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Thread: Hello from the Netherlands

  1. #1

    Hello from the Netherlands

    I just registered for this forum, and wanted to say hello. I am Helena, I live with my husband and daughter in a small town in The Netherlands. I became interested in Zen after reading Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen. Until then, I was a big cynic for everything that smelled like Eastern Religion, because there seem to be so many fake "holy persons" and I did not like the whole "ME ME ME" vibe that I got off it. Even though not everything Brad said resonated with me, I found it really refreshing that he did not present himself as some better person that knew everything and was in a state of bliss all or most of the time. It also helped that Brad wrote that buddhism did not equal reincarnation.

    So, I started reading some more books and blogs, and found out that these ideas were quite common in Zen. Then I found Treeleaf, through a blog that I followed. I like that Jundo is down-to-earth, has a family himself and seems to constantly find topics to talk about that are relevant to my life at that time. I still haven't started a regular zazen practice, and I hope that participating in this community will stimulate me to do so. I do however, already notice changes in my life, just from being more present.

    I am looking forward to getting to know all of you!

  2. #2
    I think a little bit of cynicism is good!

    Welcome aboard!
    Jordan

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan
    I think a little bit of cynicism is good!

    Welcome aboard!
    Jordan
    Hi,

    I like the word 'skepticism', because it is more neutral in tone than 'cynicism'. But, yes, doubt just about everything, have your Bull detector constantly at the ready, and find your own truths.

    Helena, welcome again!

    This is a good time to mention my advice to people starting Zazen: Folks should try to sit daily, and do so until it becomes a daily habit. How about start for even 10 minutes once a day, or twice a day, but make sure you do it every day?? It is important. After that, you can build up to sittings of 20 or 30 (or 40) minutes, at least once (better twice) per day. But to start, a 10 minute sitting is fine. However, it should be every day!

    I also recommend 'mini-sittings' (even when standing) at various times of day ... in the traffic jam, in the postal line, in the dentist's chair, when you hear bad news from your boss, when you see a lovely blade of grass, etc.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Hello Helena!

    Just a very quick welcome from another person living in the Netherlands...though I am actually German.

    Big Gassho,


    Hans

  5. #5
    Welcome Helena!

    It's very nice having you here. I can certainy relate what you wrote. It wasn't until I read Hardcore Zen that I began to practice, for very similar reasons to yours.

    I look forward to your postings.

    Gassho,
    Keith

  6. #6
    Thanks for the welcome everybody. I will start practicing! In fact, I doubted about registering here because it is yet another opportunutiy to talk, instead of do, but I hope it will be the push I needed to finally get started.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by helena
    Thanks for the welcome everybody. I will start practicing! In fact, I doubted about registering here because it is yet another opportunutiy to talk, instead of do, but I hope it will be the push I needed to finally get started.
    There is no need for a push because you'll feel a pull. Even if you hate it you will feel a pull. Maybe you are just afraid to "fail". But how would one "fail" at failing completely?

    Honestly, I am really just a Zen greenhorn. And Jundo will probably put it better. But this is just how it feels. Besides Brad's book I particularly like Kodo Sawaki's remarks on Zazen. Maybe you'll find them encouraging. Look here.

    Welcome,

    Mensch

  8. #8
    Always late to the party.

    Hello and stuff helena.

    Since the intorduction has turned toward a discussion of skepticism...

    I think that skepticism is very healthy in practice. You just have to be careful that you aren't so skeptical that you refuse to learn.



    R

  9. #9
    Rev R

    I think that skepticism is very healthy in practice. You just have to be careful that you aren't so skeptical that you refuse to learn.
    Good Advice.

    Helena

    Jundo is down-to-earth, has a family himself and seems to constantly find topics to talk about that are relevant to my life at that time.
    Welcome Helena.
    It's all really relevant. We're not all about the mysticism here. It's more practical. You will find quite a bit of skeptics here as well.

    Anyway, Have fun.

    Gassho Will

  10. #10
    Welcome Helena!


    Bill

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Welcome, Helena! It's wonderful to have another voice to enrich our discussions.

    To contribute to the talk on doubting, I thought I'd mention that my University FreeThought Society has printed up T-Shirts with a particularly skeptical translation of Buddha's last words: "Doubt everything. Find your own light."

    Gassho.

  13. #13
    I want to say ...

    Rev R

    I think that skepticism is very healthy in practice. You just have to be careful that you aren't so skeptical that you refuse to learn.
    Very good reminder, I think. Zen practice is a fine mix of skepticism, yet trusting and trying for yourself a philosophy that sometimes goes against our ordinary experience and popular beliefs.

    "Yes, you tell me that 'time' is a state of mind (that also flows from future to past), that my refrigerator is just part of me, that I was never born, that great attainments come from dropping all 'goals' ... I buy that!" :-)

    It's all really relevant. We're not all about the mysticism here. It's more practical.
    Ordinary life is a miracle of the universe. How wondrous that we are here to open cans of peas with a can opener (I am into kitchen appliances today**). I consider myself a practical, skeptical mystic. That means that I am not quiet sure who or what power in the universe created the peas or the can opener ... but yum, yum, yum.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** That means that the appliances have been delivered, but I am not quite sure who the cosmic manufacture is, where the factory is located, how the manufacturing process works or how long the warranty lasts. But, boy, it sure does open cans of peas!!! Just push the button, and YUM YUM YUM!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Mensch
    I particularly like Kodo Sawaki's remarks on Zazen. Maybe you'll find them encouraging. Look here.
    Dear Mensch,

    Thank you SO much for the "Homeless" Kodo Sawaki Roshi quotes. Wow, it had been a while since I read any Kodo-isms. That fellow had a way with words, and was not afraid to say what he was thinking .... even if it got him in trouble. I hope everyone will print out those quotes and go through them slowly.

    You know, Nishijima studied with Kodo for several decades, from the time Nishijima was a teenager. He was never formally ordained by Kodo, but there is such a great influence on Nishijima and, of course, many others in our Lineage. Here are a few typical 'Homeless' Kodo quotes on Zazen:

    Often people ask me how many years they have to practice zazen before it shows results. Zazen has no results. You wonít get anything at all out of zazen.

    In true dharma thereís nothing to gain. In false dharma thereís something to gain.

    The way of buddha means that there is nothing to seek, nothing to find [mushogu-mushotoku]. If thereís something to find, no matter how much we practice, itís got nothing to do with the buddha-dharma. If thereís nothing to find [mushotoku], thatís the buddha-dharma.


    Whatís zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This ďgood for nothingĒ has got to sink into your flesh and bones until youíre truly practicing whatís good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.

    Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.


    Donít whine. Donít stare into space. Just sit!

    Zazen isnít like a thermometer where the temperature slowly rises: ďJust a little more Ö yeah Ö thatís it! Now, Iíve got satori!Ē Zazen never becomes anything special, no matter how long you practice. If it becomes something special, you must have a screw lose somewhere.

    If we donít watch out, weíll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase. But it isnít like this at all. This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices, and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.

    You want to become a buddha? Thereís no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?

    Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.

    In the world, itís always about winning or losing, plus or minus. Yet in Zazen, itís about nothing. Itís good for nothing. Thatís why it is the greatest and most all-inclusive thing there is.

    We donít achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.
    and here are a coupe of my favorite Koto-isms:

    The asshole doesnít need to be ashamed of being the asshole. The feet donít have any reason to go on strike just because theyíre only feet. The head isnít the most important of all, and the navel doesnít need to imagine heís the father of all things. Itís strange though that people look at the prime minister as an especially important person. The nose canít replace the eyes, and the mouth canít replace the ears.
    Everything has its own identity, which is unsurpassable in the whole universe.

    They say, ďWhen I hear Sawaki talk, my faith cools down.Ē Now Iím going to really put their faith on ice: This sort of faith is nothing but superstition.
    They say, ďSawakiís talks donít awaken any faith in me.Ē They donít awaken any superstition, thatís all.

    What a shame to have been born a human being and to spend your whole life worrying. You should reach the point where you can be happy to have been born a human.
    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15
    Thanks for all the welcomes again! Hi Hans, it is nice to "meet" someone that is a bit nearby!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mensch
    Maybe you are just afraid to "fail".
    Hey, did you read my mind? I thought that only Jundo did that
    I do tend to be too perfectionistic, so this is something I am aware of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mensch
    Besides Brad's book I particularly like Kodo Sawaki's remarks on Zazen. Maybe you'll find them encouraging. Look here.
    Thanks. I will read them slowly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    "Yes, you tell me that my refrigerator is just part of me
    You know, I think that many mothers do understand this point quite well. When my daughter was born, I had not read anything about zen. But I instantly realized the one-ness of everything. Me and her (SO weird! Now your part of me, now you are a seperate human being!). Me and all the other mothers in the world. And yes, even me and the refrigerator. I read the warnings about PCB's and other chemicals in our breast milk and wondered why we just seemed to not care about the fact that there is a refrigerator in my breasts and my baby was eating it for dinner.

    Helena.

  16. #16
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Harry,

    While my son is older (almost 17) I recall those days of simple games that elicited joy. Can't we just look on them as antidotes to suffering? They don't cancel it out, but imagine if children _didn't_ have that joy? The more joy you can give to your children, the more joy they'll be able to spread when they're older.

    Kirk

  17. #17
    Thank you Harry,

    I certainly imagine that it is very special for a father as well. My daughter really resembled her father and that was special indeed. And now that she is a little older, she starts to resemble other members of his family. It continues to be a great reminder of how interconnected we all are, on a very physical level.

    It is so great that you bring such joy to your child because I do honestly believe that in making your child smile, on some level, you make the world smile.

    Unfortunately, I also recognize the opposite. When my daughter was a baby, I never got angry with her. But now I sometimes do. I don't hit her, or yell at her, but still, I sometimes do feel anger and I recognize that that is the stuff that wars are made of.

    Helena.

  18. #18
    Welcome, Helena:

    You stumbled into a cool place. Jundo's "online zendo" experiment is fascinating. Treeleaf is a very nice site with very nice people. Almost too nice (honestly, you guys creep me out just a little). There are a wide variety of experiences here to learn from. Jundo's advice above is solid, I'd do well to follow his suggestions myself. I wish you well in your effort to begin a daily practice.

    Rob

  19. #19

    hellos from the netherlands

    Welcome Helena!

    I'm catching up on my reading here and it's quite a bit!

    Mensch--thank you so much for posting the link to writings of Kodo Sawaki. I am
    just blown away by them--bracing, head-clearing stuff--like standing outdoors in the rain on the ferryboat.

    Thank you Jundo for making the quotes more readily available for us here.

    gassho
    keishin

  20. #20
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    A rather belated welcome, Helena.

    Gassho

    Martin

  21. #21
    Thanks Smoggyrob, Keishin and Martin!

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