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Thread: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

  1. #1

    This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    Well, once again I'm glad I don't have a camera for the sit-a-long zazen. I was sitting and the mind wandered a little. No problem, right? Suddenly, I realized why a certain experiment wasn't working and before I knew it, I got up, grabbed paper and pencil and wrote out the new experiment. I didn't even realize I was blowing off zazen until I heard Jundo say "kinhin".

    It was pretty funny when Jundo told me to "get a camera". If he only knew... ops:

    I guess I better set that experiment up now and maybe I'll try to sit again tonight. :?

  2. #2

    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    Quote Originally Posted by TracyF
    Well, once again I'm glad I don't have a camera for the sit-a-long zazen. I was sitting and the mind wandered a little. No problem, right? Suddenly, I realized why a certain experiment wasn't working and before I knew it, I got up, grabbed paper and pencil and wrote out the new experiment. I didn't even realize I was blowing off zazen until I heard Jundo say "kinhin".

    It was pretty funny when Jundo told me to "get a camera". If he only knew... ops:

    I guess I better set that experiment up now and maybe I'll try to sit again tonight. :?
    Trace, one of the few exceptions I allow to interrupt Zazen, other than fire or earthquake (if over 6.0 on the Richter Scale) is an idea that may lead to a scientific discovery. So, you are okay ... just don't do it too often.

    I actually believe that Zazen, and the silencing of our extraneous thoughts, allows problem solutions and insights to arise. It has happened to me many times, like that old adage "sleep on it". "Sitting with" a problem really does work.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    yes, its a very quick route to that place "i'll sleep on it" -- i've gotten to the point that when i'm really stuck on something, i go to sleep that night, knowing i'll have the answer in the morning, and i do -- :idea: --but then i long ago noticed the same thing happening with sitting - so much so, that i started bringing a pen and pad to the zafu -- and then i had to say, "whoa!, this is getting out of hand", like, zen as a productivity tool

    but it does speak to the power unleashed when you remove "trying", even just a little

    in fact, i think the biggest problem in my practice is that i'm so interested in doing things, creating, figuring out, new projects -- like the song, "i've got a lust for life" -- and the watch is ticking -- or is it?

    my wife and i are retired -- she is content to read books in the hammock -- you know what i'm doing? -- rebuilding a sailboat, restoring several antique cars, selling antique parts on ebay, rebuilding computers, learning linux, practicing guitar, learning guitar amp repair, restoring several guitars i built long ago -- when we moved, i had 17 cars -- the last time i hired anyone to do anything, was 1970 -- and the guy messed up my vw bug

    got to go, the fiberglass on the boat has set and is ready for sanding

    gassho, bob

  4. #4

    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I actually believe that Zazen, and the silencing of our extraneous thoughts, allows problem solutions and insights to arise. It has happened to me many times, like that old adage "sleep on it". "Sitting with" a problem really does work.

    Gassho, J
    Jundo,
    Is your ZaZen the silencing of thoughts? I had thought that was a practice of the Tendai sect.

    Just clarifying.
    Jordan

  5. #5

    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I actually believe that Zazen, and the silencing of our extraneous thoughts, allows problem solutions and insights to arise. It has happened to me many times, like that old adage "sleep on it". "Sitting with" a problem really does work.

    Gassho, J
    Jundo,
    Is your ZaZen the silencing of thoughts? I had thought that was a practice of the Tendai sect.

    Just clarifying.
    Jordan
    Hi Jordan,

    Yes, poor & lazy choice of words late at night. We don't actively attempt to silence anything.

    Instead, our practice is not chasing after thoughts ... neither stirring them up, nor becoming tangled in them once they arise ... just allowing each one to drift naturally out of mind. In doing so, the mind may (sometimes not) become naturally still and silent.

    We don't forcibly silence anything, neither do we poke a stick into the beehive of thinking and emotions and stir 'em up.

    I sometimes describe our practice as clouds (of thought) amid a clear blue sky (emptiness, yet not "empty") ...

    We do not try to "silence the thoughts before they arise" in Skikantaza. It is more that we allow the thoughts that naturally drift into mind to to naturally drift out of mind, much as clouds (of thought) naturally drift in and out of a clear blue sky. In this way, return again and again to the open, clear blue sky.

    One of the key points about Master Dogen's approach to Zazen is to allow the clouds (of thought) to drift naturally out of mind (our thoughts of this and that, likes and dislikes, judgments, events, etc) and we come back again and again to the clear blue sky. Do that again and again, 100 billion times and 100 billion times again.

    HOWEVER, Dogen taught "non-thinking" (also called "thinking not thinking"). That means that there is nothing "wrong" with the clouds. It is not that blue sky is "good" while clouds are "bad" (some Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies imply that). We allow the clouds to drift out of mind, but neither do we resent the clouds when present or on very cloudy days. Even on those days when the sky is all cloudy, and not an inch of blue is present, the blue sky is still there behind the clouds. WE DO NOT SEEK TO BREAK UP OR RESIST ANY PART OF THE SKY, CLOUDS OR BLUE ... It is all the unbroken sky. Understand?

    So, no need to "catch" the thoughts and chase them away, even as we seek during Zazen to find the open, blue sky.
    Maybe I should have said that the mind often becomes still and silent in Shikantaza, but we do not try to actively silence anything.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I recently came across this description from Kennett Roshi that is also very nice, and picks up on a distinction between "natural" and "deliberate" thinking sometimes made by Japanese Zen teachers ...

    Another useful observation which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett made about meditation was the distinction between natural and deliberate thought. Suppose, for instance, that a dog barks while we are meditating. We naturally hear the sound, and perhaps the thought occurs to us that a dog is barking. These are examples of natural thought; they are part of things-as-they-are, part of simple, aware sitting. This is meditation, and nothing needs to be done about it. But suppose that we continue the chain of thought: we next think that the barking disturbs our meditation, that our neighbor should control their dog better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration·, and the next thing we are aware of is that we "wake up", realizing that we have spent the last five minutes giving our neighbor a lecture. This is deliberate thought and is inconsistent with serene reflection meditation. We need to bring our mind back to the awareness of simply sitting there.

  6. #6

    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    Hey jundo,
    Thanks for the clarification :wink:

    Gassho,
    Jordan

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: This Saturday's Zazen - Experiment Planning

    I've had the AHA! experience many times during zazen, but I am able to file it away for when the timer goes off before I pick up the pen and paper. Strangely, lesser experiences that don't reach any aha level are more likely to lead to stopping zazen, that deliberate thought Jundo's quote mentions above. Somehow, for me, the "bigger" AHA! experience and zazen are linked, so I don't interrupt. Instead, it's like I honor it by staying in awareness. But the "lesser" experiences are just plain distractions that make me lose my train of (non)thought.

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