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Thread: last night's sitting

  1. #1
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    last night's sitting

    I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
    I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
    Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

    Here is what went through my mind at one point:
    "My legs are uncomfortable."
    "That was a thought. Don't think."
    "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
    "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
    "But I am not my breath."
    "So who am I, then?"

    A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

    "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

    Just kind of interesting to share.

    gassho
    Julia

  2. #2

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
    I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
    Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

    Here is what went through my mind at one point:
    "My legs are uncomfortable."
    "That was a thought. Don't think."
    "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
    "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
    "But I am not my breath."
    "So who am I, then?"

    A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

    "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

    Just kind of interesting to share.

    gassho
    Julia

    Hi Julia,

    I am in bed today with the flu, but wanted to crawl out to say that such thoughts and distractions will come again and again and again in Zazen (ad nauseum ... not the best expression for me today). If you legs are uncomfortable, just briefly "Gassho" and adjust your position, but do not think during Zazen about "who's legs are these?" or the like.

    Do not even think that you should not be thinking! :shock: Just don't think.

    Of course, thoughts will come back, but just let them drift out of mind without latching on to them or stirring them up. Do not even think about Suzuki's "what am I?" (I am sure he did not mean you were to ponder that during Zazen). Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".

    Thoughts are like clouds drifting in a clear blue sky.

    We do not chase after these clouds of thought, or play with them, neither do we reject them or encourage them ... we simply let them drift from mind. We return 10,000 times and 10,000 times again to the wide, open sky.

    That does not mean the thoughts are good or bad (even though they are delusions). For example, if fear that you can't pay the phone bill this month comes to mind during Zazen (I think that is on the mind of many folks these days), let it go ... just sit. If the phone bill comes back during Zazen, let it go again ... just sit. Find that silent place between phones' ringing ... 10,000 times and 10,000 times again. If phone bill will not leave some days ... just sit with that. The bill collector is Buddha!

    Repeat.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
    I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
    Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

    Here is what went through my mind at one point:
    "My legs are uncomfortable."
    "That was a thought. Don't think."
    "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
    "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
    "But I am not my breath."
    "So who am I, then?"

    A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

    "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

    Just kind of interesting to share.

    gassho
    Julia

    Hi Julia,

    I am in bed today with the flu, but wanted to crawl out to say that such thoughts and distractions will come again and again and again in Zazen (ad nauseum ... not the best expression for me today). If you legs are uncomfortable, just briefly "Gassho" and adjust your position, but do not think during Zazen about "who's legs are these?" or the like.

    Do not even think that you should not be thinking! :shock: Just don't think.

    Of course, thoughts will come back, but just let them drift out of mind without latching on to them or stirring them up. Do not even think about Suzuki's "what am I?" (I am sure he did not mean you were to ponder that during Zazen). Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".

    Thoughts are like clouds drifting in a clear blue sky.

    We do not chase after these clouds of thought, or play with them, neither do we reject them or encourage them ... we simply let them drift from mind. We return 10,000 times and 10,000 times again to the wide, open sky.

    That does not mean the thoughts are good or bad (even though they are delusions). For example, if fear that you can't pay the phone bill this month comes to mind during Zazen (I think that is on the mind of many folks these days), let it go ... just sit. If the phone bill comes back during Zazen, let it go again ... just sit. Find that silent place between phones' ringing ... 10,000 times and 10,000 times again. If phone bill will not leave some days ... just sit with that. The bill collector is Buddha!

    Repeat.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Hi Jundo,

    What a lovely, simple, gentle response - just as it is (where is the happy face with closed eyes?)

    gassho,
    Jinho

  4. #4
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".
    Jundo
    Jundo,
    I like that description! It clarifies a lot for me.

    As you can see, it's going to take a lot of..."not-work" to calm my scattered mind. I realized recently that I am an expert at tuning everything *out* in order to concentrate on my thoughts (I promise you, my ability to do this is seriously amazing), and I have to turn around 180 degrees and learn to tune the thoughts out to concentrate on the "everything" so to speak. (Does that make sense?) This, at a rather stressful period in my life that gives rise to many more thoughts than normal. But that's what brought me here and I am glad about that.

    I just thought it was funny that I had the thought, "Who am I?" and then a short while later, read about that very question being "the first inquiry" of the beginner. A lot of odd little coincidences have been happening like that to me lately.

    One positive thing (I hesitate to call it an accomplishment as we are not trying to accomplish anything) is that I have begun to stop placing judgments on myself for things I think and do...I just notice that it's a tendency or a pattern I have. That one small thing is truly priceless, when you are accustomed to beating yourself up about every little thing you do.

    Thank you and I hope you feel better soon, Jundo.

    Gassho
    Julia

  5. #5
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    "what am i?" is a non-intellectual question.
    I don't understand the purpose of this statement, or its relevance to what I said.

    You are better off not doing zazen if you want to quiet your mind.
    I don't understand the helpfulness of this statement to a beginner. If Jundo agrees with this statement, then he must have allowed me to join Treeleaf for some other purpose, because I cited this reason as a big reason for me wanting to join.

    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.

    gassho
    Julia

  6. #6

    Re: last night's sitting

    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts.
    Oh! No! :shock:



    I agree Julia. That's exactly how it is when we begin. We can't be expected to just drop body mind right away. That would be cool, but unrealistic. The main thing is to pay attention I think, and get some idea of not trying to calm your thoughts,but just let them go when you sit. Jundo probably said it better.


    Gassho

  7. #7

    Re: last night's sitting

    Hi Julia, Hi Empty,

    At the heart of our practice is "quieting the mind" of so much of the noise which fills it, causing suffering and separation. In Zazen, we drop away thoughts, emotions, judgments, past memories and future imaginings, divisions ... and thus experience life still and whole.

    Rising from the Zafu, we return to a day-to-day life in which we must have (for otherwise we could not even make a can of soup, let alone hold a job) a head full of thoughts, emotions, judgments, past memories and future imaginings, divisions ... although, hopefully, we can now taste the stillness and wholeness within the chaos and noise.

    We also learn to drop away many of the thoughts, emotions etc. that we no longer need (see the "Bad Person" thread). We learn to drop away the harmful, for we can do without greed, anger, ignorance.

    So, yes, at the heart of our practice is "quieting the mind".

    That being said ... what emptyzen may be referring to is that one had best not merely use Zen practice as just a cheap form of "relaxation", like an afternoon Yoga or pottery class. That is just dabbling, and misses the real fruits of the practice (which are about true "self discovery" .... really, "no self" discovery ). Just "dabbling" in such way, just as a way to relax and such, is often called "Bompu Zen"

    In bompu zen, one practices to take a vacation from the grinding of the wheels of society and work, and also tries to build up a sense of calm. Or it can focus on "character building," as it does for so many modern Japanese. Many huge corporations in Japan send their employees and executives to Zen temples or to places that teach Zen-inspired practices for a week or two, to "toughen them up," ... Bompu zen is concerned only with the issues of health and well-being and that's a fine place to start: starting to allow ourselves to recognize the richness of our own experience. It is a fine place to start, but we need not stop there.
    To really taste the fruits, one must bite deeper.

    Also, what EmptyZen might have meant (Empty?) is that some folks wrongly think that Zen practice is about dropping all thoughts and emotions, in order to be completely "empty headed" and without any emotion. As I said above, it is not that ... and is more about being free of harmful emotions and thoughts, able to see through the theater of all thoughts and emotions, and able to taste the stillness amid the noise.

    Something like that. Empty, is that what you meant?

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS.

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.
    Yes, these are some fine examples of "not needed thoughts"! Drop those, Ms. Murasaki! You are most welcome here.

  8. #8

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    "what am i?" is a non-intellectual question.
    I don't understand the purpose of this statement, or its relevance to what I said.

    You are better off not doing zazen if you want to quiet your mind.
    I don't understand the helpfulness of this statement to a beginner. If Jundo agrees with this statement, then he must have allowed me to join Treeleaf for some other purpose, because I cited this reason as a big reason for me wanting to join.

    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.

    gassho
    Julia
    Dear Julia,

    No! Please post! You have such lovely posts!!!!!!!!!!! More important, - constructive, destructive, whatever, you are most welcome here. And you never know who will be helped by what you write.

    I slightly disagree with Jundo, in that I was taught (when I first encountered zazen about 28years ago) that there are many "types" of zazen. There is "bompu" zazen, which was translated for me as "ordinary" zazen which is doing zazen for its beneficial physical and mental effect. "quieting one's mind" comes under this type and is a perfectly valid reason to do zazen. This will probably happen anyway no matter why one does zazen. Another reason is to experience/understand what Shakyamuni Buddha and the past (and present) zen masters experience/understand (though of course one's own experience/understanding is unique as well as "one" with their experience). But as Susan Myoyu Anderson, Roshi said to me the important thing is to "get your butt on the pillow" (and see what happens).

    I think maybe Emptyzen might have been using a tact which is common in medieval zen writings of saying something paradoxical, (since one would as soon tell someone not to sit as tell them not to breathe). Having read almost all of the medieval Chinese and Japanese zen writings, can say that this paradoxical method is very common. But I can ABSOLUTELY say that everyone here at treeleaf is here to be welcoming and to assist YOU to practice and gain the benefit of zazen. There are no exceptions to this.

    As for sitting to quiet one's mind, it is probably more effective if you can sort of set aside having a conscious goal of quieting or clearing your mind (as in gently setting aside any conscious thought of "I want to quiet my mind, I want to quiet my mind") and just sit with a gentle acceptance of all of who you are at that very moment. Having a conscious/focused goal takes one out of the present Moment into a desired future moment, and so one can miss the enlightenment/understanding waiting for us Right Here and Right Now. However, your need to quiet your mind is part of you, and should be cared for and respected as all of you should be loved and cared for and respected. But this is sometimes hard (speaking as one who personally has a hard time with this).

    gassho,
    rowan

  9. #9

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
    Hi.
    We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
    We're all beginners.
    Your posts are perfect just as they are.
    Post more if you feel like it.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  10. #10

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
    Hi.
    We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
    We're all beginners.
    Your posts are perfect just as they are.
    Post more if you feel like it.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb
    Thank you TB for saying in four short lines what it took me a long page to say. So eloquent.
    gassho,
    rowan

  11. #11

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
    Hi.
    We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
    We're all beginners.
    Your posts are perfect just as they are.
    Post more if you feel like it.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb
    Thank you TB for saying in four short lines what it took me a long page to say. So eloquent.
    gassho,
    rowan
    Hi.

    Well, what to say in reply?
    On the one hand i should yell at you, on the other say thanks.
    I think i'll just say "shall we sit with that?"

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  12. #12

    Re: last night's sitting

    deleted by Will

  13. #13

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    2) Thought cannot be you, or a threat since they are percievable
    Please explain 2) a bit more. Thought cannot be you, or a threat ... that's fine and clear. But why "since they are perceivable"?

  14. #14

    Re: last night's sitting

    Thoughts are absolutely part of you. That's like saying my arm is not attached to my shoulder.

    Of course, we could speculate what is and isn't you. But why?

    Gassho

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    We're all beginners.
    Your posts are perfect just as they are.
    Post more if you feel like it.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb
    I agree.

    Ron

  16. #16

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    If you wanted to pinpoint exactly what you were, and I mean the part of you that is aware and "existent", you will find that your awareness is seperate from the percieved. This all sounds conceptual, but its the very experience which is most important.
    Oh, you are chasing after some "watcher" "inner you" or other Vedantic whatever. Fiddle faddle.

    If you don't know who you are, you aint gonna find him there.

    Gassho, Jundo

  17. #17

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen

    Chasing? Him?

    It seems that you are already an expert on such topics and can apparently read my mind as well!
    Well, tell me more about your mind, then. What are you referring to?

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Hi.

    Well, what to say in reply?
    On the one hand i should yell at you, on the other say thanks.
    I think i'll just say "shall we sit with that?"

    Mtfbwy
    Tb
    Hi again,

    You've lost me. Wherefore "I should yell at you"? You are welcome to if you feel like it. We can Katz! together if you wish? But I think maybe there is some meaning I am not getting?

    cheers,
    rowan/jinho

  19. #19

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    If you wanted to pinpoint exactly what you were, and I mean the part of you that is aware and "existent", you will find that your awareness is seperate from the percieved. This all sounds conceptual, but its the very experience which is most important.
    Oh, you are chasing after some "watcher" "inner you" or other Vedantic whatever. Fiddle faddle.

    If you don't know who you are, you aint gonna find him there.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Hi Jundo!

    You have also lost me, I thought we are all here finding out more and more who we are (and aren't). Are you making the point that bod/breath/mind are all one? (see all those books I have read DO come in handy ).

    gassho,
    rowan

  20. #20

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Hi.

    Well, what to say in reply?
    On the one hand i should yell at you, on the other say thanks.
    I think i'll just say "shall we sit with that?"

    Mtfbwy
    Tb
    Hi again,

    You've lost me. Wherefore "I should yell at you"? You are welcome to if you feel like it. We can Katz! together if you wish? But I think maybe there is some meaning I am not getting?

    cheers,
    rowan/jinho
    Hi.

    Yelling is for the "you did it better than me"-part, which is wrong.
    I just put what you said in a shorter sentence.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  21. #21
    disastermouse
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    Re: last night's sitting

    Vedanta isn't all bullshit.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  22. #22

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    If you wanted to pinpoint exactly what you were, and I mean the part of you that is aware and "existent", you will find that your awareness is seperate from the percieved. This all sounds conceptual, but its the very experience which is most important.
    Oh, you are chasing after some "watcher" "inner you" or other Vedantic whatever. Fiddle faddle.

    If you don't know who you are, you aint gonna find him there.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Hi Jundo!

    You have also lost me, I thought we are all here finding out more and more who we are (and aren't). Are you making the point that bod/breath/mind are all one? (see all those books I have read DO come in handy ).

    gassho,
    rowan
    Hi,

    I want to wait first until Empty clarifies what he meant, cause I'm already reading things into his words that perhaps I should not.

    Gassho, J

  23. #23

    Re: last night's sitting

    Thoughts are absolutely part of you. That's like saying my arm is not attached to my shoulder.

    Of course, we could speculate what is and isn't you. But why?
    KJ:
    Isn't that just conceptual though? I am the body, I have an arm, that is all just conceptual. Can the arm percieve? No, there is something else doing the percieving. What is it that says "I exist", its not the arm, is it?
    Yes, the "I" thing.

    I was aware of that when making my post. However, you failed to read the other half. We can't throw thought away. We really have no choice in the matter. Thinking is part of our experience. Simple as that.

    Don't you think it would be better to allow thinking as apposed to shunning it?

    Thinking that it's not thinking is the very same trap that, it seems, is trying to be avoided.

    "There is no experience." Even in saying this, it's gone.

    Gassho

  24. #24

    Re: last night's sitting

    Exactly.

    Gassho

  25. #25

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    "what am i?" is a non-intellectual question.
    I don't understand the purpose of this statement, or its relevance to what I said.

    You are better off not doing zazen if you want to quiet your mind.
    I don't understand the helpfulness of this statement to a beginner. If Jundo agrees with this statement, then he must have allowed me to join Treeleaf for some other purpose, because I cited this reason as a big reason for me wanting to join.

    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.

    gassho
    Julia

    Hi Julia,

    Please don't hesitate to post.

    A lot gets lost in written expression, especially in an informal medium like an internet forum.
    Things that sound abrupt or curt may not have been written in anger. One thing I've learned is to give everyone on here the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to be constructive and helpful. So, I try to read all posts as if they came from someone I know to be a gentle, helpful person.

    Keep the questions coming, they are good for us all. You may feel like you started a shit-storm, but I see it as a bubbling-up of overdue "inquiries that prompt discussion" to paraphrase Doshin Cantor (his distinction between "questions that need an answer" and "inquiries that provoke responses" was really big for me).

    Gassho,
    Bill

  26. #26
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Hi Julia,

    Please don't hesitate to post.

    A lot gets lost in written expression, especially in an informal medium like an internet forum.
    Things that sound abrupt or curt may not have been written in anger. One thing I've learned is to give everyone on here the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to be constructive and helpful. So, I try to read all posts as if they came from someone I know to be a gentle, helpful person.

    Keep the questions coming, they are good for us all. You may feel like you started a shit-storm, but I see it as a bubbling-up of overdue "inquiries that prompt discussion" to paraphrase Doshin Cantor (his distinction between "questions that need an answer" and "inquiries that provoke responses" was really big for me).

    Gassho,
    Bill
    Bill, your first paragraph is a valuable reminder; your second, a valuable point of information. Thanks to you, and to everyone who took the time to clarify what needed to be clarified.

    I would like to add, though, that it would be good to use care in talking to beginners until one learns more about their backgrounds. I would venture to say that not many people start out in Zen with the "correct" intention (i.e. having no intention at all). I know I communicate with a slightly-too-chipper demeanour, and there's a cute smile on my avatar, but if you understood my current (very serious) circumstances and all of the events and reasons giving rise to my foray into Zen, you would understand my profound frustration at being told that I'd be "better off not doing zazen".

    gassho
    Julia

  27. #27
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    Hi Julia,

    I would second everything Bill said and when I first came to Treeleaf I had the same thought that you did: Give newbies some space and don't get in their face with ideas that could scare them away. I still wince at some of the responses people get and have watched more than a few disappear after a heated thread. However, recently when I thought to step in after a person felt they were being attacked I just let the thread take its course for a couple days to see what would happen. Eventually the person in question felt that it had been a very valuable discussion and actually thanked the "attacker" for helping them to see things in a new light.

    I'll only speak for myself when I say that I think bumping up against these posts (and people) who rub us the wrong way is an essential part to our practice here at Treeleaf. For me it was taking stock of how much I let what someone said bother me and realizing I was doing that to myself. And I don't think there is one person here who wouldn't describe their reasons for coming to zen as very serious, I know mine are.

    So, I say all that with the hope that you'll ride out the storm and at least consider the fact that it might ultimately be something productive. And if after some time and consideration you decide that what the person said wasn't helpful or productive at all...then just let it drop. And if it still bugs you, please feel free to post about it and I guarantee you there will be a lot of people here to support you. Sometimes letting others stumble a bit can be the greatest gift we could offer. However, that doesn't mean we'll let someone continually get in your face and flame you...Jundo wouldn't let that happen and neither wwould the rest of us.

    I hope that was helpful...I think I still would have felt hurt or angry in your shoes and a message like mine wouldn't have changed that one bit. Still, I wanted to reach out and I hope you'll hang around with us zennies some more.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  28. #28

    Re: last night's sitting

    About the only "rule" around here ... besides trying to sit Shikantaza Zazen each day ... is to be kind to each other.

    Gassho, J

  29. #29

    Re: last night's sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    Im not a selfish and sadistic asshole who likes to see beginners fall off their horses. I was simply stating that zen shouldn't be used as a means to end. But rather to see your own reflection, right now, right here.

    Thinking is not the problem, its the lack of space between you and the thoughts which cause the problems.
    Well said.

    Be nice if i would leave it there but of course i gotta add my 2 cents here too

    Im my personal experience (take with a pinch of salt... lick of lemon and shot of tequila if need be), my beginning steps in to Zen Buddhism were to use it[zen] as a means to an end. I had limited knowledge of what this practice really was about and I so I thought EH I like the sounds of this and since im already in sync (oh oh ohoh oh ohohohoh oh ohohohoh,,, THE RIGHT STUFF!) with most of the basic teachings (That i had read on the interwebz) and I should give it a go and see. Maybe I would become enlightened and get a cool new Do... maybe stop having panic attacks and be able to tolerate assholes and impress my friends with my new found balance.

    So far none of those really happened :P (well the panic attacks are almost gone but they still crop up) And yet Im still practicing with every fibre of my being and it all really started from my misguided understanding and drive.The teachers and community (one really) helped along the way to show me the way through sharing there ideas and experiences and through their actions. And oh man im still learning!! I think there will always be ongoing learning so long as we practice.

    Gassho Shohei

  30. #30

    Re: last night's sitting

    my beginning steps in to Zen Buddhism were to use it[zen] as a means to an end.
    Guilty!

    But now that I've learned a bit, and lurked and listened and questioned, and sat and sat, I gotta say its not what I thought, but something totally different that's worth everything and nothing at the same time. I'm just glad I'm here. (and you too)

    gassho

  31. #31
    Myoshin
    Guest

    Re: last night's sitting

    I gotta say its not what I thought, but something totally different that's worth everything and nothing at the same time. I'm just glad I'm here.
    My thoughts exactly.

    I came to Zen because I wanted to try something new, to be able to relax, and like Dirk said, the prospect of enlightenment (to an eighteen year old that sounds pretty cool).

    Through time I saw that my views were askew. My preconceptions about meditation and Zen as a whole have changed and continue to change. It is a constant learning process. I like what I do though, and that is enough.

    Julia, I look forward to more posts to read.

    Gassho,
    Kyle (the youngin´)

  32. #32
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting

    Ok *now* I see the real positive side to this thread -- it is interesting and helpful to know what brought y'all to Zen. It helps put things into perspective, seeing your "thens-and-nows" as you grow in your understanding.

    Dirk: The other day, I was on a fast-moving train of thought that was promising to lead up to a panic attack. I have not practiced zazen for very long, but I've had enough practice at it to be able to put some distance between myself and that train of thought ("I am not these thoughts")...it derailed, and I had no panic attack. You can't put a price tag on that.

    I know we're not to have goals in Zen, but this is exactly the kind of thing that I consider a "good reason" to practice, and it very much encourages me to continue. One less panic attack, to me, equals less distorted perceptions and judgments about my life, and less fear...equals more understanding of my sphere of influence and my choices, and therefore more ability to make (and act on) sensible decisions that benefit myself and my family.

    So I'm not going to cling to goals in zazen per se...but I'm just sayin'.

    gassho
    Julia

  33. #33
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: last night's sitting


  34. #34

    Re: last night's sitting

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    Thinking is not the problem, its the lack of space between you and the thoughts which cause the problems.
    What do you think is the 'you' that needs to be separated from the 'thoughts'? What remains of 'you' without those 'thoughts'? If there can be a 'you' without 'thoughts', can there be also be 'thoughts' without 'you'? What exactly is this 'space', and how do we know it is lacking? I don't mean to pick on you in particular, but I think such statements are often all too readily made and/or accepted without further examination. What does it really mean for our practice and how are we to do it? Do you think conceiving thoughts as entities which are separate from our 'self' and distancing our 'self' from those thoughts will solve our problems? How can 'you', the 'space', the 'lacking' and the 'problems' themselves be something independent from thought? Casting off body-mind is not selective, we don't pick and choose to cast off 'this' and keep 'that'. It's not a matter of pushing 'thoughts' away from 'us', but realizing their intertwined nature. One cannot exist without the other, neither are substantial, and neither are lasting.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  35. #35

    Re: last night's sitting

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    You = awareness.

    Can there be thoughts without awareness? No, because thoughts are secondary.
    Why do you single out 'awareness' and equate it with 'you'? Mind-body (Skt. nama-rupa, Jap. shinjin) consists of 5 skandhas, i.e. body, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. They aren't arranged hierarchically, nor do they exist independently of one another.

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    Space = Its hard to explain this one. You need to experience this.

    Nonself- is not a complete destruction of all perception. Awareness is still there.
    So you think 'nonself' is the destruction of everything but 'awareness'? How do you do this? And having done it, how do you still get out of bed in the morning?

    Gassho
    Bansho

  36. #36

    Re: last night's sitting

    This fascination with a mind of bare "awareness" or "the witness" has always struck me like a fascination with the bare glow of the TV when there is no broadcast on a particular station. Sure, it may be a great Cosmic Consciousness, one's True Self and the Face of God ... or just static one is staring at, because the signal has been removed.

    In the end, I see no evidence that one is dealing with anything except an echo within a brain listening to itself. In other words, it is just the brain hearing its own static when some of its "show" has been turned down or off. There is no evidence that it is anything but another form of quiet, sensory deprivation. You are not getting in touch with anything outside your own mind, and you are putting labels on it as, for example, "emptiness" or "True Self".

    All through the history of Buddhism (and other Eastern Religions), there were basically two groups who varied in their teaching of concepts like "emptiness". One group taught that it means a "Cosmic Force" or "Pure Consciousness" or the like that one is accessing when one quiets the mind. The other group teaches that it is basically just another perspective on self, and its absence, when the mind is made quiet. Both are perfectly effective for purposes of the Buddha's teachings on the cure of suffering.

    I see no reason to assume it is the former and, further, I believe it was not the Buddha's original message. However, feel free to be fascinated by the dark screen on the TV between shows.

    Gassho, Jundo

  37. #37

    Re: last night's sitting

    By the way ... I am not saying you are wrong cause, gosh darn it, this "debate" about what "emptiness" "True Self" "Consciousness" etc. is has been going on for a couple of thousand years. Two opposing views. Most of Chinese Buddhism was in accord with what you say, most of early Buddhism not so much.

    I feel that these teachings allow us to taste the wonder of emptiness, no self, being "At One with the Universe", our "Original Face" ... without assuming that the quiet and "no show test pattern" within us (the brain) is some Cosmic Consciousness that we are accessing.

    I mean, there may or may not be a Cosmic Consciousness (I happen to think that there is, somehow) ... but I do not think the silence within my head is its sound.

  38. #38

    Re: last night's sitting

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    You are simply juggling around with concepts. I don't think what I said can be said any clearer. When Buddha realised that there is no self- he was still there to witness it. The difference is now, is that this awareness is not a "thing", like, a self.
    Its "no- thing". Simply empty awareness. I know that this is what we are at the basal level, even if we don't identify with it. Its whats there when all concepts have fallen away.
    Of course I'm juggling with concepts. We cannot communicate with one another otherwise. What you've just said is also a concept. It's replacing the concept of a 'self' with the concept of 'awareness'. Just by naming it 'no-thing' doesn't free you from that, indeed that very naming makes it a thing. However, if we take a close look at our actual experience we'll see that there is no basal (basic?) level to be at and no 'bad' thoughts as opposed to 'good' awareness, nothing to separate or distance ourselves from. The 5 skandhas are impermanent and yet ever present. In Shikantaza, we do not give preference to one over the other. The depths and the surface both have their place.

    Quote Originally Posted by "Dogen Zenji, [i
    Shobogenzo Kai-in-zanmai[/i]":qq2zrpil]Those who are buddhas and patriarchs are always in sam?dhi, the state like the sea. Swimming in this sam?dhi, they have times of preaching, times of experiencing, and times of moving. The virtue of their moving over the surface of the sea includes movement along the very bottom of that [sea]: they move over the surface of the sea [knowing] this to be “movement along the bottom of the deepest ocean.” To seek to make the uncertain currents of life and death return to their source is not to be moving along in the ineffable state of mind. While past instances of passing through barriers and breaking joints were, of course, individual instances of the buddhas and the patriarchs themselves, at the same time, each was governed by sam?dhi, the state like the sea. [Emphasis mine.]
    -- Nishijima & Cross
    Gassho
    Bansho

  39. #39

    Re: last night's sitting

    Oops - a couple of posts snuck in before I hit the submit button - no matter.

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