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Thread: Yoga and zazen

  1. #1

    Yoga and zazen

    Very much in tune with Running and Zazen post.

    Having been doing yoga and zazen on a daily basis (hopefully ), sometimes one after another, I have discovered both practices, although they seem to be very different in form, are very much alike. This is what I came up with so far.


    Body and mind


    One of the most apparent for me similarities between the two is the interconnectedness of body and mind, when they become one. I bring my mind to where my body is. In yoga I can simply hurt myself if I let my mind wonder off into the world of stories of the self. In zazen the body is still and seemingly passive but keeping the posture (being aligned, just as in yoga) is very important for the quality of the mind. If I notice that my mind is dull and drifting away, I check the posture and always notice that I am slouching without realising it.

    I read somewhere of a Zen teacher who was doing zazen up a tree to prevent himself from falling asleep. Hm…

    Both take time to settle into

    At first it takes pure discipline to get myself either on the yoga mat or on the cushion. Only after a few weeks do I start appreciating the actual process and even get a longing to get on the mat/cushion whenever I have a chance.

    No competition (nothing to attain)

    As a beginner in yoga one gets an idea of what a perfect posture can be like, something that one has to strive for and as Erich Shiffmann in his book on yoga writes “…Because of this, there will necessary be a gap between where you are in a posture and where you think you should be. This gap, more often than not, contains a subtle frustration, a conflict, a feeling that where you are is insufficient - or worse, who you are is insufficient - and that if you were truly doing yoga properly and were a “good” or “evolved” person, you would be somewhere other than where you are. In this case this practice will be permeated with the effort of going somewhere else. It will be future-oriented, the present moment being significant only as a stepping stone to the future. And you will miss the present.”

    How many times did I get on the cushion in a perfect mood expecting zazen would to be as good as the previous one or maybe even better only to find out thoughts starting to climb over each other, fighting for attention and I would have to postpone perfect zazen till next time. Just as in yoga I have to forget how deep I could enter a certain pose the previous time and be tuned to the way my body responds at the moment, I have to accept the way my mind is when I get on the cushion. This is it. What have we here?

    One thing though: during zazen my legs often fall asleep which never happens in yoga. My body longs for yoga but seldom longs for zazen. :roll:

  2. #2

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hi Irina,

    At the 5-day sesshin I attended recently, Paul Haller led a 1 hour Yoga session daily. It wasn't optional. Everyone was required to do it. Stretching the muscles helps with the long periods of immobile sitting, apparently,

    Gassho,
    John

  3. #3

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    padma-asana (AKA lotus posture)



    Zazen is not the only path I think.

    Yoga a lot of the time it is considered like bompu Zen. Health, vitality all that.

    Zen Yoga (from a google search)

    Reverend Ryugen Watanabe, Osho

    Shakyamuni Buddha himself became Buddha because of the benefit of yoga practice - just moments before he attained enlightenment, Buddhism did not yet exist, there was only yoga. It is meaningless for me to practice and teach yoga in my life if it cannot heal the body, cure sickness of the mind, benefit the world and help to attain enlightenment. If yoga worked only for a small number of people, I would not feel called upon to devote my life to spreading the teachings of Zen Yoga. One reason for calling this practice Zen Yoga is that it is yoga practiced by a Zen monk - yoga practiced with the mind of Zen, a practice without expectation.

    The practice of yoga with no mind, empty mind: Zen mind. It is practice for the sake of practice. Zen Yoga does not make use of asanas for the sake of health or flexibility. Zen Yoga does not practice pranayama, mudra or bandha for awakening chakras of raising the Kundalini Shakti. Zen Yoga practices asanas simply for the sake of doing asanas.
    http://www.zenyoga.org/about_zen_yoga.html


    G,W

  4. #4
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Yoga can help improve not only physical flexibility and stamina for seated meditation, but can also generally improve the functioning of the body in a way that increases mental energy and clarity on the cushion. It's a very useful thing for a meditator to pick up.

  5. #5

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hey guys,

    Thanks everyone for your feedback.
    I am not very much acquainted with yoga philosphy but for me yoga is definately more than exercise or body toning technique.

    I will check the link, Will .

    Gassho,

    Irina

  6. #6

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hello Folks!

    Please excuse my splitting a few hairs at this point We should keep in mind that what is being labelled and marketed as YOGA in the west refers to watered down Hatha-Yoga for the most part. I practiced Iyengar Yoga myself for a while and am a big fan of these kinds of exercises, but originally, the physical aspects were very often simply a foundation needed to be able to further pursue the quest for Moksha (though I am indeed generalizing a lot here). Raja-Yoga, Kundalini-Yoga are all interrelated yet quite distinct approaches to the Yogi's quest (though the western trademarked neo-traditions going by the same name very often have little in common with the genuine Indian article). The oh-so popular seven chakra system e.g. is just one of many and has become the standard in the West mostly due to clever New-Age marketing.

    Check out Patanjali's works for some real classic Yoga texts. If you've got too much time on your hands I can recommend Mircae Eliade's very thorough yet at the same time very dry treatise on the subject called YOGA (what a surprise).

    Zen doesn't really have a fully developed school of body-energy cultivation and manipulation at its disposal to my knowledge (because that just ain't the Zen approach...and if it ain't broke, don't fix it ), thus a bit of Chakra-awareness breathing western style won't do any harm IMHO . The trouble only really starts once one is engaged let's say in Tibetan style practice and then mixes it with slightly similiar yet really different systems. Some of the "more advanced" tibetan techniques work a bit like plumbing (to borrow a term from Jundo's nemesis Namdrol) when it comes down to the very clear way of describing that one needs to do X to achieve Y etc. , best not to try and force apple Mac components into IBM machines is all I say

    All these useless words of mine....to cut the long story short, just my little bit of advice, look into what you mean when you use the term yoga, before using it and enjoy those "bendy" legs

    Gassho,

    Hans

  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    I used to dig yoga as a religious approach and philosophy, but any more, it's too idealistic and world-denying for me. I think that monasticism and asceticism have their places in the world, but I also believe that religious practitioners who take these up out of a belief that the world is evil or corrupt and needs to be transcended are sadly deluded. I also believe now that such beliefs are destructive and harmful. And it seems to me that the traditional yoga world particularly holds up and venerates those types of folks. The ideal of someone who walks around with a halo and feels no desire and communes with God 24/7 because mortals are so beneath them. I now resent the idea of listening to some smug guy in a loincloth prattle on about a bunch of imaginary stuff. Though the sex scandals that crop up around many of these Indian yoga gurus are good entertainin's.

  8. #8

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Eight Limbs of Patanjali (Noble eight fold path) as you can see is different and similiar to our Zen practice. We can see the difference in technique in Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana.

    It is interesting to note the first part of the purpose of asana.

    Yama
    Yama is social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. These are moral principles. Sometimes they are called the don'ts or the thou shalt nots. There are five yamas:

    Nonviolence (ahimsa). Do no harm to any creature in thought or deed. In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda asks Mahatma Gandhi the definition of ahimsa. Gandhi said, The avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed.Yogananda asked if one could kill a cobra to protect a child. Gandhi maintained he would still hold to his vow of ahimsa, but added, must confess that I could not serenely carry on this conversation were I faced by a cobra.

    Truth and honesty (satya). Tell no lies. Cheating on your income taxes falls into this category.
    Nonstealing (asteya). Do not steal material objects (a car) or intangibles such as the center of attention or your child's chance to learn responsibility or independence by doing something on his own.
    Nonlust (brahmacharya). Don't worry; this is not a call to celibacy. Many yogis of old were married and had families of their own. The person who practices brahmacharya avoids meaningless sexual encounters and, as the well-known teacher B.K.S. Iyengar puts it, sees divinity in all.
    Nonpossessiveness (aparigraha). Free yourself from greed, hoarding, and collecting. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to hog the conversation every time you see your friends? Make your life as simple as possible.

    Niyama
    Niyama is inner discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. These are sometimes called observances, the dos, or the thou shalts. There are five niyamas:

    Purity (shauca). Purity is achieved through the practice of the five yamas, which help clear away the negative physical and mental states of being. Keep yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Eat fresh and healthy food. The next time you joke about treating your body like a temple, think of this niyama.
    Contentment (santosha). Cultivate contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are. Seek happiness in the moment, take responsibility for where you are, and choose to grow from there.

    Austerity (tapas). Show discipline in body, speech, and mind. The purpose of developing self-discipline is not to become ascetic, but to control and direct the mind and body for higher spiritual aims or purposes.
    Study of the sacred text (svadhyaya). Study sacred texts, which are whatever books are relevant to you and inspire and teach you. Education changes a person's outlook on life. As Iyengar says, a person starts to realize that all creation is meant for bhakti (adoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment), that all creation is divine, that there is divinity within himself and that the energy which moves him is the same that moves the entire universe.
    Living with an awareness of the Divine (ishvara-pranidhana). Be devoted to God, Buddha, or whatever you consider divine.

    Asana
    The posture of yoga is steady and easy, Patanjali says. Patanjali compares this to resting like the cosmic serpent on the waters of infinity. Although Westerners often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, Patanjali and other ancient yogis used asana to prepare the body for meditation. To sit for a lengthy time in contemplation required a supple and cooperative body. If you are free of physical distractions such as your foot going to sleep and can control the body, you can also control the mind. Patanjali said, Posture is mastered by freeing the body and mind from tension and restlessness and meditating on the infinite. [underlined]

    Pranayama
    Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath. Pranayama is the control of breath. The basic movements of pranayama are inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation. The yogi's life is not measured by the number of days but by the number of his breaths, says Iyengar. Therefore, he follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow, deep breathing. The practice of pranayama purifies and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.

    Pratyahara
    Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses. Pratyahara occurs during meditation, breathing exercises, or the practice of yoga postures any time when you are directing your attention inward. Concentration, in the yoga room or the boardroom, is a battle with distracting senses. When you master pratyahara, you are able to focus because you no longer feel the itch on your big toe or hear the mosquito buzzing by your ear or smell the popcorn popping in the microwave.

    Dharana
    Concentration or dharana involves teaching the mind to focus on one point or image. Concentration is binding thought in one place, says Patanjali. The goal is to still the mind gently pushing away superfluous thoughts by fixing your mind on some object such as a candle flame, a flower, or a mantra. In dharana, concentration is effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.

    Dhyana
    Uninterrupted meditation without an object is called dhyana. Concentration (dharana) leads to the state of meditation. The goal of meditation is not unconsciousness or nothingness. It is heightened awareness and oneness with the universe. How do you tell the difference between concentration and meditation? If there is awareness of distraction, you are only concentrating and not meditating. The calm achieved in meditation spills over into all aspects of your life during a hectic day at work, shopping for groceries, coordinating the Halloween party at your child's school.

    Samadhi
    The ultimate goal of the eightfold path to yoga is samadhi or absolute bliss. This is pure contemplation, superconsciousness, in which you and the universe are one. Those who have achieved samadhi are enlightened. Paramahansa Yoganananda called it the state of God-Union.

    The eight limbs work together: The first five steps yama, niyama asana, pranayama, and pratyahara are the preliminaries of yoga and build the foundation for spiritual life. They are concerned with the body and the brain. The last three, which would not be possible without the previous steps, are concerned with reconditioning the mind. They help the yogi to attain enlightenment or the full realization of oneness with Spirit. Enlightenment lasts forever, while a flat tummy can disappear with a week of binging.
    http://www.yogamovement.com/resources/patanjali.html
    G,W

  9. #9

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

    Some how we are hooked on to the idea that this Yoga is something special.

    Can you levitate? ...Why do we need to levitate? There is a chair here.(laughs)

    If you can't afford a chair, it's ok I can stand.

    One of the great Yogi's in the Himilayas told me during the early days of his yoga practice, while he was meditating his body was lifted up, he hit the ceiling and floated back down. Luckily there was no injury to the head.

    There are two lovely words in the English language that are most appropriate to this connection... "So What."(laughs)... You hit the ceiling? So what?

    G,W

  10. #10

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Regrets - it is gone now.

  11. #11

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    I practice both hatha yoga and zazen and find that they actually compliment each other.

    Mike
    PhillyBuddha

  12. #12

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hi,

    I am very hesitant about much of this, and in fact, I do not approve and want to keep it distant from what we Practice here.

    I say this, not so much for experienced folks (although for them too), but more for beginners who might be wondering about whether some of what is being described here, and Zen Practice, are the same. Sorry, I am a very skeptical fellow, and I do not go much for energies, chakras, siddhis (special psychic powers) and the like.

    First off, I do not know Rev. Ryugen Watanabe (also known as Swami Premananda), but my spider senses are going off (perhaps a Siddhi?) when I read mumbo-jumbo like this ...

    You are eternal, but your body is limited. The opposite of eternal is temporary. Since we are eternal but our body is temporary (only lasts about 100 years), then we have to keep changing our body. Therefore, to die means to exchange the old body for a new one.

    ...

    Proper circulation and breathing can cleanse impurities from the body, but we must also have a pure mind to be truly healthy. Everybody knows and talks about the happiness and peace within us. "God is within you." But where? Saying God is within us is the same as saying that a disease is within us - and it is a mistake. You are the disease, you are the God. It all depends on what the mind believes.

    The actual location of the "God" (the real you: the body is only your body, the body is not you, you are the God) is realized through meditation on the ANAHATA CHAKRA (heart chakra). The "God" within is known as ATMAN by the Hindus, or the Buddha Nature by Buddhists.

    Once you realize the eternal self ("God") within, you will realize that everything besides the ATMAN is merely illusion (momentary). Meditation on the God within is the most powerful healing technique because it is the ultimate spiritual goal of every human being, beyond the reach of illness in the material body.

    AUM.
    Right or wrong, we do not teach "Buddha Nature" as "Atman" or "God". We are not "merging with the Cosmic Consciousness". Those are cheap slogans very distant from our Shikantaza Practice, which is much more profound for not putting any demands or easy labels upon the universe. I also do not approve of questionable theories on the origins of illness. Phooey to this Hooey!

    I do not know Rev. Ryugen, but his writings posted on the internet are New Agey and guru-ish, and I do not care for that at all. I have made inquiries to some other more traditional Zen teachers in his area, but in the meantime it strikes me that I will judge this book by its cover.

    The same for teachings like this, which were also mentioned ...

    Nirvikalpa samadhi is the highest experience that can result from such action. It is preceded by an intense effort. In the relative level, this effort may well be considered to be the cause and nirvikalpa samadhi its legitimate effect. So nirvikalpa samadhi is limited by causality. The yogin admits that he goes into nirvikalpa samadhi and comes out of it. Therefore it is also limited by time. In order to get into nirvikalpa samadhi, the body is necessary for the yogin to start with. Therefore nirvikalpa samadhi is also limited by space.

    Thus nirvikalpa samadhi clearly forms part of the phenomenal.

    2. The involuntary action is the other type. This is spontaneous and objectless. It comes over you involuntarily; you yield to it and merge into it. In its progress, the mind gets relaxed and ultimately disappears, leaving you to yourself all alone.

    This experience denotes the real significance of the term 'deep sleep'. The interval between two mentations is another instance of involuntary action. You stand as yourself alone in both these experiences, but you do not cease to be the same Reality, yourself, in the so called dream and waking states. Therefore you do not ever go into or come out of deep sleep, and it is uncaused.

    Hence deep sleep, if correctly understood, is evidently your real nature. It is, strictly speaking, no state at all; and is far beyond any samadhi."
    Please don't teach this here. In our way, everything is Truth, and your "real nature" is not something to be pursued. It is not just sleeping, but walking talking arguing belching and tripping over a tin can. There is no deep Samadhi that we wish to go into or come out of (whether we "go in" or "come out", which we sometimes might in Shikantaza ... we are always right where we should be). There is nothing more "Truth" about being "in" than "out", whether the mind disappears or does not disappear ... no import.

    Please, kindly, take this kind of thing outside our practice place. These teachings may be right, and what we practice around here may be wrong ... but I do not want to mix the two in any manner.

    I am not talking about a little Yoga for its physical benefits, which is a very good thing and fine to pursue.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    I am very hesitant about much of this, and in fact, I do not approve and want to keep it distant from what we Practice here.

    I say this, not so much for experienced folks (although for them too), but more for beginners who might be wondering about whether some of what is being described here, and Zen Practice, are the same.
    Good point.

    I do not know Rev. Ryugen Watanabe
    Yeah. I just found the site on a Google quick search. I was a little hesitant to post it.

    Please, kindly, take this kind of thing outside our practice place.
    Will do.

    G,W

  14. #14

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    OK, no problem.

    It seems best for me that I leave the community now. I have appreciated your comments and gained much from all your posts. I cannot imagine logging in as kshetra again given Jundo's understandable points above. It was truly my mistake entirely all round. Thank you all for your time and best wishes to you all.

    k

  15. #15

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hmmm. I agree about all the Hindu mysticism stuff sounding hokey. It really doesn't interest me. Still, it concerns me when a discussion about other beliefs is completely shut down. I think it's instructive to see where different philosophies meet and diverge. Why not just point out where Zen differs, shoot down the fantastic and irrational bits, and let the discussion continue. I'd say it's actually creepier to limit the discussion to Zen and Zen only. Maybe it's my own issues at play here, but it echoes my experience growing up around fundamentalist Christians, where other beliefs were to be feared and not spoken of. I mean, we're all adults here right? All respect. This is a good place.

    Gassho,
    Chris

  16. #16

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Actually, I have no idea if we're all adults here. Who knows who is on these boards?

    (Oh yeah, about my picture. I hope you don't mind me including my valet. He's a decent guy who carries me wherever I go so I thought he should be in there too.)

    Gassho,
    Chris

  17. #17

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Chris H
    Still, it concerns me when a discussion about other beliefs is completely shut down. I think it's instructive to see where different philosophies meet and diverge. Why not just point out where Zen differs, shoot down the fantastic and irrational bits, and let the discussion continue.
    Hi Chris. I understand your point,and was going to post something similiar. With some of us there's no problem with delving into and discussing such things. However, there are beginners hanging around and we don't really want to guide them off track before they even begin. Once you reach a level in your practice you can start to read and try out whatever you want, but if you are doing it because you find your Soto practice doesn't give you any benefit, then you should probably work with a teacher. Also, if our trust is lacking, we can easly move on to something else without really giving Zen a chance. Zazen takes time.

    I think Jundo's tone is really his personality, but what do I know? He's been sitting a few years more than I. I can't defend him. He can speak for himself. I can see his concern regarding some of the writing.

    Perhaps we could be more clear about our motive of posting such things. But I think because this is a Zendo, we should first have a strong and dedicated Soto practice.

    With that said, there is much that we can do and try and there is opportunity to persue that outside of the Zendo.

    If one wants to have a discussion about other practices and even try them out, they can do it a little less publicly, or go to another forum (there's a lot of them).

    But we must focus on our Zazen practice and have absolute trust in that first. I practice Soto Zen. You wouldn't find me throwing my sitting practice out the window for something else. Yes I have curiousity. Yes I might try something out, but Soto Zen and Zazen comes first. Plus, we shouldn't practice too many things as Dogen would say. Best to stick with one.

    -------

    Bye kshetra. Your welcome back anytime. (From me anyway)

    Take Care
    G,W

  18. #18

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Will,
    Such a thoughtful response. Much appreciated. As a beginner myself I can attest to the fact that it can be difficult to parse out what Soto Zen is and isn't as opposed to other forms of Buddhism. I still struggle for clarity sometimes and many practitioners like to cross over the lines a here and there. I think Jundo has taken pains to establish a strong Soto practice and I respect that.
    Gassho,
    Chris

  19. #19

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hi Guys, from Saigon,

    I certainly ain't no fundamentalist!

    It is just that in our Ai-ki-do Dojo, we don't practice or instruct in Karate. Maybe it would be better to say we don't teach how to play baseball on a tennis court?

    The internet is chock full of discussion of every which belief and system. Some might even be better than "Shikantaza"! Nothing keeping folks from finding all the other teachings and teachers of Karate and Baseball.

    I am happy to discuss other teachings and compare them to Shikantaza, but I have to walk a fine line in not saying that it is okay to mix the two. Because it is not, any more than you would try to play tennis according to baseball rules with a basketball.

    I was running to pack for my trip yesterday, and now I am sitting in an internet cafe in Saigon. As soon as things settle down, this week or after my trip, I will be happy to illucidate my reasons. Apparently the points I spelled out in my posting were not enough.

    No trouble at all talking a little baseball now and then, and comparing the relative merits and techniques of one game to another ... but then we have to get back to tennis.

    Gassho, The Coach

  20. #20

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hey dear TreeLeafers!

    I must say I was not feeling confused in the least before but I do now. :shock: In my original post I was referring to the physical side of Yoga, the one that got more attention in the west, Hatha yoga (well, plus the Pranayama breathing) which I probably should have specified in my post. I am not concerned with the philosophical part very much and the yoga teachers I read and hope one day to practise with do not care much for Hatha Yoga Pradipika or Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. I guess I could have just as well written a post on Cooking and Zazen or Making art and zazen but the problem seems to be that yoga has rich phylosophical traditions and once again I am not very much into this stuff at the moment.

    Yoga enriches my life in many ways and helps me to get grounded in the body and in the moment, it helps to unblock the energy where it gets stuck in form of tensions in the gross body. Nothing more and noting less. I no longer look for answers or the Truth in philosofies, whatever flavour they might be. The only thing I am interested in is direct experience. Zen is one of the ways, as I see it. Zazen is a powerful tool.

    When in doubt and deciding on how I should proceed about something, I find the Buddha's advice to he citizens of Kalamas (in Kalamas sutra) to be of huge help:

    Code:
     You should decide, Kalamas, not by what you have heard, not by following convention, not by assuming it is so, not by relying on the texts, not because of reasoning, not because of logic, not by thinking about explanations, not by acquiescing to the views you prefer, not because it appears likely, and certainly not out of respect for a teacher.
    Basically, the Buddha says: “Go and see for yourselves”! This is what I do.

    I did not realised this post was not appropriate for the forum (although I still don't understand why) and apologise for starting it in the first place. I just have one life, one practice and it happens to include both yoga and zazen. Personally I see no contradiction or dilemma in it.
    I had no intention to take us off the track.

    Namasté,

    I

  21. #21

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Basically, the Buddha says: “Go and see for yourselves”! This is what I do.
    That's pretty much the reason why I posted that stuff for you. However mxing and matching too early in one's practice might not be beneficial for some. It's probably best to pursue one at first.

    Although we should be lamps unto ourselves, we have volumes of guidance stacked up from those who have already walked the path. We can only choose which guides to follow.

    I did not realised this post was not appropriate for the forum (although I still don't understand why) and apologise for starting it in the first place. I just have one life, one practice and it happens to include both yoga and zazen. Personally I see no contradiction or dilemma in it.
    I had no intention to take us off the track.
    No big deal. It's just when all the philosophy starts to get passed around too much in the Zendo. Sounds like you have a balanced practice. Keep it up

    My outlook on Yoga is pretty much the same as the quote I originally posted. Just do the postures to do the postures. No goal. However, The Zen Yoga site that I posted has some philosophy that isn't really in tune with Soto practice. So I understand Jundo's post.

    We are here to practice Soto Zen an nothing but Soto Zen. There are some places that practice Yoga, Zen, Chi gong, Tantra, and everything in between, but it's not here.

    Have Fun
    G,W

  22. #22

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hi Folks,

    I sent this to Jundo via PM and he asked me to post it here, and also to pass on the message that he's in retreat at a monastery for at least a day and possibly more, because he really likes it there; and that he'll say more about this topic when he gets back.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Jundo,

    I understand where you're coming from about not wanting teachings like this posted here -- there is certainly a risk of people confusing one kind of practice with another, and of mixing some other practice with what you teach. At the same time, I fear that banning discussion of practices like this may have exactly the opposite effect that you're hoping for.

    It's worth considering that when people post things like this here, it offers an excellent opportunity for you to distinguish our practice from other practices -- to say, "No, our way is not this, it's nothing like this, and here are exactly the ways in which we differ." Teaching what something is by teaching what it isn't can be a powerful tool. Especially with a practice that's as subtle as the way you teach, saying what it isn't may often be more effective than saying what it is. So I guess I worry that if one of the members here runs into something like this, and doesn't post it because they're worried it isn't 'kosher', they'll miss the opportunity to hear about why it's different from what we do, and the rest of us will miss out on the opportunity for clarification as well.

    This is your call, and if you decide that stuff like this shouldn't be posted, I'll respect that and gladly abide by it. But I do think it's worth considering the other side.

    --Charles

  23. #23

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Rambling 2 cents

    One of the problems with discussing Yoga as philosophy/religion/mystical practice is that it can get some people confused as the terms may be similar to some in our literature, and peoplw who haven't developed a solid practice -and those who visit out of curiosity - may get a distorted message. I guess if somebody starts talking here about the benefits of chanting Namu Amida Butsu , Jundo will emerge from the Vietnamese samadhi to whack them with a kyosaku. In the meanwhile, talking baseball or chinese porn is not gonna cause trouble.

    I will respect the teacher's suggestion to avoid this topic, even though I personally would prefer to bring out more Yoga discussion to examine just how inconsistent the yogi thoughts are with our Way. I just bought Iyengar's "Light on Yoga" to learn the right form of some positions that will help me with my running (yeah, I just want the popular, commercial, non-mystical part of it), and just in passing I read some of the stuff that has been mentioned above: WOW. Moreover, just to illustrate the disconnect between reality and faith, I found that they attribute some positions curative power for the following diseases (among others): appendicitis, groin hernia, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, and some others that everybody knows only surgery (or perhaps the Atman?) can fix.

    If Mr Iyengar lived in the Land of the Free (Ah, the rhetoric) and the Home of the Brave (that make wars out of distilled fear) his lawyers would be very busy dealing with lawsuits. Which reminds me: Mr Cohen is a lawyer! :twisted:

  24. #24

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Alberto, I think you may have read some people's misunderstanding of Iyengar. I haven't read any of his books but I was thinking of getting Light on Yoga one of these days after I catch up on my zen reading. Anyway, my neighbor is a Iyengar teacher and I think the practices are not designed to cure any diseases unless they directly related to a lack of general health. Instead, they are designed to alleviate the suffering from these diseases. Sometimes they can alleviate symptoms but I think they're supposed to alleviate suffering (as in dukkha) in the same way as the 8-fold path.

    This brings me to my second comment. Maybe we should try to be careful about discussing other religions and philosophies of which we really aren't experts. I suspect that if we did study yoga seriously, we'd find an incredible amount of similarities to what we study here and the differences are more superficial. Just like I've noticed that there is some discussion on other Buddhist sects but the more I've become exposed to some of these, the more I find that the differences are more in the types of practice as opposed to ultimate aims (or non-aims). An outsider typically takes some of these practices too literally and slaps labels on it (just like the author discussing different types of 'enlightment' and his misinterpretation of zen, for example) but many times the supernatural aspects are not taken literally by the serious masters. Moreover, I agree with Jundo that we should also try to be careful about going into other philosophies here because it will confuse people trying to learn Soto Zen (especially since we have no yoga experts here who can properly compare and contrast).

    Anyway, back to hatha yoga. I find yoga, tai chi or qigong to be great methods to calm my mind before I sit. Plus it's good for you (and I really need to get back into shape). I seriously tried Iyengar but the focus on precise alignment in asanas makes the classes almost disruptive. The teacher (my neighbor) is constantly yammering away and coming up to you to fix your position. It may be good for beginners to help them understand the positions but after a while, it's useless in calming my discursive mind and preparing for zazen. My favorite yoga DVD is Yoga Shakti by Shiva Rea. The asanas, music, her voice is perfect for me. Her yoga style is more vinyasa flow. The DVD has really difficult poses but I simply do modifications.

  25. #25

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Some good points. While we're on the subject of not misrepresenting religions: let's not give anyone the impression that the point of sitting Zen is to 'calm the discursive mind'.
    Can you quote someone here saying "the point" of Zen is to calm the discursive mind, officer?

  26. #26

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Hi Tracy,

    Some good points. While we're on the subject of not misrepresenting religions: let's not give anyone the impression that the point of sitting Zen is to 'calm the discursive mind'.

    Regards,

    Harry.
    Holy cow, that wasn't my intention! :shock: If I only wanted to 'calm my mind' I would just do hatha yoga or chant a lot. That's a hell of a lot easier than shikantaza.

    Anyway, I don't know about you folks, but I sometimes can't even sit...as in physically settle my butt on the zafu. My brain will be rushing so much that I'll literally jump to my feet after 5 minutes and there goes zazen down the toilet. :roll: But doing something like yoga takes the ants out of my pants. And, lord knows, I need the excercise. ops: I can't be the only one with this problem in this face-paced world.

  27. #27

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Hi Tracey
    I can't be the only one with this problem in this face-paced world.
    no - I feel the same on many occasions. Especially, in the mornings before a difficult day. I used to try counting etc to "calm" the mind, but generally it settles on its own after 10 minutes or so. Except on the days when I just sit & fret . Whatever happens, I know I feel better during the day if I sit & I miss it when I don't. I try to sit with what is.....nothing more or less.

    Kind regards

    Jools

  28. #28

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by TracyF
    My brain will be rushing so much that I'll literally jump to my feet after 5 minutes and there goes zazen down the toilet...I can't be the only one with this problem in this face-paced world.
    Tracy,

    You are most definitely not the only one with this problem.

    --Charles

  29. #29

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    My brain will be rushing so much that I'll literally jump to my feet after 5 minutes and there goes zazen down the toilet...
    I was like this as well. Now I can sit Zazen for a long time. I'm not really sure where the transition happened. I haven't done Yoga for a long time, and I don't even excercise right now.

    It is an important point I think, for some to be able to sit for a length of time. This jumping up from the Zafu, is just a habit. It effects the nerves I've learn't as well. It is not only the mind that's racing, but body is effected by that as well. As you know, I've had extreme dillusion and tension.

    I've found that it was common for me to review my day. There are so many tasks to be done and so many things that I encountered that day, but really I can't do any of them at that moment, so I might as well just sit and pay attention I think.

    When doing Yoga there should be no goal in my opinion. You might try doing Yoga for about 15-30 minutes, then the corpse pose for about 10-15 minutes. But it shouldn't become a distraction from Zazen. The whole point is to be able to sit. Time is all I think I can say. As time goes on we learn to sit.

    Calming the mind is not the point of Zazen. However, to sit Zazen, some of us need to relax and be able to concentrate on something other than our thoughts. That's really just habit I think.

    I brought my attention to the wall and sounds. Sometimes I would turn the volume up on the thoughts. Like yelling. I HAVE TO DO THE DISHES. MY POST ON THE FORUM NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. for example. Then perhaps come back to the wall.

    Some use the breath. Some also use mala beads. But these are only used by some to be able to sit for a length of time. You should put them away eventually. Mix it up. Sometimes just sit.

    Have you taken this up with Jundo? If he hasn't giving you any guidance on this, then it probably means he thinks you should just continue sitting.

    Gassho

  30. #30

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Jools wrote:
    I try to sit with what is.....nothing more or less.
    I agree. Succumbing to thoughts that tell us we must get off the zafu is a type of confinement. Letting those thoughts, no matter how compelling they may be, simply be thoughts and continuing to sit is freedom. Sounds pretentious of me to say it that way, but I can't think of a better phrasing.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  31. #31

    Re: Yoga and zazen

    Alberto, I think you may have read some people's misunderstanding of Iyengar. I haven't read any of his books but I was thinking of getting Light on Yoga one of these days after I catch up on my zen reading. Anyway, my neighbor is a Iyengar teacher and I think the practices are not designed to cure any diseases unless they directly related to a lack of general health. Instead, they are designed to alleviate the suffering from these diseases.
    Appendix II form the above mentioned book, where my comment derives from (id est, Iyengar himself) has the following title: "Curative asanas for various diseases". So there.

    Now, let's say the neighbor, with all due and sincere respect, claims that the asanas will alleviate while not cure the suffering from appendicitis. I know (there are very, very few things things I know and this is one of them) that no person with appendicitis will tolerate the asanas listed as "curative", let alone be relieved by them.

    The point is meant to illustrate something we all know very well: every leader (educational, spiritual, political, literary, you name it) has some sort of clear and deep vision of their thing, and that makes them think that their vision is all encompassing. That's why Shak is The Man: who else tells you not to believe their stuff but to go and try it yourself? I will adventure a guess here: the famous unsurpassed enlightenment includes the realization of the limitations of your worldly knowledge, and includes the clear understanding that we are culturally conditioned. God bless Shak (catholic upbringing, what can a guy do?)

    I acknowledge that trash talk about other belief systems is a dangerous thing. That's why I practice useless criticism on soto zen buddhist first and foremost. I acknowledge (ever so skeptically) other philosophies/religions/ways of life could be right; moreover, some ass like yours truly but with a different point of view could come and try to discredit us by mocking Nihijima Roshi's funky (and unsustained) theories on the balance of the sympathetic/parasympathetic system (however, roshi states clearly that is his belief, not a matter of fact).

    There are several catholic monks and priests ordained as zen priests . So my question is (with due respect to the Catholic institution and followers), why can a zen dude not believe in Yoga as a spiritual practice, or play with the ouija, or read tarot cards, or live by the horoscope? My answer to that would be plagiarizing Harry again: a banana and two kiwis. I know I just believe in what is, but I try to respect the need of others to believe in what might/could be.

    Gassho, the little self trying to realize that his true Self is Iyengar, Adashyanti and Benedict.

  32. #32

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