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Thread: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

  1. #1

    5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Spelled backwards ...

    Nezaz dna noisuled

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    It does seem to me that most of our anguish is self-created by the narritives our egos conjure up. I often worry about things at work during the weekend only to find out Monday morning that things weren't as I had thought at all. I think it helps to mindful of interdependence and understand that situations are not static and are passing down the stream. The stream goes on no matter what happens just as it always had and will.

  3. #3

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    "Vomiting up the apple" is an evocative image. In a time when people allow their aspirations to be controlled by strangers (advertising agencies, television networks, marketing experts), resisting greed and delusion is really swimming against the current.
    "It is essential to aim at the correct posture...without trying to observe the effect of zazen." Amen to that! I catch myself watching myself do zazen every time: "My, look at how nicely I cross my legs! I couldn't do that a couple of years ago." Mindfulness is a very easily misunderstood concept.

  4. #4

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama
    For our ego-attachment does not occur merely on the surface of consciousness; we are eating that apple prior to our conscious awareness - that is, in the depths of our subconsciousness
    So that is why just plain awareness, or using our intellect in some kind of curative way, is not enough. Ego-attachment runs deeper than that and needs constant zazen practice to uproot it,

    Gassho,
    John

  5. #5

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Uchiyama wrote (p. 107):
    Genuine peace is like a clear mirror that simply reflects all images as they are, without anything sticking to it.
    On May 17th, I heard the 17th Karmapa speak in NYC.

    One of the things he said that this quote by Uchiyama reminded me of was:

    Never let difficult situations destroy your peace of mind. If you put a heavy object in front of a mirror, the mirror will reflect this heavy thing, but the mirror is not weighted down by what it reflects. The mere appearance does not itself entail that pressure-laden situation. We can reflect like a mirror without being weighted down by life’s difficulties.

    (This is probably not an exact quote. It's based on the notes I took.)


    On another point, Uchiyama (p. 105) says:
    It is by the nature of the posture (of zazen) in which it is impossible to think continuously about the same thing, and the fictions we set up in our heads dissolve.
    I experience this dissolving of thoughts -- when acknowledging/observing the thought, the grasp often releases and isn't followed by a storyline of related thoughts. But what is it about the posture per se that makes this so?

    Janice

  6. #6

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Janice wrote:
    I experience this dissolving of thoughts -- when acknowledging/observing the thought, the grasp often releases and isn't followed by a storing line of related thoughts. But what is it about the posture per se that makes this so?
    I'm not sure . . . I used to sit Burmese and simply decided, after hearing so many teachers say that half or full lotus is better, to make myself learn how to get into half-lotus. In less than 6 months I could pull it off for a 25 minute sitting. It does make a difference in zazen. I can't explain how, but it does change it. I think Nishijima's predictable answer about the balancing the autonomic nervous system might have some merit, but I don't bother to do any research about it because I don't really need to know more about it . . . it seems to work. I can say this, posture is an important factor in the success of many of our other day-to-day activities, but we don't notice because those activities are relatively brief. Studying, practicing music, even watching TV require considerable attention to posture if I don't want to fall asleep or create undue tension in mind/body. Paying attention to use good posture is noticeably helpful when it comes to tasks like washing the dishes.

    "Zazen enables life to be life by letting it be." p. 102
    Profoundly simple and true.

    "Zazen has nothing to do with thinking about results. It is essential just to aim at the posture of zazen without trying to observe its effects." p. 106

    I have reached a point where it does not happen much anymore, but I used to slip into evaluating my zazen while on the zafu (not intentionally). I wonder about the razor's edge of maintaining awareness and openness without evaluating. I think the emphasis Uchiyama places on "aiming at the posture of zazen" is a clear instruction that zazen is a state of action that utilizes body/mind as opposed to a state of reflective evaluation. Action is about the present, most other mental activities are about the past (reflection) or the future (planning, fear, etc.).

    Gassho,
    Bill

  7. #7

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Ah, my ego was screaming all through this chapter. "What , self observation is out!" "using our head is called into question. This put me out of my comfort zone.

    I can see where my achilles heel is. I am always trying to compare my zazen to an ideal, but the ideal is the illusion.

    Janice, I liked your question about posture. I experience better flow through my body when in half lotus. (although I couldn't tell you whether that is an illusion or not.) It seems to me that the body in half or full lotus does not obstruct the experience of the moment.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  8. #8

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    This chapter in itself doesn't seem to offer anything new but the comment on the duality of thought got my attention:

    "...thought springs from life, and yet it has the ability to think of things totally ungrounded and detached from the fact of life. This is delusion and it leads to some strange consequences
    (p 102).

    I believe it is Einstein that said once(I am not 100% sure it was him) that all his life he was worrying about things most of which never happened. :lol: I notice it in my life and in lives of the people around me who are not clinically depressed but I see how those ideas in the head run their lives and take them some places dark and lonely.

    I am not saying Uchiyama strikes me as an antiintellectual but his very choice of words - "the burden of thought" - is a hint enough that he is not a fan of thinking . Yet he was writing about a situation that was not happening at the moment, talking in general terms, using his intellect. We have ability of thinking in abstract terms and a gift of imagination and it is because the mind works the way it does it can also allow us to see its own limitations so I don't really agree with the term "burden" here.

    I would not go as far as Pascal's I-think-therefore-I-exist as from my zazen expeeince I can observe the ability of the mind to watch itself and can ask who is watching who then and conclude that the thinking me is not the same as the me that is watching me thinking (luckily only one of us has to pay taxes :lol: ) but thinking for me is to a large degree "a fact of life" - it is present in most wake moments of my life. This said, I realise the importance of learning to control my mind as much as possible and not let the mind take command of my life.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  9. #9

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    I was wondering the same as Janice. It was not for nothing the yogi chose Lotus pose as the best for meditation. Will be working toward it. 8) Lotus looks very grounded, very balanced.

    Bill, how exactly did you learn to get into half-lotus? :roll: By bringing one fot onto the thight of the opposite leg I get out of balance and one knee ends up much higher than the other one.

    ...I can say this, posture is an important factor in the success of many of our other day-to-day activities, but we don't notice because those activities are relatively brief. Studying, practicing music, even watching TV require considerable attention to posture if I don't want to fall asleep or create undue tension in mind/body. Paying attention to use good posture is noticeably helpful when it comes to tasks like washing the dishes.
    Very true! At work I bring up the desk and work standing for about 4 hours a day, straight and not slouching. It is much easier to stay alert and focused this way. Sometimes we use Pilates balls to sit on which makes one think of the posture in order to keep the balance.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  10. #10

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    This chapter in itself doesn't seem to offer anything new but the comment on the duality of thought got my attention:

    "...thought springs from life, and yet it has the ability to think of things totally ungrounded and detached from the fact of life. This is delusion and it leads to some strange consequences
    (p 102).

    I believe it is Einstein that said once(I am not 100% sure it was him) that all his life he was worrying about things most of which never happened. :lol: I notice it in my life and in lives of the people around me who are not clinically depressed but I see how those ideas in the head run their lives and take them some places dark and lonely.
    I was just wondering lately if loneliness is just a product of our minds. A mentally constructed feeling of separateness when really we are all interconnected?

    I am not saying Uchiyama strikes me as an antiintellectual but his very choice of words - "the burden of thought" - is a hint enough that he is not a fan of thinking . Yet he was writing about a situation that was not happening at the moment, talking in general terms, using his intellect. We have ability of thinking in abstract terms and a gift of imagination and it is because the mind works the way it does it can also allow us to see its own limitations so I don't really agree with the term "burden" here.

    I would not go as far as Pascal's I-think-therefore-I-exist as from my zazen expeeince I can observe the ability of the mind to watch itself and can ask who is watching who then and conclude that the thinking me is not the same as the me that is watching me thinking (luckily only one of us has to pay taxes :lol: ) but thinking for me is to a large degree "a fact of life" - it is present in most wake moments of my life. This said, I realise the importance of learning to control my mind as much as possible and not let the mind take command of my life.
    Uchiyama had an MA degree in philosophy, if I remember correctly, so he wasn't against using the intellect, IMO. I think that like many Zen teachers, (and many koans are designed to do this) he is trying to free us from our immersion in intellectual concepts. Descartes 'cogito' just shows that there is a thought process going on - at least that's what ..."I".... "think"...

    Gassho,
    John

  11. #11

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    I was just wondering lately if loneliness is just a product of our minds. A mentally constructed feeling of separateness when really we are all interconnected?
    I think so, John. I meet quite a lot of people who crave company because they are afraid of being alone, for one reason or another. And I guess being alone they feel lonely but being alone doesn't have to bring with it a sense of isolation. Personally, I often catch myself craving some kind of mental noise, entertainment like a book or a podcast to listen to.

    I would think that a feeling of loneliness is very much determined by thoughts, so it is more like a mental state. Whenever I get into a state like this, being thousands of miles away from my family and most of my friends, I scan my head for thoughts that lie behind and then switch to some different thoughts or do something that doesn't allow for thinking about other things, which in turn influences the emotional state.

    Uchiyama had an MA degree in philosophy, if I remember correctly, so he wasn't against using the intellect, IMO. I think that like many Zen teachers, (and many koans are designed to do this) he is trying to free us from our immersion in intellectual concepts. Descartes 'cogito' just shows that there is a thought process going on - at least that's what ..."I".... "think"...
    :lol:
    I understand the danger behind living by concepts and not through one's direct experience.
    But are there no intellectual concepts in Zen? Is it not a trait of our mind to intellectualise our experiences?

    Gassho,

    Irina

  12. #12

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Descartes 'cogito' just shows that there is a thought process going on - at least that's what ..."I".... "think"...
    Who is Pascal anyway? :roll: Yes, of course I meant Descartes. ops:
    I really appreciated the work of Antonio Damasio on the correlation between thoughts, emotions and feelings. In Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain he examines in which way thoughts and emotions are related.

    From Wiki:
    Descartes developed a method of reasoning based on the indisputable observation that if we think, we must exist. However, Damasio examines the physiological processes that contribute to the functioning of the mind and therefore proposes the idea that thinking is inherent to a body in which no spirit exists. The fundamental difference in argument situates itself in that thought is a physiological function, based on anatomy making the statement "I think, therefore I am" a tautology. It essentially becomes "I am, therefore I am" when Damasio's principle of the body-mind rather than dualism is applied. This presents the reason why the work is titled Descartes' Error.
    Damasio's latest book Looking for Spinoza he looks into emotions in depth (lots of interesting evidence from particular cases) and also links biology and ethics. Very interesting read for those interested in how the brain works!

    I have to go say hi to mysterious Pascal now! :lol:

    Namasté,

    Irina

  13. #13

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Irina wrote:
    Bill, how exactly did you learn to get into half-lotus? By bringing one fot onto the thight of the opposite leg I get out of balance and one knee ends up much higher than the other one.
    I think the years of sitting Burmese helped loosen my hips up a bit, but the main thing that seemed to help was sitting in Burmese and then leaning over like I was trying to put my head on the floor in front of me. After that I would try to get as close to half-lotus as possible and try to maintain it for as long as was tolerable, then rest and do it again (I often do this when I'm watching TV with my wife or kids). The last tip I could give is to try to get your foot up high on the thigh as opposed to down toward the knee. It really seems to help lock it in place. I can still only do about half an hour in half-lotus before my foot goes dead asleep, but the progress went faster than I thought when I learned to relax and deal with the discomfort (of course I had to watch not to overdo - - patience is definitely required here).

    There are some links somewhere here in the forum about various stretches that help. Try those. There are also some stretching tips in the new issue of Shambhala Sun (not a great magazine, but sometimes has some interesting stuff) called "Yoga for Meditators" that are designed specifically for helping sitting meditation.

    Good luck and gassho,
    Bill

  14. #14

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Thanks for the tips Bill!

    Just saw on the Internet that one of my favourate yoga teachers Erich Schiffmann has a special program devised for working toward Lotus.
    I will continue with yoga and hope one day my body is ready for Lotus. 8)

    Actually I just received the issue of Shambala Sun but didn't check it out yet. :lol:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  15. #15

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal

    I would think that a feeling of loneliness is very much determined by thoughts, so it is more like a mental state. Whenever I get into a state like this, being thousands of miles away from my family and most of my friends, I scan my head for thoughts that lie behind and then switch to some different thoughts or do something that doesn't allow for thinking about other things, which in turn influences the emotional state.
    Yes Irina - you are giving an example of what most would think of as a loneliness producing situation - being far from friends and family. We can all find reasons like that. In 'Everyday Zen' Joko Beck suggests that when we are alone we are just that and nothing more. The loneliness is an add-on created by our mind comparing itself with the situation of others. For instance, I don't like it at this time of the year when my friends all clear off to sunny places and I can't go because travel is so difficult for me now. But if we could see through all these negative thoughts we might not be very human and be cold and devoid of emotion?

    I understand the danger behind living by concepts and not through one's direct experience.
    But are there no intellectual concepts in Zen? Is it not a trait of our mind to intellectualise our experiences?
    I think we have to be able to use concepts as functional tools but be able to realise their fictional nature and not think they are the real thing , just as a map is not the real terrain,

    Gassho,
    John

  16. #16

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    Who is Pascal anyway? :roll:
    The only thing I ever remember about Pascal is his famous Wager. http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/?page_id=8

    I have found it amazing how many Christians have this idea at the back of their belief in their faith. And it's such a self-centred way of thinking. But, then, a lot of us probably come into Buddhism for similarly self-centred rewards

    Gassho,
    John

  17. #17

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Or as Bill said on an earlier thread:
    Jazz musicians have to hold onto concepts, like chords, loosely or they will box themselves into a zone of rigidity where creativity is difficult. So, the point of this rambling digression is to say that concepts are useful on one level, but the looser we hold to them, the more creatively we can respond to the given situation.
    Gassho,
    John

  18. #18

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    Who is Pascal anyway? :roll:
    The only thing I ever remember about Pascal is his famous Wager. http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/?page_id=8

    I have found it amazing how many Christians have this idea at the back of their belief in their faith. And it's such a self-centred way of thinking. But, then, a lot of us probably come into Buddhism for similarly self-centred rewards

    Gassho,
    John
    Good point. Pascal's Wager illustrates his concern about self-interest (how pitiful is religion if it is based on reward?). Likewise, I think I am just beginning to get over the idea that Zen will help me get something. Still a work in progress . . .

  19. #19

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Yes Irina - you are giving an example of what most would think of as a loneliness producing situation - being far from friends and family. We can all find reasons like that. In 'Everyday Zen' Joko Beck suggests that when we are alone we are just that and nothing more. The loneliness is an add-on created by our mind comparing itself with the situation of others. For instance, I don't like it at this time of the year when my friends all clear off to sunny places and I can't go because travel is so difficult for me now.
    Right, John. I heard somewhere that people get more depressed around holidays and notice myself how questions concerning the plans for the coming holidays can influence my emotional state and induce a feeling of loneliness. The feeling itself comes from those thoughts that from the start are not even mine and the belief that one is bound to feel lonely by oneself. We have a big one coming up next week end - the summer solstice, which is sort of like summer Christmas but is more fun already because you can actually see things (unlike in winter) :lol: and since I will be all by myself there will be some pity party looks I guess. :roll: I guess

    But if we could see through all these negative thoughts we might not be very human and be cold and devoid of emotion?
    I have been thinking about it, too. :lol: Even a simple fly has emotions (it can get irritated) but is devoid of feelings so feelings is something that we humans have (I am not sure about our closest in the animal world relatives, the bonobo apes). I like the words of one of the teachers "Feel the feeling and drop the story" and really without a story there is not much feeling left yet would we have had Shakespear's sonnets and plays had he dropped the stories? :roll:

    Gassho,

    Irina


    I understand the danger behind living by concepts and not through one's direct experience.
    But are there no intellectual concepts in Zen? Is it not a trait of our mind to intellectualise our experiences?
    I think we have to be able to use concepts as functional tools but be able to realise their fictional nature and not think they are the real thing , just as a map is not the real terrain,

    Gassho,
    John[/quote]

  20. #20

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal

    I have been thinking about it, too. :lol: Even a simple fly has emotions (it can get irritated) but is devoid of feelings so feelings is something that we humans have (I am not sure about our closest in the animal world relatives, the bonobo apes). I like the words of one of the teachers "Feel the feeling and drop the story" and really without a story there is not much feeling left yet would we have had Shakespear's sonnets and plays had he dropped the stories? :roll:
    Nice post Irina. It's the way we humans dwell on things mentally that causes problems, isn't it? I liked Echhart Tolle's story about the way two ducks were having a fight, but as soon as it was over they both flapped their wings to dispel the negativity and sailed happily away. They didn't mutter to themselves 'wait till I see her again, I'll show her who is stronger, I shouldn't have to put up with that kind of treatment etc..'

    Gassho,
    John

  21. #21

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Hi.

    Two tomatoes were crossing the road. one was run over and squashed.
    The other tomatoe got to the other side, turned around and shouted : "ketchup!"

    Do like the tomatoes, Keep on going, dont "get stuck".

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  22. #22

    Re: 5/30 - Delusion and Zazen p. 102

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
    Moreover, it is of utmost importance here not to indulge in self-observation. Self-observation, or observing the effect of our zazen, such as being calmer or more agitated, not only misses the mark, but the moment we do so, we impair zazen and go off the track. Zazen has nothing to do with thinking about results. It is essential just to aim at the posture of zazen without trying to observe its effects.
    This is a real tricky one...

    Gassho
    Ken

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