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Thread: Thinking Too Much

  1. #1

    Thinking Too Much

    Beloved others,

    I often find myself caught up in the various discussions going on here, and have to stop and ask myself what I am doing. At times it seems to me that so much of what appears important to me is just more thoughts about illusion, or defending an intelectual opinion to strenghten a false sense of self.

    But then I remember Jundo's words that "everything is perfectly what it is", and I wonder what I should be doing do in terms of spiritual practice, or if it really matters. If everything is as it is, then what more can I add to reality by trying harder or doing more? If there is no I, then who is trying, and what is there to accomplish? If the ultimate goal is to be where I am, then isn't any activity or practice or desire jsut taking me farther from my goal? And is not having a goal taking me farther from my goal? It almost turns into a koan: How do you change without the desire to change? How do you achieve your goal without having a goal?

    All I am left with is this old quote:

    "Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?"
    "As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning."
    "Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?"
    "To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise."

    May we all be awake to see the dawn.

    Namaste...

    Gassho...

    Urug

  2. #2
    Beloved Harry,

    If our thoughts/ ourselves are an illusion, everything is an illusion; why should the dawn be more deserving of attention than our thoughts?
    Exactly what I am contemplating. If everything is "an illusion" or if everything is "perfectly what it is", then what is the point of spiritual practice?

    What is there to do in order to be where you already are?

    Gassho,

    Urug

  3. #3
    Beloved Harry,

    It has often seemed to me that many enlightened masters, teach a different method than that which actually brought them to their own awakening.

    Did not Buddha become awakened when he stopped what he was doing?

    Eckhart Tolle became enlightened at the depths of an existential crisis in the midst of suicidal depression, yet he obviously teaches a different route.

    I wonder some times whether being attached to a particular path is itself an impediment to awakening. I wonder if just being aware in each moment is enough.

    What else is there to do?

    Gassho,

    Urug

  4. #4
    Beloved other,

    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    We are aware moment-to-moment anyway, otherwise we would be dead or something. I'm not sure its a good idea to maintain the awareness and attitude of Zazen from moment-to-moment in our lives, but it is said, and I agree, that our Zazen action pervades our lives and our world like the reverberations of a bell.
    I'm not sure we are aware moment-to-moment. It seems to me that most of the time we are in a kind of walking sleep living inside our thoughts rather than being aware of the present moment. When I am able to bring my awareness into the present moment there is a wonderful change in the subjective experience of being. It is like being fully alive. Everything is alive and conected and beautiful. It usually only lasts for a brief while before I go back to living in my thoughts again, but each time I'm able to get here a little easier and stay a little longer.

    It is easier for me to slip into this state of awareness in "regular" life than when I am sitting. It seems to me to be how we are supposed to be. Here and now in the moment unless something needs to be done, then doing it and back to being in the moment. Thinking when it is called for, being present when there is no need for thinking.

    Maybe I'm just a heretic, but that seems to be working for me.

    And yet it feels like there is still something more to do...

    Namaste and peace,

    Urug

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Urug
    I'm not sure we are aware moment-to-moment. It seems to me that most of the time we are in a kind of walking sleep living inside our thoughts rather than being aware of the present moment. When I am able to bring my awareness into the present moment there is a wonderful change in the subjective experience of being. It is like being fully alive. Everything is alive and conected and beautiful. It usually only lasts for a brief while before I go back to living in my thoughts again, but each time I'm able to get here a little easier and stay a little longer.

    It is easier for me to slip into this state of awareness in "regular" life than when I am sitting. It seems to me to be how we are supposed to be. Here and now in the moment unless something needs to be done, then doing it and back to being in the moment. Thinking when it is called for, being present when there is no need for thinking.
    I agree with you through much of this, Urug. And, i think, the "goal" of practice is this awareness, which comes when we are not lost in our thoughts. As many have pointed out, when we are sitting and hear a bird, a bell, a car driving by it brings us back to our awareness.

    My own awareness is frequently more difficult to maintain when sitting, as the distractions are mental (shopping lists, my girlfriend arriving in three weeks), not physical (the kettle boiling, the neighbors opening their door). This is what you are describing as well, i think. Yes, more difficult. It's like lifting a hundred pounds instead of fifty, i think, and perhaps more beneficial? Maybe someday we will be aware moment-to-moment.

    Above all, i don't think about it too much - i don't try not to think about it, i just don't. Or if i do, i don't think about that, either. As Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." Over-analysis has historically been my downfall.

    Namaste, brothers.
    cd

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by cdshrack
    Above all, i don't think about it too much - i don't try not to think about it, i just don't. Or if i do, i don't think about that, either. As Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." Over-analysis has historically been my downfall.
    Beloved Brothers,

    I think this is the key. When I find myself overanalysing, or being lost in thought, it now will often trigger the observation that I am thinkiing habitualy rather than functionaly. This is often all I need to come back to my center and be in the moment.

    My own awareness is frequently more difficult to maintain when sitting, as the distractions are mental (shopping lists, my girlfriend arriving in three weeks), not physical (the kettle boiling, the neighbors opening their door). This is what you are describing as well, i think. Yes, more difficult. It's like lifting a hundred pounds instead of fifty, i think, and perhaps more beneficial?
    I agree with you that sitting does seem like much harder work than being in the present while I'm walking in the woods or even driving in the car. I also think that you are right that it is more beneficial. I have found that meditation intensives have been really helpful. After a couple of days I seem to finally settle and get into a much deeper stillness.

    I think that both sitting and mindfullness in day-to-day activities are perhaps the key.

    Harry wrote:
    Re. Awareness. I think if people didn't have a certain amount of awareness they would hurt each other and themselves even more than they presently do!: they'd walk in front of cars or drive over each other, walk off the top of buildings, leave their hands in the oven when they make bread, drop litter more, smash windows for the fun of it, be cruel for no reason more... the world would be more "Mad Max"-ish etc. etc. On balance, I'd say people are still more good than bad, more aware of others than deaf to suffering...
    Harry I also see your point. I think our level of awareness does impact the things we do in everyday life. When I am "lost in thought" or not being entirely present I have burned myself baking bread, cut my finger using a knife, almost had a car accident, not to mention being insensitive to those I love, and probably leaving a wake of bad karma without even noticing.

    I do agree that people are more good than bad. I think Jundo would also agree ( Hmmm... where is Jundo?)

    I know the Dalai Lama agrees with us. He recently said: "We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored."

    BTW, your name "Urug"; its "Guru" mixed up, right? A mixed up guru... I like that!
    Yes Harry you have decoded my name. It is guru spelled backwards. I gave myself that name to remind me that when I speak what appears to me to be truth, to always be aware that I may be 180 degrees wrong, and to not get attached to my thoughts and beliefs. To help me not make more of a false sense of self out of my spiritual practice and growth.

    Peace...good night...namaste...gassho...donde esta Jundo?

    Urug 8)

  7. #7
    Hi Beloved Guys,

    Estoy aqui! You know, being on the other side of the world from most of you, I have to sleep and such ... It is nice to be missed. :-)

    So much to do! Which leads to our subject. One thing to comment:

    I'm not sure we are aware moment-to-moment. It seems to me that most of the time we are in a kind of walking sleep living inside our thoughts rather than being aware of the present moment. When I am able to bring my awareness into the present moment there is a wonderful change in the subjective experience of being. It is like being fully alive. Everything is alive and conected and beautiful. It usually only lasts for a brief while before I go back to living in my thoughts again, but each time I'm able to get here a little easier and stay a little longer.

    It is easier for me to slip into this state of awareness in "regular" life than when I am sitting. It seems to me to be how we are supposed to be. Here and now in the moment unless something needs to be done, then doing it and back to being in the moment. Thinking when it is called for, being present when there is no need for thinking.
    I love those moments of awareness too. They come at all sorts of times, almost every day or many times a day, and each one is a precious lesson. But, I have always thought it a misunderstanding to think that (as the "final goal" of our Practice) such states are meant to be with us all the time, or even most of the time. I even doubt that we could function in "regular" life if we were always "mindful" and aware.

    One of the great misinterpretations of Buddhist practice (it arises, I think, from over-idealizing the teachings of old masters, dipping them in gold and holding their experiences up to some extreme, super-human and impossible standards) is that, for example, once we "GET IT" (whatever we are supposed to "get", e.g., "mindfulness" "satori" "balance of body/mind" etc) it never leaves us, is always the way we perceive life from that time forward, a permanent revolution of mind 24/7.

    The 24/7 "enlightenment" may involve forgetting about "24/7!"

    Any good thing ... like chocolate ice cream ... is not so tasty or lovely if you eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think that one of the most beautiful parts of our Practice (the real heart of "enlightment" if you will) is that we feel these "Zen Moments" sometimes, other times we are just human beings ... and we become cool with both, right to the marrow. The times we feel such ways sheds open light upon the times we do not, and the times we do not feel such ways adds a shady contrast ,,, the black/white of a good Zen ink drawing!

    Right now, for example, I look at a single leaf in my garden, and I feel time stand still and the whole universe in every fold and wrinkle of that leaf. Wonderful. This morning, I was juggling train reservations and hotel bookings for a trip next week, answering the phone, taking care of leon ... multitasking, not having fun, a bit overwhelmed ...

    ... AND THAT IS FINE TOO!

    When doing one task with all your heart, do one task.

    When doing ten tasks with bits of your heart, do ten tasks.

    They are both "how we are supposed to be".

    When settled and balanced in Zazen, be settled and balanced.

    When distracted and unsettled in Zazen, be distracted and unsettled.

    They are both "how we are supposed to be".

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Jundo,

    I find your explanation interesting. Too often I have read things that suggest we should attempt to be in a state of permanent mindfulness, aware of everything all the time. That ignores the fact that our brains evolved to _not_ be aware of everything, for many reasons. We would quickly burn out if we tried to do that; being aware of my sitting position, my breathing, my hearing, the after-taste of tea in my mouth, and any thoughts that flit through my consciousness as I type this would be, well, a bit much.

    I think that awareness/mindfulness is a wonderful thing - as you said, you can see the universe in a leaf. But trying to do that all the time makes it so much harder to accomplish our daily life. Perhaps if we were hermits and lived in caves, eating only what food people brought us, we would be able to do this, but as householders, it seems too much to strive for.

    Kirk

  9. #9
    Hello fellow Treeleafers!

    A very interesting thread methinks. One thing I would like to comment on is the notion of everything being an illusion. In most Sutras and shastras I have read, it is written that reality is LIKE an illusion. The little world "like" in this instance is of prime importance IMHO. To see everything as pure illusion is dangerously close to nihilism, this notion of "everything is illusion" is itself a perfect bridge to the nihilist mindset actually.

    Why do we have to practice? To really Realise these most simple and most profound truths. If you've been born a clever boy/girl and had the privilege of receivin' a fair share of education, the intellectual side of buddhist practice ain't that hard to get.....but to get this terribly mundane yet wonderful "it", we have to work on our realisation again and again and again.

    I spent years trying to get my head around ever-expanding esoteric concepts....nowadays I just revisit the basics of my day-to-day life, which are so easy to understand, yet so hard to realise!

    Gassho,

    Hans

  10. #10
    Buenos Dias Beloved Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Any good thing ... like chocolate ice cream ... is not so tasty or lovely if you eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    I agree. And while this applies to non-thinking, for me it applies to thinking even more. For me it seems that I think (or at least used to ) nearly 24/7.

    Untill I started having brief moments of non-thinking, I never realized how incessantly my brain produced continous chatter. I used to feel that I thought. That I used my intellect for solving problems doing day to day chores. Now I realize how little of my thinking is actually functional. The vast majority of it is just habitual ramblings/fretting/fanticising (am I sharing too much?). What I see now is that there is a "I" behind the thoughts. A silent witness that is aware of my thoughts. I feel that this is more "I" than all the mind noise that my brain generates.

    I feel that our brain and the ability to think and problem solve did evolve to support our survival, and I do not wish to stop thinking permantly. However, I feel that much of the suffering of humankind is brought about by our identification with thouoght and our lost ability to reside in non-thinking when there is no problem to confront. It is as if we have become addicted to thinking and can not stop even when we want to.

    Or maybe not? It's just a thought. :wink:

    Peace...joy...presence...presents...

    Gassho,

    Urug 8)

  11. #11
    Beloved Brothers & Sisters,

    Be the weekend.

    I go to be one with the river and woods.

    "Unify your attention. Do not listen with your ears but with your mind; do not listen with your mind but with your essence. The ears can't do more than to listen, the mind cannot do more than to recognize. As for the essence, it is a void completely unengaged. The Way gathers only in the void. " ~ Confucius

    I am never lost because I don't know where I'm going...

    Namaste...

    Urug 8)

  12. #12
    Hi again,

    I also wanted to mention this comment from early in the thread ...



    But then I remember Jundo's words that "everything is perfectly what it is", and I wonder what I should be doing do in terms of spiritual practice, or if it really matters. If everything is as it is, then what more can I add to reality by trying harder or doing more?
    Realizing that "everything is just what it is" (shrug of discouragement, nothing can be done, oh well life ) is very very different from "everything is just what it is" (beautiful, wonderful, crazy-happy-sad life!!). The difference is our Goalless, "Just Sitting is Already Enlightenement Itself" Practice.

    You must Practice to realize that "everything is just what it is" is actually "everything is just what it is".

    Before you Practice, you are just an imperfect being. After you Practice, you are just an imperfect being. And that is all the difference in the world!

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- I think I have the seed for a couple of talks on the blog here.

  13. #13
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I just came across this book review:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php? ... icle/3760/

    The call-out quotes are very fitting to this discussion:

    “If we were always processing sensation, we’d have no time for anything interesting”

    “Frith argues that what we see is not the world as it truly is, but an illusion”

    “If every action were driven by conscious agency, we’d be constantly overwhelmed”



    Kirk

  14. #14
    Beloved others,

    The river and the woods are alive. Rapids and waterfalls, wind and spray, trees and paths, beauty and wonder...what a remarkable beautiful planet we live on. The beauty of the natural world almost always brings me peace and sense of presence and interconnectedness of life.

    When I was coming home from the river I remembered one of my favorite quotes by Wei Wu Wei and wanted to share it:

    "A myriad bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream.
    'What are you?' I cried to them as they drifted by.
    'I am a bubble, of course' nearly a myriad bubbles answered,
    and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed.
    But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered,
    'We are this stream', and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices, but just a quiet certitude."


    Getting out in nature helps my mind to slow down and for me to be here now. It seems to me still that our natural state is one of being and presence and that our thinking mind is a tool, a useful tool, but one that has stopped being a servant to us and has become our master. Thinking is reliving the past or projecting a future.

    Buddha said:

    "Do not pursue the past.
    Do not lose yourself in the future.
    The past no longer is.
    The future has not yet come.
    Looking deeply at life as it is
    in the very here and now,
    the practitioner dwells
    in stability and freedom."


    For me sitting is here and now, walking is here and now, showering is here and now, going up my stairs is here and now...I feel that here and now is my true home and that thinking is where i go for practical matters that are transient.

    A beautiful other wrote a beautiful poem:

    "Quiet friend who has come so far,
    feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
    Let your darkness be a bell tower
    and you the bell. As you ring,

    what batters you becomes your strength.
    Move back and forth into the change.
    What is it like, such intensity of pain?
    If the drink is bitter, turn yourself into wine.

    In this uncontainable night,
    be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
    the meaning discovered there.

    And if the world has ceased to hear you,
    say to the silent earth: I flow.
    To the rushing water, speak: I am."


    Namaste...Love...Peace...Gassho...

    Urug

  15. #15
    Dear Uruq,

    Thank you for those words. Yes, I think that Zen writers and mystics have a particular affinity for nature, as our moments being with the rivers, waterfalls, trees and stones remind us of who we are ... and who we ARE.

    I too have been doing some hiking this week ... the mosquito bites and the knee scrapes and the aching muscles (the ones not used in my day-to-day life) remind me of other things too:

    Whose itch is this? It is the universe that is itching.

    Time passes and knees are impermanent. The mountain and my skinned knees are one without friction, two with great friction.

    Foolish middle-aged fat men on mountains are foolish middle-aged fat men on mountains.

    ... much Wisdom gained.


    Namaste...Love...Peace...Gassho... , A Middle-Aged Fat Man

  16. #16
    Something I've done throughout not only my life, but particularly throughout my Buddhist "career" (back before I just quit for some years) is to think too much. Hey I'm an engineer. That's what we're trained to do! :lol:

    Whatever formal Buddhist training I've had up 'till now was in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingmapa are not nearly as analytical as the Gelugpa, but there's still a lot more analytical contemplation than with Zen. I have more thoughts about theory and technique come up in my meditation than any other kind of everyday thoughts. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to shut the hell up!!

    Something I've determined to try not to do now is to study too much and think too much - the operative word being try. I'm going to try to just listen to Jundo and do a lot of zazen. That's it. What was that discussion about faith? Not sure it's faith because I know the process works, so I'm just going to do it. Ok, I"m going to try to do it. :lol:
    Gassho,
    Bruce

  17. #17
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    One thing I've done recently is (more or less) stop reading dharma books. I find that sitting, listening to Jundo's talks, and reading this forum, are sufficient. I, too, started in the Tibetan tradition, and have read, probably, more than 100 books on Tibetan Buddhism, along with many on Theravada and Zen. But some time ago, I realised that all those books were just part of the Buddhism industry, and now only have a few that I re-read from time to time.

    Kirk

  18. #18
    Yeah I agree. I've realized that my obsessive study is just another attachment that needs to be dropped. Before I moved to England, I had a 5 shelf bookcase that was totally packed with books from Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist teachers. I had books stacked on top of books and had read them all, at least once.

    Sometimes you just have to shoot all the engineers and finish the project! :lol:

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceS
    Yeah I agree. I've realized that my obsessive study is just another attachment that needs to be dropped. Before I moved to England, I had a 5 shelf bookcase that was totally packed with books from Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist teachers. I had books stacked on top of books and had read them all, at least once.

    Sometimes you just have to shoot all the engineers and finish the project! :lol:
    LOL!
    Bruce, this is sort of tangential but reading your note I was reminded of my early days in recovery (ex-addict) and had like 5-7 devotional books I would read every morning. My out-patient doc/mentor asked me if I was doing a daily meditation and I listed the books I read. He just laughed and said, "Maybe just two or three would be a little more balanced."

    I always think I have to 'over-do'. ops:

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceS
    Yeah I agree. I've realized that my obsessive study is just another attachment that needs to be dropped. Before I moved to England, I had a 5 shelf bookcase that was totally packed with books from Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist teachers. I had books stacked on top of books...
    Beloved Bruce,

    I understand what you're saying. I have a bookcase filled with books on Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, etc...

    Finally it occured to me that unless I started putting some of the ideas in these books into actual practice, it was like having maps and guide books to every foriegn country on earth without ever going anywhere. Or knowing everyting there is to know about musical instuments and music theory, but without actually being able to play music. Once I actually started practicing what I had read about, I was amazed at the changes in my life, and my subjective experience of being.

    One thing that sometimes concerns me, is that I have found it difficult to follow only one specific path. I am most closely drawn to Buddhism, but also find great inspiration and guidance from Taoism and Sufism, as well as the Earth based religions, and also some of the teachings of Jesus, and Eckhart Tolle. I also have found exceptionally wonderful growth through Charles Berner's "Enlightenment Intensives".

    One of the things I used to think too much about was whether I should make myself choose one denomination and just stick to that. Now I feel more comfortable with doing what I do.

    Where I am mostly at these days is witnessing or just being aware of how much time my mind spends daydreaming or rehashing old material. Driving in the car today my mind just jumped from one topic to another while "I" watched it as I tried to keep my mind on driving and being present in the now. I could ease into the present and feel the joy of driving through the beautiful countryside and be there...and then realize that I was thinking about something that happened yesterday or something that was coming up tomorrow. But not really anything useful, just compulsive monkey mind thought. Then I would bring myself back to the present, and stay here for a little while, before I would be right back thinking about something. And so the drive went. Pretty much how most of my time these days goes. I am getting better at noticing when I am back in my head and not in the present, and then focusing my attention on the now.

    Does anyone have any techniques that help them keep in the present throughout the day, rather than being stuck in their thoughts?

    Thanks.

    Namaste...Peace...Love...Light...Gassho...

    Urug 8)

  21. #21
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    No, but let me share you an "odd" technique that I seem to have developed spontaneuosly when I was a teenager, and used often when I was walking long distances in a slightly drug-induced haze. I don't know why I started doing this, but it had profound effects on my understanding (implicitly) why my "mind" jumps from one thing to another.

    Every once in a while, I stop and think about what I am thinking about. Since our thoughts tend to jump from one thing to another not in random order, but by connections, I then think about what thought I had _before_ the current thought, and what the link was. (Example: I'm thinking about the blue sky, and I realize that my previous thought was about the sun, and before that I was thinking about how warm it was, and before that I was thinking that my shirt was itching, etc...) Occasionally, I'd get to the point where there was no originating thought, and I'd hit a sort of big empty space.

    This worked much better when I was under the influence, but I still do it from time to time. It doesn't stop me thinking, but it arrests the thoughts in their track, stripping them of their power to "take control" of my mind.

    Kirk

  22. #22
    Dear Urug,
    Whenever I feel myself spinning out of control, I just mentally stop and breath consciously and deeply several times, paying attention to the breath like you would do when you first begin zazen. Then, just put your mind fully into whatever it is you're doing. Let your task be your meditation. When your mind starts spinning up again, go back to your breath. Works most of the time for me. If it's really bad and I'm not doing something I have to concentrate on, I'll recite a mantra (in my head). Same principle. Your point of concentration becomes the mantra rather than thoughts. The first method is probably more Zen than the second.

    I was very much like you for a long time, and had a difficult time choosing a single path. There is more than one path as they say, but I think at some point we have have to decide if we're going to be a serious practitioner of a path and just choose it. For me, it was down to the Zen way or the Tibetan way. I'm just mentally more in tune with the Zen way so I've chosen this, and further, I've chosen to stick with one teacher. Jundo's lineage in Soto Zen is what I've sought for years so I grabbed at the chance. Doesn't mean I don't still have a soft spot for some of the Tibetan ways, but I think we need to chose one path to follow for awhile if we're to be really serious about it.
    Gassho,
    Bruce

  23. #23
    Beloved Brothers Kirk & Bruce,

    Thank you for the ideas. I will try them today.

    The biggest piece of the puzzle for me is usually noticing that I am lost in thought again and not here now. It's like that time in the early morning where you wake up and are laying in bed, then without realizing it you've slipped back into sleep and are dreaming again.

    For me it's like that during the day. I am here now and aware, then minutes (or more) later I realize I've just driven miles on autopiplot and have been day dreaming as it were. Then it's back to now... back to thoughts... back to now etc...

    Well the roosters are crowing. It's time to feed the chickens.

    Namaste...Love...Gassho...

    Urug 8)

  24. #24
    I think maybe you're just human, Urug! Not sure if you saw this other part of my reply because I was editing my post as you were typing, so I'll put it in this reply.

    I was very much like you for a long time, and had a difficult time choosing a single path. There is more than one path as they say, but I think at some point we have to decide if we're going to be a serious practitioner of a path and just choose it. For me, it was down to the Zen way or the Tibetan way. I'm just mentally more in tune with the Zen way so I've chosen this, and further, I've chosen to stick with one teacher. Jundo's lineage in Soto Zen is what I've sought for years so I grabbed at the chance. Doesn't mean I don't still have a soft spot for some of the Tibetan ways, but I think we need to chose one path to follow for awhile if we're to be really serious about it.
    Gassho,
    Bruce

  25. #25
    Wow. So many posts. Didn't read them all. Don't know if I'm just repeating.

    Basically this thinking that "you" are the one having the experience is the problem. I think it's about just enjoying your experience. Being human, without overthinking everything. You get up, you wash, you eat(when your hungry) you taste your food, you ride your skateboard(or that's just me) and you just do stuff without hesitation.

    For so many years I have been caught up in believing all these stories that i told myslef. Stories about people, and about things. Zen is a practice to realize who and what you are. When you realize that. You can laugh at yourself for believing you were something else. Then you can do what you do without worrying about it (because it's usually not something to worry about.

    Man. Have I worried about so many things because that was just a habit I had throughout my life. Since we are children we accumulate all these habit , tendencies and fantasies that really in truth aren't anything. Since I was a child I always had a fear of going to jail for doing something wrong. Now it might seem funny and it is, but I really believed it and it caused so much fear. This is only one example. Now after practicing zen it's a matter of knowing that that fear has nothing to do with me and what created that fear is just a lack of opening attention and believing that idea (I don't want to go to jail) haha. Anyway. It's all the same. Fear of going to jail or fear of smelly socks, believing zen is this or zen is that.

    Practicing zazen is a chance to stop believing in all this stuff and start enjoying yourself.



    Gassho

  26. #26
    Beloved Brother Will,

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Basically this thinking that "you" are the one having the experience is the problem...
    Thank you. This simple statement really put things into perspective for me (or for whoever is or is not having this experience).

    This concept goes far deeper than me believing I am "thinking too much". It challenges the fundamental assumption of who am I.

    I have been "thinking too much" about "thinking too much", when the real issue appears to be "sitting too little".

    I (or whoever I am) am now feeling a powerful desire to sit more regularly.

    Thank you brother.

    Namaste...Gassho...

    Urug

  27. #27
    Dear Uruq, A Beloved Other/Not Other,

    Quote Originally Posted by Urug
    One thing that sometimes concerns me, is that I have found it difficult to follow only one specific path. I am most closely drawn to Buddhism, but also find great inspiration and guidance from Taoism and Sufism, as well as the Earth based religions, and also some of the teachings of Jesus, and Eckhart Tolle. I also have found exceptionally wonderful growth through Charles Berner's "Enlightenment Intensives".
    I find nothing wrong in doing this, I find wisdom in many sources.

    The only cautions are that it can become "Enlightenment Shopping", and a light skimming of this and that and the other thing. It is necessary to pick a core practice and stay with that with diligence and consistency (and, of course, I have an opinion on which one!) If you want to dip into a bit of Rumi now and then, or the Tibetans have a good take on some point of the Precepts, or Jesus ... that is fine. However, be cautious about mixing and matching at your discretion. (It is rather like studying synchronized swimming, Karate and Salsa dancing, then trying to combine them into a single art... though there are some similarities, common points and areas of harmony, good chance you will end up with a messy mix).

    Some of the teachings are not compatible. You have to have a discerning eye. Also, there is endless bullshit, new age nonsense and guru hucksterism out there ... know the teachings with value from the fluff and trash. If you do not know, try to find a teacher who you think might help you tell the difference (e.g., stay far far away from the Andrew Cohens [no relation], Adyashantis and Sai Babas of this world ... and I am not too crazy about Echart Tolle, although some of his writings are beautiful).




    Where I am mostly at these days is witnessing or just being aware of how much time my mind spends daydreaming or rehashing old material. Driving in the car today my mind just jumped from one topic to another while "I" watched it as I tried to keep my mind on driving and being present in the now. I could ease into the present and feel the joy of driving through the beautiful countryside and be there...and then realize that I was thinking about something that happened yesterday or something that was coming up tomorrow. But not really anything useful, just compulsive monkey mind thought. Then I would bring myself back to the present, and stay here for a little while, before I would be right back thinking about something. And so the drive went. Pretty much how most of my time these days goes. I am getting better at noticing when I am back in my head and not in the present, and then focusing my attention on the now.
    Doing that is good. Also, daydreaming sometimes is good. Having your mind completely focused on the moment and what is in front of you is good. Having your mind jump about sometimes is good. Being present with the passing beautiful scenery is good. Ignoring the passing beautiful scenery and thinking about the baseball season or your new tires is good.

    There is a time for all things, and a time not for things. That includes even a sense of "self" or a time for not being particularly "mindful".

    Take life, and being human, easy.

    This may not only be a picture of Buddha reclining for meditation, but may be him camped out on the sofa watching tv reruns. I think.




    Does anyone have any techniques that help them keep in the present throughout the day, rather than being stuck in their thoughts?
    I would just bring your mind back to mindfulness again and again, from time to time, 100 times a day. But, do not expect or try to be mindful all through the day, That is like eating ice cream from morning till night. A silly thing, and it will ruin you in the end.

    Animals may be mindful all through the day, but they have minds that are simple and don't allow them any of the other beautiful things (like daydreaming) which a human mind can do. It is good to rediscover your inner cat, or mountain or rock ... because we have forgotten that. However, we should not seek to be those completely, at least not for most of the time.

    I think.

    Gassho, Jundo


    PS- A lot of gurus and such, trying to sell books, will imply that they are always enlightened, always mindful and "aware". They are, as far as any evidence I have ever seen about any of them, full of it. Even if there are some folks who have trained themselves to live that way for much of the day, and some truly glorious beings (Ajahn Chah comes to mind) ... that lifestyle is not very helpful outside a Wat in a sheltered forest where it can be artificially maintained by withdrawing from the world that most of us must live in.

    I mean, this Sadhu may really really be on to something. I just don't think it a good way to live most of the time.

    [/img]

  28. #28


    I can't help but think a cardboard box would've been easier :lol:

  29. #29
    Beloved Jundo,

    Thank you for your answer. I find it very helpful.

    It is necessary to pick a core practice and stay with that with diligence and consistency...
    I am feeling a pull towards going deeper into one tradition. It seems that while I as my mind want to make a rational thoughtful decission to choose a path, my feelings keep bringing me back to one tradition that just feels like home. I do it because that's what I do. So it seems that while my mind was trying to choose a path, a path has already chosen me.

    Thank you for this wonderful site and for sharing your wisdom with me.

    Namaste...Peace...Love...Gassho...

    Urug

  30. #30
    Hello Urug:
    I don't think it really matters ultimately which group you choose--it's a question of staying with it. I think of it as baking or cooking something--
    it starts to bubble and then you're taking it out and putting into another pot. It certainly can be done....but...going into a new pot temporarily stops the cooking that was in motion until things heat up again.
    All analogies fail at some point, but you get the idea here.
    I think of religions as different paths to the mountain top. (Even though Zen is not necessarily practiced as a religion...) To get to the top of the mountain, all you have to do is stay on one path long enough.
    Switching back and forth will most likely keep you below the top of the mountain.
    Again, an analogy which can only stretch so far... even so, I hope you follow my thoughts...

    You sound well read and versatile- with an open mind and a variety of experiences-this can make it harder to choose. Where can you be most intimate with yourself--where can you really drop all the veils. That's going to be the one...like dating a lot of people and then considering marriage--all those suitors might be cool to hang out with on dates--but which one can you live your life with.
    Yet another analogy destined to fail... but nevertheless, something along those lines...
    And, as in dating--you can do it for a while, and see how it goes!
    Don't look for a group or a teacher to rock your world. Just look for a group practicing ordinary life.
    Have fun along the way.
    gassho,
    keishin

  31. #31
    Beloved Keishin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    ...Where can you be most intimate with yourself--where can you really drop all the veils. That's going to be the one...like dating a lot of people and then considering marriage--all those suitors might be cool to hang out with on dates--but which one can you live your life with.
    Yet another analogy destined to fail... but nevertheless, something along those lines...And, as in dating--you can do it for a while, and see how it goes! Don't look for a group or a teacher to rock your world. Just look for a group practicing ordinary life. Have fun along the way.
    Thank you for your thoughtful and beautiful words. Your advice rings in my heart. The places where I can most be who I am are the places and paths I most wish to walk.

    When I am in thinking mode, it seems that I should make a decission and choose a certain path and decide. At other times when all-is-as-it-is I feel that where I am is exactly where I am supposed to be. Where else could I be?

    The times I have felt closest to all-that-is is when I have had the feeling that where I am trying to get to is not somewhere far away but right here. I was striving to get to where I already am. I can't get to here by doing anything, I can only be here by being here. I sit and I'm here... I breathe and I'm here...I look out at the beautiful woods and sky and I'm here...and then ...it feels like there is no more here and no more I...there is just... 8)

    Perhaps there is no ridle to solve, just a song to harmonize with.

    Of course, those who dance are considered crazy be those who can not hear the music.

    Namaste...Love...Peace...Gassho...

    Urug

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