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Thread: A Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

  1. #1

    A Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Jundo quoted something he wrote earlier:
    But when we are sitting a moment of Zazen ... perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... piercing Dukkha, attaining non-self, non-attached ... then there is not the slightest gap between each of us and the Buddha.
    What happens if we never experience this sort of "awakening" or "realization", even after years of practice? Is the lessening or ending of suffering in our lives dependent on this sort of experience?
    Your thinking my description is something hard and out of reach is what makes it hard and out of reach, I think. It is, in fact, an "experience" that anybody can learn to taste any time ... Maybe you are thinking about this wrong.

    I sometimes compare what we do to those trick Chinese finger cuffs. Remember those?



    You pull and you pull, thinking you must escape or obtain something ... and the cuffs just tighten. However, completely give up, relax, stop trying ... and you slip right out. Well, the way to relax and be still is not to try to "relax and be still" ... but to do nothing, relax and be still. Let it be, let it go ...

    I am not talking about some mind blowing, angels sang and the heavens opened Kensho (though that might happen sometimes). I am talking about an ATTITUDE toward Zazen that makes or breaks Zazen.

    Please understand what I am about to say fully:

    If you simply sit with the attitude that your Zazen in that moment is "perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... then IT IS! IT IS because you learn to treat and taste it as so. Your learning how to treat it as so, makes it so. If you can learn to sit there feeling about Zazen, and all of life, that "there is not one thing to add or take away" ... then, guess what: there is not one thing to add or take away precisely because you feel that way. Each moment is perfectly whole when you can see each moment as perfectly whole. Time stops when you stop thinking about time. Each instant of time is perfect when you think it perfect.

    Strange, huh? But you are in the driver's seat.

    It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy (or, in our case, a "non self"-fulfilling prophesy).

    I often compare our Practice to tightrope walking too ...



    ... also seemingly impossible, until you learn how to do it. And a lot of that also involves relaxing, not trying, and just doing it (or so I have heard )

    I do not think that "piercing Dukkha, attaining non-self, tasting non-attachment" is much trickier than that. Over time, ya just kinda relax into that (in our Soto way).


    I sometimes say that Zazen (Shikantaza style) is sat because it is one-pointed pointlessness. Yes, even though we seek no 'benefits' from that, and know that there is nothing to attain ... that does not mean that learning though-and-through to seek no benefit ... is not a GREAT BENEFIT, and that reaching to-the-marrow nothing to attain is not a GREAT ATTAINMENT! :shock:

    What truly makes Shikantaza as Shikantaza is that no special state is being sought, no wild satori, no enlightenment apart from just what is. There is no goal, nothing to obtain ...

    ... with the proviso, of course, that truly achieving to-the-marrow non-achievement, and obtaining the goal of radical goallessnes is a world shaking achievement and attainment! :shock:

    We are not seeking a particular state of awareness of awareness ... Of course, sometimes such states will come, sometimes they will not come. We just move on, seeking nothing by not seeking ... thus finding everything.

    You see ... it is the little "self" that needs, feels "lack", needs to "get" somewhere other than where it is, cannot be still. "Just Sit" Zazen without seeking to find ... and the "self" is put out of a job, body-mind dropped away.

    And, you know, every so often, the heavens do open and the angels sing too!

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Part of the misconception, I think, comes from mixing up what we are doing with the Rinzai approach (not to criticize that, it is just different), which leads you to think you are supposed to sit around on your Zafu for ages ... maybe chewing on a Koan or something ... and then EUREKA, after years and years, everything just falls into place. The skies open and the angels sing.

    Well, our Soto way is quite different. We treat the result as accomplished right from the outset and, pretty soon, it is. That may sound strange but (to give a simple example) it is a little bit like someone who is a nervous public speaker but, by simply learning to "pretend" that they are a confident public speaker (and by dropping thoughts of lack of confidence from mind) actually become a truly confident public speaker merely by doing so (I heard President Obama say something much like that awhile back).

    When you learn to see Zazen, and all of life, as complete and perfectly whole ... it simply is complete and perfectly whole. The reason is that it is really only you, inside you, who is the judge of wholeness or the lack thereof.

    And somewhat trickier attitudes of Zazen ... developing non-attachment, tasting timelessness, dropping life and death ... also a matter of our learning to get out of the Chinese handcuffs.

    And too, yes, there will really be those times when the heavens open and the angels sing, but you will also learn to appreciate all of life as a glory even if the angels have the day off.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Thanks Jundo, this helps, I think I can see what you are getting at. When I am doing zazen I often sense that I am clinging onto something, not quite sure what it is, and I know it is unnecessary, but somehow the old habits die hard and letting go is not something I can consciously decide to do. The Chinese finger cuffs are a good analogy for this. I am something of a natural born worrier so stting in the moment without feeling like I have the Sword of Damocles hanging over me does not come easily to me.

    I'll try to sit with the attitude you suggest and see how it goes.

    :Charles

  4. #4

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Funny how you should post this, Jundo, as just the other day I was reading through the comments to your posts on beliefnet. One comment was from a disgruntled member of Treeleaf who was under the impression that we're all chasing after something. Everything I've read thus far has pointed to the contrary, and in my own practice I can see how things fall into place when I drop all worries, expectations, grasping, etc.

    Your Chinese finger cuff analogy is great, as well as the one on public speaking. For many years I was terrified of speaking to groups of people. My school years were the worst, but that fear and worry carried into adulthood.
    Back in the late 90's when I was advisor for the poetry club at the school I work for, the English teacher who was my co-advisor informed me on short notice that I would be getting up on stage to present awards for Awards Day. Because there really was no time to prepare or even get too nervous, I had no choice but to relax and go with the flow. When it was time and my name was called to present the awards, the students cheered and applauded, which boosted my confidence with other public speaking. After that moment, the possibility of making mistakes or slightly embarrassing myself really didn't matter much. To my knowledge, also, it was the first time that a custodian at this school addressed the entire student body...and probably the last.

    It's all a matter of perspective and losing self-consciousness, as well as that idea that we have to strive for something. It's tough for people to wrap their heads around the idea that each moment is perfectly as it should be, but once that is understood fully, it's wonderful.

    Thanks, Jundo.

    Gassho,
    Dave

  5. #5

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    thank you Jundo for this great analogy.

    the post was very clear...

    Gassho.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Hi all,

    Jundo asked over in the book club if his post above resonates...it certainly does with me.

    Altough it is not exactly the same thing, I compare this to the fear I get every so often about dying, or more exactly the idea of not existing. For whatever reason I will have moments when the thought that in one moment I'm here and the next moment I'm not evokes a very physical feeling of distress. Since coming to Treeleaf the frequency of this feeling has decreased as I have begun to realize that worrying does me absolutely no good. However, realizing that doesn't mean I never worry about it...I have some distance to go there. Do I have faith that I will get there? Yes, for the most part, but there is still a part of me that wonders if I am missing some kind of boat that is leaving the shore and that I will never fully be able to let go of the fear.

    It is a much less fearful response when I consider this in terms of what I will understand about zen, buddhism, and life in general, but the question I ask myself is pretty much the same. Am I missing something? Are others having a level of understanding I shall never reach? That's when Jundo's Chinese finger puzzle analogy really hit home for me and why I am posting this response. In some ways I'm just glad to admit that I fall into the trap of saying, "Am I really getting this?" Before coming to Treeleaf i wasn't even aware of how much suffering I ws causing myself, but just because I realize that it doesn't mean I've dropped the suffering completely. We all have moments when we think that we can yank our fingers out from the puzzle and there's no shame in that. The thing to do? Return to sitting, return to practice, and maybe never leave your practice behind at all (Thanks Jools).

    Like I said, it's just good to admit that I do find myself banging my head against the wall...which is made easier when others here admit something similar. It may be repetitive and corny, but the following is always heartfelt and genuine: Thank you so much to everyone here for being exactly who you are.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  7. #7

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Scott,
    I imagine all of us are 'knot heads' around here in one way or another from banging our heads against the wall. I admit it and banged my head on the wall today. But, I've taken a step back and have now realized "it wasn't necessary, all was well even when it wasn't".

    Thanks for your posting. :wink:

    Jeff

  8. #8
    disastermouse
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    "Just this is nothing other than your true nature."

    Peeps keep saying it, other peeps keep not hearing it. It doesn't mean resignation, it means that if you stopped TRYING so hard to get somewhere, you might realize where you really are.

    IMHO, IANAT.

    Chet

  9. #9

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    I happened to re-read today an article by Dogen Scholar Taigen Dan Leighton that pretty much underlines what I tried to say here ... of course, with a few more fancy 50 cent scholar words!

    The article is probably worth a read for any of the Dogen lovers out there.


    Taigen Dan Leighton
    for Zen Rituals: Studies of Zen Theory in Practice, edited by Steven Heine and Dale Wright


    Buddhist meditation has commonly been considered an instrumental technique aimed at obtaining a heightened mental or spiritual state, or even as a method for inducing some dramatic "enlightenment" experience. But in some branches of the Zen tradition, zazen (Zen seated meditation) has been seen not as a means to attaining some result, but as a ritual enactment and expression of awakened awareness. This alternate, historically significant approach to Zen meditation and practice has been as a ceremonial, ritual expression whose transformative quality is not based on stages of attainment or meditative prowess.

    The Zen ritual enactment approach is most apparent and developed in writings about zazen by the Japanese Soto Zen founder Eihei Dogen (1200-1253). ...

    In perhaps his most foundational essay on zazen, "Fukanzazengi" (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen), Dogen [states] "Have no designs on becoming a buddha," emphasizing the non-instrumental and instead ritual nature of this activity. ... In many of his writings, Dogen emphasizes the oneness of "practice-realization," that meditation practice is not a means toward some future realization or enlightenment, but is its inseparable expression ...

    http://www.mtsource.org/articles/Zen_as_Enactment.htm

  10. #10
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    I don't know if anyone else has the same experience, but I most often get a "Just as it is, everything is complete in itself" moment after the bell on the timer has rung for the end of zazen. Now, I know that we sit without goals, but I guess this tells me that some part of me is often still trying to achieve something during zazen. Then the bell goes, the pressure is off, zazen is finished, there's no need to achieve anything, and for a moment or two before I get up I'm just sitting. I try not to grasp at or chase after the sensation and to just sit with whatever comes, whether or not I'm sitting, if you see what I mean, but perhaps one can grasp even at just sitting. As with the finger cuffs, one needs to relax.

    Gassho

    Martin

  11. #11

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Uchiyama Roshi talked about this in "Opening the Hand of Thought". (Below) He is talking about coming back again and again to "Just Sitting" Maybe most of the time we are not really "Just Sitting".

    Yes, some folks think you are only doing Zazen "right" if you can sit through the who period with all thoughts dropped away, in some deep Samadhi, solid and silent the whole time. Some schools of meditation seek precisely that.

    But I do not think that is our way, at least for most experienced Shikantaza people I have spoken to. Even if you have a taste, just for a minute here and there, during the sitting of its goalless flavor ... I think ya are doing quite well. We come back again and again and again, 10,000 times and 10,000 times ...

    Here is the passage (as I have discussed before, Uchiyama Roshi, like some Shikantaza teachers, is more focused than I am on "trying to hold the physical posture" as well as the mental side of Zazen, which explains some of how he phrases things. It is a small difference).

    "When we are doing zazen, this line ZZ' is the reality of our lives right now, so we make every effort to keep to it. But we are not fixed and unmoving the way rocks are, so it happens that we tend to drift away from this line: thoughts come up or we doze off.

    …This is b. If this b continues on to b' and b", we are actually dozing…Thinking and sleeping in zazen are pretty much the same.

    …Sometimes we completely forget about where we are and what we are doing. We may chase after thoughts c, c', c" and end up completely separated from the reality of our life of doing zazen right now. Without being aware of it, we may start associating with or carrying on a dialogue with some vivid figure c''' that has been totally fabricated within our own act of chasing after thoughts.

    …Actually, zazen is not just being somehow glued to line ZZ'. Doing zazen is a continuation of this kind of returning up from sleepiness and down from chasing after thoughts.

    That is, the posture of waking up and returning to ZZ' at any time is itself zazen. This is one of the most vital points regarding zazen.

    …Actually, ZZ' represents the reality of the posture of zazen, but the reality of our life is not just ZZ'. If it were only ZZ', we would be as unchanging and lifeless as a rock!

    …The very power to wake up to ZZ' and return to it is the reality of the life of zazen. Zazen enables us to realize that all the thoughts that float into our heads are nothing but empty comings and goings that have no real substance and vanish in a moment.

    …So we wake up to ZZ' and from the standpoint of waking up we are able to see that thoughts, desires, and delusions are all the scenery of life. During zazen, they are the scenery of zazen. There is scenery only where there is life. While we are living in the world, there will be happiness and unhappiness, favorable and adverse conditions, interesting and boring things.

    …But my own true life is the reality of life that I wake up to without being carried away by the scenery. Zazen is the foundation of life where this reality of life is being manifested.

    In that sense, zazen is the reality of the self—the true self. The essential thing in zazen is not to eliminate delusion and craving and become one with ZZ'.

    Of course, there are times like this during zazen, but this, too is just part of the scenery of zazen. We aim at ZZ' even though we have a tendency to diverge from it. The very attitude of returning to ZZ' and waking up is most important for practicing zazen as the foundation of life."
    http://books.google.com/books?id=fOU_1v ... t#PPA54,M1

  12. #12
    disastermouse
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    But I do not think that is our way, at least for most experienced Shikantaza people I have spoken to. Even if you have a taste, just for a minute here and there, during the sitting of its goalless flavor ... I think ya are doing quite well. We come back again and again and again, 10,000 times and 10,000 times ...
    I'm not exactly what you'd call an experienced shikantaza person, but this is how it's been for me, mostly. Every now and again, it's an expanded amount of time. The trick is to learn not to chase every dog of thought down every blind cul-de-sac. Or maybe the trick is just to come back? And then again.

    When I tell people I meditate, they often say they'd be no good at it because they get lost in thought all over the place. I always tell them that no one is 'good' at meditating except to the extent that they realize they are lost in thought and come back to 'right here'. For many of my meditation sessions, the only difference between meditation and everyday mind is the part where I realize I'm chasing a thought and let go of it to come to the here and now. Just the letting go is different.

    As I've been sitting more lately, I realize what an exquisite prison our thought construct can be - we identify with it, we glorify it, we embellish it, and we mistake it for some sort of reality. Rarely do we notice the ground from which these constructs arise, and VERY rarely do we cease in constructing them for even a moment. This is what samsara really is.

    IMHO, IANAT.

    Chet

  13. #13

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Thank you all. Thank you Chet, very insightful post. Just one little thing, really. Samsara? Really? Can you even let go of that thought? And let go of letting go? And please, don t give it a try, it is already another thought :wink:

    The non Samsara-neither Nirvana Spring Foolish Bear, phew! What a long name...

  14. #14

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I'm not exactly what you'd call an experienced shikantaza person, but this is how it's been for me, mostly. Every now and again, it's an expanded amount of time. The trick is to learn not to chase every dog of thought down every blind cul-de-sac. Or maybe the trick is just to come back? And then again.

    .... Rarely do we notice the ground from which these constructs arise, and VERY rarely do we cease in constructing them for even a moment. This is what samsara really is.

    IMHO, IANAT.

    Chet
    Yes, I need to clarify my clarification ... ops:

    Although we come back again and again to Uchiyama Roshi's line ZZ', and although we think in terms such as "mental noise" and "stillness", being "just present" and "having the mind wander" ... IT IS ALL SHIKANTAZA! Nothing to be rejected or pushed away in our rejection (in Shikantaza) of all judgments!

    Nirvana is Samsara, although Samsara is not what it was before (meaning, before you tasted that Nirvana is Nirvana and Samsara is precisely Nirvana too), before you experienced (to quote the Heart Sutra) that form is no other than emptiness, emptiness precisely form.

    In other words, we come back again and again, 10,000 times, to line ZZ', and avoid line b'b' of falling asleep and line c'c' of chasing after thoughts. But WE DO NOT REJECT, or consider in any way "defective" b'b' and c'c', as b'b' is perfectly b'b' and c'c' is a lovely c'c'. Despite the fact that when we doze of in Zazen we just doze off ... and when we get trapped in thoughts and emotions that is just what it is ... we come back again and again to ZZ'

    Kind of get the picture?

    You are only doing Shikantaza "good" when you stop seeing ZZ' as good and all the rest as not. You should quit trying to spend your whole life in ZZ', because we sleep and think and feel as human beings (and that is okay ... it is all ZZ' even when it does not feel like it is so). B'B' and C'C' ARE Z'Z' ... now, when on the Zafu, return again and again to Z'Z'!

    Or, to quote from the Identity of Relative and Absolute (which we are reading in the book club) ...

    ????? In the light there is darkness,

    ????? but don't take it as darkness;

    ????? In the dark there is light,

    ????? but don't see it as light.

    ????? Light and dark oppose one another

    ????? like the front and back foot in walking.

    ????? Each of the myriad things has its merit,

    ????? expressed according to function and place.
    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    My point was not that all constructs were samsara, my point was that unconsciously building constructs, without awareness, is samsara.

    At no point do I have the ambition to be able to keep my mind from creating these constructs, although, when I sit quietly, the construction slows down a bit. IMHO, these constructions are natural, and not to be fought, but that one can be aware amidst them.

    A dream can be a beautiful dream, but one can experience it more fully, and with less suffering, if one is awake within the dream.

    This is just my understanding. Please correct me.

    Chet

  16. #16

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    My point was not that all constructs were samsara, my point was that unconsciously building constructs, without awareness, is samsara.

    At no point do I have the ambition to be able to keep my mind from creating these constructs, although, when I sit quietly, the construction slows down a bit. IMHO, these constructions are natural, and not to be fought, but that one can be aware amidst them.

    A dream can be a beautiful dream, but one can experience it more fully, and with less suffering, if one is awake within the dream.

    This is just my understanding. Please correct me.

    Chet
    Said very nicely, I think.

    Yes, we live in a world where our head is constantly filled with "mental constructs" and our Zen practice allows us to avoid unconsciously building (and getting trapped by) constructs without awareness. In other words, our heads are still filled with thoughts and emotions, but we can recognize each more as just a bit of mind created theatre. We still need those thoughts and emotions to live as human beings but (1) we do not take them as seriously all the time, and learn how not to get overly wrapped up in them (2) thus we can moderate some, savor and cherish others to-the-marrow, drop others fully away.

    It is a sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly bit of living theatre (a dream, yet really our lives ... so real as real can be that way).

    Our Zen Practice helps us move through it, even as we reject none of it.

    Thanks Chet.

    Gassho, Jundo

  17. #17

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    If I may say, indeed Chet. A bit like a wheel, if you stand at the very edge, the ride is bumpy and the speed may really get you a bit dizzy. Caught in thoughts is rough. In sitting, we don t escape the wheel of Samsara, the wheel of rebirth, we don t reach out for an answer outside this wheel, it could be God, heaven, cosmic Buddhas, name it...
    we sit ate the very centre of the wheel, and the very centre of this wheel is perfectly still, from there you can enjoy the whole show, the whole display of Samsara. From there, Samsara is perceived through Nirvana. This Samsara stuff is like Nirvana. Another very famous Buddhist verse will describe this as Mountains are mountains again, rivers rivers again, but not exactly the same as the one you saw the first time.

    Taigu

  18. #18
    disastermouse
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    If I may say, indeed Chet. A bit like a wheel, if you stand at the very edge, the ride is bumpy and the speed may really get you a bit dizzy. Caught in thoughts is rough. In sitting, we don t escape the wheel of Samsara, the wheel of rebirth, we don t reach out for an answer outside this wheel, it could be God, heaven, cosmic Buddhas, name it...
    we sit ate the very centre of the wheel, and the very centre of this wheel is perfectly still, from there you can enjoy the whole show, the whole display of Samsara. From there, Samsara is perceived through Nirvana. This Samsara stuff is like Nirvana. Another very famous Buddhist verse will describe this as Mountains are mountains again, rivers rivers again, but not exactly the same as the one you saw the first time.

    Taigu
    Excellent description, IMHO! Who wants 'out'? Where would that even be?

    Nirvana is just Samsara with the lights turned on!

    Chet

  19. #19

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    If I may say, indeed Chet. A bit like a wheel, if you stand at the very edge, the ride is bumpy and the speed may really get you a bit dizzy. Caught in thoughts is rough. In sitting, we don t escape the wheel of Samsara, the wheel of rebirth, we don t reach out for an answer outside this wheel, it could be God, heaven, cosmic Buddhas, name it...
    we sit ate the very centre of the wheel, and the very centre of this wheel is perfectly still, from there you can enjoy the whole show, the whole display of Samsara. From there, Samsara is perceived through Nirvana. This Samsara stuff is like Nirvana. Another very famous Buddhist verse will describe this as Mountains are mountains again, rivers rivers again, but not exactly the same as the one you saw the first time.

    Taigu
    Excellent description, IMHO! Who wants 'out'? Where would that even be?

    Nirvana is just Samsara with the lights turned on!

    Chet
    That's a goodie!

    And Samsara is just Nirvana with the lights turned on!

    Thank you Chet, thank you Taigu

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    That's a goodie!

    And Samsara is just Nirvana with the lights turned on!

    Thank you Chet, thank you Taigu
    What if the lights are always turned on?

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    probably have a hard time getting sleep!

  22. #22

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by jcsuperstar
    probably have a hard time getting sleep!
    Maybe THATS why Buddha is called the Fully Awakened One...

    Sorry, couldn't resist that one.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  23. #23

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Jundo Roshi
    Thank you for this teaching. Like having my head inside the ringing bell.
    gassho Zak

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Wow great discussion and ideas here! I take with out giving, so many thank yous to all!
    Chet you blow my mind quite regularly - Thanks for keeping it blown open

    Gassho, Shohei

  25. #25

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Part of the misconception, I think, comes from mixing up what we are doing with the Rinzai approach (not to criticize that, it is just different), which leads you to think you are supposed to sit around on your Zafu for ages ... maybe chewing on a Koan or something ... and then EUREKA, after years and years, everything just falls into place. The skies open and the angels sing.
    Gassho, Jundo
    Hi Jundo,

    I am concerned that phrases like "skies opening, angels sing" and "chewing on a koan" may cause people to have misconceptions about what koan study actually is. I have in the past read many incorrect (and frankly demeaning if not overtly insulting) comments on Treeleaf regarding koan study. There is actually no one on the list who has done koan study, i.e., "passed" several koans and yet many people seem to believe they know what the experience is about. It is very odd. The situation is really quite analogous to feminism being defined and dismissed as "female persons with a penchant for burning undergarments".

    thank you for your time,
    rowan

  26. #26

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Hi Rowan: I read Jundo's post as a description of the misconceptions that someone like me might have about zazen, which includes misconceptions about rinzai practice, and not Jundo's opinion of rinzai. Please elucidate. I for one am interested in what koan study involves.

    :Charles

  27. #27

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Hi Rowan: I read Jundo's post as a description of the misconceptions that someone like me might have about zazen, which includes misconceptions about rinzai practice, and not Jundo's opinion of rinzai. Please elucidate. I for one am interested in what koan study involves.

    :Charles
    Hi Charles,

    This message is just a place holder, I will get back to you in a couple of days.! Until then, if you have a copy of the Mumonkan or Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, you can read Mumon's description of koan practice in his intro to the first koan "Joshu's Mu".

    My comment is based on many comments that have been posted on Treeleaf by many people in the past. I am happy if I have misinterpreted Jundo's comment.

    thank you for yoru time,
    rowan
    who must go sit now.

  28. #28

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Hi Rowan,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    I think it is better and more ethical if no one here at Treeleaf mentions rinzai practice or koan study since no one here has done it.
    I'd be very careful about making presuppositions about anything which those at Treeleaf have or haven't done. We're all here to learn from one another, and I don't see why it should be 'better and more ethical' to prohibit such discussions from the outset. Just speaking for myself, I haven't practiced koan introspection in a systematic fashion under the guidance of a teacher, as is done in the Rinzai tradition. I have, however, been turned inside out and slapped in the face by many koans, as they appear in the Mumonkan, Hekiganroku, Denkoroku, Shoyoroku, Mana Shobogenzo and Kana Shobogenzo, just to name those which immediately spring to mind. Whether your definition of 'koan study' applies here or not is academic. I think that as a means of deepening our understanding and overcoming any misconceptions or prejudices regarding koans which some may have (although I'm not certain that this applies to anyone here) we should discuss koans at Treeleaf more rather than less. Just my opinion.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  29. #29

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    Hi Rowan,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    I think it is better and more ethical if no one here at Treeleaf mentions rinzai practice or koan study since no one here has done it.
    I'd be very careful about making presuppositions about anything which those at Treeleaf have or haven't done. We're all here to learn from one another, and I don't see why it should be 'better and more ethical' to prohibit such discussions from the outset. Just speaking for myself, I haven't practiced koan introspection in a systematic fashion under the guidance of a teacher, as is done in the Rinzai tradition. I have, however, been turned inside out and slapped in the face by many koans, as they appear in the Mumonkan, Hekiganroku, Denkoroku, Shoyoroku, Mana Shobogenzo and Kana Shobogenzo, just to name those which immediately spring to mind. Whether your definition of 'koan study' applies here or not is academic. I think that as a means of deepening our understanding and overcoming any misconceptions or prejudices regarding koans which some may have (although I'm not certain that this applies to anyone here) we should discuss koans at Treeleaf more rather than less. Just my opinion.

    Gassho
    Bansho

    thank you for your note. I think I was unclear. There have been many derogatory comments made about the practice of what I shall call "formal" koan study, that is, concentrating on a koan during one's zazen meditation. The other part of formal koan study is to have formal meetings with a zen teacher who has been through the formal koan study process and has been certified (received Inka) from a teacher who has done so, etc. This is a specialized study in the same way that shotokan karate is a specialized study, and yoga is more than a random series of stretches.

    And I certainly would not wish to discourage the discussions of koans, only the derogatory and misinformed remarks about the PRACTICE of koan study (how it is done in what, again, I will refer to as "formal koan study" which is certainly not the best term for it, but I hope people will know what I am referring to?)

    We should start a topic on people's favorite koans, koan collections!

    thank you for your time,
    rowan

  30. #30

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Part of the misconception, I think, comes from mixing up what we are doing with the Rinzai approach (not to criticize that, it is just different), which leads you to think you are supposed to sit around on your Zafu for ages ... maybe chewing on a Koan or something ... and then EUREKA, after years and years, everything just falls into place. The skies open and the angels sing.
    Gassho, Jundo
    Hi Jundo,

    I am concerned that phrases like "skies opening, angels sing" and "chewing on a koan" may cause people to have misconceptions about what koan study actually is. I have in the past read many incorrect (and frankly demeaning if not overtly insulting) comments on Treeleaf regarding koan study. There is actually no one on the list who has done koan study, i.e., "passed" several koans and yet many people seem to believe they know what the experience is about. It is very odd. The situation is really quite analogous to feminism being defined and dismissed as "female persons with a penchant for burning undergarments".

    thank you for your time,
    rowan
    Hi Rowan,

    But sometimes the heavens do open and the angels do sing!

    I did not mean that as a demeaning comment on Koan Zazen, only as a caution for folks who might be seeking such mind blowing experiences as the objective of Zazen. "Kensho" or "enlightenment" or whatever you want to call it come in all manner of flavors and spices, big and small. Sometimes the "answer" to a Koan is "just wash your bowls".

    Please do elucidate on Koan Practice as you feel would help people understand. We don't practice Koan Zazen around here (except in the sense that every moment is a Koan, and Zazen the Koan realized), but we do work with Koans. Dogen loved Koans, collected traditional Koans, Shobogenzo is wall to wall classic Koans ... we approach Koans with Zazen-mind, although we do not sit with a particular Koan during Zazen in Shikantaza.

    I do know that "Koan/Kan'na Zazen" comes in several flavors too. There are some teachers who seem to push hard for "BIG KENSHO" as the key to Zazen. (Someone today mentioned a Japanese Rinzai teacher named Shin'ichi Hisamatsu, and I might put him in that category ... BIG PUSH for the BIG KENSHO). That may be great for some folks, and some personality types who need that. The book "Three Pillars of Zen" can also leave folks with the impression that that is what Zen practice is always about. Today, the subject came up with someone, and I happened to write this:

    We find fireworks in the ordinary. In fact, we rather yawn at experiences like you describe in your other mail, like a trip to the Grand Canyon (nice place to visit, buy a post card, can't live there) and talk about just embracing day to day life as it is. Not that we do not value such experiences, but value walking the dog or making toast as much.

    There is no self. But the dog needs to be walked. :-P
    Anyway, no, I did not mean to imply that all Koan Zazen is about that, or like that (actually, I did not mention anything about Koans or Koan Zazen in the post). And, anyway, sometimes the angels do sing!

    Gassho, Jundo

  31. #31

    Re: Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    Wow great discussion and ideas here! I take with out giving, so many thank yous to all!
    What Dirk said.

    Gassho, Jean

  32. #32
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: A Non-Self Fulfilling Prophesy

    Hi Jundo,
    Your Chinese finger cuffs was a wonderful analogy!!

    Jundo wrote:
    "That may sound strange but (to give a simple example) it is a little bit like someone who is a nervous public speaker but, by simply learning to "pretend" that they are a confident public speaker (and by dropping thoughts of lack of confidence from mind) actually become a truly confident public speaker merely by doing so"

    Exactly!
    What you wrote above reminds me of something one of my Aikido teachers said "Fake it until you make it". This made a big impact on me and I took his words to heart. Soon after I decided to do just that. Before each class I would tell myself that I was an Aikido master(sounds funny I know! Insert little embarrassed emoticon here---->__). Hey by the way, who turned the BBCode off for his thread anyway?! Haha

    Now just thinking something like that surly didn't make me a real master I know. But I did seriously notice a huge improvement!
    Since then I have left Aikido study and have yet to apply the same principal to anything else. Perhaps now is a good time to dust that one off.
    I am a Zen master, I am a Zen master, I......Ok, I'll have keep you posted to let you know how that one turns out. LOL :P

    Gassho,
    Hoyu

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