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Thread: Living Zazen

  1. #1

    Living Zazen

    I think this has been discusses already…probably multiple times…and probably I have already asked the same question using different words. But here we are. It seems to me that deep down doing zazen and living a “good” everyday life is not that different. Sure we have to think more and judge different situations when we are not on the mat, but the way to approach a practical problem “the zen way” is not that different than sitting on a mat focusing on letting your thoughts go. Let me give you a more concrete example of what I am trying to say, because I feel that I am getting lost in words already (damn words J ). I have been sitting diligently for quite awhile now and I noticed that with a calmer mind my decision process becomes more automatic. When I have to make a decision at work I do not ruminate as much into cyclical thoughts but I just make a decision, which is quite spontaneous yet not thoughtless. However, I noticed that I still get caught on the “oh, I should have done this” or “well, I should have said that” process (well, we probably all are). These “me-driven” thoughts are quite tempting (especially because sometimes they lead to a good decision), but the more I sit the more I think they are all a waste of time. I would love to know what you all think and if you go through the same type of mental questioning that is still bugging me from time to time. Time to go home….

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

    I think you are thinking too much.

    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
    Hello Andrea,

    I think Jundo said it so well on the thread "How do you think" ...

    You know, our way, Andrea, is not to be without thinking. It is not necessarily to be without words.

    But first one must learn to sit beyond thinking, without words ... no names for this or that, later or before, good or bad, me and you. Dump all these questions in the dumpster and Just Sit.
    =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  4. #4
    Hi Andrea,

    Thinking is not good, not bad. It's part of being human. Just don't get attached to thoughts. Now let's sit down and have some tea. 😄

    Gassho, Jishin

  5. #5
    Yes, I think you are thinking too much about how to think!

    But I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion either. Sometimes the automatic decision leads a good way, sometimes it leads right off a cliff like lemmings. If it is a big decision (such as switching jobs or getting married), I usually like to gather a reasonable amount of information on the situation, get some advice from the wise and experienced, weigh the pro's and con's ... then, eventually, stick a finger in the wind and JUMP! (For smaller decisions, like ordering lunch ... no need to follow all that!)

    And afterwards, it sometimes turns out that the decision was right, and sometimes wrong.

    Every Zen fellow I have ever known (probably even the Buddha) still has thoughts sometimes of “oh, darn it, I should have done this” or “well, that was a big mistake!". Shouldn't have married that person after all. Shouldn't have ordered this sandwich! Shouldn't have jumped off that cliff!

    So, what is so special about Zen then?

    Well, when turning left in life when we should have turned right and thus naturally kicking ourselves a bit, we simultaneously know how to "just be there" on the left. There is no "left" or "right" that is not the universe. Look at compass, stick finger in wind ... step forward beginning again from there.

    If ordering the bad sandwich while wishing instead we had gotten the grilled cheese, we simultaneously learn to welcome whatever life puts in our begging bowl. (This was discussed on another thread today) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...619#post124619

    And while soiling our pants and wondering on the way down, as we plunge to the ground below exactly why we jumped off that cliff ... we simultaneously know "no place to fall".

    Zen folks also learn how not to "overthink" things, knowing how not to get all tangled up in thoughts, over-analysis and our inner psycho-dramas ... including thoughts about whether we made the right decision, will make the right decision ... or how to make decisions themselves. All in moderation, and don't wallow.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-19-2014 at 02:08 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    From one over-thinker to another,
    We never really know if a decision is good or bad. There may be an immediate sense of right or wrong, but down the road.. who knows? So we do our best with what's presented and then again and again...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Hello Andrea,

    I think Jundo said it so well on the thread "How do you think" ...

    You know, our way, Andrea, is not to be without thinking. It is not necessarily to be without words.

    But first one must learn to sit beyond thinking, without words ... no names for this or that, later or before, good or bad, me and you. Dump all these questions in the dumpster and Just Sit.
    n
    Yep.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Thank you so much once again for all of your comments!!!
    I think (ooppss...I am thinking again!) that part of the difficulty here is to express my feelings into words. The whole process I was describing before with all related questions is experienced repeatedly in a matter of seconds. Yet to write it down it took me a good 10 minutes. Let me clarify a few things...

    > But I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion either. Sometimes the automatic decision leads a good way, sometimes it leads right off a cliff like lemmings.

    Maybe automatic is not the right word. When I sit consistently and my mind is calm, decisions just "flow better" in the sense that even gathering information, organizing a logical ideas, going back and re-evaluate things and eventually arriving at a conclusion seems like a natural process. When that happens I am not particularly concerned about my-self . As a matter of fact, I momentarily forget about myself, am not particularly concerned about everything that could go right or wrong, and there is no (or minimal) judgment of me or others. Possibly the same experience that countless others have described has "being in the zone"...or whatever you want to call it. However, the moment I start acknowledging that I am doing a good job, or my decision may result in a career advancement, the moment I start judging what I have done and all potential consequences...the moment the "me-centered" mind takes center stage...this flowing moment of grace is over...at least for awhile.

    > We never really know if a decision is good or bad. There may be an immediate sense of right or wrong, but down the road.. who knows? So we do our best with what's presented and then again and again...

    Agree 100%, although I'd like to point out that there is a contradiction "hiding" within your sentence....and believe me, being used to think way too much (yup, I totally admit it ) I am becoming more and more familiar (and comfortable) with the inevitable contradictions and paradoxes of logical thinking. You say that we never really know if a decision is good or bad but we do our best with what is presented, which implies that "our best" is the right thing to do. So there is no right thing to do...but there is...and what is ultimately right or wrong or best or worst? Well, in the silence of zazen sometimes I can taste the answer.

    I would like to thank you all for your patience, comments, and kind replies. You have no idea how helpful this is and how grateful I am. I have a nice cup of green tea right next to me that is screaming my name. After that...no more thoughts...just sitting right next to my in-house zen master...my cat

    Andrea

  9. #9
    Hi Andrea

    Pouring the tea is sitting zazen
    Thinking about what to have for lunch is sitting zazen
    Doing the dishes is sitting zazen
    Driving the car is sitting zazen

    Some decisions require rumination, some don't. Do what is necessary, just don't add anything extra.

    Well, in the silence of zazen sometimes I can taste the answer.
    Yes! Don't think the answer, live it.

    Gassho
    Andy

  10. #10
    Hello,

    Zen is a life path, a life long practise. If after half a decade of daily practise you still face these issues maybe it would make sense to re-evaluate whether Zen is the right path for you personally. Anything before that is just mind-theater

    If the intellect alone could figure out how to deal with life in a practical sense, a single book would have been written long ago, outlining every dualistic step, like painting by numbers. Instead we are dancing in the primordial vastness disco, showing our clumsy moves, stumbling and getting up. Drowning in the sweet water ocean of awakening yet screaming for a drink.

    Cats are pretty great Zen masters btw., though in terms of keeping the precepts they can be a little too liberal once in a while when dealing with birds and mice....but then again they perfectly are what they are and as such are very authentic.

    Gassho,

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

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Andrea

    Pouring the tea is sitting zazen
    Thinking about what to have for lunch is sitting zazen
    Doing the dishes is sitting zazen
    Driving the car is sitting zazen

    Some decisions require rumination, some don't. Do what is necessary, just don't add anything extra.



    Yes! Don't think the answer, live it.

    Gassho
    Andy
    Right on. On some bad days, doing the dishes and pouring tea are my only zazen. Those bad days are awesome days too.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello,

    Zen is a life path, a life long practise. If after half a decade of daily practise you still face these issues maybe it would make sense to re-evaluate whether Zen is the right path for you personally. Anything before that is just mind-theater

    If the intellect alone could figure out how to deal with life in a practical sense, a single book would have been written long ago, outlining every dualistic step, like painting by numbers. Instead we are dancing in the primordial vastness disco, showing our clumsy moves, stumbling and getting up. Drowning in the sweet water ocean of awakening yet screaming for a drink.

    Cats are pretty great Zen masters btw., though in terms of keeping the precepts they can be a little too liberal once in a while when dealing with birds and mice....but then again they perfectly are what they are and as such are very authentic.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Some very nice comments in this thread, but I particularly appreciate this Hans. Thank you.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1974 View Post

    > We never really know if a decision is good or bad. There may be an immediate sense of right or wrong, but down the road.. who knows? So we do our best with what's presented and then again and again...

    Agree 100%, although I'd like to point out that there is a contradiction "hiding" within your sentence....and believe me, being used to think way too much (yup, I totally admit it ) I am becoming more and more familiar (and comfortable) with the inevitable contradictions and paradoxes of logical thinking. You say that we never really know if a decision is good or bad but we do our best with what is presented, which implies that "our best" is the right thing to do. So there is no right thing to do...but there is...and what is ultimately right or wrong or best or worst? Well, in the silence of zazen sometimes I can taste the answer.


    Andrea
    My simple 2 cents about what I THINK; this coming from a newbie who has sat less than a year and read too much perhaps. Our "best" isn't necessarily the best. We may make decisions that seem horrible initially, and years later turn out to be the best thing we ever did. Of course the opposite is true. Our perception changes, the world changes, everything is in flux. So NO, there is NO best answer, or right answer and there is no worst or wrong answer. What is good OR bad really depends ultimately on what we WANT the result to be.
    Zazen may be calming you down enough to get the chatter out of your head, enabling you to be more single-minded. ( there is no such thing as multi-tasking in my mind). When you get the clutter gone and you relax you may be more in the "zone" you speak of. Definitely a benefit of being centered, BUT if you are still wondering, pondering, obsessing over the nature of your decision as Good or Bad, then you are still suffering! Zazen, indeed this whole practice is an effort to get past all that. So your BEST answer still isn't good or bad, it is just the best you can do with what you know NOW. Act upon this and then wake up to the next Now.

    Now, I think I should have just kept my my mouth shut.

    Gassho
    C

  14. #14
    I LOVE kokuu’s comment. It addressed EXACTLY the question I had in mind and gave me an immediate sense of relief. Many thanks!

    >If after half a decade of daily practice you still face these issues maybe it would make sense to re-evaluate whether Zen is the right path for you personally.

    Because of many factors (long working hours, lack of a Zen center nearby, a companion that could not care less about Zen, and definitively some laziness on my part) my practice has been infrequent and inconsistent. However, I have been and I am strongly attracted to sitting and meditating. Lately, I have been doing it “religiously” twice a day...and nothing changed...but what a change! So, I would say that despite my natural tendency to think my way out of these questions, Zen is probably for me. Sorry, Hans...but you will have to read a few more of my overly cerebral posts J

    >If the intellect alone could figure out how to deal with life in a practical sense, a single book would have been written long ago...

    I bet you can easily find millions of people that are completely convinced that such a book exists (e.g. the Bible and the Quran). Who knows, maybe they are right!
    I have been (rather, I have been trying to be) a Catholic for a very long time...then a voice inside me told me that “if after so many years of practice you still face these issues maybe it would make sense to re-evaluate whether Christianity is the right path for you personally”. No it wasn’t you Hans...ahah!...but I do not regret listening to that voice!

    > Instead we are dancing in the primordial vastness disco, showing our clumsy moves, stumbling and getting up. Drowning in the sweet water ocean of awakening yet screaming for a drink.


    We may be expressing difference dancing styles...but we are not that different after all

    A long respectful bow

    Andrea

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    From one over-thinker to another, I think I need to read and re-read this thread over and over again Thanks Andrea, for posting this, and thanks to everyone who posted.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

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