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Thread: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

  1. #1

    3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Well, let's hear your thoughts on this topic ...

  2. #2

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Many years ago my first introduction to meditation was through Patanjali's Yogasutras -"Stilling the thought-waves of the mind". This was often illustrated by a lake with ripples on the surface which eventually disappeared ,and as Yoga students we thought in some way we had to "control" our mind or else we weren't doing it properly. Although we now know through zazen, and from Uchiyama's explanation in particular, about how it is natural to have thoughts arise and not hold onto them, I still hear people in our Zen group saying that they had a "good" sitting because they had few thoughts. Personally I vary, and sometimes the thoughts are like an endless waterfall and sometimes noted but not held on to. I read recently that 90 per cent of our thoughts are repetitive and many of them not worth holding on to anyway!
    Jenny

  3. #3

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    A nice explanation of zazen. It seems that it we don't get sucked into our thoughts, we are able to remain open to all our surroundings. I once heard that seasoned practitioners did not exhibit the startle response while they were meditating and wondered whether this was because they were able to avoid the thought process that judged the unexpected loud sound. In my practice, when I hear a sound, I can't seem to avoid labeling it (e.g., cardinal song, garbage truck) so I guess I am already down the path of thought. I guess I need to work on letting the thought go sooner.

    I am intrigued by the quote "reality waking up as reality". Does that mean that we receive all the sensory input around us without labeling, judging....? I wonder what that would feel like and whether that would really overload ones circuits? Can one function like that off the zafu?

    Interesting....

    Gassho,

    Linda

  4. #4

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    ". . . thoughts ceasing to occur is not the ideal state of one sitting zazen." p. 50

    For me, this was a nice reminder that shikantaza does not imply the absence of thoughts, but an attitude that clings to nothing that arises ("dropping all the myriad things"). It reminded me of something Jiyu Kennett Roshi wrote about there being nothing wrong with unintentional thoughts during zazen; it is intentional thought, or grasping thought as Uchiyama might say, that is the issue.

    Linda wrote:
    Does that mean that we receive all the sensory input around us without labeling, judging....? I wonder what that would feel like and whether that would really overload ones circuits? Can one function like that off the zafu?
    I've wondered about this too . . . so far I have not experienced anything that I could use to answer. As to functioning off the zafu like that, I consider that a moot point. There are ways of being that are appropriate to the zafu and ways that are appropriate for driving, eating, etc. There is not a need to mix them as much as a need to let the lessons from one arena inform experience in the other arenas. That's just my sense of it, I could be wrong. An analogy I like is the "donut" that baseball players use in the on-deck circle. It makes the bat heavier while taking practice swings so that when it is removed the bat feels much lighter than it did just a few minutes before. My work on the zafu I often think of like those practice swings with the donut, it helps the world feel lighter when in fact the world is just the same as it was before--only my experience of it has changed.

    My two cents,
    Bill

    PS--Sorry for my absence in the book club for the past month. It has been crazy in my house this month, we have had: the death of one of my grandparents, two cases of pinkeye, the flu, the stomach flu, an infected salivary gland (had never even heard of that!), a double ear infection, and a sinus infection. Normally we are a very healthy family, but this month we have made up for it. Everyone appears to be on the mend . . . so I hope to be able to contribute more regularly.

  5. #5

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    ". . . An analogy I like is the "donut" that baseball players use in the on-deck circle. It makes the bat heavier while taking practice swings so that when it is removed the bat feels much lighter than it did just a few minutes before. My work on the zafu I often think of like those practice swings with the donut, it helps the world feel lighter when in fact the world is just the same as it was before--only my experience of it has changed..
    Love the analogy. Thanks Bill

    Gassho,

    Linda

  6. #6

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Quote Originally Posted by uchiyama
    At any rate this ‘waking up’ is different from cognizing or perceiving, and this difference is crucial. Knowing and perceiving imply a dichotomy, a confrontation between the thing that knows and the thing that is known.
    Is it, then, a letting go of fixed, entrenched, cumbersome views that are heavily imprinted on us from the past, and that create a gap between us and the directness, liveliness, freshness of a ‘beginner’s mind’ that possesses no preconceptions?

    Gassho,
    John

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    from page 179 note #23 When we are sitting,we do not follow our thoughts, nor do we stop them. we just let them come and go freely. we cannot call it thinking because the thoughts are not grasped. if we simply follow our thinking, it is just that,and not zazen. we cannot call it not thinking, either, because thoughts are coming and going,like clouds floating in the sky when we are sitting, our brains don't stop working, just as our stomachs don't stop digesting. sometimes our minds are busy; sometimes they are calm. just sitting without being concerned with the condition of our minds is the most important point of zazen.
    this has been of immense help in beginning zazen and putting the basic premise of zazen in perspective. it helped answer the question,"what do i do or not do with my thoughts".

  8. #8

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Hard to know what to say. Again and again I am struck by the lucidity of Uchiyama's writing.

  9. #9

    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    Not chasing after thoughts has been a helpful practice. It’s not limited to zazen. When difficult emotions roil, observe how thoughts can fuel those emotions. I’ve also noticed the separation that I’m creating in my mind between myself and others. Awareness of this can prompt dropping the thoughts. They might arise again. But they can be dropped again and again.

    Mark Twain said “Most of the worst things in my life never happened.”

  10. #10
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: 3/21 - Letting Go of Thoughts p. 49

    I'm late to the party, having just gotten the book, and perhaps this tree will fall in the forest without anyone hearing it, as you're all way ahead of me...

    But this section really hit home, in part due to some recent insights I've had regarding my thoughts while sitting. It is so much more practical than the often vague descriptions of what to do when sitting ("just let go of your thoughts" doesn't really help when you can't let go), and it is perhaps the clearest explanation of thinking while sitting that I have read.

    I flinch a little when I read things like "Since in zazen blood recedes from the head..." which is clearly wrong. There was another passage earlier in the book that said something just as ludicrous, and I don't think it's really meant as a metaphor, but I'll take it that way.

    But this whole chapter about sitting is extremely clear and useful, and it's something I'll re-read from time to time.

    Kirk

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