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Thread: Questioning

  1. #1
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    Red face Questioning

    Maybe this has come up before (I could not find anything by searching), but I was hoping that anyone could help me with this.

    I have heard that people who are not born into the tradition most often pursue religious philosophies like Zen Buddhism because they have a burning question to which they need an answer. What about those for whom no question exists? Is the uncertainty of a question a question in and of itself, therefore no question = question, not two (and therefore, just sit). Alternatively, is no question indicative of a lack of introspection (and therefore, just sit)?

    Sorry, for a man with no questions, I have a lot of questions.

    Gassho,
    Morgan

  2. #2
    Hi Morgan

    I think that very few people sit zazen in the absence of a question, even if the question is only 'I wonder what is like to sit zazen?'. Shakyamuni himself was concerned with freedom from suffering, and I suspect many come to Buddhism with a simialr question of how to get out of the seemingly endless cycle of reacting to stimuli.

    Then again, if you are happy sitting and have no burning question at the front of your mind I don't think there is a need to be concerned or invent one. The space of zazen is reason enough.

    Gassho
    Andy

  3. #3
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    In my case, I had lots of questions that lead me to these teachings. I haven't gotten many answers, per se, and I think I'm finally alright with that. I have always over analyzed things, and that may never change. But "answers" are becoming far less important to me. It's comforting.
    I'm sure that doesn't answer your un-asked question... So it all works out.

    Gassho, Entai

    Entai (Bill)
    "Be kind - for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" - Plato

  4. #4
    Our current Koan from the Book of Serenity may help answer this non-question ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...NIMITY-Case-40

    I would say, if you have a burning question ... just sit.

    If there is no burning question ... just sit.

    All answers and non-answers will thus become crystal clear.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Hello Morgan,

    For me I too had lots of questions ... this practice has shown me how to put down all those questions and just sit, just be. That sometimes there may be answers to the questions we face and times where there is no answer and that is ok. Just sitting has allowed me to be accepting of whatever outcome may come my way. =)

    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.

  6. #6
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    Thank you Kokuu, Entai, Shingen, and Jundo for responding.

    Somehow I thought the non-answer to no question would be "Just sit".

    I can live with that.

    Gassho,
    Morgan

  7. #7
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    It seems you are questioning your lack of question. Perhaps you need a reason to just sit. I agree with Kokuu, everyone comes to Zen for some reason. For me it was reading about zen and recognizing that it resonated with me. Now that I am learning I have a bazillion questions. We are all born into samsara it seems. I have been sitting, I have suffered less. People around me have suffered less.
    Gassho
    C

  8. #8
    I'm not sure what your question is but I would never have arrived at Zen practice if I had not had the deep question of who am I or what is this?



    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    So many great responses here already. Thanks for those! Just to put in my two cents;

    I searched and studied a long while because I wanted to "get it" and understand everything. What I have "gotten" from all that so far is that fundamentally life is absurd and it is impossible for us to truly "get it". We are finite human beings. Our challenge lies in us coming to terms with our "not-getting". In embracing our inability to "get it" we inadvertently grasp life as it is. We "get it" by "not getting". Zen is my attempt to cultivate this "getting somewhere not-getting" without forcing it for in doing so I have already failed. I simply try to invite into my life without intentionally stopping it dead in it's tracks.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to remember that.
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Aske

  10. #10
    Our challenge lies in us coming to terms with our "not-getting". In embracing our inability to "get it" we inadvertently grasp life as it is. We "get it" by "not getting".
    I don't get this at all. Thank you!

    Gassho
    Lisa

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Aske View Post
    So many great responses here already. Thanks for those! Just to put in my two cents;

    I searched and studied a long while because I wanted to "get it" and understand everything. What I have "gotten" from all that so far is that fundamentally life is absurd and it is impossible for us to truly "get it". We are finite human beings. Our challenge lies in us coming to terms with our "not-getting". In embracing our inability to "get it" we inadvertently grasp life as it is. We "get it" by "not getting". Zen is my attempt to cultivate this "getting somewhere not-getting" without forcing it for in doing so I have already failed. I simply try to invite into my life without intentionally stopping it dead in it's tracks.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to remember that.
    I agree with this so much. Thank you, Aske.

    And yet, and yet ... we also do GET IT and GOT GOTTEN at the pivot point of this Practice, a Realization and Realizing so Clear, So Solid, So All Pervasive that there is No Doubt, No Question. Yet Such is found in, right at the heart of, all life's unanswered and unanswerable questions and doubts.

    Isn't this Way Marvelous!? (a rhetorical question).

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-16-2014 at 02:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Hi there,

    That which we want to get and the one who wants to get it are actually the same.
    It might take some time to (not) get this though...
    Lovely thread!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  13. #13
    Thank you for appreciating.

    My point exactly Jundo & Daitetsu. Shikantaza from my point of view at least can be seen as the practical application of embracing and being content with the "not-getting because we already have it". The practice is the answer that by nature of being a non-answer evaporates all the questions that would otherwise give raise to further endless co-depending chains of Q&As. Thereby it is in itself the correct answer. Just being and flowing through it all without grasping at straws.

    Am I in the ballpark here? It clarified the goalless goal a little for me I think. Gassho.
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Aske

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Aske View Post
    Am I in the ballpark here? It clarified the goalless goal a little for me I think. Gassho.
    Hi Aske,

    I think you might have a base hit. Shikantaza sure has aspects as you describe, yet it is so much more than even such (for example, one should experience all space and time realized and brought to fruition in each moment of sitting too. Why? Because thus we come to experience each moment of life as all space and time realized and brought to fruition).

    However, the only way to be sure is not any nice words you say or very intellectual understanding. Does one truly feel such in ones bones and guts? Does one truly live such, especially to the tough times in life? Such is the more important "litmus test" than any dictionary definition.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    ...yet it is so much more than even such (for example, one should experience all space and time realized and brought to fruition in each moment of sitting too. Why? Because thus we come to experience each moment of life as all space and time realized and brought to fruition)...

    Gassho, Jundo
    So when sitting shikantaza, one is both the observer and the observed, and that which is not observed? There is no separation of self from other, no separation of event from event, no separation of space and time, no I/you/we/none, there is just everything/nothing? If this is true when sitting, this must also be true when not sitting. For example, on the weekend, I went camping. Sat down on a sandy beach at the edge of a forest, watched the waves, sky, and wind. Afterwards I threw sticks into the water, dogs brought them back to me. Forest, sticks, dogs, me, beach, sky, waves, sand were all the same in that moment - that was perfect the way it was. Now, two days later, I am back in the city, with all that entails. My footprints are gone. The sticks will not be where they were left (or maybe they are, who knows?). The dogs are elsewhere. The water, waves, and sky have moved on, and there is nothing to say that it ever happened at all- this is perfect the way it is. When sitting shikantaza, if there is no separation of event, will I always be throwing those sticks even if I have put them down?

    Gassho,
    Morgan

  16. #16
    Hi Morgan,

    A bit too intellectual and wordy, so this is the time for the old Zen Teacher cop-out "Go Sit, Find Out".

    I will say this. Zazen is only on the Zafu cushion. Zazen is -not- only on the Zafu cushion.

    Zazen is only on the Zafu cushion. Sitting on the Zafu is observor and observed and all what have ya. We sit as a sacred act, the only place to be and act in need of doing in that moment of sitting.

    Zazen is -not- only on the Zafu cushion. Rising up from the cushion, all is observor and observed and all what have ya. It is such whether we perceive it as such or not. However, usually we do not perceive so with our minds filled with divisive thoughts, although sometimes we can such as your beach moment. Thus, one sits because it is genrally more effective to realize such through a Practice such as Zazen.

    As to the Mahayana view of time: The sticks are gone, the footprints are washed away. However, sticks and footprints never come or go. What is more, every grain of sand on the beach and all the stars in the sky each reflect that moment of sticks and footprints (Have you ever heard of Indra's Net, in which every realm of reality is like a jewel or mirror, reflecting and containing and manifesting every other event and corner of reality?). Does that blow your mind?

    Well, stop thinking about it now ... Go Sit, Find Out!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-16-2014 at 07:09 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Hello Morgan,

    Just wanted to chime that you aren't alone in this! I find that the more I think about it, the less I get it. The more I "do it," I still don't think I get it but it makes more sense? I'm probably not making sense. Whether or not I get it, I do enjoy the time I take to sit every morning. I am still very much a beginner, however.

    Thank you everyone, I found many of the replies in this thread really helpful.

    Andrew

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi all.

    My case is a little different, I guess. I begun this path because it just felt natural. No questions to ask. I found out I had been a Buddhist all my life without even knowing what Buddhism was.

    It was years into practice when questions began, but the more I sat, the questions went away or were answered deep inside me.

    Of course I read books and stay in touch with our teachers. Of course I have academic questions.

    But at the end of the day, everything drops when I sit... and it seems to extend to all activities

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    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

  19. #19
    Hi Morgan... Thursdays are much better. I'll be on the cushion at 7pm. Thanks
    大山

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