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Thread: The beast, and other representatives of the darkness...

  1. #51
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It is focused on Shikantaza, which is founded upon quieting the storm of thoughts and emotions and views within, all to experience the world from perspectives of silence and stillness. I hope that you will be willing to try that Practice when you are here.
    I get that, Jundo. And I appreciate that perspective, and that function of zazen, immensely. Believe me, I do. But my point in bringing my "storm of thoughts and emotions" here isn't to say, "Thinking and feeling all of this stuff is great," or "Thinking and feeling all of this stuff is horrible." It's simply to say, "This is my experience; this is what I bring to the cushion and this is what I bring to you," and to hopefully find some support and guidance in working with these things.

    I've been sitting for years now, and daily or near-daily for at least three. I have tried that practice, and I'm still trying it, and I've told you about that. If anything, it's stirred all this stuff up even more for me. Telling me to "just sit" doesn't help me. I get that, I already do that. The thing is, I've sat enough that I don't have these silly ideas any more about what it's going to accomplish. I've made a lot of peace with "myself," with the bundle of traits and quirks that comprise my subjective experience.

    And what I've tried to say, is I've already been through that grinder, of sitting in hopes of silencing or stilling this "storm," and not only has it not happened, I've grown to question whether desiring such a thing ever was wise. I've learned from experience that simply taking the "Absolute-ist" perspective toward thoughts and emotions that it's all ephemeral, let go of it all, etc., can not only be problematic, but can even be destructive. Our thoughts and feelings can tell us important things and give us important pointers.

    Going through social work school and studying these things and coming to an understanding about my particular psychological hang-ups has been immensely healing. If I'd "just sat" and ignored the "storm" and let it go, I wouldn't have experienced that healing. But it's an ongoing process, and I am really wrestling with a lot of this stuff in a visceral way; it's not just idle intellectual masturbation. And maybe my perspective, that simply letting go of it all and sitting in silence is incomplete, doesn't quite fit in here; I won't take it personally if you don't want me bringing my stuff here. I'll just move on.

    But I personally believe that practicing Zen doesn't necessitate dismissing and not engaging with this stuff. And that's why I thought perhaps I would "fit in" here, because the consensus when I came here at first seemed to be that it's all grist for the mill, that it's all practice, that it's all Buddhism. That's what I cherished and respected about this place. If it's not the case, I can move on. Like I said before, I'm not even all that certain how much of a "Soto gal" I am, so maybe I really am an odd duck here. But at the very least, I feel like if that's the opinion, it could have been handled with more grace and respect toward me, instead of a presumptuous attitude that I'm coming from a place of idle intellectual speculation.

  2. #52
    Mickey Mouse is more than welcome here, alive or dead, so long as he and Minnie practice Shikantaza and are polite.


  3. #53
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Steph, you talk too much. I mean that sincerely and lovingly. You head is full of crap. Don't worry, it is not just you but most people on this planet. Your emails are filled with "issues" and philosophical positions and ethical dilemmas and clever ideas that only exist cause you throw words at them. I want you to write no more emails for awhile longer than 30 words. And you need to actuate being less defensive, less negative, less aggressive ... these are all states of mind you create in your own head. Try being open, accepting, cooperative for awhile.Otherwise, Zen Practice is not for you. Try something else.
    Was this polite, Jundo? Was this kind? It's my personal take that people in positions of power not only should not get a "free pass" from the rules they enforce on everyone else, but that they actually should be held to a greater level of responsibility and accountability than those with less power.

    The above quoted paragraph of yours was presumptuous, demeaning, dismissive, and hurtful. I think you were being a bully. But of course, because you're the "Sensei" the majority of people here are going to give you a free pass and gang up on the person challenging you. I'm willing to "take a breath and start over" but only if you meet me halfway.

  4. #54
    Hello Stephanie,

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I've been sitting for years now, and daily or near-daily for at least three. I have tried that practice, and I'm still trying it, and I've told you about that. If anything, it's stirred all this stuff up even more for me. Telling me to "just sit" doesn't help me.
    Then you have not been doing it right. (Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to drop all thought of 'right' and 'wrong')

    I see no indication in your words that you take the storm of thoughts and emotions as just your mind's dream. You create a reality of mountains of words and responses and feelings and philosophical points, and you take them for real and defend them to the death ... unwilling to quiet the mind, let them go.

    Now, those emotions and thought and such ARE real, but they are not real in the least. We can hold them, analyze them, rejoice in them or despise them, you can engage them and wrestle them ... in fact, we should do that, as that is what it means to be alive... but we must not get lost in them. You must do so knowing silence and stillness in order to really understand them (and which ones to hold on to, which ones to let drop away)

    If you have given up on quiet, peace and silence then I feel very sorry, as that is an excellent medicine for the chatter chatter chatter in the brain that you take as real.

    If you are not willing to give Shikantaza another go because you have been there and done that, then there is little I can tell you. This place is focused on a practice that you have already rejected. I wish you would reconsider.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- I read your above message only after I wrote this Stephanie. Okay, I will change the first sentence, which is probably too strong. I apologize if I hurt you. But I must stay with the rest.

    Steph, your head is chattering too much. I mean that sincerely and lovingly. You head is full of crap. Don't worry, it is not just you but most people on this planet. Your emails are filled with "issues" and philosophical positions and ethical dilemmas and clever ideas that only exist cause you throw words at them. I want you to write no more emails for awhile longer than 30 words. And you need to actuate being less defensive, less negative, less aggressive ... these are all states of mind you create in your own head. Try being open, accepting, cooperative for awhile.Otherwise, Zen Practice is not for you. Try something else.

  5. #55
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hello Stephanie,

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I've been sitting for years now, and daily or near-daily for at least three. I have tried that practice, and I'm still trying it, and I've told you about that. If anything, it's stirred all this stuff up even more for me. Telling me to "just sit" doesn't help me.
    Then you have not been doing it right. (Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to drop all thought of 'right' and 'wrong')

    I see no indication in your words that you take the storm of thoughts and emotions as just your mind's dream. You create a reality of mountains of words and responses and feelings and philosophical points, and you take them for real and defend them to the death ... unwilling to quiet the mind, let them go.

    Now, those emotions and thought and such ARE real, but they are not real in the least. We can hold them, analyze them, rejoice in them or despise them, you can engage them and wrestle them ... in fact, we should do that, as that is what it means to be alive... but we must not get lost in them. You must do so knowing silence and stillness in order to really understand them (and which once to hold on to, which ones to let drop away)

    If you have given up on quiet, peace and silence then I feel very sorry, as that is an excellent medicine for the chatter chatter chatter in the brain that you take as real.

    If you are not willing to give Shikantaza another go because you have been there and done that, then there is little I can tell you. This place is focused on a practice that you have already rejected. I wish you would reconsider.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Could you try to hold back from making so many assumptions?

    Where have I said I have "given up on quiet, peace, and silence"? I find such a proposition absurd, as the silence of zazen is still a haven for me. What I do attest is that I believe--daresay, know--that this silence is incomplete. When you emerge from it, all the other "stuff" is still there.

    I haven't given up on zazen. As I've stated, I still sit every day. And while I'm sure my practice is imperfect, I believe that the way I sit now and have sat for a while is shikantaza or a close relative. But what I have given up on is this notion that it's the end-all, be-all of dealing with existential dilemmas. That's part of what I was getting at in this thread--I've seen what people are like who have sat for years and so far all of them still seem to have a number of major issues that show they haven't addressed the kinds of things I'm trying to address. And maybe it's impossible to address them, but I haven't given up just yet.

    I know you are wrong, because I have inhabited and applied your perspective and seen its error. But you know you are right, because you have applied your perspective and seen it work. Never the twain shall meet? That's fine; but what isn't fine to me is the presumptuous disrespect you insist on continuing to show me. You assume to know exactly what my experience is, but you don't. And I don't care what title you've been given, or by whom--all that matters to me is what you do in this moment. And what I see you doing is assuming rather than listening; dismissing rather than exploring; giving orders rather than actually showing me why or how doing what you say would have merit.

    The basic point is that I would have to see that shikantaza accomplished for you what I am looking to accomplish for me to simply do what you say. And I don't see that. I'm not experiencing you as a gentle person, someone who is showing me kindness or understanding, or someone who ever wrestled with or found answers to the sorts of questions I'm asking. Maybe you did go through something like the latter--the recounting of which would be immensely more helpful to me than just telling me what to do. But you are presuming a degree of authority I am not going to grant you just because. Show me why I should follow your way and see just how quickly I will do so.

  6. #56

  7. #57
    Stephanie,

    I'm not sure what you are looking for? Is it proof that the rest of us have struggled with demons and the assorted suffering that is inherent with human existence? Do you seriously doubt that?

    I think you can assume that of every person here.

  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Stephanie,

    I'm not sure what you are looking for? Is it proof that the rest of us have struggled with demons and the assorted suffering that is inherent with human existence? Do you seriously doubt that?

    I think you can assume that of every person here.
    I would second that. I suffered from years of depression in my twenties, self doubt, directionlessness, over-thinking, fears. anger. And guess what, I still have some of that now and then because to be so is to be human ... goes with the territory until we die or turn into stones. But, you know, it is 1/10th of what it was because I can catch my own inner bullshit before it starts ... or recognize as bullshit thoughts and emotions I used to think of as unchangeable.

    So, if you say the following you have been doing Shikantaza "wrong" ...

    ... this silence is incomplete. When you emerge from it, all the other "stuff" is still there.

    ... I've seen what people are like who have sat for years and so far all of them still seem to have a number of major issues that show they haven't addressed the kinds of things I'm trying to address. And maybe it's impossible to address them, but I haven't given up just yet.


    Would it help to say that, on the "other side" of Shikanataza, the "stuff" should be seen to be "there but not there". Our thoughts, emotions, dilemas, issues, struggles are a dream ... although real in being our dream. So they are 100% real but, as well, not real. If the "stuff" is still there without you also seeing through it, something is amiss in your approach.

    For example, now, if I start to get depressed, doubtful, fearful, I realize it is just my mind at work. It does not need to be that way and can be dropped or changed (like changing channels on the TV). Or, if I fall into anger I catch myself quicker and can recover balance quicker (notice, however, that I did not say I never get angry, blue, etc.)

    I am going to make a wild guess (I might be wrong) that you are doing some form of one pointed sitting where you are stilling the mind quite a bit, but you are not practicing "seeing thing just as they are", accepting "crap as wonderfully just perfect crap". Stilling the mind by itself is not sufficient because you return and all the "stuff" is still there.

    Gassho, Jundo (also a former Brooklynite)

  9. #59
    I've recently had a lot of my ideas about the power of thought confirmed. They are very powerful.

    Negative thoughts are so powerful they can and do make you ill. Positive thoughts can be so powerful to that they can and do make you better.

    Where are your thoughts when you're not thinking them? I'd say they don't exist. We create them in our desparation to fill the silence.

    So if you become aware of when you are having thoughts that aren't life enhancing, say stop to those thoughts and think of something positive instead, something that makes you happy, things you like doing.

    The brain is not so clever really you know, it can't distinguish between real or imagined situations. If you churn over about things that aren't happy and healthful it will believe you are in that pit. If you think of happy and healthful thoughts (even if imagined)you will move towards a happy and healthful life.

    I know this isn't directly related to shikantanza but it is related to the thread. And if you want it to be so it is that easy.

    In gassho, Kev

  10. #60
    Hey Longdog,

    Oh, hey, I am a big believer in good 'ol "positive thinking". We drop thinking in Shikantaza, but then must fill our heads with some thoughts in order to live ... and they might as well be positive. It is more Norman Vincent Peale than Dogen, but it works! If you feel grey, the world is grey ... if you feel the glass is half full and not half empty, that is just what it is!

    Anyway, my teacher, Nishijima, says that Buddhism is a philosophy of optimism. For example, when we drop thoughts, what remains is not an empty nihilistic hole, but peace, freedom and possibility!

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #61
    Hello Steph!


    The glamour of the "dark side" somehow lost almost all of its attraction once people in my family started dying and a few other things happened that, for the first time in my life, did bring home the true scope of the word suffering. And yes, I did lead a very...well if not really sheltered than definitely extremely blessed life until a few years ago....I mean I am still a happy bunny, but reality made sure that I got its message. Since then I just want to be a happy nobody, the idea of being the human equivalent of a castrated water buffalo at some point in my life seems rather appealing.

    A lot of the issues raised in this thread are truly worth raising, although with so many strong emotions involved there are bound to be tensions, so I guess if we all just try to keep reasonably cool, all of this is going to strengthen the Treeleaf sangha.

    One of the things that people seem to have diverging ideas about is whether this forum is just a forum, or actually a part of a sangha, or something in between or whatever. I personally dislike most internet forums, because there is always a tendency for all people involved to write in a style that differs from their actual behaviour in a day-to-day context (myself included).

    To me, this is not just a forum, but the virtual equivalent of entering a real zendo. In a real Zendo, I want to be able to address all kinds of issues, not just the cosy ones, but at the same time I want a context that doesn't make me feel like I have to defend myself. I experience loads of harsh words and unkind behaviour in my everyday life as it is, I don't need an extra zendo that adds to it. Even physically real zendos are idealized set-ups for practice, and so thex should be.


    Gassho (and I like my Gasshos, because they are an expression of a truly heartfelt wish to express my respect towards other Zennies ),

    Hans

  12. #62
    But I've also been disrespected enough myself that I'm not willing to take certain things any more, no matter who they're coming from. And that's all I'll say about that.



    If you walk in a room full of strangers, and before anypne gets a chance to know you start demanding attention, respect, and telling the leader he's wrong, it isn't disrespect when they tell you you're doing it.
    No one here' disrespected you, Steph, They've disagreed with you, and not backed down when you got defensive or aggressive.
    And nobody I've seen reply to you seems to dislike you. No one is saying you shouldn't say what's on your mind. And having read your posts, you have some interesting ideas! Just crank the tone down a couple of notches, okay?

  13. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    But I've also been disrespected enough myself that I'm not willing to take certain things any more, no matter who they're coming from. And that's all I'll say about that.



    If you walk in a room full of strangers, and before anypne gets a chance to know you start demanding attention, respect, and telling the leader he's wrong, it isn't disrespect when they tell you you're doing it.
    No one here' disrespected you, Steph, They've disagreed with you, and not backed down when you got defensive or aggressive.
    And nobody I've seen reply to you seems to dislike you. No one is saying you shouldn't say what's on your mind. And having read your posts, you have some interesting ideas! Just crank the tone down a couple of notches, okay?
    Well put Kvon.

  14. #64
    Hi Harry!

    Let me see, last time I checked Jundo was the one who founded this whole website, he's the one who gets up everyday to do his daily zencasts for which I am grateful....he is the one who happens to be Nishijima sensei's dharma heir (which to me is a simple statement meaning "yeah, he's kinda alright and knows his stuff, otherwise I wouldn't approve of him"). He's the one who invested a great amount of time and probably a bit of money too into this whole endeavour....you know what, if someone who tries to use a metaphor "walking into a room of strangers..." and then refers to him as the leader in this example....

    I don't have any problem with that whatsoever, for it to be a trend however, I guess everyone would have to call him "leader" all the time. I've read my 1984 and am quite aware of the importance of words and their meaning. I don't have a problem with the word leader, but then again it must be because I is German. Why did you feel the need to point this out to anyone? Don't you think we are all quite capable of reading ourselves? Splitting hairs, anyone?

    Fluffy Gassho from a brainwashed cult-follower who hates to take responsibility for himself.....ommmm mani padme hum.....

    Hans

  15. #65
    Stephanie,

    I'm still new to this but it's pretty apparent that zen practice is useless if you only meditate. Shikantaza is the core but you have to practice zen all day. That's why we have the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

    Everyone has so-called 'demons'. It seems to me that Jundo and other teachers are not suggesting that we don't acknowledge our demons. In fact, we are to face them head on. The difference is how you face them. Do you analyze them, wallow in them, feed them and become them or do you acknowledge them and then let them starve? Maybe after you let them fade, you can figure out where they came from and attain a sort of resolution.

    However, looking at your posts, I see a huge amount of effort being put into feeding the beast. If that helps you, great! But I don't think it coincides with zen practice. You seem to be attached to the notion of making this board be something other than a sangha where we help each other learn and practice zen. Second Noble Truth and all that.

  16. #66
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Chaps,

    Do we now refer to Jundo as 'the leader'?

    That's an interesting new trend.

    Regards,

    Harry.
    I prefer that in the original german.
    :twisted:
    Folks, that is awful... please don't do that ever again.

    Jordan

  17. #67
    Chaps,

    Do we now refer to Jundo as 'the leader'?

    That's an interesting new trend.

    Regards,

    Harry.


    Actually, the trend seems to be to ignore the point of what one another are actually saying and come up with the best zinger.
    Well done!

  18. #68
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I would second that. I suffered from years of depression in my twenties, self doubt, directionlessness, over-thinking, fears. anger. And guess what, I still have some of that now and then because to be so is to be human ... goes with the territory until we die or turn into stones. But, you know, it is 1/10th of what it was because I can catch my own inner bullshit before it starts ... or recognize as bullshit thoughts and emotions I used to think of as unchangeable.

    So, if you say the following you have been doing Shikantaza "wrong" ...

    ... this silence is incomplete. When you emerge from it, all the other "stuff" is still there.

    ... I've seen what people are like who have sat for years and so far all of them still seem to have a number of major issues that show they haven't addressed the kinds of things I'm trying to address. And maybe it's impossible to address them, but I haven't given up just yet.


    Would it help to say that, on the "other side" of Shikanataza, the "stuff" should be seen to be "there but not there". Our thoughts, emotions, dilemas, issues, struggles are a dream ... although real in being our dream. So they are 100% real but, as well, not real. If the "stuff" is still there without you also seeing through it, something is amiss in your approach.

    For example, now, if I start to get depressed, doubtful, fearful, I realize it is just my mind at work. It does not need to be that way and can be dropped or changed (like changing channels on the TV). Or, if I fall into anger I catch myself quicker and can recover balance quicker (notice, however, that I did not say I never get angry, blue, etc.)

    I am going to make a wild guess (I might be wrong) that you are doing some form of one pointed sitting where you are stilling the mind quite a bit, but you are not practicing "seeing thing just as they are", accepting "crap as wonderfully just perfect crap". Stilling the mind by itself is not sufficient because you return and all the "stuff" is still there.

    Gassho, Jundo (also a former Brooklynite)
    Jundo,

    Gassho--this was a bazillion times more helpful than your other responses in this thread. Instead of simply feeling dismissed, I can see where what you are saying to me is coming from. Which also makes it easier to see how what you are saying relates to my situation, and how I can apply it.

    And I also can see where I need to clarify about how I sit, how I practice, and how I experience and work with this stuff. I think the sitting I have been doing over the past several years has elements of both one-pointed and shikantaza practice. I started out just trying to do shamatha, or one-pointed concentration, but my mind is so unruly that I simply, to tolerate sitting at all, had to relinquish the controlling and goal-oriented aspects of that style. So I began to "just sit" with the whirling discursiveness and emotions.

    And yes, indeed, I began to be able to see through them and not identify with them. This has been an immensely valuable and sanity-preserving skill and I understand 100% why you are so adamant in the way you teach it. Every day, I am visited by thoughts I have learned to "see through" and let go of. For example, I start freaking out by comparing myself to others or having doom-laded thoughts of impending failure, and thanks to practice, I almost immediately can see these thoughts for what they are, let go of them, have a laugh, and feel 1000% more sane. The new friends I've been making comment on how I seem preternaturally laid back about the stress of social work school, and I know I would be a gibbering wreck if it were not for my years of Buddhist practice.

    However, there are some thoughts and emotions that are not so simple or easily dealt with. And maybe it's because, as TracyF puts it, part of me is as drawn to these thoughts and feelings as it is unnerved by them. I can't let go of them so easily because the willpower or desire to do so is not there. And that's what I was trying to describe in the first set of posts to this thread. Part of me likes the Beast. I'm haunted, seduced, disturbed by these mind-states in a way that "gets me going." That part's not a mystery--the mystery is why? And also, "Is letting go of all this really the best way...?"

    And that's why "just sitting," and the "skills" that come from that, isn't enough. Because I want to feel alive, and these mind-states make me feel alive. Whereas the placid detachment borne of zazen, while it can be invigorating in its own way, almost feels like an early retirement. And I'm bothered by that, and maybe it's simply as Harry says, that I'm still young. I don't want to die or "hang it up" before I've fully lived and then regret that the other parts of me never got to be expressed. Simply "letting go" or "seeing through" all of this doesn't touch that inner hunger or restlessness, believe me. Maybe I just need to "mellow with age," or something, but, uh, not much I can do about that other than ride Nature's waves...

  19. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    ps. Anyone who was truly sincere in Gassho-ing to me, Buddha, a dog pooh, or the universe or whatever would not have room to consider my thoughts on their practice. Or rather they would have room enough for everything.

    Outside of formal Buddhist practice the Gassho is meaningless to me and my cultural experience. Gassho-ing outside of practice, in my view, has nothing to do with Buddhist truth and it seems a bit lame. I accept that this may be radically opposed to other people's views, but, there you go... Gassho away to your hearts content.

    Dogen considered that a simple 'just bow' contained the whole Buddha-dharma, and I agree with his view. Its a wonderful idea, its better when realized very quickly and easily. That post of mine re. Gassho-ing was inspired by what I saw as someone basically wanting to call me an A-hole and doing so in a round-a-bout way and then finishing the post with a reference to what I consider a profound Zen action/practice: "Gassho"

    I'm sorry, but that picture just ain't right to me. I stand by my statement and still think it a valid point.

    Regards,

    Harry.
    Harry has brought up an excelent point, and the best thing I have seen on this thread.

    When dose your practice stop?

    Dogen, did not only do Just sitting Zen. He outlined about every aspect of life as practice. Hence in Soto Zen we now have a chant for brushing out teeth.

    Practice is life.

    In gassho,
    Jordan

  20. #70
    Stephanie,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in that last comment. When I was your age (and older, I'm 28 now so you do the math,lol) I was pretty troubled, unhappy, self destructive. So I think I know where you are coming from.

    Sometimes, I still have trouble accepting the acceptance of Shikantaza myself, but I am working at it.

    Buddhist practice has been really good for me. But, before I was ready to handle the pure acceptance of Zazen/Shikantaza I did a lot of work with the Four Noble Truths. This teaching is something that speaks right to the heart of the "dark side" you are feeling.

    In Theravada Buddhism, it's often suggested that people work on cultivating an understanding of the Four Noble Truth's and Ethics training before pursuing meditation. Meditation can be difficult and unproductive if our mind's are full of a lot of unpleasant thoughts. I'm speaking from experience here not passing a judgment on you, okay?

    If I may suggest you read Ajahn Sumedhmo's book The Four Noble Truths ? It's from the Theravada perspective, but really talks about these things and gives some good tools for working with them. If your interested PM me and I can give you a weblink for a free PDF or send you my copy.

    Whatever you decide to do, don't give up on practice and cultivate the seeds that are positive and simply turn away from the seeds that are not. That practice itself will reap some benefit in time.

    take care,

    Greg

  21. #71
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    I think it "NICE" (as in Golden Rule) when older people, in their dealings with young people, recall just how difficult it can be to be a young person.
    Thank you for the empathy, Harry. A simple observation, but so helpful. It put a lot in perspective for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    Negative thoughts are so powerful they can and do make you ill. Positive thoughts can be so powerful to that they can and do make you better.

    Where are your thoughts when you're not thinking them? I'd say they don't exist. We create them in our desparation to fill the silence.

    So if you become aware of when you are having thoughts that aren't life enhancing, say stop to those thoughts and think of something positive instead, something that makes you happy, things you like doing.

    The brain is not so clever really you know, it can't distinguish between real or imagined situations. If you churn over about things that aren't happy and healthful it will believe you are in that pit. If you think of happy and healthful thoughts (even if imagined)you will move towards a happy and healthful life.
    These are excellent and helpful points--thank you. I think you're dead-on about our capacity to create our own realities, and the importance of keeping that in mind when we seem to be struggling with some sort of "real" problem.

    As I was finally able to see and verbalize above, I think the big challenge for me isn't the capacity to see the ephemeral nature of thoughts and feelings, but rather, desire... the desire not to let go of certain thoughts and feelings, for whatever reason. And I think that reason may simply be, that thinking and feeling in certain ways makes me feel alive. That passion--a direct counterpoint to the dispassion taught by Buddhism. Hence my struggle, between these poles of being young and wanting to feel alive, and between seeking the peace and wisdom borne of detachment. I think there's a "Middle Way" perhaps between the two (Vimalakirti Sutra does a good job of illuminating this), but it's a difficult balance to strike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in that last comment. When I was your age (and older, I'm 28 now so you do the math,lol) I was pretty troubled, unhappy, self destructive. So I think I know where you are coming from.
    And thanks for your response.

    Sometimes the simplest observations can be the most helpful.

    Funny that none of us were really considering age as a factor, but it seems to me that it is one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Sometimes, I still have trouble accepting the acceptance of Shikantaza myself, but I am working at it.
    This is an interesting way of putting it, and it resonates. Sometimes it feels like giving up. And sometimes one isn't ready to give up yet. How can I really give up on desire when I haven't fully lived it out yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Buddhist practice has been really good for me. But, before I was ready to handle the pure acceptance of Zazen/Shikantaza I did a lot of work with the Four Noble Truths. This teaching is something that speaks right to the heart of the "dark side" you are feeling.
    Yes. I too find the Four Noble Truths helpful. And it's shades of the First Noble Truth that I sometimes muse over (oh God no, "musing over," such things are not permissible here! :lol. I have no trouble seeing certain kinds of dukkha as pointless. But some forms of suffering, again, make one feel alive, feel the blood flowing, feel shocked into energetic awareness. It's the dual-edged sword that's the challenge--on the one hand, you feel alive, on the other hand you suffer. Is it possible to have both...? And maybe that's where I'm wired differently than some folks... maybe I need higher dopamine levels, more risk and danger, to feel alive than the average person does, thus the dichotomy I feel between the way I actually live (fairly tame, with a few exceptional moments) and the way the Beast, the Devil in me, that has such a deep hunger for the pulsing blood of existence, hungers to live life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    If I may suggest you read Ajahn Sumedhmo's book The Four Noble Truths ? It's from the Theravada perspective, but really talks about these things and gives some good tools for working with them. If your interested PM me and I can give you a weblink for a free PDF or send you my copy.
    Sure, PM me the link, I'd be interested to read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Whatever you decide to do, don't give up on practice and cultivate the seeds that are positive and simply turn away from the seeds that are not. That practice itself will reap some benefit in time.
    No worries there. I've been sitting a while, and expect to continue to practice this practice until death comes a-knockin'.

  22. #72
    Some twenty years ago I ran across a title that I am sure you would agree would stop one dead in ones tracks: Metaphysical Horror by Leszek Kolakowski.
    It begins:
    A modern philosopher who has never experienced the feeling of being a charlatan is such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.
    Thats the first paragraph! He goes on to define:
    The axis of the horror metaphysicus, we said, has two poles: the Absolute and the self or Cogito. Both are supposed to be bastions that shelter the meaning of the notion of existence. The former, once we try to reduce it to its perfect form, uncontaminated by contact with any less sublime realit, turns out to pass away into nothingness. The latter, on closer inspection, seems to suffer the same fate.
    We could extend the first statement to anyone worth listening to.
    Around the same time my most dog eared book was a copy of D.T. Suzuki's collected writings. I am working from memory, as I cannot locate it and am too cheap to purchase something I already own. One essay entitled Buddhism and Existentialism ends with a remark commenting on Kierkegaard's sense of dread before the Absolute.

    Come on in, the water's fine.
    I am taking liberties with the quote, but that is the sentiment.
    I can only speak for myself, but this practice helped me be at home with great Doubt and great Trust. Two sides of the same coin in Jundospeak. I would encourage you try to do as he asks. Cut him a little slack, he is after all old and set in his Squaresville ways. :wink:

    Be Well,
    Louis

    P.S. I just wrote Harry and mentioned my love of Beckett. I always found comfort in his work, as well as the Brothers Karamazov. I hope you find some measure of comfort as well.

  23. #73
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Awesome, Louis. Awesome. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    The glamour of the "dark side" somehow lost almost all of its attraction once people in my family started dying and a few other things happened that, for the first time in my life, did bring home the true scope of the word suffering. And yes, I did lead a very...well if not really sheltered than definitely extremely blessed life until a few years ago....I mean I am still a happy bunny, but reality made sure that I got its message. Since then I just want to be a happy nobody, the idea of being the human equivalent of a castrated water buffalo at some point in my life seems rather appealing.
    Thank you for sharing this, Hans. I think I may tend in the opposite direction from you... Sometimes I want it all to wash over and overwhelm me, consume me, drop me, break me,... Maybe if I got my ass handed to me hard enough, maybe I'd also be happy with being a "castrated water buffalo." But for now, it's the she-wolf who's itchin' to come out... maybe she will, maybe she won't, but at least, after this dialogue here, I understand what's going on far better than I did before. I just want to feel alive. And that's why the various representatives of the darkness... the existential abyss, untamed desires, etc... are so seductive. 'Cause it's in that darkness that I feel alive... I get it now.

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    If you walk in a room full of strangers, and before anyone gets a chance to know you start demanding attention, respect, and telling the leader he's wrong, it isn't disrespect when they tell you you're doing it.
    An unfair characterization, Kvon, and you know it.

    How are my posts any more demanding of attention than anyone else's? They're more personal, perhaps, but I'm not an exhibitionist. I'm here looking for answers, to contribute my own "practice wisdom" and to look to that of others; to participate as a member.

    And when I came in here at first, I was very formal and respectful toward Jundo, listening to and putting his suggestions in practice even before I'd been around long enough to know him. I've been unabashed to challenge Jundo on Dharma issues because that's my personal take on what a Zendo is for, not 'swallowing and following'... It's a long Zen tradition, students challenging teachers, teachers challenging students, etc.

    I think Jundo crossed a line in this thread and I've addressed that already, not going to hack through all that again. As always, you're free to see it however you see it.

  24. #74
    Hans wrote that the dark side had lost almost all of its attraction and that the idea of being the human equivalent of a castrated water buffalo has its appeal. He was willing to convey his own personal suffering in order to respond to Stephanie’s questions. I could feel that sense of “been there, done that” - don’t need to seek it out. That's more where I am. I do not find myself yearning for the kind of experiences that it seems Stephanie is saying she's curious about and that make her feel alive. So I'm afraid I may be of little help, Stephanie.

    I had to laugh at the castrated buffalo reference! It reminded me of one of the affirmations I wrote down after reading Meeting the Monkey Halfway: “To be no one and to want nothing is to be everything.”

    As an aside, other affirmations from that book that I try to keep in mind are:

    - The harder you drive your life towards security, the harder it is to get enough of it. You never get enough of what you don’t need.

    - Unplug yourself from that which drains your heart energy.

    - Life is really about letting go of things (rather than grasping). It is about generating the passion to be empty of the complexity and chaos.

  25. #75
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Actually, Janice, that's quite helpful. Gassho.

  26. #76
    Well, well, well
    I'm late to the party--bright balloons and corpses here!

    I have always appreciated the posts of yours I've come across Stephanie. I like what you bring here. Actually, I like what everyone brings here. Some folks I skim, and then I get to see why I do that...

    Lately I just haven't had the time to come as regularly, nor the time to stay as long as I did before. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. For a while I've been coming by and it's been pretty slim pickings--nothing setting any kind of a spark in me. And then, now and again an amazing thread will have gone off like a rocket and been carried so far along that it is practically spent out by the time I've come upon it.

    To tell you the truth, I prefer posting anonymously--I don't like the coloring of what it is I am trying to express, to explore with someone's IDEA of what/who I am and where I'm coming from--(which is entirely 'normal,' but beside the point I am struggling to make, striving to explore). When this kind of thing happens and remarks are aimed at me personally, and not focussed on the topic I've raised, it becomes a jumbled confusion for me--I wasn't, after all, offering myself as a topic of discussion.....just my point (but of course, my point came from 'me'). In my own experience of these things, my perceived goal was to use the group as a way to amplify my own method of exploration, to use the group as a brighter light to add to my dim bulbed flashlight, as a more powerful scope than my cyclops self's monocle.

    I like it, in posting anonymously, that if it's mine to work on alone--my query is left alone, or briefly, briefly remarked upon. There is no dissection of my character, my nature (as conjured up in the imagination of the reader). And, on the other hand, if it is a hot topic, it gets carried a ways--like an idea surfing an internet mosh pit--before it is set down and the next idea hoisted above for a bit.

    This internet Sangha is an experiment, after all. We are all finding our way in it.
    I very much appreciate the ardor, the candor, and the humor here.
    I most of all appreciate the perserverance, Stephanie, a wonderful 'teaching' for us all.

    May we all realize the buddha way together!

  27. #77
    . . .

    Impermanence is the only true constant.

  28. #78


    NO GASSHO FOR YOU...ONE YEAR!!!

  29. #79
    Hi, Stephanie.
    Looking back over the last week or so's posts, I get that you are feeling like no one (other than Harry maybe) is supporting you in your questions. Know that I fully appreciate your presence here and welcome your ideas and questions. My points were meant to slow your sense of time-scale (I think you are wanting answers to questions that take a lifetime to answer in the space of days/weeks), and give my bit of perspective about your method of questioning. That's all. I hope you don't feel ganged-up on, though that is what is happening I suppose. If I have contributed to that, I apologize. I still stand by what I have said, but it is truly with the kindest of intentions.
    So, keep asking questions . . . my advice is to ask individual, compartmentalized questions. Also, being prudent with opening up is helpful . . . I'm not saying don't do it, just don't let it all out in the space of a week; it is simply too much information for myself (and I assume others) to handle constructively. It is overwhelming. You have had a lifetime of dealing with your particular issues and temperament, but we are on the outside of that so it is hard to be helpful when evaluating such a complex set of issues.
    With regard to your interactions with Jundo, all I have to go on is what has been posted here on the forum (not email, PMs, etc). I think there is plenty of blame to go around for whatever you want to call this round of fussiness. Jundo may have been too curt, you monopolize threads by sheer volume of words, Harry does his thing, and I do my little teacher-musician thing, etc. I have to think that if we are Buddhists we have to see that it is all our responsibility. It is my fault you are upset with Jundo because I have been a player in creating the conditions for this little ruckus. It is your fault, it is Jundo's fault, it is Harry's fault, my fault, Greg's, etc, etc, etc. I sense that everyone is in their own little corners contemplating how they are seeing this with wisdom and compassion, but the truth is that all of this is dependent on all the other pieces.
    I'm digressing here. If we are not helping, tell us, but keep in mind that sometimes we don't like the very advice that is best for us; and sometimes we cannot even conceive how a medicine works logically, but it may work nonetheless.
    My best and sincere respect,
    Bill

  30. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Chaps,

    Do we now refer to Jundo as 'the leader'?

    That's an interesting new trend.
    If Jundo's The Leader, then what I want to know is...

    How much longer before he takes us all on his spaceship to Blisstonia?

  31. #81
    We haven't been 'nice'. What are we worried about, that we send out the signal that we aren't singing from the one hymn sheet? That our precious praqctice will be sullied? Is Soto Zen in such a precarious state, is the practice of it so brittle? Sounds like a crappy sort of sect to me.

    The walls have closed in a little bit in here. We've made the sangha smaller. I think that's a shame.
    Hi, Harry. No beef with you. You have kept your ship on the same course it has been on for a while. I do think that there is a bit of a contradiction in the above quote. Do you really think that not "being nice" and the sangha getting smaller are not related? I still maintain that we are all culpable. Right Speech is important because all words affect everybody. When a new variable is introduced into an ecosystem, it affects everything in the ecosystem. How that variable fares is also up to the entire ecosystem (not he best metaphor, but it's all I've got right now). All of this is OUR fault. Not Jundo's, not Stephanie's, not Bill's, but Jundostephanieharrypaigelynnkeishinjanicelouisbill 's (forgive me but I couldn't bring myself to include everyone's name). I don't see this as passing the buck, but as a medicine for self-righteousness.

    Bill

  32. #82
    Okay, Harry. I'll bite. And I do mean this entirely without malice and with the best of intentions. I haven't read all of your posts, and I've only been here for a couple weeks, so mine is an entirely outside perspective. And I hope people will forgive me if I am completely wrong here, but having spent too much time in other forums I've learned to recognize certain patterns in people's behaviors, and how those behaviors affect the whole group.

    From my perspective you are exhibiting troll-like behavior at times. I think in the absence of a true troll, regulars sometimes take on troll-like attributes to stir things up. It's usually a bit of a power trip, but I have no idea what your motives are. I would never presume to guess. All I can do is tell you how an outsider might view what's been going on the last couple of days, and how it might drive off those who are genuinely searching for a sangha and not just a forum, as well as attract sharks who can smell a feeding frenzy a mile away.

    Earlier I said to myself "I don't need this drama" and told myself I wasn't going to return. At least for a while. Then I sat with Jundo's Genjo Sit-a-long VIII, and had a couple of nice isights that I won't bore you all with. The point is, this sangha is perfectly what it is, and each person in it is perfectly as they are, just as I am perfectly Buddha already. Yet I still need to practice and the sangha still has kinks to work out, and as members of the sangha we need to examine our motives for saying what we say, how we say it, and the effect it might have on the entire group.

    Oh, and remember that everything said here will go on your permanent record. The internet never forgets.

  33. #83
    Bill said:
    "we are all culpable. Right Speech is important because all words affect everybody. When a new variable is introduced into an ecosystem, it affects everything in the ecosystem. How that variable fares is also up to the entire ecosystem (not he best metaphor, but it's all I've got right now). All of this is OUR fault. Not Jundo's, not Stephanie's, not Bill's, but Jundostephanieharrypaigelynnkeishinjanicelouisbill 's"
    Yes. What appears here is dependent upon conditions to which we all contribute. It is a process and I am glad that we are participating in it.

    What we add may provide clarity of vision for someone among us. Be who you are, while encouraging others to do the best they can from where they are right now.

    Janice

  34. #84
    Stephanie,

    I'm willing to admit my responsibility in this situation. Usually, I tend to shy away from such conflicts. However, this time I chose to take a stand. Perhaps, I lost sight of the bigger picture. But, I'm not sure if I could of reacted honestly any other way than I did.

    Whatever I had to say was not done to pick on you. Or, to make you feel excluded from the Sangha. My intentions were compassionate. Perhaps, my patience was not what it should have been.

    Sometimes it's hard to know when to speak up for what you believe is right, or when to walk away.

    I still standby my earlier sentiments. But, I also hope we can all move past this and use it an opportunity to improve communication between everyone involved.

    take care,

    Greg

  35. #85
    Harry,

    I have a lot of respect for you. I hope that you did not consider my expression of disagreement with you as an attack or even as disapproval of your actions.

    Hopefully, there are no hard feelings.

    take care,

    Greg

  36. #86
    Hey guys, greetings from snowy norway!

    what is going on? we have to take care of each other!!

    Stop this crazy talking. this wont lead anything.

    Diamond Sutra
    Chapter 7.
    Then Buddha asked Subhuti, "What do you think, Subhuti, has the Buddha arrived at the highest, most fulfilled, most awakened and enlightened mind? Does the Buddha teach any teaching?"

    Subhuti replied, "As far as I have understood the lord Buddha's teachings, there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened or enlightened mind. Nor is there any independently existing teaching that the Buddha teaches. Why? Because the teachings that the Buddha has realized and spoken of cannot be conceived of as separate, independent things and therefore cannot be described. The truth in them is uncontainable and inexpressible. It neither is, nor is it not. What does this mean? What this means is that Buddhas and disciples are not enlightened by a set method of teachings, but by an internally intuitive process which is spontaneous and is part of their own inner nature."



    Gassho

    Jarkko

  37. #87
    Hey Harry,

    I agree we have lots of space.

    take care,

    Greg

    p.s. -- Nice makeover

  38. #88
    An unfair characterization, Kvon, and you know it.


    whatever. I'm done. Peace.

  39. #89
    Stephanie
    Guest
    OK, I've had about enough too, so I'm unsaddling the drama llama... :lol:

  40. #90
    Wow Steph. Your post are soooo long. I have to apologize for misunderstanding your tone. I don't write such long post, but you have your own thing going on and don't let anyone shut you up. All I can say is go get em tiger and keep sitting and stuff. Harry too. Don't let these w**nkers like me shut you up. Apologies.

    Deep Gassho Will

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