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Thread: Non-Reactivity?

  1. #1

    Non-Reactivity?

    I have a thing I would love to ask you guys about. It is bothering me now for a long time.

    As we all now we should not act on our thoughts. We should accept them as they come and go. If I get sad, I should meditate on my sadness, be mindful to it, but do not need to act on it. Isnít it right? Come back to the present moment, do not allow the future to occupy all our energy and time. That is a very important principle from Buddhism. But I have a feeling, that I become very passive this way.

    For example, my job sucks (it does not, this is only an example), but I do accept it. I go to work every day, suffer there, but take it as a zen training. I do not develop at my job, do the same thing every single day but again, accept it as it is. Wouldnít it be right to change my job instead? Try something else where I could use my talents? I sometimes get very confused by this ACCEPTING THINGS AS THEY ARE. Why not take an action and be pro-active? Why suffer if I could do something else instead? Is this something that I am misunderstanding?

    What about a relationship that is not working? What if people stuck in them and hurt each other? Should we also accept them as they are? What if I suddenly prefer to be alone? Should I stay with my husband only because I should not reactÖ ? This is a bit confusing and I need your help.

    I am sometimes very afraid that Buddhism is a very passive philosophy, and I am a very active as a person. I really do hope that there is something that I am missing here...

  2. #2
    Hi Agata. I have yet to read Harry's post yet.

    I am sometimes very afraid that Buddhism is a very passive philosophy, and I am a very active as a person. I really do hope that there is something that I am missing here...
    I don't see this practice as being passive at all. I've noticed how much I am actually able to accomplish. I think this practice gives you strength, energy and character. From what I gather, Dogen definitely wasn't passive, neither was Bhodidharma. When I look at Jundo, he doesn't seem to be a really passive guy, maybe calm, cool, and comic sometimes, but not passive. This practice gives you life.

    I don't know. I think that's a big misunderstanding. However; we can't just go acting without learning first about what is acting or how it acts.

    I guess what your describing is "dead sitting" like zombies. Where's the fun and enjoyment in that?

    When we get caught up in thoughts too much, that's when things get you know...out of balance, confused, crazy, tense etc.. However; rejecting thought all together is impossible from my experience. We need it. (I'll expand on that maybe later, but I think Harry covered that from the glimpse I had of his post)

    Mamma always said "Buddha is what Buddha does." But does Buddha know that he's Buddha doing what a Buddha does? " hmmm...


    Take care

    Gassho Will

  3. #3
    Hi again, Agata,

    I like to speak of "ACCEPTANCE WITHOUT ACCEPTANCE". Zen Buddhism is quite often about functioning simultaneously, without conflict, on several channels that the Western mind would find seemingly contradictory. For example you say, "I sometimes get very confused by this ACCEPTING THINGS AS THEY ARE. Why not take an action and be pro-active?".

    Why not do both? Like two sides of a single coin.

    So, in our "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, we completely accept the universe, and all things in it, just as it is. We drop all thoughts of likes and dislikes, dreams and regrets, hopes and fears. Simultaneously, hand in hand without the slightest deviation (one another mental level, if you want to say that), we live our lives as human beings. Being a human being means you need likes and dislikes, dreams and hopes. You even need fears and regrets to learn and survive (otherwise you might keep putting your hand on a hot stove or making the same mistakes over and over again). We might moderate fears and regrets through our Zazen, and keep them from excess, but we cannot do without them completely.

    So, please accept and embrace your life ... without acceptance of that which needs to be changed. Please see a couple of talks I gave on this subject, one about bad events in the world and another more about personal life.

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/04 ... tance.html

    and

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/search?q=acceptance

    However, does that mean that Zen tells you to change your job and boyfriend, or not change your job and boyfriend? It might help you with the decision, teach us not to be trapped in our thoughts, teach us to recognize actions motivated by greed, anger and ignorance and how to avoid that. It might guide us to act within the Precepts. But it does not provide every answer about the day-to-day events of life. This came up today on another thread.

    viewtopic.php?p=5746#5746

    You also wrote ...

    Quote Originally Posted by agata
    As we all now we should not act on our thoughts. We should accept them as they come and go. If I get sad, I should meditate on my sadness, be mindful to it, but do not need to act on it. Isnít it right? Come back to the present moment, do not allow the future to occupy all our energy and time. That is a very important principle from Buddhism. But I have a feeling, that I become very passive this way.
    What you write about Zazen is true. We should learn (on one level anyway) just to observe sadness as it comes and goes, like a rain cloud across the blue sky. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad. Zen will not make you happy all the time, but it will allow you to accept that the human condition sometimes includes sadness ... like sometimes the weather is sunny, sometimes ir rains. In this way, sadness loses much of its power over us. Okay, here is another talk related to that.

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/10 ... ths-i.html

    That is enough for now.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    I've always been a rather passive person, to a point, and often times, to a fault. Since ive started practicing ive been told quite a few times that im far less agreeable than i used to be. Thats a compliment coming from where i heard it I've actually become more "pro-active" in my life (work and home life). Balance, is the word. Im not out to conquer the world - "Are you thinking what im thinking Pinky?" but im gaining some perspective and being passive does as much harm as being overly aggressive. Change is change and for me, zen buddhism has helped me to get the wheels in motion for change, and it helps me deal with change im not to comfy with.

    Gassho
    Dirk

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by krid
    I've always been a rather passive person, to a point, and often times, to a fault. Since ive started practicing ive been told quite a few times that im far less agreeable than i used to be. Thats a compliment coming from where i heard it I've actually become more "pro-active" in my life (work and home life). Balance, is the word. Im not out to conquer the world - "Are you thinking what im thinking Pinky?" but im gaining some perspective and being passive does as much harm as being overly aggressive. Change is change and for me, zen buddhism has helped me to get the wheels in motion for change, and it helps me deal with change im not to comfy with.

    Gassho
    Dirk
    Yes! The middle way. We can try to guide our future as best we can, but don't become attached to controlling it completly.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    I like bowing. 8)
    I have managed to read your previous post before you have edited it
    Thank you for it.

    I like bowing too!

  7. #7
    Thank you all for your answers. Believe it or not, they helped me a lot. I was quite confused before, but now I can see it all much more clearly. Thank you Jundo for all the talks you had given on this subject. I am going to listen to them right now.

    I have to tell you all that my daily zazen practice had helped me a lot, and I have actually became much more brave person in my daily life. I can take decisions much more easily and I do not over analyze too much while in stressful situations. So, mentioning this passivity I was not fully meaning that I am passive, I was just wondering... I should drop this and as you often say, "shut up and sit down".

    I really like what Jundo wrote here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    "Where I agree with you, Will, is that the cushion will clear our thinking and perceptions in important ways ... ego and emotions are reduced or dropped, greed anger and ignorance not our guide, the noise within the head reduced and an inner voice better heard, we can understand the motivations of ourselves and others with heightened clarity. Finally, when a decision is reached, we will pursue it with a steadier heart and balance. Yes, that is true.
    Again, thank you all for your answers.

    Let's sit now.

    Gassho,
    Agata

  8. #8
    Nice Harry.

    For future posters. Harry made a funny. :roll:


    G,W

  9. #9

    buddhism and passivity

    Hello Agata!
    You wondered in your original post about buddhism being a passive philosophy.
    Interestingly enough Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi (Jundo's teacher) talks about buddhism as a philosophy of ACTION.
    This, in itself, continues to be an intriguing thought for me to contemplate, and very inspirational.
    When sitting in zazen--this is 'action' taking place.
    "Accepting things as they are" doesn't mean 'accepting things the way we think they are--IE I have a lousey job, a jerk spouse, a creepy boss, bratty children, a crappy car, and a shitty life--
    Accepting things as they are, as they really are, is to be freed from and freed through these very concepts/mental constructions.
    Maybe it's like a self-cleaning oven, or self-defrosting refrigerator--this self cleaning mind--
    but then again, it was never 'dirty' to begin with!

    I don't understand how it works--this breathing and living, but here I am living and breathing. I don't understand how 'zen' works, but I sit on the zafu and do zazen
    Zazen is perfect, even when 'imperfectly' doing it
    In my experience, it just keeps getting better and better--even as things go badly or get worse--

    anyway, that's what I have found.

    Keishin

  10. #10
    This is something I've thought about a lot as well. I'm involved in a lot of antidiscrimination work and have been for quite some time. Pointing out structural injustices and and promoting change has become my nature. With my back pain and a lot of personal scars change and work towards change has also been very important.

    I've come as far as figuring that there is no inherent problem in for example working to correct injustices but I can't grapple the finer points of it. Jundos talk on acceptance without acceptance shows one dimension of it but there is more to this that I cant put my finger on yet.

    All the best,
    em

  11. #11
    Hi Em,

    Could the Precepts, Compassion and Loving Kindness provide the missing pieces? We are free to act or not to act, to care or to be indifferent. But the Precepts guide us to act in ways helpful and healthful to ourselves and others, knowing that we are not two. Add to that the natural expressions of Compassion and Loving Kindness that should manifest in our Practice, and you have all the reason in the world to correct injustices.

    Am I getting close?

    Gassho, Jundo

  12. #12
    well, that and the eightfold path considering, among others, the need of a right view, intention, speech and action. which is tricky stuff when you meddle in politics. then, of course, not doing is also doing.

  13. #13
    Could it be said that practice is not about suppressing reaction but, instead, about coming to a place at which reactions are finely tuned to what is rather than what we create with the mind?

    To my way of seeing, if we clearly see that, yes, the job sucks and we are not creating "sucky job" because we are whining in our minds about what we think we are entitled to and not getting, then we do react and make a change. Zen practice isn't about not acting but about seeing things as they are, and sometimes the way things are demands that we do sometihng about the way things are.

  14. #14
    I've started making a distinction between simply reacting and responding with right action/right speech. That's just juggling words though.

  15. #15
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Trust yourself.

    We humans have finer instincts than some allow. Even the most ordinary of Joes is moved to great acts of compassion, without forethought, when the moment presents itself.

    Even if you seem to be becoming passive,so passive you worry that you're just going to drop everything, follow it where it leads. I doubt you'll end up like the guy in the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5X7HKxpiQA[/video]]Radiohead video (though who knows). You may just find that there really is nothing to do as you go along doing it anyway.

    My life is incredibly busy, but I don't worry about it the way some of my classmates do. That lack of worry doesn't leave me inert but does keep me from wasting time and energy needlessly. And in the meantime, the ultimate thing that keeps me at peace is the ability to accept it if I do fail. 'Cause what is failure? Someone said something I like a lot: "You can't fall off the floor." And being on the floor ain't so bad if that's where you end up for a while. You can just look up at the stars like Oscar Wilde.

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