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Thread: I am wanting to make Zazen a life practice

  1. #1

    I am wanting to make Zazen a life practice

    Having practiced Zazen in many different forms for a long time I wish to make this community my home now and the Zazen practice that this community practices my life practice. I have never been able to fine a community that I can get fully involved in before due to my location and my need to take things further and further as time goes by. My question is how much Zazen is to much Zazen in your opinion?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Welcome to Treeleaf Neiphi! This Sangha has been vital to practice for me. In my feeble view, however much or often intuition advises should be fine. Many tend to sit Shikantaza at least once a day. For some 15 minutes is good, others 30-45. Can also do two 30 minute sits in a day, or two 15 minute ones. I don't meet many practitioners who go for more than an hour straight, though it's not unheard of.

    Each weekend there is Zazenkai here, and we sit for 30 minutes, do kinhin for 10, and then sit for another 30. Dosho hosts a 30 minute zazen session Monday through Thursday, and once a month there is 4-hour Zazenkai. Really zazen has no beginning or end of course, but this becomes more apparent when we are just sitting. Have you ever practiced Shikantaza before?

    Gassho, Foolish John

    P.S. Here are some links to advice from Jundo...
    Insta-Zazen
    Sitting Lengths

  3. #3
    Hello Neiphi,

    John has given some great pointers ... here is some a great resource for you as well VITAL POINTS of 'SHIKANTAZA' ZAZEN: http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...IKANTAZA-ZAZEN. =)

    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.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sydney's Avatar
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    Welcome Neiphi!

    How much is too much? Off the top of my head...

    Assuming no significant medical or similarly limiting factors, and that a more intensive and sustained practice is cultivated instead of just attacked at a full run, I'm not sure there's really an upper limit.

    Then comes reality. Assuming one's expenses aren't wholly covered by someone else or prior investment, and one prefers not to lose valued relationships with others, and one lived a spartan lifestyle, as much as a couple of hours of samu and zazen may be reasonable.

    The more additional entanglements, the less remains for literally just sitting.
    Diligently attain nothing. Sort of. Best not to over-think it.
    http://gplus.to/sydneytinker

  5. #5
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Welcome Neiphi
    Gassho
    C

  6. #6
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Welcome to Treeleaf. I guess, to answer your question, I practice zazen all the time, on and off the cushion. I had a very challenging day working with kids at school today, lots of opportunities to practice zazen. Then, I sit on the cushion, it's just all the same thing. But, then I don't know much as I am pretty new here and just starting to learn that I know nothing

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  7. #7
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Welcome, Neiphi.
    If you mean how long on the cushion, I think it's like Goldilocks.. You have to discover what is "just right". That said, practice is found everywhere.... Whether we like it or not.

    Gassho, Entai

  8. #8
    Hello Neiphi,

    there are some wonderful links and suggestions in this thread so far. Your wish to commit yourself to a Sangha and a particular practise is very admirable, but please make haste slowly. As a starter, it'd be nice if you were able to maybe introduce yourself a little bit more. Although your question regarding Zen and how much of it is too much is a valid one, I find it a little bit odd that that would be the first question for someone looking for a new community, but then again we all have different issues that we personally feel are of supreme importance.

    In my humble opinion, the "too much" aspect of formal Zazen would be dictated by health factors and social commitments. If you live in a cave in the Himalayas, you can sit all day, every day, only to stop and defecate and eat and sleep once in a while. If you are married, try to raise children, have a busy job etc. I'd say it's too much Zazen if you can't keep up your minimum emotional/social/practical infrastructure anymore....and you notice that you cause more suffering in the long run instead of less.

    If you can spend up to ten hours a week just watching television for example, that is a good indicator that your theoretical Zazen maximum hasn't been reached yet.

    Btw., it's nice to start a post with "hello" and end it with "Gassho" or something similar around here.


    Gassho,

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

  9. #9
    Hi Neiphi

    I have just been reading 'The Wooden Bowl' by former Zen monk Clark Strand and he recounted how in his early days of practice he dedicated his life to zazen so much that he ended up missing out on life itself. Even the abbot of his temple was trying to get him to lighten up.

    Sesshin (intensive meditation retreats) can, I believe, involve around 14 hours of zazen a day. However, this is rarely kept up for long periods. Normal monastic life includes periods of samu (work), takahatsu (begging) and other activities as well as meditation.

    Personally I practice for 2-3 hours a day in 2/3 sits but I don't work due to illness. Others do what they can around work and family commitments. As Jundo often says, it is not the time spent in zazen that is important but the quality of practice. While we do not judge a sit as good or bad, 10 minutes of zazen in which you are fully committed is better than 3 hours of daydreaming on the cushion.

    Also, Joyo makes a very important point. All of life is zazen. Instead of making practice your life, why not make life your practice? Zazen can become a retreat into a world of peace and silence - dealing with other humans is a real litmus test to the strength of your Zen!

    Lastly, a warm welcome to Treelead. I hope you find much of value here to support your practice.

    Gassho
    Andy

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Neiphi!

    Just sit today. Repeat tomorrow.

    It's all there is, really

    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

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Hi Neiphi!

    Just sit today. Repeat tomorrow.

    It's all there is, really

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    I like it Kyonin. =)

    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.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Hi Neiphi!

    Just sit today. Repeat tomorrow.

    It's all there is, really

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Seems a good advice

    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  13. #13
    Hello all,

    Thank you for the links and the advice I will take it all on board as I tend to get to intensive with what I do most times. I dont work due to illness but its not an illness that would stop me sitting for sessin if I wanted to so I wanted to moderate myself a little here and take it slowly.

    Gassho

    Neiphi

  14. #14
    Hi Neiphi!

    I read the following in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind just the other day and I thought it was appropriate to share in response to your question.

    ...Some people start to practice Zen just out of curiosity, and they only make themselves busier. If your practice makes you worse, it is ridiculous. I think that if you try to do zazen once a week, that will make you busy enough. Do not be too interested in Zen. ...Just continue your calm, ordinary practice and your character will be built up. If your mind is always busy, there will be no time to build, and you will not be successful, particularly if you work too hard on it. ...Buddha said the same thing about the good ox driver. The driver knows how much load the ox can carry and he keeps the ox from being overloaded. You know your way and your state of mind. Do not carry too much!
    I found when I first started sitting zazen I became addicted to the practice. I was sitting all the time. I realized that I was sitting with too much intention and clinging to the practice to where it was no longer shinkantaza. No matter how often you sit, make sure you are just sitting.

    But then again, I hardly know what I'm talking about.

    Thanks for everyone else's responses.

    Gassho,
    H
    Smile, breathe, and go slowly.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Homestead View Post
    Hi Neiphi!

    I read the following in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind just the other day and I thought it was appropriate to share in response to your question.



    I found when I first started sitting zazen I became addicted to the practice. I was sitting all the time. I realized that I was sitting with too much intention and clinging to the practice to where it was no longer shinkantaza. No matter how often you sit, make sure you are just sitting.

    But then again, I hardly know what I'm talking about.

    Thanks for everyone else's responses.

    Gassho,
    H
    I appreciate the "beginners mind" reference. I may read that hoe again while traveling.

    Gassho,

    W


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