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Thread: hands in zazen

  1. #1
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    hands in zazen

    This is my favorite image of Buddha:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ka...front_1885.jpg

    I feel peaceful when I look at it.

    Is it ok if I hold my hands like he is doing, in my zazen? With the fingertips curved up instead of laying flat, one hand on the other like I was originally taught. Why is there a difference between the two styles, anyway?


    Gassho
    Julia, distracting herself from her more stressful issues-of-the-day.

  2. #2

    Re: hands in zazen

    I've been inside him :-). Have a little red one sitting here.

    Re: the hands:

    I'm not really familiar with that Mudra.

    W

  3. #3

    Re: hands in zazen

    Hi,

    Well, bottom line is that ya gotta do something with your hands in Zazen, can't stick 'em in your ears ... so we do our 'Hokaijyo-in' Mudra (read about it below). In esoteric Buddhism, each hand gesture did have a specific meaning and "power" though (read about that below too). And each Buddha had his/her particular Mudra (the statue in Kamamura is actually Amida Buddha, the central Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism at which temple he is found ... read about that below too too).

    One thing I like about our Soto 'Hokaijyo-in' Mudra is that it is a good gauge for how someone is sitting Zazen ... if it is all saggy, mind tends to be saggy. If the fingers come apart, the mind is usually distracted. But if it is a nice, healthy oval ... and the rest of the posture is strong and balanced ... the mind usually is too.

    For more Mudras, and art history, than you probably need ... check out the link below ....

    So, I will not say you have to hold your hands a certain way. In Soto Zen, we have our way ... you read this (and the rest of the thread it came from) and decide for yourself ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Zen
    Hey Jundo.
    I wanted to ask, what is the meaning of the mudra we sit with?
    Hi,

    I gave a talk last year on this, now lost to the internet ... but I wrote this, which might answer your question:


    Here is more information on the 'Cosmic Mudra' of Zazen then you probably wanted.

    There are the traditional interpretations ...
    In Japanese, known as the 'Hokaijyo-in ('Dharmachakra' or 'Dharma Realm' Mudra when found in Esoteric Buddhism, and there usually associated with images of the Buddha 'Dainichi Nyorai') or the 'Zenjou-in' ('Dhyana Meditation' or 'Contemplation' Mudra in the Zen schools ... [although I [Jundo] usually hear it called the 'Hokkaijyo-in in the Soto school ... another example of creeping Tantric influence]), it symbolizes the Buddha in a state of meditation. Some call it the 'Cosmic Mudra' [cause, I guess, it is really 'Cosmic']. In Japanese iconography, the mudra is usually associated with statues of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha, and is not to be confused with images of "Amida Buddha" (which employ the somewhat similar 'Mida-no Jouin' Mudra, in which the knuckles are pressed together ... see famous statue of Great Buddha of Kamakura for example of that). (Adapted from: http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/mudra-japan.shtml)

    But then there's Dogen Zenji's likely interpretation ...

    "Hey, folks, ya gotta do something with your hands!"
    Anyway, it is nice and round, and the open space kinda represents a clear and open mind for me. You know, I can usually tell how somebody is sitting if they have droopy fingers, or let the fingers slip apart. Droopy fingers, droopy mind.

    Gassho, Jundo
    viewtopic.php?p=12529#p12529
    Gassho (another Mudra), Jundo

    PS - There was a fellow, awhile back, you sent me a really wild page on the 'Hokaijyo-in' Mudra ... which, I confess, I cannot really see. But, interesting reading ...

    http://www.zenmudra.com/

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: hands in zazen

    Hi Julia,

    Just to add a bit to what has been said. Yes, Julia, great statue and Buddha to look at! Did you notice the mudra of the bin in the kitchen corner, the mudra of trees and flowers, the mudra of a car passing by? And what is your original mudra? Do Buddha sit in a beautiful Japanese garden or appears and vanishes every moment in everything and everybody you meet? Do we have to copy the posture or outside form of statues or teachers or rather let the real thing manifests itself through our clumsy lives? Our Soto form is very simple, yes, as Jundo puts it we do something with our hands but not flourishy, over complicated, it is almost a circle and it embraces all things. Out of this the ten thousands hands of Kannon with raise through the day, Kannon washing the dishes, cleaning her b.., giving or taking...to this the ten thousands mudras of Kannon-Julia will return. Our way is to practice putting our hands like that and do this until we die and beyond, which is every now. Even the ton of literature on the subjectwon't help you to understand. even the pages I could write on this would be useless. Because you are invited as Keizan says in Zazen Yojinki:

    When the mind scatters into distraction, place attention at the tip of the nose or at the tanden. After this rest attention in the left palm. Sit for a long time and do not struggle to calm the mind and it will naturally be free of distraction.
    To rest your mind in the mudra means to let the mudra doing you, forming you, forgetting you. Some folks think it means that we put the attention there during sitting, yes and no, it means much more than that. Just go there by yourself, and forget yourself in there. The Dai Butsu of Kamakura you like so much is just a blossom coming out of your very eyes.

    Sorry for this very clumsy and wordy answer.

    Love

    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: hands in zazen

    Thank you for the good reminder, Taigu!

    Deep bows, Jundo

  6. #6

    Re: hands in zazen

    There was a fellow, awhile back, you sent me a really wild page on the 'Hokaijyo-in' Mudra ... which, I confess, I cannot really see. But, interesting reading ...
    Interesting (bit long) :?

    Gassho

    W

  7. #7
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: hands in zazen

    When the mind scatters into distraction, place attention at the tip of the nose or at the tanden. After this rest attention in the left palm. Sit for a long time and do not struggle to calm the mind and it will naturally be free of distraction.
    This quote is especially useful to me. When my mind scatters, I feel at a loss for how to gather it back.

    Thank you for your elegant post, Taigu -- it wasn't clumsy or wordy. Now I understand the concept of "mudra" better. I had no idea about its significance. You have told me about many things I wouldn't have thought to ask about. Sometimes you do something simply because you were told to do it like that, without knowing why...and later you realize how much you would have gotten out of knowing what you are doing.

    Anyway, it is nice and round, and the open space kinda represents a clear and open mind for me. You know, I can usually tell how somebody is sitting if they have droopy fingers, or let the fingers slip apart. Droopy fingers, droopy mind.
    Gassho, Jundo
    Jundo -- I have caught myself with those droopy hands before, or a mudra that becomes slowly distorted through my lack of attention to it. I didn't know how important it was to keep it in shape. I usually notice if I'm leaning or hunching over, but posture is all I have really been noticing to correct. I don't think I need to be picky about this mudra or that, now that I've read your reference links; I'm happy with the standard Soto way now that I know what it means.

    Will -- what's it like inside the Buddha? You are teaching English in China, aren't you -- ESL teaching is my intended master's program for this fall.

    gassho
    Julia

  8. #8

    Re: hands in zazen

    what's it like inside the Buddha? You are teaching English in China, aren't you -- ESL teaching is my intended master's program for this fall.
    A big empty Buddha (pardon the pun). That's pretty much it.

    Yes, I've been teaching here for about 7 years. If you have any questions feel free to pm me.

    Gassho

    W

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