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Thread: Letting our thoughts go.

  1. #1

    Letting our thoughts go.

    A common practice in our zazen practice is to "let the thoughts go". We neither become attached to the thought, nor do we suppress it. To me however, this is like describing the taste of an orange to a person who's never eaten an orange.

    When a thought arises in my mind, I take notice of it. The thought (to me) then turns into thinking. I don't seem to understand the "letting go" part. If I let go, then I start suppressing it and trying to ignore it.

    The gist I'm getting from this " letting go" is that I should take notice of the thought, see it, and observe it with equanimity until the thought naturally passes. During my practice however, I find this very difficult. When ever I try to observe the thought, it turns into thinking and I start suppressing. The cycle constantly repeats itself

    I'm really confused as to what to do. Maybe I already answered my own question by writing this. However, I would still really appreciate some input.

    Thanks!

    -Murah

  2. #2

    Re: Letting our thoughts go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Murah
    A common practice in our zazen practice is to "let the thoughts go". We neither become attached to the thought, nor do we suppress it. To me however, this is like describing the taste of an orange to a person who's never eaten an orange.

    When a thought arises in my mind, I take notice of it. The thought (to me) then turns into thinking. I don't seem to understand the "letting go" part. If I let go, then I start suppressing it and trying to ignore it.

    The gist I'm getting from this " letting go" is that I should take notice of the thought, see it, and observe it with equanimity until the thought naturally passes. During my practice however, I find this very difficult. When ever I try to observe the thought, it turns into thinking and I start suppressing. The cycle constantly repeats itself

    I'm really confused as to what to do. Maybe I already answered my own question by writing this. However, I would still really appreciate some input.

    Thanks!

    -Murah
    Hi Murah,

    May I take a stab?

    It may be one of those things that, if you try too hard to do it, you probably can't do it. It is something like riding a bicycle in that regard: If you analyze what you are doing while actually trying to ride, commanding your legs "left right left right," good chance that you will tumble off the bike.

    Perhaps, it is something you just have to let happen, allowing the mind to settle like you allow the snow to melt on a warm day: it happens without any effort from you. In fact, you probably do it, or something like it, all the time "without thinking about it" (pun intended). For example, you know those moments when you just look warmly at the face of someone you love, thinking nothing in particular but feeling so much? Or, when you just swim the australian crawl through a pool, not thinking anything but moving smoothly through the water? Or (my favorite) when you have been carrying a heavy load of bags for miles, which you drop to the ground ... ah, what a relief, and nothing to think about that!

    To rephrase an old joke ...

    "Thinking" is like hitting your own hand with a big hammer.
    It just feels SO good when you stop.

    Anyway, I would not try to force it or analyze it too much. Just let it happen.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    Thank you very Much Jundo and Harry.

    I hope you don't mind, but these posts helped me out so much I think I'm going to copy and paste them to a word document so I can refer to them whenever I need a reminder.

    -Murah
    I think I might just do the same. As Murah said, thank you very much Jundo and Harry.

  4. #4
    "To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him." ~Shunryu Suzuki

    Or, as my first zazen instructor used to say: "Let it be!" Except that quote makes me start humming the Beatles tune.

    If you harness a sheep and drag it somewhere it will balk and become upset (I know this for a fact because my university had a large agricultural college attached to it!). Drive it from behind by means of a stick and it will run this way and that, and exhaust both of you.

    Turn it out in a meadow, and let it be, and it will just stand around eating grass. And watching sheep stand around eating grass gets boring pretty quickly.

    In theory then (though I've never managed to get there!) if we stop trying to control our thoughts they'll just wander off to entertain themselves. And left on their own, they have a pretty dull and mundane existence.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Why did you have to mention the Beatles song??? Now I'll have it running through my head all day!

    :-)

    Kirk

  6. #6

    The same

    I find the same problem. I am just picking up meditation again for the first time in a few years and a lot of the "am I doing this right?" kind of thoughts arise constantly. Sometimes when I meditate with a group I feel a lot of pressure not to squirm (even though my leg is KILLING me! :! eventually I move, and its not so bad.

    I was told by a teacher to do this: observe your thoughts like your watching clouds pass. Notice them, acknowledge them, and move on. Don't get involved with a storyline - just let them pass. Sometimes this works for me. Sometimes not.

    Gassho

  7. #7
    Hi Dharma84 (if that's your real name :? )

    Welcome

    The thing is not to worry about it. You see we've had these habits for so many years that when we actually sit down all of the ways that we think and act and what not, when we're not doing meditation, come up. Basically it seems like there are a lot of thoughts and things in our practice, but that is because we usually never sit still without doing anything for more than a few minutes in our life and even then we are lost in thought about something :roll:

    So, what I recommend is to just let everything work it's self out. Keep sitting and eventually all those habits will go away bit by bit and also pay attention to the wall that's infront of you.

    "Posture is important" but don't stress out about it at first.

    Hope that helps. Keeep Siiittting.

    BTW If your leg gets sore, then it gets sore. Move it. You'll get used to it eventually.

    Gassho Will
    (Jundo how about we get some of those Gassho Emoticons around here)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by paige
    "To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him." ~Shunryu Suzuki
    Thanks, Paige. I love this quote! Sometimes I think that mindfulness is realizing that there is space between the thoughts. And it that is the place that zazen helps us explore.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  9. #9
    Thanks will, I will definitely give that thought! :wink:

  10. #10
    Mokugyo
    Guest
    Hi Murah!
    Master Deshimaru used to say that zazen is not a piece of cake! Your (and mine) difficulty, is the essential difficulty of human beings so don't worry just continue practicing and having contact with the three treasures: the Buddha (teacher), the Dharma (teaching)and the Sangha (community).

    When my thinking gets complicated during zazen, I find it helpfull to concentrate on my posture, to lengthen my spine, make sure that I do not lean to the right or the left, relax my shoulders, correct the cosmic mudra of my hands and generally become aware and correct of the million details of the posture! I also find helpfull to exhale completly ad become aware of the energy centre, which is located about two to three inches below the navel!

    I hope this is of some help!

    Gassho

    Mokugyo

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