mind's games", and come to identify the workings of the Skandhas and such within us day to day.

    For example, if you feel an angry or jealous thought arising within you during your day, it is very helpful to identify that as a "bit of temporary mind theatre" and "just the self judging and conflicting with another perceived self". That gives us some distance from the passing emotion, and we no longer see the emotion as quite as inevitable and "true" as we might have before.

    For example, in the case of anger ... We need to develop a sensitivity to how anger arises within us, the triggers which tend to set it off, the first feeling of it starting to arise and the cycle it follows until vanishing. We need to catch ourself more and develop the ability to say, "I am feeling the emotion of anger now, but it is only the mind created theater which is present in this moment ... it need not be so." We need to see it as a story the self writes for itself, "catch it" and thus not be "sucked in" and fooled as much. (Most people who feel anger do not realize it is just a mind created bit of theater which can be replaced by something else ... it is not the way things "have to be". E.g., most people think, when they become upset, that they have "reason to be upset, and it is true and justified", not an optional response to the circumstances). That realization and understanding of how our inner theater works is a step to developing the ability to "rewrite and change the story" at will.

    So, yes, "samatha/vipassana" are both important.
    Again, here is a practice called Nurturing Seeds, related to all this and inspired by some of the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn, which we encourage around here.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Seeds-PRACTICE

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-21-2014 at 01:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Hello Troy, much good advice has already been posted here. I just wanted to touch on your words about being shy. I too have been shy my whole life. Would you find it helpful to just let it go, to not, I guess, blame your shyness for missing out, or causing stress and anxiety? Perhaps if you did not focus on being shy, it would become less on a source of pain for you.

    For me, in groups, I am very quiet and I'm just a very guarded person. I do not open up or make friends easily. I try to not focus on this though and label myself as "shy" as when I am around those I can trust, I'm not shy at all, in fact, very loud and outgoing. As for not being assertive I understand what you are saying. And yet, even a shy person, a soft-spoken person, can be assertive, just not in a loud, in-your-face sort of way. I don't know, does that make sense?

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  11. #11
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Troy,

    I am very glad to hear that your practice has been helpful to you. Yes, we do it with no thought of gain, but over time I don't think we'd continue doing it if we didn't feel some benefit.

    I can't say that I have ever heard of reflection meditation as such, but I think this is a process that arises naturally. For me it happens sometimes during zazen, sometimes in a dream, and sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet. For me, all is zazen...no separation.

    So, while I am only a novice priest trainee, I will simply encourage you not to think of these practices as two different things. I can relate to everything you described and one pitfall for me was eventually starting to keep a "scorecard" of what had been "improved" and what had not. I don't think you are doing that, but it is something to be aware of in your practice.

    You can be a weak person in some experiences or a strong person in others. But just focus on being a person; the rest will sort itself out.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Hi Dosho, When I said "I did think of it that way before, but it makes sense to me now thank you." I meant to say "I did NOT think of it that way before, but it makes sense to me now thank you." Funny how one little word completely changes the meaning. Thank you for your insight

  12. #12
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Zazen and Reflection

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Troy,

    I would say that so long as one is sitting Zazen with no thought of gain or payoff at all, complete in the Complete Wholeness of that action, sitting like Buddha sitting Buddha, the Sacredness of Just Sitting as the only place to be and only thing to do in that moment in all time and all space ... no points, no scorecard (for the game is won & one just by taking the field of sitting!) ... nothing in need of adding or taking away, nothing to improve ... Yes, as in your lovely description, Troy, we do not buy into, grab onto or wallow in thoughts and emotions during Zazen (I took out the "I" to emphasize):

    When Zazen, let just be. sit past thoughts and emotions ... all comes and goes without clinging ... arises and dissipates, arises and dissipates, forever and ever amen :-)

    ... then, rising from the cushion getting on with our day, one can do many things. No problem. One then even finds that the "many things" and Zazen are not two. So if something is helpful, then good.

    I would say that this "reflection" rings of the following, a kind of Vipassana awareness. I sometimes write this:

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

    Pretty much all schools of Buddhism instruct us to become aware of the games the mind plays, the "monkeymind", or "mind theatre" as I sometimes call it.

    When sitting Zazen, we "just sit" ... we let thoughts go without analysis during Zazen. There is nothing to do or attain in the sitting, nothing to examine or focus upon ... and that non-doing and non-examining is VITAL and SACRED. Even during our busy day, when annoyances or resistance, anger or upset come into mind, we can turn to a bit of "standing Shikantaza" ... just release them, let them go, do not become trapped.

    However, "vipassana" (in the meaning of insight into the human mind theatre) is also vital in about every corner of Buddhism, Zen included. For example, "thought awareness" as thoughts and emotions arise during our busy day ... when tired, hot, a little angry, happy, etc. ... is a wonderful practice. I might not go so far as to encourage a practice of detailed labeling morning until night, but I also advocate a practice of being aware of the different thoughts that come into mind (just not --during-- Zazen itself, when we are not to be adding anything). This awareness is, however, a very important part of learning to observe our mind's workings and tricks. So, for example, instead of just feeling angry, greedy or tired, and instead of just saying to ourselves merely "I am feeling angry/greedy/tired now", we should learn to say to ourselves such things as "this is my mind now temporarily feeling angry/greedy/tired during present conditions ... I can feel it arising, I can feel it developing, I can feel it passing away, I can let it go". When we learn to do that, experiencing the emotions of the mind becomes just watching a bit of theatre.

    All that is good, just not a practice for "during" Zazen, when we observe everything and nothing in particular.

    Here is more that I wrote on the topic ...



    Again, here is a practice called Nurturing Seeds, related to all this and inspired by some of the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn, which we encourage around here.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Seeds-PRACTICE

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo, thank you for your thoughtful reply. All I can say is yes, yes and YES! I really like what you said about recognizing emotions (especially strong ones like anger) when they happen and understanding it is only temporary. That it is just mind theater. No one enjoys those emotions but catching ones self before those emotions turn into bad behavior can prevent a lot of suffering.

    I am glad you mentioned Thich Nhat Hahn. His writings were the first ones I read when I began practicing Buddhism. He is a rockstar in my book. He said to truly love someone (including ourselves) we must understand that person and have compassion for them. Understanding equals love and love equals understanding. Because we are interconnected (or inter-are as he puts it), when we love someone we are also loving ourselves and when we love ourselves we are also loving the other person. (Jesus said it this way "love your neighbor as yourself").

    For example, my wife and I went through a rough patch that lasted several years (how our marriage survived I will never know). We are just coming out of it now. When I heard Thich Nhat Hahn's teaching, I realized I did not understand my wife at all (or myself for that matter). I had built up so many walls between us that understanding was impossible. The pain our relationship caused me was immense. When I began taking time to understand her and treat her compassionately, it eased her suffering. And when she took time to understand me and treat me compassionately, my suffering began to ease. But it is not enough to take time to understand someone and have compassion for them, we must do that towards ourselves as well. His teaching is simple. To live it is a powerful unstoppable force of nature.
    Last edited by Troy; 02-22-2014 at 01:19 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Zazen and Reflection

    Quote Originally Posted by Joyo View Post
    Hello Troy, much good advice has already been posted here. I just wanted to touch on your words about being shy. I too have been shy my whole life. Would you find it helpful to just let it go, to not, I guess, blame your shyness for missing out, or causing stress and anxiety? Perhaps if you did not focus on being shy, it would become less on a source of pain for you.

    For me, in groups, I am very quiet and I'm just a very guarded person. I do not open up or make friends easily. I try to not focus on this though and label myself as "shy" as when I am around those I can trust, I'm not shy at all, in fact, very loud and outgoing. As for not being assertive I understand what you are saying. And yet, even a shy person, a soft-spoken person, can be assertive, just not in a loud, in-your-face sort of way. I don't know, does that make sense?

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    Hi Joyo, yes a lot of good advice has been given and I appreciate everyone's comments. I am working on letting go of my shyness. I do not think I am at a place where I can ignore it quite yet because it still impacts my life in away I don't like. Taking quiet moments to delve deep in to its causes (and believe the causes are deep, lol) and effects have shown me how interconnected it is in my life. It is hard to describe in words, but there was something that clicked when I accepted my shyness. I think it was because I accepted a big part of me that I had not been able to before. Since then, my shyness has begun to diminish and I am feeling comfortable in situations I had not in the past. At times, I still find myself acting shy. However, I am aware of it when it happens and because I have accepted it, I am able to calm my nervousness. I don't know if this method is the best way and it certainly is not the only way. However, it is working wonders for me. Much love and peace to you. :-)
    Last edited by Troy; 02-22-2014 at 02:36 PM.

  14. #14
    sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet.
    Guilty! Unless, of course, there is a good book laying on the tank....

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

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    ... sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet ...
    I used to travel with a Tibetan Geshe and he had the amazing ability to compile his teaching for that day while on the toilet just before class.

    Gassho
    Shingen



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

  16. #16
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Hi Joyo, yes a lot of good advice has been given and I appreciate everyone's comments. I am working on letting go of my shyness. I do not think I am at a place where I can ignore it quite yet because it still impacts my life in away I don't like. Taking quiet moments to delve deep in to its causes (and believe the causes are deep, lol) and effects have shown me how interconnected it is in my life. It is hard to describe in words, but there was something that clicked when I accepted my shyness. I think it was because I accepted a big part of me that I had not been able to before. Since then, my shyness has begun to diminish and I am feeling comfortable in situations I had not in the past. At times, I still find myself acting shy. However, I am aware of it when it happens and because I have accepted it, I am able to calm my nervousness. I don't know if this method is the best way and it certainly is not the only way. However, it is working wonders for me. Much love and peace to you. :-)

    Troy, I walk the exact same journey, in regards to being shy. And, with practicing zazen, I've become ok with that, instead of fighting it

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  17. #17
    Don't buy into so fast all the self created "voices in one's head" telling one this or that, especially if they are about feelings of depression, worthlessness, shyness, panic unrelated to the real situation. I mean, if there is a real tiger at your door, panic is justified. If you are truly a thief and conman who steals from old ladies, strong self reproach seems justified. Otherwise ... probably not so much.

    By the way, I was ... and remain ... a very very shy individual, a wall flower at parties, not much for public speaking and such. How did I overcome that when I need to? Basically, a change of my thoughts via a "power of positive thinking" approach. I think confident thoughts, "pretend" sometimes that I am confident if that is what is needed ("fake it till you make it"). I try to identify shy thoughts as "shy thoughts, just the mind theatre at work" ... and tell myself not to buy into the show. And guess what, more confidence is bound to result.

    You know, all these "what if" and hyper-negative thoughts are very much like that picture of Mara army I posted recently. "Mara" in traditional imagery is 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 would include unfounded or excess shyness as one kind of "Mara".

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



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-23-2014 at 02:10 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Charlotte Joko Beck sensei talked about the difference between the make-up of many insight techniques and the unexpected and radical transformation after many years of regular zazen.
    …More knowledge to think about...
    Gassho
    Senryu
    Please forgive any mistake in my writing. Like in Zen, in English I am only a beginner.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    Zazen and Reflection

    Thanks for every one for your comments. You have given me a lot to think about. Zazen is my primary method of practice. It is not my intention to down play it's value in this post. I hope I did not come across that way. I have so many Maras haunting me like my ability to take criticsm, the need to be right, my struggles with self-esteem, anxiety, depression a tendency to be caught up in myself, obsessive behavior that gets me behind on my work, and so many more.
    Last edited by Troy; 02-25-2014 at 02:34 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    I am growing in my practice and Zazen has helped me in so many ways and continues to do so. I had a real moment when I stared my shyness in the face and wanted to share :-)

  21. #21
    Was born a natural introvert but with effort can act like an extrovert. Someone said that Zen students are the best actors.



    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich

  22. #22
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    I had a real moment when I stared my shyness in the face and wanted to share :-)
    That is awesome Troy

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  23. #23
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Recently I've been getting some insights during zazen. For awhile I mistakenly thought that I had to shut down my thinking process when it was suggested that we let things go. Now I'm all laissez faire and stuff and just letting whatever come, come.

    Something came to mnd after today's zazen as I came into the realization that i tend to stop myself from feeling happy or at peace (as to why i still do not know) No need to try to let go, it's impossible to hold on in the first place. Just let things take its course, I guess.

    Any thoughts, beloved teachers and senior sangha members? I'm probably one of the youngest members here (19) and in need of guidance the most.


    Gassho, Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 02-25-2014 at 04:16 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Recently I've been getting some insights during zazen. For awhile I mistakenly thought that I had to shut down my thinking process when it was suggested that we let things go. Now I'm all laissez faire and stuff and just letting whatever come, come.

    Something came to mnd after today's zazen as I came into the realization that i tend to stop myself from feeling happy or at peace (as to why i still do not know) No need to try to let go, it's impossible to hold on in the first place. Just let things take its course, I guess.

    Any thoughts, beloved teachers and senior sangha members? I'm probably one of the youngest members here (19) and in need of guidance the most.


    Gassho, Ben
    Hi Tiwala,

    Hmmm. Well, we certainly do not "shut down our thinking process", but neither would I say that Zazen is being "all laissez faire and stuff and just letting whatever come, come." Where did you hear anyone say that around here? One certainly does not sit there, just "thinking about things, pondering this and that".

    In Shikantaza, one allows thoughts that come to come. However, one does not grab on, stir them up, engage in long trains of thought. If finding oneself thinking about something, one "opens the hand of thoughts" and lets it go. One returns to clear, open, spacious sitting between the thoughts. If finding oneself thinking about something again (and one will!), repeat repeat repeat.

    Furthermore, one does not wallow in emotions during Zazen, especially greed, anger and other divisive thinking. One drops judgments, feelings of aversion or attraction, and sits in the Wholeness and Peace of what is.

    I am not saying that we NEVER think about stuff during Zazen (i do it too, when a sudden "Oh, forgot to go to the dry cleaner" pops into my head during Zazen). It happens, but that is not what we should be doing during Zazen. As quickly as I can, I leave the "need to go to the dry cleaner" thoughts to drift away ... and return to Just Sitting. The dry cleaner, and all the rest of stuff to ponder, can wait. (If the thought is an emergency however, like "Oh, the house is on fire!" one may want to break off Zazen temporarily, and return to it after. )

    Revelations will come during Zazen. We do not seek them. Generally, when they come, leave them for after Zazen when one can consider them after the dry cleaner. If they are worth anything, the revelations will wait.

    Finally (turning now to your revelation), it is true that frequently human beings think thoughts that unnecessarily stop us from feeling happy and at peace. On the other hand, sometimes in life we do not feel happy and at peace, and that is okay. While I do not wish to fall into wallowing in excess or self-created unhappiness or disturbance, neither do I want to feel happy and at peace all the time, because such is not to be human.

    Shikantaza allows something better and richer than that! What?

    It is kind of an abiding Joy (Big "J") that hold and is both times of life's joy and times of life's sadness. It is a Peace (Big "B") that holds days of peace and days of the greatest disturbance. That is the greatest Revelation (Big "R") of all. It is a Peace that holds even the moment of annoyance that you missed the dry cleaner, a Peace and Joy that holds even the natural and human fear and sadness as one's house burns down.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-25-2014 at 06:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo,

    I call it laissez faire because, in comparison to my usual routine, I am very very VERY obsessive about controlling, manipulating, shaping my circumstances. What I usually do right now is to drop that control and keep it to the bare minimum of coming back to just sitting when I catch myself thinking too much. It's a skill I'm still ever learning to improve.

    Thoughts still float around, but I treat them, as you once suggested to me, as furniture in a room. Thoughts are just thoughts, part of the scenery that's sometimes ugly and boring and irritating, sometimes beautiful, fun, exciting etc. But it doesn't matter. Scenery is just scenery. But they're also that place where words cannot express, no matter how much we call it Whole and stuff, because it certainly doesn't always feel whole and happy all the time. Does that sound right?

    I also realized that I throw away (didn't just stop at the usual attachment to it, but lessons learned with it) realizations that have helped me enormously in the past. Like that great Joy you talk about that somehow got me through even when I'm enormously pissed off and lightens the pissed off a little bit in the process. Not the point of it, but it happens.

    On another note, they usually say silence in movement, but since movement is so much more natural for a hyperactive guy like me, I kind of express it in movement in silence. Just my personal lingo, I guess.

    P.S. peace, joy, love, etc, are overrated. But might as well get it if you can. Not gonna lose anything.

    Gassho, Ben

    Gassho, Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 02-25-2014 at 07:03 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  26. #26
    Ok, that sounds like a better way to express this.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Ok, that sounds like a better way to express this.
    Thanks Jundo (and everyone), for putting up with all my long winded talky posts, that kind of sound too much sometimes. Deep and not so deep inside I'm still a kid groping around in the dark, even if the darkness is light. (But do not see it as light!)



    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

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