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Thread: Question about the way I do Zazen

  1. #1

    Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi Jundo and everyone :mrgreen:

    Because I'm a beginner, that's why I want to ask for your opinion about my practice.

    Jundo said that in Zazen there is nothing to achieve. Because Zazen can't be separated with enlightenment itself.

    So, When I do Zazen, I just let everything as it is, because everything was complete, the reality was complete.

    But, then the problem occur.
    When I just let the body and mind as it is, then my mind is like a monkey. Well, I just let it become like a monkey, as it is. I try to let it go and come, so it doesn't disturb me again.
    But, some times it can make me lose my awareness.

    So, is it right for me to just continue the way I practice?

    Is "losing the awareness" also the reality itself?

    I really hope your opinion.... and Thanks

    Gassho, Shui Di.

  2. #2

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi Shui Di and Welcome,

    I think this is something we all experience. I know I do.

    When I first began sitting Zazen, nearly a year ago, I would try to force myself into letting go of all thought, forcibly keeping my mind clear, which would make the whole experience unproductive. Since then I have learned to let go of my thoughts; to relax my mind instead. I donít mean relaxing as in letting my thoughts run where they please, but instead relaxing as in dropping my need to think them in the first place. I find this helps me drop my monkey mind in a much gentler way, and return to the present.

    I do think we should aim to remain in the present, but knowing that the target my not be possible to obtain for any extended period at this point in our practice. But we aim anyways. Yet despite this, and perhaps contrarily, I think we need to accept what thoughts do come to mind.

    Uchiyama teaches that these thoughts are only the scenery of Zazen, and nothing but a stone could remain thoughtless indefinitely. Uchiyama defines Zazen not simply as sitting in the present moment, but also as the act of returning to the present moment. Just like the weather, your mind will have clear days and cloudy day. Accept both, yet aim for the present anyways.

    I donít think that our thoughts are a curse; I suspect they are the riddle we sit with.

    Those are my thoughts anyways, I hope others will correct me if Iím mistaken.

    Gassho,
    Kelly

  3. #3

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    For myself a high point in my zazen is when I realize that my mind has wandered. because that means I am aware that my mind has wandered and can refocus. I just try to not get stressed about my thoughts and continue on. No matter what happens I take Jundo's advice and think this is all "perfect as it is" foul ups and everything.

    Gassho,
    Damian

  4. #4

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    Hi Jundo and everyone :mrgreen:

    Because I'm a beginner, that's why I want to ask for your opinion about my practice.

    Jundo said that in Zazen there is nothing to achieve. Because Zazen can't be separated with enlightenment itself.

    So, When I do Zazen, I just let everything as it is, because everything was complete, the reality was complete.

    But, then the problem occur.
    When I just let the body and mind as it is, then my mind is like a monkey. Well, I just let it become like a monkey, as it is. I try to let it go and come, so it doesn't disturb me again.
    But, some times it can make me lose my awareness.

    So, is it right for me to just continue the way I practice?

    Is "losing the awareness" also the reality itself?

    I really hope your opinion.... and Thanks

    Gassho, Shui Di.
    Hello Shui Di,

    I believe I can answer this as follows:

    In our day to day life, we have "monkey mind", which jumps all over his cage with wild thoughts and emotions. The monkey's passions run to extremes, he bangs his head against the hard bars, and he clutches for bananas.

    In Zazen, we just let things be "as they are" with "nothing to achieve". All is complete in the moment of Zazen, with nothing to add or take away. Now, the trick (monkey trick?) is that, what is achieved by this "no achievement", and attained by this "no attainment", is a quiet monkey who no longer feels the need to run around the cage, and instead, can sit perfectly still. The monkey is now calm and balanced, at peace and not banging his head against the world-cage (in fact, the cage bars may be said to vanish!!), excess or all thoughts and emotions drop away. In fact, even all thought of monkey, cage, jumping and running, and bananas may drop fully or partly away ...

    However, because we let Zazen to be "just as it is", and monkeys to be monkeys, not every day of Zazen will be so peaceful. Somedays monkey mind will simply not be calm, and the mind during Zazen will be filled with thoughts and wild emotions. The important thing, I think, is that we must not reject one monkey over the other, we must not think (in dropping all thought of "good" or "bad") that quiet and forgotten monkeys are "good" while noisy monkeys are "bad". WE JUST LET MONKEYS BE MONKEYS EVEN AS WE RETURN AGAIN AND AGAIN TO ALLOWING THE MONKEY TO SETTLE DOWN IN STILLNESS.

    Is that clear (or am I just making a monkey of myself)??

    Eventually, I believe, in our Practice we learn how to allow even the noisy, disturbed monkey to be not so noisy or disturbed, and how to run around his cage with greater calm and balance, avoiding emotional and thought extremes. This is the Monkey Middle Way!

    And, further, we also learn that the "still" monkey and the "moving" monkey exist at the very same time, without conflict. That's "Stillness" beyond "stillness" or "motion", "Non-attainment" holding "attainment" and "no attainment" without the slightest conflict.

    I am not fully clear on what you meant, Shui Di, by the monkey mind causing you to "lose your awareness", but I hope the foregoing answered what you mean.

    Kelley, I have a very good feeling from the words you wrote, and I think you are describing things nicely.

    Damian, yes, there are absolutely no foul ups ... even the foul ups! :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo


  5. #5

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Yep. What they said sounds good Shui di.

    So, When I do Zazen, I just let everything as it is, because everything was complete, the reality was complete.
    Yep. But don't think about it too much.

    Just sit your butt down and let it be

    Do that for about 40 years and you'll be alright I think.


    G,W

  6. #6

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Thanks Jundo, Kelley, Will and Damian for the replies.

    For Jundo...What I meant as "lose awareness" is just like "blank". So, I just feel "blankness".

    But, now I understand. It's "just as it is" foul ups :mrgreen:

    Thank you very much every body...

    Gassho, Shui Di

  7. #7

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Thanks HezB and Will....

    It's helped....

    Thanks...

  8. #8

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    How delightful and mysterious that such a simple practice can both encompass the totality of the inner and outer universe and simultaneously sweep it away.

  9. #9

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Great thread and some lovely responses.
    For me the biggest impact has been to practice with my eyes open. I find it takes longer to settle, but when I leave the cushion echos of my practice ripple throughout the day.
    Kindest regards
    Jools

  10. #10

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jools
    Great thread and some lovely responses.
    For me the biggest impact has been to practice with my eyes open. I find it takes longer to settle, but when I leave the cushion echos of my practice ripple throughout the day.
    Kindest regards
    Jools
    Yes, this is one reason behind our sitting with eyes half open,

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #11

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Thanks every body...

    yesterday night and this morning, I did my Zazen. And I think, all of your suggestions works...

    I just sit, and keep my posture right and keep my eyes to half open. Then, I just don't care about everything.
    Just Sit, and let everything as it is. Then the worried feeling of "failed Zazen" disappear itself. Just as it is... :wink:

    Btw, thanks Jundo for the sweet monkey... :lol:

    Well, thank you for your great suggestions.... .

    Gassho, Shui Di.

  12. #12

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jools
    Great thread and some lovely responses.
    For me the biggest impact has been to practice with my eyes open. I find it takes longer to settle, but when I leave the cushion echos of my practice ripple throughout the day.
    Kindest regards
    Jools
    Nice way to put it, Jools. Thanks.

    BTW, Jundo. Love your little zazen monkey. I sketched a zazen monkey not too long ago and thought I was being clever. Figures, it wasn't an original idea. Well, I cracked myself up when I was drawing it. :lol:



    Notice, the zazen monkey is a Japanese snow monkey. (his thumbs are sticking up to high just like me) :wink:

  13. #13

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi,

    This eyes closed thing caught my attention.

    Jools wrote:Great thread and some lovely responses.
    For me the biggest impact has been to practice with my eyes open. I find it takes longer to settle, but when I leave the cushion echos of my practice ripple throughout the day.
    Kindest regards
    Jools



    Yes, this is one reason behind our sitting with eyes half open,

    Gassho, Jundo


    I might try this out with the eyes half open.

    Jools - Do you sit with your eyes fully open or half open.

    Of course I have not tried it out yet, but If you are sitting facing a wall I don't get why the eyes should be open, it seems to be similar in that situation as to have the eyes closed. When I first given a guided-meditation/group sit on this practice it was up to the individual if they should sit with their eyes closed or half open, we weren't facing walls.

    The other thing, often I get a 40 min public transport ride twice daily in which I sit (on the seat) and zazen. I don't having eyes open would be feasible, all the passengers would think i'm weird (which i am) 8) whereas with my eyes closed ppl think I'm just sleeping.

    Mettha/Gassho?

  14. #14

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    how to quote:

    [quote*]text here[/quote*]

    remove the ( * )
    G,W

  15. #15

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Aswini
    The other thing, often I get a 40 min public transport ride twice daily in which I sit (on the seat) and zazen. I don't having eyes open would be feasible, all the passengers would think i'm weird (which i am) 8) whereas with my eyes closed ppl think I'm just sleeping.
    You can always do like the spies do and wear dark shades. 8)


    Linda

  16. #16

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Yes, traditionally we sit facing a blank wall, with eyes 1/3 or 2/3rds open. The reason is to keep us aware, awake and present in the world ... but not too much so.

    On the bus, hmmm ... I sometimes stare at the back of the seat in front of me, or at my lap, or at my briefcase, with my eyes 1/3 or 2/3rds open (technically, more accurate than saying "half open"). Nobody seems to care.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- Do you know about our downloadable Zazen timers for Ipod and Mp3 players? Perfect for bus rides.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/meditation.html

  17. #17

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Thanks Tracey

    Hi Aswini

    Jools - Do you sit with your eyes fully open or half open
    I would say half open, looking slightly downwards - looking at the awful paint job I did in my spare bedroom . I have to apply some concentration or I find my eyes blur or I see swirly lights - somedays this can be real struggle. I don't appear to reach the deep relaxation that I can achieve with my eyes closed - but I note that it has greater impact upon being less connected with my thoughts.

    I read recently in Nishijima Roshi's blog:

    The reason why we open our eyes during Zazen.
    1) Master Dogen teaches us that the eyes should be open during Zazen in Fukan-zazen-gi and Shobogenzo Zazenigi.
    2) In Soto Sect it is the authentic method for us to practice Zazen facing the wall in the case of students.
    3) When we close our eyes during Zazen, usually we feel sleepy. At the same time when we close our eyes during Zazen, we are prone to think miscellaneous things in our brain, and so it is much better for us to open eyes during Zazen.
    4) During Zazen it is better for us to look at Reality in front of us, and avoid miscellaneous thoughts.

    Gudo Wafu Nishijima
    As for the bus - I agree with Jundo

    Best wishes

    Jools

  18. #18

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    somedays this can be real struggle. I don't appear to reach the deep relaxation that I can achieve with my eyes closed -
    Keep at it Joolsy. I like to think of Zazen (at the moment) as active relaxation.

    G,W

  19. #19

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi Shui Di

    I used to worry a lot about the endless stream of thoughts too, and a teacher told me they were harmless, they were just birds. It took me some time to see it clearly but the thoughts are really the same as birds, or as clouds. What are you going to do if a cloud passes while you are sitting? Probably notice it and that's it. So why should it be different with thoughts? How are they different from the numbness in your leg, the traffic, the growling in your neighbor's tummy or the ever so slight draft of air that touches your skin?

    The problems is that we tend to identify ourselves with those thoughts; the only reason they are irritating is that our beloved ego thinks they are in the way of our luminous path to enlightenment (you know Mr. Ego, he always wants to visit fictitious places).

    I accept my thoughts for what they are ( birds, airplanes, people passing by the window)and let them go; I stop feeding them and they come less and less often. They don't bother me anymore because they are part of what's going on while I sit, and if that's what's happening it is ok: there's nowhere to go, so there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

    Gassho

  20. #20

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Thanks Jools and Jundo. I'll have a good reason to use my zen (ipods boooo!! - http://www.cnet.com.au/mp3players/mp3pl ... 063,00.htm)

    I'll use the quotes properly here onwards.

    I did zazen with my eyes 1/2-2/3 closed today. I must admit the blinking took getting used to.

    I can see what you are saying jools. I noticed feelings in the body more than thoughts compared to when I sit with eyes closed. Also the thoughts seemed to be easier to spot sometimes.

    I'll experiment further. Sometimes I like being able to close the eyes to notice the thoughts come and go - sometimes ebb out completely, also when I did vipassana-body-scanning-only my eyes were always closed.

    Mettha.

  21. #21

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi Alberto,

    You say it well. I can tell that you're gonna fit in nice around here! :wink:

    Birds, clouds, blue ... all is just the sky. Do not try to break up the sky. Even as we return our attention to the spacious, open blue 10,000 times and 10,000 times again.

    As to a "path to enlightenment", I might say that our "Shikantaza" path is to see no path, no destination, and both journey and arrival ever under foot.

    I will repost that quote from Uchiyama Roshi, mentioned in the Book Club thread ...

    "We practice zazen, neither aiming at having a special mystical experience nor trying to gain greater enlightenment. Zazen as true Mahayana teaching is always the whole self just truly being the whole self, life truly being life."


    Gassho, Jundo

  22. #22

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi Jools,

    I have to apply some concentration or I find my eyes blur or I see swirly lights - somedays this can be real struggle.
    The eyes should just be normally focused, but on nothing in particular. I might say "staring idly into space" "looking ahead without thinking about it" is the best description, but we should not allow the eyes to blur or loose focus. Seeing patterns, colors and swirly lights is just something that happens sometimes. The cones and rods of color, for example, are always present in our eyes, but we do not give them notice so often in day to day life. In Zazen, what is always there just stands out sometimes, and the brain plays some tricks by seeing "connect the dot" patterns.

    I posted on this awhile back, and we had a related thread ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic ... 2828#p2828

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Hi,

    I think that if you stay in the present moment then thoughts can be quite amusing and useful. But when I find a thought has taken me away from the present moment then it's time to leave it alone. I normally say to the thought to stay or go as I have to get back to the sitting.

    It's interesting to see how my mind works. Thoughts are the natural function of the human mind, they arise and disappear. Quite a good teaching on impermanence, maybe.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  24. #24

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Isn't this fun?

    G,W

  25. #25

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    As much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

  26. #26

    Re: Question about the way I do Zazen

    Keep at it Joolsy. I like to think of Zazen (at the moment) as active relaxation.
    - Good advice: thanks Willy

    And thank you too Jundo - I have tried to review the earlier threads but I missed that one. Sounds like I am trying too hard.

    Kindest regards

    Jools

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