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Thread: Sleeping Zen

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Sleeping Zen

    So occurred to me this morning as I was waking from a dream:

    Dreams are so bizarre, they are like monkey mind. But then would that make deep sleep w/out dreaming like zazen, i.e, nothingness, where all is dropped? If so, then we truly return to nothingness every night only to wander into delusion every day.

    Of course when asleep just sleep, and so on. But it makes me go, Hmm. How about y'all?

  2. #2

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Alan,

    Sometimes I agree that dreams are nothing more than our monkey mind--the firing off of neurons in a random way based on our stored information. For example, I often like to look at my dreams and figure out where different elements came from. It is very interesting to see that an image your saw, a conversation, etc become elevated in a dream.

    But, at the same team I believe dreams do reflect a little more logical, organized element to our brain. I'm always amazed at how I wake up and have a solution to a problem that I'd been working on. Or, maybe it is just taking more time with the issue, taking a step back, fresh look, and things work themselves out.

    I'm not a neuroscientist so I'm not sure on the sleep cycles. But, I do seem to remember in physiology that the more deeper sleep cycles result in less brain activity. Maybe someone can clarify this for me/us.

    Jeff

  3. #3

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    So occurred to me this morning as I was waking from a dream:

    Dreams are so bizarre, they are like monkey mind. But then would that make deep sleep w/out dreaming like zazen, i.e, nothingness, where all is dropped? If so, then we truly return to nothingness every night only to wander into delusion every day.

    Of course when asleep just sleep, and so on. But it makes me go, Hmm. How about y'all?
    Hi Alan,

    Some schools of Buddhism and Eastern philosophy place great emphasis on fine analysis of different states of consciousness, and some equate deep, dreamless sleep with "the ground of being" or "pure consciousness" before mental activity. For example, there is this article by the Tibetan Scholar B. Alan Wallace ...

    Page 1
    “Vacuum States of Consciousness:
    A Tibetan Buddhist View”
    B. Alan Wallace
    Abstract
    In the early Therav›da Buddhist view, the bhavaºga, literally, the “ground of
    becoming,” may be characterized as a relative vacuum state of consciousness,
    voided of all manner of mental activity known as javana. This appears to be
    identical to the substrate consciousness (›layavijñ›na) asserted in the later Great
    Perfection (Dzogchen) school of Tibetan Buddhism. This state of consciousness is
    presented not simply as a philosophical speculation but as an experienced
    mental phenomenon that can be accessed through the achievement of meditative
    quiescence (Ÿamatha). According to the Great Perfection school, primordial
    consciousness (jñ›na) may be regarded as an ultimate ground state of
    consciousness, and it can allegedly be ascertained non-dually through the
    cultivation of contemplative insight (vipaŸyan›).
    ...
    The bhavaºga may be characterized as a “vacuum” state of
    consciousness, voided of all manner of javana. Generally speaking, it is
    indiscernible while the mind is active, for it normally manifests only in
    dreamless sleep and during the very last moment of a person’s life.
    http://www.alanwallace.org/Vacuum%20States%20Essay.pdf
    In general, in our Soto Practice, we are not so interested in that as a state of consciousness to be especially cultivated. Better said, that may be attained, but we are not so interested in attaining or not attaining that. (At least, not in the corner of Zen Buddhism I am familiar with). Why?

    In our "open awareness", we must 'see through' this world, not extrinquish it or cause it to vanish. We do not want to be asleep, minimally consciousness, vegetative, shut down ... we want to be aware while in this world, AWAKE! We do not want our mind "wiped clean" (or, better, if we do have the momentary experience of being "wiped clean", we find it of limited value unless we return to the world of thoughts and emotions). Otherwise, it is very much like saying that being in deep sleep all one's life is more valuable than getting out of bed and living!

    Instead, what we may truly hope for is more like that rare experience where one is dreaming, but knows one is dreaming while dreaming. So, we want to live in this world of thoughts and emotions, but know it as just a dream. In other words, we want to be amid delusion, but know that it is delusion (and do not care about a place where there is no delusion because we are unconscious or dead. We will get there soon enough).

    This dream may be just a dream, as are 'you' dreaming it. But it is your dream ... LIVE IT!

    Zazen is not like deep sleeping, it is more like Total Waking, eyes open (all three of them)!

    Is what I wrote too confusing?

    Gassho, and off to bed, J

  4. #4
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Thanks Jundo. I was using sleep as a simile for zazen, as an analogy. Certainly, while asleep we can't WAKE UP to the world as we do in zen. I was in no way advocating sleep as enlightenment, although as Jeff points out it can sometimes be enlightening when we do wake up. All this is clearer to me now after your response, however, so thanks. I just thought it was a fun idea that was worth sharing. Learning from it was extra!!

  5. #5

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Instead, what we may truly hope for is more like that rare experience where one is dreaming, but knows one is dreaming while dreaming. So, we want to live in this world of thoughts and emotions, but know it as just a dream. In other words, we want to be amid delusion, but know that it is delusion (and do not care about a place where there is no delusion because we are unconscious or dead. We will get there soon enough).
    This is what I've experienced for a year or two now. I know I'm dreaming, can even direct the direction it will take to suit my amusement. When things start turning ugly, I can wake myself up before I see something that will wake me up in a sweat. So I have what it "truly hoped for"; what do I do with it? Just what is? and ride with it?

    I'm sorry if this looks bad. I'm learning how to work all the buttons. This is the only forum I post on. There goes the plotter. Bye.
    Sylvia
    Atlanta

  6. #6

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    I forgot, Alan: I too, think dreaming is a form of monkey mind. It is the unconscious mind working some story like the mind we work to still. I think it would be choda to stop dreaming altogether, as that would be a mind that has truly laid down and gone to sleep, as Mickey-Sensei (ASZC) says.


    Sylvia
    Atlanta

  7. #7

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Instead, what we may truly hope for is more like that rare experience where one is dreaming, but knows one is dreaming while dreaming. So, we want to live in this world of thoughts and emotions, but know it as just a dream. In other words, we want to be amid delusion, but know that it is delusion (and do not care about a place where there is no delusion because we are unconscious or dead. We will get there soon enough).
    Sounds like lucid dreaming. Should we strive for this during sleep? There are a variety of techniques that can be used to become aware that one is dreaming. I haven't done this for a number of years, but it is quite an experience. In lucid dreaming you have control over your dream content....might be interesting to do zazen while dreaming.

  8. #8

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Instead, what we may truly hope for is more like that rare experience where one is dreaming, but knows one is dreaming while dreaming. So, we want to live in this world of thoughts and emotions, but know it as just a dream. In other words, we want to be amid delusion, but know that it is delusion (and do not care about a place where there is no delusion because we are unconscious or dead. We will get there soon enough).
    Sounds like lucid dreaming. Should we strive for this during sleep? There are a variety of techniques that can be used to become aware that one is dreaming. I haven't done this for a number of years, but it is quite an experience. In lucid dreaming you have control over your dream content....might be interesting to do zazen while dreaming.
    Hi Brian,

    I was speaking figuratively about living amid 'delusion' knowing that this is 'delusion'. I see no benefit in lucid dreaming, or mucking about with our sleep patterns. As a matter of fact, when sleeping ... just sleep. 'Homeless' Kodo Sawaki Roshi wrote this ...

    Eat in order to do zazen, sleep in order to do zazen. This means that eating and sleeping are also part of zazen.


    When sitting Zazen, just sit Zazen. When sleeping, just sleep.

    He also wrote this, telling us how Zazen is different from sleep (for in sleep no thoughts ... no delusions ... arise at all) ...

    During zazen bonnos, monen, appear. Most people think that zazen is to put an end to illusions, to thoughts. This is a mistake. During zazen, sometimes thoughts, bonnos arise, and sometimes they do not arise. When you sleep, thoughts do not arise. When you sleep in zazen, you don't think at all.


    That word "Bonno" means "delusions" "greed, anger, ignorance". "Monen" means something like "distracted mind".

    Gassho and Good Night, J

  9. #9

    Re: Sleeping Zen

    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for the clarification. I like the quote “Eat in order to do zazen, sleep in order to do zazen.” Although I have only been doing zazen for a relatively short time, I do plan my day so that I get in at least 30 mins. a day. I find that when I don’t get enough sleep it is reflected in my zazen…..I start nodding off, hypnagogic images start, and if I am not careful sleep will follow.

    Brian

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