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Thread: What happened?

  1. #1
    disastermouse
    Guest

    What happened?

    Hey all,

    I sat every day for about four years but finally stopped after my practice grew neurotic. I had no teacher. For the last ten years, I've been sitting very irregularly - sometimes as infrequently as once every six months.

    Recently, I'm sitting much more frequently (almost every day). I've noticed something very odd.

    I've drifted FAR from my original values in the last ten years. Some of those values were neurotic or problematic (I was very self-righteous, equated virtue with poverty, was very 'anti' a lot of things), but some of those values were very important. For instance, I'm currently in a lot of debt. I have a lot of material things I wouldn't have considered back in the day. Mostly though, I've just made a lot of choices that don't reflect the sort of understanding I once had.

    There's not a lot of moral teaching in Zen (at least not compared to Theravada). Nonetheless, my experience is that daily sitting can keep one pretty on track in a lot of ways. Also, I've never been as happy as I was in those first two years of daily sitting.

    Is it really true that one's mind can so easily become clouded without daily zazen?

  2. #2

    Re: What happened?

    I definately agree that when I sit regularly (i.e., daily) I definately feel as if everything in daily life just kinda falls into place.

    I do think, though, that "zazen" can take many forms besides sitting...after all sitting is just a finger pointing to something greater, if you focus on the finger, you will never see where it is pointing. You can get to the same place many different ways, be it art, working out, volunteering, martial arts, doing the dishes...whatever.

    I would recommend, if you haven't already, trying to incorporate the mental state of "just being aware" into the things you do during your day...its the same thing as zazen, just not in sitting form. Simple awareness of your actions and surroundings, I have found, can take you a long way, and you can achieve it in any activity, from cleaning your house to driving your car to talking to someone on the phone.

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mushin
    I do think, though, that "zazen" can take many forms besides sitting...after all sitting is just a finger pointing to something greater, if you focus on the finger, you will never see where it is pointing. You can get to the same place many different ways, be it art, working out, volunteering, martial arts, doing the dishes...whatever.
    This is not my experience. Without regular sitting, my discipline to make daily activities a meditative practice usually falls apart.

  4. #4

    Re: What happened?

    Hi disastermouse

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    There's not a lot of moral teaching in Zen (at least not compared to Theravada). Nonetheless, my experience is that daily sitting can keep one pretty on track in a lot of ways. Also, I've never been as happy as I was in those first two years of daily sitting.

    Is it really true that one's mind can so easily become clouded without daily zazen?
    I think the moral teaching in Zen is a very strong one but is not one reflected in a set of rules (although the precepts are important). To me, the fundamental moral teaching is we are connected to everything (there is no separation between me and other). And this fundamental concept instructs our actions. To me, this is not some new age notion, but a very real thing that creates both profound responsibility and joy.

    Zen teaches that the only way to realize the connection (or lack of separation) is through zazen. In my experience, that sense of connection goes away quickly. (Perhaps as I sit more, I will be able to maintain it longer off the cushion.) So, I think your observation about the mind getting clouded without daily zazen is a good one, IMHO.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  5. #5

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    Zen teaches that the only way to realize the connection (or lack of separation) is through zazen. In my experience, that sense of connection goes away quickly. (Perhaps as I sit more, I will be able to maintain it longer off the cushion.)
    Hi Linda,

    Very nicely said. That has been my experience as well.

    Thanks,
    Keith

  6. #6

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    There's not a lot of moral teaching in Zen (at least not compared to Theravada). Nonetheless, my experience is that daily sitting can keep one pretty on track in a lot of ways.
    Well, I believe we have a very clear "moral compass" in our Precepts Practice, which comes down to "seek as you can not to harm yourself, not to harm others (ultimately not two)" Of course, our Bodhisattva Precepts do no always fill in the specific details of what is "harmful" (compared to the Vinaya Precepts for example), and life has many ambiguities and mixed situations. Still, I think our practice, and ordinary common sense, allow us to develop a moral sense of what is generally harmful and what is not ... and what is the generally healthful and beneficial in living life. Zazen helps us develop that compass.

    We will see how this works when we start our Precepts studies for Jukai in a couple of weeks, I believe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mushin
    I do think, though, that "zazen" can take many forms besides sitting...after all sitting is just a finger pointing to something greater, if you focus on the finger, you will never see where it is pointing. You can get to the same place many different ways, be it art, working out, volunteering, martial arts, doing the dishes...whatever.
    Oh, I so much agree. Everything is Zazen, from tying one's shoe laces to scratching a mosquito bite. It is all Zazen, if we perceive it in such way.

    But still, we need to do what we "non-do" on the Zafu in order to learn how to approach life in such way.

    I would recommend, if you haven't already, trying to incorporate the mental state of "just being aware" into the things you do during your day...its the same thing as zazen, just not in sitting form. Simple awareness of your actions and surroundings, I have found, can take you a long way, and you can achieve it in any activity, from cleaning your house to driving your car to talking to someone on the phone.
    Well, I want to say that I often find the phrase "just be aware" to be rather nebulous, and I think it has to be carefully used as a description of Zen Practice. It is very closely related to the expression "just be mindful", which is also something easily misunderstood. So, I don't talk in that way very much, as I find them too misleading.

    Instead, I tell people that the heart of our Zazen practice is to "just be present with, and to accept, things as they are ... without judgments of right or wrong, and without resistance to events or some desire to change circumstances as we would wish". I find this a much more accurate description of Zazen Practice, which is "to-the-marrow just sitting", radically dropping all goals and demands.

    I find that "being aware" of our emotions and thoughts and motivations is helpful, but "just being aware" of our circumstance is not so helpful by itself ... unless we mean by that "just be aware without judgment". So, for example, "just being aware of cleaning our house" is not so important to our Zen Practice, but "just being aware of cleaning our house without resistance to the task, and while dropping all idea of 'clean' or 'dirty'" is more our Practice.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- For those folks who have never heard me speak of it before, I actually advocate something like simultaneous "acceptance without acceptance" or "dropping like & dislikes while simultaneously having likes & dislikes" ... So, our Buddhist Practice is just not some simple minded passivity or blind acceptance of life. We move forward, and make choices ... even as we know there is no place to go, and nothing in need of selection. Thus, it is a very unusual way to life.

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: What happened?

    You describe passion without bondage! Enjoyment of the vivid dream without being chained to it.

    If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a Tibetan Buddhist.

  8. #8

    Re: What happened?

    Thanks for the clarification Jundo! You were right on. That is what I was getting at with my "just be aware" comment.

    Nothing like clear language to get a point across, especially in an online environment where things are prone to misinterpretation etc., etc...

  9. #9

    Re: What happened?

    'Nothing' happened

    and it always will!

    now ain't that sumpthin'...

  10. #10
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    'Nothing' happened

    and it always will!
    Gassho

  11. #11

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    You describe passion without bondage! Enjoyment of the vivid dream without being chained to it.

    If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a Tibetan Buddhist.
    thank you for your succinct summary, easier for my little simple mind to grasp.

    gassho,
    rowan

  12. #12

    Re: What happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    'Nothing' happened

    and it always will!
    Gassho
    and a second gassho from me! (love the new picture)

    rowan

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